Lifestyle changes – a cheap, safe and simple treatment?

Yesterday, we told you about a study that showed a significant correlation between diet and risk of depression. The first time we bumped into that study was a couple of days ago, while we were waiting for a delayed flight to Tokyo.

Lina looks up from her newspaper.

– But, hello?

Mia glances back at her.

– Yes, hello what?

Lina points down at her paper.

– How much evidence do we need?

– Evidence for what?

– Sorry, I’m reading about new research that suggests a healthy diet can help reduce depressive symptoms. In the last few years, extensive observational studies, laboratory experiments and animal research have showed a significant connection between diet, gut bacteria and mental health. And yet nothing changes.

Lina interrupts herself.

– Well you know, I’m not saying you have to choose between medicine or diet change. One need not exclude the other. If I were ill, I would not have hesitated to try a simple, cheap and safe treatment, that has shown good results for many patients. If only someone would have told me HOW I was supposed to improve my diet.

Mia leans in towards Lina in order to see the article. She thinks out loud.

– Yes, and it applies not only to menta…

Lina interrupts her.

– And look at this! Apparently, drugs only help in half of the cases. However, doctors don’t seem to have a problem recommending them to patients. Despite severe side effects, and high costs for taxpayers.

– When you put it like that, I don’t get why they can’t suggest diet change as a possible treatment. Of course, we still need more research, but why twiddle our thumbs waiting for it? Why not give it a go? There’s nothing to lose.

– No, quite the opposite. Even if a change of diet wouldn’t help everyone, it will definitely have a positive impact, and help many. If so, every day of sitting around waiting for new research, amounts to lots of unnecessary suffering.

Lina’s flight to Tokyo is finally ready for boarding. Lina gathers her things. Mia hesitates.

– I’m not going.

– What? Aren’t you coming?

– No, I’m going skiing, it’s winter break.

– Ah, THAT’S why you’re wearing base layers. I thought that was odd, but now I get it.

Food Pharmacy

Professor Felicie Jacka: It’s time we see diet as an important, new treatment approach to depression and anxiety.

For the first time, scientists have conducted a randomized controlled trial, to directly study the relationship between food and depression. The results show a significant correlation between people’s diets and their risk for depression.

The study was led by a team of scientists specialized in something called Nutritional Psychiatry Research, at Deakin University in Melbourne. Nutritional Psychiatry is a relatively new field of research, that examines the link between food, diet and mental health. Until a few years ago, no one talked about a potential link between diet and mental health, but lately, the relationship between the two has gained more and more attention. And an important, well-established hypothesis is that depression may be caused by chronic inflammation in the colon.

In the study, 33 participants with moderate or severe major depressive disorder, were assigned to a Mediterranean diet. At the end of the trial, after 12 weeks, the results showed that as many as one in three met the criteria for remission of depression. And the improvement was not explained by other factors, such as changes in physical activity or weight-loss, but closely related to the improved diet. The results were compared to a test group, in which the participants were assigned to receive social support, instead of support from clinical dietitians. Among the participants in that group, only 8% experienced a reduction in their depressive symptoms.

Professor Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, is not surprised. According to her, extensive observational studies, animal research and laboratory experiments suggest that there’s a significant correlation between diet, gut bacteria and mental health, not least depression and anxiety. There’s been an alarming increase in mental health problems, and according to professor Jacka, the western way of life, with its junk food and limited physical activity, is a key risk factor. Certainly, more research need to be done, but professor Jacka points out that it’s time we see diet as an important, new strategy for the treatment of depression and anxiety.

The study: http://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/media-releases/articles/world-first-trial-shows-improving-diet-can-treat-major-depression


Crispy kale chips – awesome for your colon.

Healthy chips – do they exist? Yeah, they actually do. And they work wonders for your gut flora!

Northern suburbs of Stockholm, the white house on the corner, mid-February. Spring is almost in the air, and we’ve just removed freshly made, crispy kale chips from the oven, and placed them under the nose of an 8-year-old. We cannot hide the look of contentment on our faces. These are tasty, very tasty. And the gut flora loves kale.

And so, all of a sudden, it happens.


– Mom, how do you make these?

Excuse me? Did Mia’s son just ask for the recipe? We are struck dumb with amazement.

– These? Ah, it’ super easy! we said, strained.


– First of all, you reach for 250g fresh kale.


– Remove the leaves from the stem, and rip them into bite-size pieces.


– Prepare two tablespoons of nice olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt.


– Pour the oil mixture over the leaves, and massage the kale gently for 1-2 minutes.

Pause for effect.

– Ok, it might sound odd that you’re supposed to MASSAGE the leaves, but it’s to make sure the oil is evenly distributed.


– Spread the leaves evenly onto a baking pan, and bake in the oven for almost an hour, at 70 degrees Celsius.


– Once they’re dry and crispy, remove them from the oven and give yourself a good pat on the back. You’ve just made the most perfect kale chips!

The 8-year-old turns to Mia with a serious look on his face. His eyes tell it all.

– But mom, I said: WHY do you make these?

Curtain falls.

Food Pharmacy, Recipes

Anti-inflammatory mango stew.

Yesterday we did something really exciting. We brought the gut flora case to Swedish television.


Here we have Lina to the left (black Harry Potter robe), and Mia to the right (banana sweatshirt), while we were having our faces powdered and our hair straightened before the show.


There was a TV in the dressing room, on which we could see Malou’s interview with Fredrik Bäckhed, a Swedish scientist specialized in the impacts of gut bacteria on human health. Later on, during a commercial break, we got hold of him and asked to do an interview for our blog. He said yes, so there you have something to look forward to this spring.


After we had our makeup done, we headed for the kitchen, where we got to fill the cart with heroic ingredients and lots of great foods, our super granola and pea green smoothie. The rules are pretty strict on what you can and cannot show on TV, so we kept it very simple. So simple, there was no room for our incredible anti-inflammatory mango stew. But that’s all right, here’s how you make it:

Anti-inflammatory mango stew
4 servings

1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp dried turmeric
1 tsp sambal oelek
2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup natural cashew nuts (soaked for at least an hour at room temperature)
1.5 cups coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
70 g baby spinach
270 g organic natural firm tofu
1 mango, cut into cubes

Preferably served with:
1.5 cups quinoa (or other rice substitute of your choice)
Fresh cilantro

Place the chopped onion, the turmeric and the coconut oil in a pot on the stove, and cook at low temperature. Put onion mix, crushed tomatoes, ginger, tomato paste, nuts and coconut milk in a blender, and mix until just combined (it’s not going to be a smooth sauce).

Put the sauce back in the pot, and heat until lukewarm. Add plum tomatoes, baby spinach, tofu, and mango. Serve with cooked quinoa or buckwheat and, if you’re in the mood, some chopped cilantro.

IMG_4241And then it was finally time for the interview. If you look closely, you can see the mango stew here, to the left on the table.

After the interview, one of our best friends texted us, and she was pretty grumpy about the fact that we hadn’t told her about the TV show. “But, how was it?”, Linda asked when she finally calmed down.

“Don’t know. Don’t remember a thing.”, Mia answered. “Other than telling the world about how my belly almost ‘exploded’ the first time I had raw Jerusalem artichoke”.

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our book in Polish here.

Food Pharmacy

Can your eating habits help eliminate heart disease?

Listen to this:

A major Spanish study was stopped early, due to ethical dilemmas. The purpose was to study the relationship between diet, and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The participants were divided into groups, and for those whose diet contained herbs, leafy greens, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and olive oil (i.e. a traditional Mediterranean diet), the risk of dying from heart disease was significantly lower than for the participants in the other group, who were on a fat reducing diet. The results were so clear, the researchers considered it unethical to continue letting the other participants stay on a fat reduced  diet.

This reminds us of something else.

Shortly after we started our blog, we interviewed David Stenholtz, a senior consultant of Oncology, who told us that most chronic diseases can be prevented by healthy eating habits. He rattled off a number of diseases, and the first one that came out of his mouth was in fact cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Sweden, with over 1.9 million sufferers.

With the Spanish study and David’s words in the back of our heads, we’re having a hard time understanding why this has not reached the ears of more people. If your diet may have an enormous beneficial impact on preventing cardiovascular disease – why don’t people know about it?

The study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303?query=featured_home&#t=abstract

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our book in Polish here.

Food Pharmacy

Milk milk milk.

We’re in Kalmar, in the south of Sweden, one and a half years ago.

– Mia, should we say something about milk in our book?

– What do you mean?

– Well, Stig has taught us that high consumption of milk may increase oxidative stress, inflammation, premature aging, and the risk of early death. But even if we write about it, I guess no one in Sweden would actually believe it?

– No, I guess not, milk is definitely a holy cow here. Most people still seem to believe that milk helps build strong bones.

– Interesting, and this despite the fact that brittle bones are much more common among us milk consumers here in Scandinavia, compared to people in other parts of the world…

Cut to yesterday. We find ourselves in a cafeteria in the Finnish countryside, killing time before our lecture, and reading in The American Journal of Epidemiology about a new study, led by Uppsala University and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, in which they’ve studied milk consumption among 106.000 women and men, middle-aged and up. According to this article, the results leave no doubt: a high consumption of milk may increase the risk of premature death.

But, why? The results confirm that a high milk consumption is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, primarily among women. The problem appears to be the milk sugar, lactose, since it may contribute to oxidative stress, inflammation, premature aging and increase the risk of early death. Antioxidants are a strong weapon against oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation, but the study shows that not even a high intake of fruits and vegetables, can completely eliminate the risks associated with milk consumption. The risks were higher with milk than yogurt, probably due to the fact that, during the fermentation process, milk sugar is partly broken down.

After all, it still feels good that we dared to question Sweden’s national beverage in our book. And in our upcoming cookbook, we’ve gathered lots of great alternatives to regular cow’s milk.


Food Pharmacy

The kids’ banana porridge.

Today we travel to Finland, to lecture in Närpes, but first, the kids need to get some breakfast. However, we would like to take this opportunity and warn you in advance: this recipe is neither groundbreaking, nor original. It’s just porridge.

FullSizeRender-293Monday through Friday, Mia’s children eat something they call “banana porridge” in the morning. It always consists of oatmeal + mashed banana + water, but the rest of the ingredients you may vary as you please. The flaxseeds are sometimes replaced by coconut flakes or chia seeds, and the cinnamon by cardamom or clove. Last week we used cumin by mistake. That’s something we do not recommend.

FullSizeRender-294Start by tossing together a cup or so of oatmeal, a tablespoon or so of cinnamon, and about as much flaxseed (don’t expect to get any exact measurements from us, we’re too busy in the morning to even think about that).

IMG_3516-2Mash a banana, the greenest one you can find, and add the mash to the porridge, as well as a tablespoon of coconut oil.

IMG_3520Add the water. Trust your gut. A little bit of water = sticky consistency. A lot of water = watery consistency. In between = well … in between. You decide.

IMG_3526-2Stir at low temperature. There’s no need for it to boil, remove it from the heat when it’s lukewarm.

FullSizeRender-295Throw on some berries, you’ll find them at the bottom of one of your freezer drawers. Call your kids to the table, it’s time for breakfast.

IMG_3535Climb over the huge piles of children’s clothes in the hallway, and travel to Vasa in good conscience. See you tomorrow!

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our book in Polish here.

Food Pharmacy

Preview of our cookbook.

So, today we met up with our photographer in a sunny Stockholm and started to take photos for our next book  – the cookbook. We would, of course, have loved to show you all the pictures, but then it wouldn’t be any surprise at all when the book is launched this fall. What about a compromise? What about us showing you some behind the scenes-pictures today?


The yummiest meatballs we’ve ever tried (without meat, of course). We will never cook any other meatballs after having tried these little munchies.


An extremely tasty and anti-inflammatory soup with red chili, coconut milk and cilantro. And best of all: the soup takes under, and this is not a joke, three minutes to make.


The best part of writing a cookbook is all food you have to eat. See that creamy, salty peanut butter sauce on the salad? OMG.

IMG_3896Then our lovely French intern Hema-Lou and Lina ran out to catch some Vitamine D. And now it’s time to cook a Jerusalem artichoke soup and Food Pharmacy’s Bridge mix. What that is? Well, time will tell (if you buy our cookbook, ha ha).

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our book in Polish here.

Food Pharmacy

Healthy gut flora = a protection against Alzheimer’s?

Do we really need to give you another reason to take care of your gut flora? Well, if you say so? Ok, here we go: Alzheimer’s disease. 

The other week, we read an article in the Swedish newspaper about a new study that suggests good gut bacteria may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. If you don’t know what Alzheimer’s is, it is the most common type of dementia – in Sweden, more than 100 000 people are suffering from the disease. Alzheimer’s is hereditary, even age and lifestyle matter, but other than that, what actually triggers Alzheimer’s has so far been unknown. But, according to the article in Sydsvenskan, scientists say that problems arise when an unbalanced gut flora, as a result of unhealthy eating habits, causes inflammation in your body. The first step, in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, is that plaques build up between nerve cells in the hippocampal region (the hippocampus is a part of the brain that’s primarily associated with memory), and then spread to other parts of the brain. Now that they’ve discovered that unhealthy gut bacteria can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease, the scientists want to determine the kind of bacteria involved in the development of plaques.

– Previously, we haven’t been able to influence the development of Alzheimer’s, other than by giving drugs that reduce the symptoms. But now, we’re actually able to act and prevent the disease from occurring. If we’re able to delay the development of the disease, we might also be able to keep people from getting the disease in the first place. And, you’re able to do so by changing your eating habits, and ensuring you have strong and protective gut flora, says Frida Håk Hållenius, associate professor at Food for Health Science Center, Lund University, Sweden.

Wow. What a breakthrough for research on Alzheimer’s disease.

If you know any kind of Swedish, you can read the full article here: https://www.sydsvenskan.se/2017-02-10/vissa-tarmbakterier-kan-ge-alzheimer


No-bake apple pie bites.

On Monday we will shoot the first set of pictures for our cookbook, which means we’re busy trying out new recipes. For example, we’re on the hunt for a really good recipe for quick bites, you know, a healthier alternative to rice cakes on day trips and excursions.
So, we tossed together 1 apple, 1 tbsp ceylon cinnamon, a handful of almonds (preferably soaked), a pinch of pure vanilla powder and 5 dates, and processed everything into a chunky dough. Added a cup of oat flakes, and scooped out tablespoon sized amounts of the mixture, and rolled into somewhat round balls. Rolled each ball in coconut flakes.
Yummy, and then the bites were gone. How are they ever gonna last until it’s actually time for a day trip? Well, at least we managed to take some pictures before we ate them all.