Victoria McKellar and Elizabeth Biggs from Akesi:
"Get outside in nature, find ways to unwind, eat real food”
For this month’s Wellness Talk, we had the chance to catch up with our friends, Victoria McKellar and Elizabeth Biggs, the founders of Akesi. Akesi is a company focused on supporting our immune system and our digestive health through their range of Bio-Fermented Tonics and Probiotic+ Powders. We dive into their take on a healthy lifestyle, their food philosophies, the story behind Akesi and being mum entrepreneurs.
Elizabeth and Victoria first met in Singapore in 2011 during those demanding yet rewarding days of newborns and toddlers. They shared stories of health woes and together with their complementary views realised there was a better way to improve their health and of their loved-ones. Elizabeth and Victoria collaborated using available evidence emerging from scientific research which resulted in the birth of Akesi.
The health-conscious duo are thrilled to be helping people make dietary and lifestyle changes to their gut health and body.
Before we get started, could you share with us how you started your day this morning? (we love hearing about morning routines!)
VM: I love mornings, I wake up at 5:45am most days, stand on my shakti mat while I splash my face with cold water, then I drink a large glass of water, take my shot of Akesi Turmeric Tonic, sort my children and dog out for the day ahead, exercise and then enjoy my matcha before starting work.
EB: I’ve taken BJ Fogg’s advice – when your feet hit the ground “Today is going to be a great day”.
What is your story, what do you do and how you got into the work you are doing?
VM: I am a co-founder of Akesi – a Singapore based probiotic company. I do what I do to encourage my own and others unique wellness journey.
EB: I am a doctor that is now really interested in the health promotion side of wellness hence Akesi is a natural extension to that.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
VM: I feel blessed that I was able to manage the abrupt change in lifestyle quite well, I know so many have struggled, and my hearts go out to them. For me, I felt that I was doing all I could from a lifestyle and diet perspective to keep my family’s immune systems strong. Working and learning from home threw an extra hat on my head but we all managed as well as we could and are now very grateful for school and social gatherings. I mostly now just miss watching my children play their sports.
EB: Covid has forced a rethink of immediate and extended family priorities. We’ve managed to stay as a family unit – which I’m really grateful for - we’ve moved internationally during Covid and that’s been challenging to say the least.
From your experience, what do you feel are the biggest health challenges people are facing today?
VM: The seduction of food marketing. People are so confused by food labelling and advertising; mixed messaging makes it extremely challenging to make good dietary choices. I think people eat too little fibre and too much food from packets blaming ‘busyness of life’ when eating well can be fast, easy and affordable.
EB:Weight gain, poor energy and a feeling of ‘burn out’/tiredness. These are probably some of the most common complaints in the general population. Our lifestyles are hijacked by a frenetic pace of life, poor quality processed food that’s readily accessible, and urbanisation.
Can you describe your food philosophy?
VM: More vegetables, no frankenfoods
EB: Can’t say it better than Michael Pollen, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” I think he meant “real food” as opposed to food-like substances.
What does gluten free mean to you?
VM: I am predominantly grain free, not for any reason other than I feel better without grains and gluten in my day, feeling better means an abundance of energy to do everything I want to do.
EB: I’ve reduced my gluten intake by 80% mostly because I feel better eating like that.
VM: My non negotiables are my morning matcha which is blended with nut mylk, collagen powder, mushroom extracts (loving chaga at the moment), mct oil, and inulin powder. I also have a green smoothie (aka swamp juice) religiously. For lunch and dinner, I ensure it contains plenty of healthy fats, fibre and protein.
A treat for when I need something sweet:
EB: Black coffee, a keto friendly muesli, with chia, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, flax meal and hemp seeds with coconut kefir. Lunch is a salad, most of the time includes salmon, Good Fish range is amazing. Dinner is about the family and revolves around sitting together always. As a snack – I’m loving The Daily Bar https://thedailybar.co
My kids love smoothies – coconut water, frozen bananas, frozen acai, frozen berries, frozen spinach, whey protein powder, bee pollen, Akesi Probiotic+ Elderberry Boost.
What are your top three tips for healthy living?
VM: Get outside in nature: this means movement and sunshine; find ways to unwind; eat real food.
EB: Routine, have some non-negotiables for the week, practice gratitude
For someone wanting to learn more about wellness/nutrition, what resources would you recommend? (This could be books, podcasts, websites, anything!)
VM: I love anything from Dr Mark Hyman (podcasts, books, docuseries)
EB: Dr Rangan Chatterjee – Feel Better, Live More
and Dr Rupy Aujla – The Doctor’s Kitchen.
Both are NHS-trained doctors and embrace holistic food as medicine approach.
Do you have any affirmations, quotes, or mantras that you turn to regularly?
VM: “I have got this” but I also love the book “A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom and Courage”
EB: I carry Padraig O’Morain’s Daily Calm - 100 daily reminders in my handbag
How can our readers connect with you further? (any programs/social platforms?
VM: Through @akesiwellness or www.akesiwellness.com, or visit our blog (www.akesiwellness.com/blog) for plenty of lifestyle and dietary tips, as well as recipes for the family.
And finally, just a bit of fun, some sentence starters (just say the first thing that pops into your head!)a. Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are...
VM: coconut yoghurt, avocadoes, eggs
EB: I’m with Vic on that oneb. To relax I...
VM: Read or lie in the sun (reading)
EB: Have a cup of green teac. I’m most grateful for…
VM: good health
EB: agreed. If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be…
VM: This is tricky! Probably salads (can I cheat and say salads meaning salads packed with all sorts of deliciousness, variety is essential afterall!!)
EB: Coconut – I’m hoping that puts me on some lovely exotic paradise island.
New Antioxtidant Berry Smoothie Bowl at TWK Cafe in Katong
We are also excited to have partnered with them to create our newest cafe menu item, the Antioxtidant Berry Smoothie Bowl, which contains a shot of their Berry Spritzer Bio-Fermented Tonic.
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