Meet Health Advocate and Chef Justina Kozicki.
Trained at the Culinary institute Cordon Bleu in London, she has years of experience cooking delicious healthy meals for entertaining. She is currently working on her first cooking blog which is no easy feet for this master improviser. It forces her to write down her off-the-cuff approach to cooking in order to help us ordinary humans make sense of her prowess.
But Justina is on a mission to teach us all the benefits of each ingredient to our body - from deep inside - and our soul. It’s with great pleasure that we, at the T-factor, get all her insights to share with you on healthy living.
Working for the past two years with renowned expert in the science of longevity (human health span extension) Dr. Tamsin Lewis, Justina knows poop inside and out and considers it is time we all did too . After all, many practitioners admit that gut health is the future of medicine.
On a personal note, Justina has been a friend of mine for many years. She’s one of the ladies who has unknowingly helped me process my height issues. As a younger 6’2” woman from Sweden, her confidence with her body has been an inspiration to me so it is with lots of joy that I get to work with a friend on bringing you all the latest insights on Transforming our knowledge of our bodies.
ML: I’m so happy to introduce you to the T-Factor peeps. I’ve been meaning to talk about Health on here and I can’t think of a better person to do this with than you. So thank you for coming along the ride. So apparently you work with poop! Tell us about what you do.
J: Hahah, yes you’re not far from the truth here! Poop is such a taboo topic but it's actually such an important indicator of your current overall health. The more I learn, the more I understand how crucial gut health is not only to your physical health, but as well mental and emotional health. As you may know, the gut biome is the collection of bacteria that reside within your gut. A poop test gives us an insight into not only your intestinal health - how well you digesting and breaking down food, but also how well you absorb nutrients. It also shows the “balance” of good vs. bad bacteria, whether there are any parasites, pathogens, yeast or worms, as well as antibiotic resistance genes and immunologic markers for gut health and function.
The balance of bacteria in your gut can affect far more then just your digestive health - it can contribute to inflammation, immune system issues, weight and metabolic problems, skin complaints, sleep disturbances, cognitive ability, sub-optimal athletic performance and more. Your gut and brain are connected physically through millions of nerves, most importantly the vagus nerve, so your gut and brain talk to each other! Your nutrition will affect how you feel not only physically but also your mood, cognitive function, energy levels etc.
I work with the amazing Dr Tamsin Lewis who is the founder of Wellgevity, an innovative, data driven, bespoke health concierge service in London focused on longevity and performance optimization. We design highly personalized plans based on the data we collect through gut and the 'poop' tests. Using our “wellgevity tool kit”, we guide and coach our clients so they can optimize and maximize their current life in terms of energy, performance and output - but also make sure they slow down aging and prevent the onset of preventable diseases. Modern medicine is not only general (one size fits all), reactive rather than preventative but also specialized (doctors specialize in a certain function or body part)- it doesn’t take into account the human as a whole, as a complex set of bodily systems that all influence each other.
ML: Those gut health tests can be super pricey. Tell us why that is and do you foresee it becoming more mainstream in the future lowering its price?
J: yes you’re right, the good ones are expensive as its still an expensive process and there are not many players in the market. More importantly however, it's not about the test results, it's about understanding what they mean and knowing what to do with that information. That's the part that's expensive, because that knowledge is scarce. Our aim is to democratize this knowledge. We want to create a platform and share what we know to make this knowledge accessible to everyone. A gut test and interpretation with us costs around £300, which is no more than some of us would spend on a night out in London. Yet we don't think twice about that.
ML: You’ve been cooking for hundreds of people through the years. What are your best tips for regular cooks like myself to help create a healthy kitchen without breaking the bank and letting it become a full-time job?
I think like with everything, preparation is key to success. My key motto is Quality over Quantity and my key points here would be:
1. Stock up your dry pantry with healthy grains, pulses, nuts, spices, oils (coconut, high quality olive oils etc.).
2. Organize your pantry so that you know what you have and can easily access it and be inspired. I installed simple Ikea shelves in my London kitchen to store glass jars so I can see in an instant what's available and make room in the pantry cabinet.
3. Invest in a couple of kitchen appliances that will make preparation easier, quicker and more convenient. My go-to is a little blender/food processor and my Nutri-Bullet.
3. Shop organic, local and seasonal as much as possible. It's much more nutrient dense, cheaper, supports local farmers and better for the planet. It adds a sense of pride in your kitchen.
4. Be prepared! I always have some cooked quinoa, cooked wild rice or fresh pesto in my fridge ready to go. Nut butters ready-made are simple to have on hand when I need to prepare something quickly or snack on something - I reach for the good stuff.
5. Be inspired - follow me and other healthy chefs and accounts on instagram :)
ML: You’re passionate about sharing with the world the best practices for a healthy life. Tell us what you’re working on next?
J: I am currently working on a few things, all centered around well-being and health. Mainly I work with Dr Tamsin Lewis. Our mission is to democratize the access to information on how to live in optimal health and flourish!
I am also working as a nutritional food consultant and chef. I believe what you put into your body forms the building blocks for the rest of your life. My Instagram account is full of daily tips and educational posts.
I am also working on a "Good for your Gut" food delivery business, but I will tell you more about that when I am ready to share with the world :)
ML: You're also 6'2", as it happens, and obsessed with fitness and wellbeing. You're often on a plane to some unusual destination, trekking in Mongolia, snowboarding in Pakistan or polar bear dipping in Poland. How has you relationship with your body evolved through the years, dealing with your height and building up your strength?
J: Growing up I was always very tall and skinny, towered over my piers, boys and girls, as i am sure you were as well. There were the awkward years where my arms were un-proportionally long, feet large and just generally awkward looking. It did have its advantages however, especially in sports like tennis which i played a lot of - i had a very long reach and smashing serve. I think being very active and sporty from a young age helped build that core strength and co-ordination as well as confidence growing up and is something that has stayed with me until now.
ML: Thank you Juicy, I can’t wait to share all your insights with our readers. @justinakozicki