Q & A with registered dietitian: Alex Royal

We sat down with Alex Royal registered dietitian, expert in nutrigenomics (genetics testing) and author of Genes to plate, a gene-smart cookbook for proactive heath enthusiasts; to chat about some of her go-to’s for women’s health and wellness.

We asked Alex a few questions about her nutrition-powered lifestyle, as well as her top tips. Here’s what she had to say:

1. As a woman, what is your instant nutrition go-to?

That would absolutely be a green juice! Fresh is best, but if frozen is all you have, it’s better than nothing. It’s the fastest way to feel like your are getting that goodness in!


2. What makes you feel good?

I love surfing with my hubby and hearing my little boy laugh!


3. How do you get your health-fix after a holiday?

Do a 10 day detox.

We have a graded detox that we recommend to our clients, called The Thrive detox. It’s actually really accessible and you feel absolutely amazing afterwards. Also just eliminating those things that really make you feel bad like gluten, alcohol, sugar and coffee can do wonders!

In the detox, you can eat loads of veggies, some fruit and legumes. It’s clean eating that eliminates the toxins. Very simple, but effective.


4. Supplements? What’s your view?

I think there’s definitely a role for them. We often don’t get around to eating the correct type of foods, and we don’t get to eat certain nutrients in the amounts that we should. For example, folate. We often don’t eat enough green, leafy vegetables and other sources which may be required for the quantities we need. Supplements can cover that, for example omega-3’s, if you don’t eat oil fish every day you have an omega-3 supplement to cover your base.

There are other supplements like glutamine, which is really good for the gut, which is found in things like bone broth but if you are not eating animal products you may decide to supplement instead.

There are supplements that work on the up-regulating of DNA, so if you have an issue with your DNA (like I’ve got poor detox) you want to work on that DNA to actually up-regulate it, for the system to work better. Like Sulforaphane (a broccoli extract) which does exactly that.


5. And with regard to omega-3’s, you’ve mentioned that they are so super important. Please tell us why?

It’s mainly for anti-inflammatory. As in; it causes a whole systemic anti-inflammatory response.  This is really important, because it prevents things like blood clotting and arteriole disease for one thing, but it also helps to improve your immune system. If you’ve got a healthy immune system, you’re bullet proof. Something like vitamin D for example, if you don’t get enough sun exposure or if you don’t want to expose your skin to the sun, but want to have a good vitamin D level, which is important for the immune system as well. Take a vitamin D supplement. Unless you are getting organically grown, fresh veggies, chances are you are not getting all the nutrients that you need.


6. What is the low-down on genetics? Are we doomed from birth?

A nice analogy is, you are born with a certain genetic makeup which could increase your risk. Lets just say; you are loading the gun.

It is your lifestyle that is pulling the trigger, or not.

It’s your lifestyle that’s going to push it over the edge if that risk already exists.

So no, you are not doomed but there are factors that you can control which is important to know.


7. What’s your view on legumes?

Love legumes! Obviously. Great amount of protein in them, folate, excellent source of B vitamins. They are easy to get in, and to cook them up. A good example is your pasta!


8. What about legumes affecting the absorption of phytonutrients? This is the plant protecting itself but how much does that affect us? 

I think everyone is different. They say that legumes can affect the absorption of nutrients, but some people can absorb phytonutrients better then others. If this is the case, the legume won’t really cause an issue when absorbing other nutrients. For other people however, their gut enzymes may not be breaking the legumes down correctly, which may be a problem. Ultimately, as with anything, you have to see what works for you.


9. We have actually researched the effects of legumes and nutrient absorption, keeping this in mind with our processes; we have removed the outer layer to make it more digestible and activated. Does that make a difference?

Wow! That’s amazing! The nutritional content is all there and no digestive hurdles! I didn’t realise that. That’s great!


About Alex:

Alex has a cutting-edge knowledge and genuine passion for Dietetics and Nutrigenomics. Her fresh approach in the field is motivational and has successfully encouraged clients to reach their goals at her busy Cape Town practices. She also presents at workshops around the country and has been featured on television, in magazines and online sources. Being a sports crazed, health fanatic from Durban she moved to Cape Town to do an honours in Dietetics. After qualifying she ingrained herself in clinical patient management at Groote Schuur Hospital and developed a meal delivery business, Daily Dietitian.

She focuses on genetic testing (nutrigenomics), weight management, sports nutrition, specialized diets and pregnancy nutrition.

You can find out more on the 10 day detox, booking a consultation or finding a delicious nutrition-smart recipe on her website.