BALM: A Holistic Approach to Health Rooted in Tradition, Research, and the Art of Baking
We’ve always eaten bread, and yet the gluten-bashing brigade is often out in full force on social media, encouraging people to give up gluten.
This kind of misinformation has to stop. Our role is to empower, educate and support systems change, and so Vanessa took GP Dr Alexander Davidson with her to Sardina to work in the bakeries with her and personally hang out and meet them to investigate exactly how the people living healthy lives and well into their 100th-year bake and eat their bread.
BALM is not a new way to approach bread -it is grounded in evolutionary theory
You might be hearing about BALM for the first time, and yet this is the way we have taught here at The Sourdough School for two decades. In the interwoven tapestry of health philosophies, you will frequently encounter recurring themes: the importance of diet, the role of holistic practices, and the power of tradition. In this section below, you can listen to the observations of Dr Davisdson answering questions about baking as Lifestyle medicine and what we saw first and in Sardina.
If you are new to hearing about The Blue Zones, they are regions known for longevity and well-being—and are often referenced as exemplars. They teach us about the significance of plant-based diets, social connections, and a balanced approach to life. These lessons resonate deeply with the principles of Lifestyle Medicine, which underscores the importance of lifestyle choices in disease prevention and management. It’s no coincidence that this approach is heavily inspired by the Mediterranean diet, celebrated for its numerous health benefits.
—”Baking as Lifestyle Medicine.” This innovative approach, grounded in the pillars of Lifestyle Medicine, builds upon Vanessa’s rich Italian heritage and upbringing in southwest France.
Our social enterprise supports our graduates to prescribe baking as a form of Lifestyle Medicine, empowering medical practitioners in the UK to tap into the age old practices of baking, eating and sharing bread that promote holistic well-being.
Key Principles of BALM and Their Health Implications:
- Holistic Health: BALM isn’t just about baking bread; it’s a gateway to approaching bread as Lifestyle Medicine. This philosophy recognizes the mind-gut connection, emphasizing the importance of mental well-being for optimal gut health. The practice of baking, especially sourdough, offers a rhythmic routine. It provides an opportunity for mindfulness, stress reduction, and connecting with nature—echoing the holistic health approach found in Blue Zones.
- Dietary Fibre: A key recommendation from both the Mediterranean diet and BALM is the increase in dietary fibre. Not only does it benefit the gut microbiome, but it also supports overall health. This principle is immediately actionable, empowering individuals to make positive changes with their very next meal.
- Dietary Diversity: Just as the Blue Zones teach us about the benefits of a varied, plant-centric diet, BALM emphasizes increasing diversity in our food. A diverse diet enriches our gut microbiome, fortifying our health. BALM’s Botanical Blends, crafted to augment diversity in baking, mirror this foundational principle.
- Fermentation: Tapping into the power of fermentation, BALM draws attention to its potential to enhance nutrient bioavailability. The act of sourdough fermentation not only moderates gluten’s impact but also magnifies the accessibility of vital nutrients.
- Antioxidants: Rich in the Mediterranean diet and vital for combating oxidative stress, antioxidants are central to BALM. By incorporating diverse grains blended with ingredients like green tea, cocoa nibs, and edible flowers, baking can become a potent source of these health-promoting compounds.
- Probiotics: A burgeoning area of research reveals the role of gut bacteria in mental health. BALM introduces an innovative way to boost these beneficial microbes through baking, complemented by recipes for live syrups, vinegar, and more.
- Minimizing Refined Sugar: Echoing a global call to reduce refined sugar, BALM promotes the judicious use of sweeteners. Recognizing the link between sugar, inflammation, and health, this principle underscores the importance of moderation, resonating deeply with the lessons from Blue Zones.
- Community & Sustainability: Just as the Blue Zones emphasize social ties and respect for the environment, BALM encourages sharing bakes with friends and family, connecting with local farmers, recognizing the rhythm of seasons, and sourcing ingredients sustainably.
By intertwining the wisdom of the Blue Zones, the evidence-based principles of Lifestyle Medicine, and the therapeutic benefits of the BALM Protocol, medical practices in the UK have a potent tool at their disposal. Prescribing baking as Lifestyle Medicine can revolutionize patient care, offering a comprehensive, holistic approach to health and well-being.