The right supplements are worth their weight in gold. While making my podcast, I met some brilliant Harvard and Stanford researchers in a pioneering branch of science called nutrigenomics, which explores how particular nutrients can impact certain genes and, crucially, the gene expression that is so pivotal to so much of our wellbeing. The good news is that we aren’t doomed by our parents’ DNA – as so many genes can be switched on and off through lifestyle, of which nutrition plays a major part. So, exploring this relationship between nutrients and genes is an exciting new breakthrough. Karmacist has fused nutrigenomics research with the wisdom of the botanicals we’ve been turning to for 60,000 years.
Everything’s backed by science. Plenty of guys are sceptical when it comes to supplements and I get it: being a journalist, my default position is extreme scepticism, so I always look for the data. Take saffron, for example, which has been shown in clinical trials to be just as effective as Prozac for treating mild to moderate depression. We know plants are powerful healers – in fact, so many modern medicines are derived from plants. Saffron is one of the key ingredients in our Mood Formulation, alongside resilience-building passionflower, adaptogenic turmeric and other key micronutrients to support optimal psychological function.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Dr Uma Naidoo, one of the scientists behind Karmacist, is a nutritional psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School – and a real pioneer in the research showing how diet and particular nutrients can affect your mental health. This science chimes with the Indian heritage that she grew up. For example, she starts the day with a turmeric latte – a tradition passed down from her grandmother, and one that has celebrated turmeric as an Ayurvedic superstar for 4,000 years. Indeed, turmeric – along with ashwagandha – are now heralded as adaptogens, to help the body handle stress. This mirrors our Karmacist approach – using modern science to see how, and why, these ancient ingredients can be of real benefit.
Having a solid morning routine is a good place to start. I recently interviewed Robin Sharma – author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – on the podcast, who writes about the benefits of waking up at 5am. Alas, I am not that person. I had a DNA test, which confirmed I am an owl and not a lark, but come 8am, I practise Wim Hof’s cold shower routine. I make the water as hot as possible, then switch the dial around to go as cold as possible – for about a minute and a half. To keep Baltic thoughts away, I sing the old Grandstand theme tune – no doubt much to the bemusement of my neighbours. I then try to have as mindful a breakfast as possible – by slowing down my eating, rather than wolfing it all down in two minutes. I’ll put a podcast on too. It’s important to have a laugh in the morning to kick-start serotonin, so I’ll pop on the Hawksbee and Jacobs show from TalkSport – which is pure, puerile pleasure.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’m a creature of habit and for me, breakfast tends to be porridge made with a splash of water, blueberries, cinnamon, pecans and ground flaxseeds – all gently heated into a blueberry muffin-like texture. Yes, flaxseeds and TalkSport football banter are odd companions, but modern men are hard to pigeonhole. I’ll also have a cup of breakfast tea with almond milk – and wash down some of our Immunity supplements.