Dr Amrita Vijay
Amrita worked for several years at Kings College London with Professor Tim Spector. Tim asked Amrita to contact me so that we could get together and talk about the sourdough process, something she wanted to learn more about for the book he had been writing back then. I liked her from the moment I met her as she was so warm and loved the whole concept of evidence-based teaching. When I was looking for someone to validate my research for The Sourdough School book, I could think of no one better, and Amrita was, and still is, absolutely integral to making sure the research was correctly interpreted and applied.
I’d been researching the impact of bread on health for many years on my own. Recognising the importance of an evidence-based approach and reading clinical studies and trials for some years on how sourdough affected bread and potential health. I wanted to be sure that my understanding of the research was correct and discuss the implications, and that’s where Amrita’s expertise came to help set up the Research Library. There is such a lot of misinformation about bread that we wanted to check facts, validate the research and the evidence we use from the offset. Amrita helped get the accreditation of the course we taught for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) accredited courses.
All of our research is validated and checked.
Amrita set up the research database, ensuring the highest standards of practice at The School in 2016. It is this library that undermined the development and subsequent studies of the BALM protocol (Baking as Lifestyle Medicine.) Her research specialist interests lie in metabolic health, the gut microbiome and diet. She knew that research into food and digestion was something she wanted to pursue after taking a course in food science, nutrition and food safety during her undergraduate degree. In fact, it was this interest that brought her to the UK from India. A scholarship to study at Nottingham University meant that she was able to do an MSc in Food Science, after which she continued to follow her dream of a research career with a PhD in oral health at King’s College.
Amrita’s knowledge was excellent as she had been working in the Department of Twin Research at King’s College, London, where she led two clinical studies. The first, a study of nutrition and dietary intervention in twins, led the way in this field of research with outcomes that paved the way to designing and conducting more targeted intervention studies. She also project managed one of the largest gut microbiome studies that looked at predicting responses to treatment in cancer patients. Due to personal circumstances, Amrita then moved to the midlands in 2020, where she currently works as a Research Fellow at the School of Medicine. Currently, her core research focuses on exercise and dietary interventions targeted to improve metabolic health by modulating the gut microbiome in healthy individuals as well as those with Osteoarthritis and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). With her local knowledge and connections, Amrita has also led international collaborations and projects in India which focussed on the role of the gut microbiome in malnutrition and the role of local dietary patterns on the risk of developing NAFLD.
Amrita ensures that we are up to date.
Having an independent advisor helping work on the book, our research database is one of the reasons we are able to teach at such high standards. This now contains information from almost 700 research papers and is a resource that students have access to.
In the database, there are details of studies on the health benefits of sourdough, the microbes involved in the fermentation process, and the gut microbiome. This resource will continue to build as further research is published.
One of the things I absolutely love about Amrita is the fact that she totally, utterly loves to bake. It’s a passion we share, and we have bonded over laughing and getting flour everywhere! If she can get her hands into the dough, she’s the first person up to her elbows in flour and water. Over the months she has been working with me, we have spent time together, developing recipes to support health and gut microbiome. She says her favourite part is helping with recipe testing… getting hands-on, and seeing the science being applied in producing something tangible and delicious. In return for teaching her about sourdough baking, Amrita has shown me how to make chapattis and dhal. We always eat them when she visits!