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Getting to know Ancient+Brave's Nutrition Therapist, Jo Woodhurst

We are two brands who believe in beauty from within – in everyday rituals that enable us to be the healthiest versions of ourselves. The Light Salon are pioneers in LED, a form of skincare that works at a cellular level, with your body processing the light according to its individual needs on any given day. Ancient+Brave create responsibly sourced supplements that are tailored to your specific lifestyle, diet and health goals. This partnership is where targeted LED meets targeted nutrition. The result? A healthier, more radiant complexion, and a more balanced mind and body.

Our co-founder Laura talked to Ancient+Brave’s Nutritional Therapist Jo on their shared love of holistic skincare and the importance of daily rituals.

Jo, what is your background and how did your nutritional journey lead you to Ancient + Brave? 

You could say there have been a series of pretty impactful events leading up to where I find myself today, working with Ancient + Brave. I grew up with a great foundation for wellness, surrounded by home cooked foods, natural remedies and Yorkshire countryside, which I then seemed to completely forget about whilst I was in my twenties! My previous career was as a teacher, where I was running myself into the ground working and playing hard. I had a terrible relationship with my diet and body image, counting calories and punishing myself in the gym, which was miserable. 

The catalyst that changed my life and career path came while following my mother’s journey with brain cancer. I watched her remarkable experience with holistic health and thanks to her diet, lifestyle and positive mindset she extended a pretty poor prognosis and I got to spend many more years with her than expected. When she did pass away, I felt utterly inspired by her and a huge push to follow my dream job, so I retrained.  

I’d been following Ancient + Brave since they launched and felt so aligned with their values of sustainability, pure yet potent ingredients and approach to ancestral wellness. After a few years of working with clients in my own private clinic and supporting an online audience, an opportunity to work with Ancient + Brave came along and I jumped at it! Meeting the team and the Founder, Kate, was the final piece of the puzzle. I instantly felt part of something special and just like everything good in life, the relationship grew organically! 

What does wellness mean to you, and what’s your top 5 wellness tips you love for glowing skin and feeling great? 

Wellness to me is about balance and compassion. Nutrition is such a huge part of feeling well, but it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Balancing aspects of your life like your relationships, movement, sleep, nature, purpose and the way you feel about yourself is important too. Nutritional balance is of course important. I’m a huge advocate for eating nourishing foods but it’s worth remembering in a world where we see a lot of perfect images of food, every meal won’t always look instagram worthy - and that’s ok. Having compassion for your body and the choices you make for it has been a big part of my practice. You can’t heal a body you hate no matter how many organic vegetables you buy. 

My 5 top wellness tips have to be: 

  1. Get your morning routine sorted - you won't regret it and it sets your intention for the rest of the day. One of my morning rituals is 10 minutes of meditation whilst my coffee brews, adding in my collagen and sitting by the window to drink it. 
  2. Eat REAL, whole food as much as you can when you can. Your skin particularly loves antioxidant rich foods - think richly coloured vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. 
  3. Never underestimate the power of taking a few deep breaths. Stress is one of the leading causes of poor skin issues. 
  4. Hydrate! You can quickly see the effects on dehydration in the skin. Ever looked at yourself in the mirror in an aeroplane toilet? A dry, lacklustre face with deeper wrinkles than when you got on is usually looking back, thanks to the lack of hydration. On top of drinking water I like to take on plenty of herbals teas and some electrolytes too. 
  5. Be clever with your light exposure - one of the reasons I love Light Salon is that you guys have tapped into one of the most incredible sources of nourishment for the body; light. We evolved to benefit from our star, the sun, and therefore our bodies have these incredibly complex systems to use light in different ways. A simple hack to help you feel great is to ensure you get 20mins of morning light exposure in your eyes no matter what the weather and to turn off your screens before bed at night. This resets your internal body clock, the circadian rhythm, with wide reaching health benefits. 

What are your favourite Ancient + Brave formulas and supplement combinations? 

Gosh, this is such a hard one because I honestly use and love all of them. I’d say the ones that get the most airtime in my house are Wild Collagen, Cacao + Collagen, MCT and Radiant.  I have my Wild and MCT every morning without fail - it’s such an embedded ritual now and I love how it makes this delicious creamy drink which feels very indulgent yet has so many benefits. I often use the Caco + Collagen in the afternoon when I avoid caffeine and definitely up my dose around my menstrual cycle to make the most of the Ashwagandha and minerals like magnesium, zinc and iron found naturally in cacao. Radiant is such an amazing blend for skin health and is a regular addition to my smoothies! 

  • do you prioritise healthy eating over supplement use and recommend as the word suggests - as a supplement to food

  • Again it’s that word, balance. A diet packed with nutrition is always going to be top of the list and supplements shouldn’t replace that. In an ideal world we’d all have time to grow, cook and prepare all of our own food everyday - we’d all know how to create balanced meals and ensure we were getting the full range of nutrients we need to thrive. Life, for many of us though, just isn’t that perfect. On top of this, our modern living is leaving us more stressed, more sedentary and with less sleep than ever before. 

    Then take into account that our soils and seas are over-farmed creating a nutrient poor environment for the foods and animals grown there, the standard western diet simply doesn’t include the abundance of plants, proteins and healthy fats needed to function optimally. Many people struggle getting their 5-a-day, never mind the 10+ a day they should truly be aiming for. Collagen rich cuts of meat, organ meats and oily fish are nowhere near as popular as other types, meaning people are missing out on a whole subset of amino and fatty acids. Even the most informed about nutrition, I’m sure will admit they don’t always get it completely right and meet their daily requirements for nutrients everyday. Functional foods, blends and supplements, when they are high quality, help to give people that extra dose of goodness, that insurance policy if you like, of a wider range of nutrition so they can thrive, not just survive. 

    Please can you give your explanation for the importance of consistency when taking supplements?

    This is absolutely key to supplementation. There are a few supplements that work pretty quickly. For example if you wanted to take a magnesium citrate to help with constipation, you may see results fast! But others take some time to integrate into the body. If you have low levels of a certain nutrient, bear in mind it's going to take between 6 weeks and 3 months to correct most nutritional deficiencies. When you look at clinical trials of nutrients such as collagen, many studies cite the subjects taking collagen for at least 90 days, sometimes more, until testing the results. How long it will take you personally to see results will totally depend on your own health status at that time too. There’s no doubt that consistency is key, and this is true in most things within the wellbeing world - from exercise to getting enough sleep to even brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t brush your teeth once a month and expect to see great results! 

  • will you still gain the same benefits if you take a break for a few months between a few months use?

  • This is difficult to say because it completely depends on each person's age, gender, health status and health goal too. Some people are taking collagen to help with other aspects such as their joints, but they may also be peri-menopause, exposed to lots of sun and extremely active, so therefore are more likely to have an increased need for daily collagen because of the demand on their body. Saying that however, clinical studies have shown that great results have lasted even four weeks after the trials concluded, with the subjects still having a significant increase in other markers like skin hydration, wrinkle depth and elasticity despite having stopped taking the collagen. 

    There are many supplement brands to choose from, why should people choose ancient + brave?

    Hopefully for the same reason I did! Before working for Ancient + Brave I was a big fan of their formulations, because at the root of the brand is creating pure, potent and sustainable products. Ancient + Brave are obsessive when sourcing the very best ingredients from ethical producers, which is no mean feat in itself, and this shows in the extremely high quality formulas they produce. They’ve thought of every tiny detail - from ensuring your products come in dark glass jars so as not to be affected by light exposure or leached toxins from plastic containers, to thinking about the eco-friendly packaging materials they use to send the products in. They’ve even thought about the ritual of opening a beautiful product and displaying it in your home to make it part of your life. The actual formulas not only contain clever blends of nootropics, adaptogens, nutrients and botanicals but they also taste amazing. There’s no masking poor ingredients with dodgy flavours. No unnecessary additives, toxins or hormones. Beautifully pure products, great for the planet and the people living on it. 

  • is there evidence that supplements do what they promise?

  • It’s extremely important to us that the ingredients we use are backed by clinical evidence. Collagen studies are coming out all the time, each showing very promising results in all different areas of health including skin, joints, bones, gut health, even sleep and mood health. On top of this we have great customer feedback telling us time and time again what a difference the formulas are making to their lives. 

    Taking collagen internally is key for stimulating fibroblasts, the small cells that produce this essential protein whilst also providing the body with the amino acids it needs to make new collagen. This stimulation also helps the fibroblasts to create other compounds such as elastin and hyaluronic acid; improving hydration, elasticity and overall appearance. This goes far beyond just our facial complexion however. Collagen has been shown in studies to also support our bones, joints, gut and even mood health. 

    Everyone wants a glowing complexion - what nutrition would you suggest people should be including within their diet to achieve glowing skin? 

    Giving your body the building blocks of what it needs to create great skin is the first step. Protein is key here, as it’s literally the nutrient your skin is mainly made from. Good sources include collagen of course, organic grass fed meats, fish, eggs, tofu and protein rich plants such as lentils, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds. 

    Next is protection. Your skin is the barrier to the outside world and therefore it’s put through its paces everyday! Healthy fats and antioxidants are very important here as they protect your skin and reduce inflammation.  Think oily fish, avocados, coconut, chia, berries, pomegranates, dark green leafy veggies and spices like turmeric, cacao and even matcha. 

    Finally, think about your detox pathways. Your skin is a detoxification organ for the body so when the other pathways, like your gut, liver or lymphatic system, get overloaded then guess where you’ll see the consequences? Support your gut with lots of prebiotics - we use chicory root in some of our formulas, as well as eating probiotics found in fermented foods like kimchi or miso. As well as eating nourishing foods, uptaking habits such as body brushing or sauna can help too. 

    From a nutritional perspective would be your recommendation to support: 

    Nutrition should be personalised to each individual, so this will look a bit different for everyone, but one thing that ties all of these health goals together is… collagen! Studies have shown amazing benefits to taking collagen in each of these areas so that would be my umbrella supplement. On top of this I would also add;

    X ageing skin - foods high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds such as vitamins A,C and E as well as herbs, spices and healthy fats 

    X menopause - you want to support your cortisol levels in this stage, so focusing on balancing your blood sugars and adding in calming minerals like magnesium or adaptogens like ashwaganda and rhodiola. 

    X sleep - the trick here is to make sure you’re not eating too much too close to your bedtime. I love the combination of zinc, magnesium and B6 before bed and using amino acids from proteins like glycine and tryptophan. 

    X gut health - fibre, fibre fibre! People just aren’t getting enough. Prebiotic fibres like onions, leeks, artichoke, chicory root all feed your good gut bacteria 

    X bone health -  We simply cannot build bone and keep them healthy unless we provide them with the necessary ingredients like calcium, magnesium and vitamins D, K and C. 

    Our Light Salon community share personal success stories with us, plus great before and after photographs. What would be a stand out success story from a customer or client you've helped with the inclusion of Ancient + Brave to their diet.

    From my clinic I can absolutely think of a few. One client in particular was hypermobile,  entering peri-menopause but also suffering from gut symptoms. She’d recently reduced meat in her diet and was feeling tired and overwhelmed.  All of these health issues can be supported gently with collagen, as well as a few other things, and so we saw great results when she started regularly taking Ancient + Brave products. 

    We’re very lucky to also receive lots of lovely testimonials from our community too.

    One customer told us she previously had to have a steroid injection every 9 months to

    manage back pain from an injury, but since taking True Collagen was not feeling the pain when the injection wore off. She said she felt so much stronger, mobile and able to manage tasks which would have been agonising before and adding the True collagen was the only consistent difference to her diet. Even her surgeon told her to keep taking the

    Collagen as it was supporting and plumping up the muscles and cartilage in the

    area much like the steroid, but in a much more natural way so it felt like a better long term solution.

    Another customer who suffered from hormonal and stress related acne started taking our collagen from a dermatologist recommendation after trying multiple other ineffective  treatments. She needed a product which was flavourless and odourless to help her take it consistently and noticed her skin improved massively. She told us that; ‘I look in the mirror and feel like 'me' again. My friends have commented that I've got my sparkle back” which I just think is wonderful. 

    Quickfire questions! 

    Your favourite…

    Lunch? Can I say brunch?! I love literally every breakfast food, any time of the day. 

    Tips to encourage a peaceful sleep: Cacao + Collagen, hot bath, lavender oil and a cool bedroom. 

    Way to energise your mind? Movement, sunlight and MCT oil 

    Way to supplement a child's diet? Powdered probiotics, enough omega 3 and good quality supplements in liquid form 

    Skincare treatment? Honestly, I’d never had an experience like The Light Salon! I also love a bit of gua sha

    Happy place? Early morning walking in the woods with my partner, little one and a hot coffee in a flask. 

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