Q & A with Alice Mackintosh of Equi London

Alice Mackintosh is a registered Nutritional Therapist based in West London’s Chelsea. She runs a thriving practice helping people to manage skin disorders, is a founder of nutritional supplement range Equi London and co-author of bestselling cookbook The Happy Kitchen, Good Mood Food.

How did you get into nutrition?

It was a love of food, together with a genuine intrigue as to how nutrition can impact the body that made me want to study nutrition and be a practitioner. I had always wanted to help people feel well, and when I learnt that your diet might have an impact, I had to study more! I did two degrees, and though it took ages to get all my qualifications, it was so worth it to be able to help so many people.

Do you have an essential morning routine?

I used to be one of those people that was on their phone and emails from the moment I woke up, but last year I decided to make a conscious effort to spend a few moment each morning focusing on my goals, or even spending 3 minutes journaling whilst I wait for the kettle to boil. This doesn’t always happen but I always feel so much happier when I manage to find time. I am more of a morning exerciser than afternoon, so try and be active even if it’s just popping out for a walk in a local park. I can’t live without breakfast so I normally quickly whip up some eggs and avo or a smoothie followed by Equi, and then it’s either straight to my clinic or heading to meet Rosie at the office. I also love dipping into a book called The Daily Stoic for inspiration – it’s full of soundbites of wisdom!  

What motivated you to start Equi? 

It was really a matter of right place, right time.  My business partner Rosie Speight (old v old friend) and I had both experienced a massive gap in the market for supplements that really work – me as a nutritionist looking for products for her clients, and Rosie actually as a customer trying to find something to support her skin.

The idea came about after Rosie came to see me to focus on sorting her skin out.  At the time, she was working in Investment Banking, so was living a pretty full-on and fast paced life-style, like so many of us do! Rosie’s skin had flared up badly when she stopped taking the contraceptive pill which she had been on for many years.  She was preparing to have a baby so harsh medications were out of the question and she wanted to get to the route cause of her issues.  Rosie was already eating pretty well, but as well as a few tweaks to her diet, I suggested a range of supplements that not only cleared her skin up but also improved her energy, digestion, concentration, sleep.  She felt the best she had in years and it was then that she really realised how sub-par she’d been feeling on a day-to-day basis....and her skin completely cleared up and had a wonderful glow.

The supplements I gave Rosie to take were only available through practitioners or specialist websites, were unbranded and sold in single forms - so you needed to have gone to see and experts to know what to take.  We quickly realised that there was a real need for readily available supplements that actually work and make a real difference to how you look and feel. 
  
Supplements get a lot of bad press for being ineffective and we tend to agree with this - most of the readily available products don’t give any noticeable changes.  Though there were some good products on the market, that wasn’t anything that was as comprehensive as what we knew was needed to make a difference, that had also been formulated for real people living busy city lifestyles.  It was also essential to us to use the absolute best quality ingredients and cut all fillers, binders, chemicals and unnatural nasties. 

Do you take the Equi formulas on a daily basis? 

Yes! Right now I’m 7 months pregnant, so I’ve been taking the Pregnancy Formula and Pregnancy Oil Edition, but normally my favourite is Beauty Formula – I’m a real love of anything beauty from within.

 

At what age should we consider introducing Equi into our life? 

Really the products are designed to support adult women of all ages (above 16 years old) and at any stages of life, especially if they are feel sub-par or struggling with the side effects of a hectic, demanding lifestyles.. which in my experience, many women are.

There is something for everyone on our website, from hormone support, acne, anti ageing, energy, brain function, weight management or pregnancy.

What are your plans for the future of Equi? 

We’ve got loads of plans for amazing new products, which are in development now – stay tuned!

What foods do you recommend to keep our skin glowing and for an overall clear complexion? 

This is a big question, because the skin needs alot of nutrients and is also a very complex organ, but I would say top five foods to try and eat more of to support your skin are oily fish, avocado, walnuts, raw cacao, dark colourful berries and green leafy veg. I would also suggest eating to support your gut, as this can have a positive impact on skin. Try to eat foods rich in probiotics such as natural sugar free yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled veg and tempeh and chose anti-inflammatory gut-loving foods foods such as wholegrains carbs, turmeric, and vegetables.

With the holiday season approaching, how do we avoid bloating after meals? 

As well as the probiotic foods above which may be supportive, it’s vital to ensure you’re not eating on-the-go too much, and to sit down and savour the food you’re eating rather than bolting it. This helps to send messages to from the brain to the gut that trigger efficient digestive processes. Processed foods, carbonated drinks, added sugar, sweeteners and refined white carbs aren’t great for the digestive system, but cutting them out isn’t easy over Christmas! Try to get veggies every day to ensure you’re still having fibre and nutrients, and trying a good quality probiotic supplement can also be useful if you’re extra sensitive.

This cold weather and lack of sun can leave us feeling tired and unmotivated- are there any foods we can incorporate into our diets to combat this? 

Rather than just relying on sugar, caffeine, carbs and quick energy foods that lead to spikes in blood sugar and then crashes, aim for three regular meals with protein, modest complex carbs, plenty of colourful vegetables and some healthy fats. This balance keeps us full, energised and feeling like we can fire on all cylinders. Some other great energy supporting foods include beetroot, green tea (great for sharpening the mind too owing to EGCG), oily fish, nuts, green leafy veg and raw cacao (also amazing for the brain!).

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin (which is actually behaves more like a hormone in the body than a vitamin) is vital for many body processes such as immunity, brain function, bone health, hormones and digestion.  At this time of year in the northern hemisphere vitamin D starts to dwindle, especially if we work indoors so we should take steps to get more in from other sources to prevent it dipping too much. Getting your levels checked is very important each year, ideally in November or December time and speak to your GP about supplementation. Best food sources: oily fish such as mackerel, mushrooms (leave them out in the light to increase vitamin D) avocado, egg yolk.

Do you think there is a link between our mental health and diet?

Yes absolutely! Science has shown that our nutrition has a big impact on the brain, just like it does the rest of the body. I am not saying this is the ONLY thing that can help, but it is certainly an important piece of the puzzle for many, and can be a very empowering way to help yourself… Even small steps over time can make a difference to how you feel. I know this because I spent years researching and writing The Happy Kitchen together with an old client, Rachel Kelly (also a mental health campaigner), which incorporates lots of user friendly nutrition information and recipes backed up by more than 150 studies.