Enjoy fun in the sun with these top summer health tips

After, what seems like a very long winter, summer is finally here! So are you full of energy and ready to enjoy these longer days or feeling a little lack-lustre?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives some top tips on how to best prepare for some summer fun!

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ENERGISING NUTRIENTS

If you’re not feeling super-energised right now, then it may be that you need some more energising nutrients in your diet. A key nutrient to give you that ‘get-up-and-go feeling, is iron; it transports oxygen throughout the bloodstream. People who are slightly iron-deficient often get out of breath easily, particularly during exercise, and other symptoms can include fatigue and pale skin. So how can you increase this important nutrient?

Red meat contains the most absorbable form of iron. However, if you’re a non-meat-eater or vegetarian, foods such as beans, dried fruit, spinach and dark chocolate contain some iron and if eaten with other foods or drinks containing vitamin C, then the iron becomes much more absorbable.

The family of B vitamins are also essential for releasing energy from food. Some of the best food sources are whole grain cereals (some are also fortified with additional B-vitamins), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and lentils.

TROUBLE SLEEPING?

Light mornings often means we wake up earlier than we would like, plus summer nights can be hot and humid. Ideally a bedroom needs to be dark to allow the body to naturally produce melatonin, our sleep hormone. If you find you’re waking up too early, either invest in some black-out blinds or curtains or alternatively try an eye mask.

A warm milky drink before bedtime is not just an old-wives’ tale! Any type of milk, particularly cow’s milk or soya, contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps produce more melatonin. A couple of oats cakes as a snack before bed will also encourage a peaceful slumber.

DRINK FOR YOUR SUMMER SKIN

The hotter it gets, the more hydration your body needs and your skin will really suffer if you’re dehydrated. As a general rule, the body needs at least 1 ½ – 2 litres of water daily (this can include herbal or fruit teas). However, if you’re getting really hot and sweaty, then the body needs its electrolytes replenishing as well: these are salts within the body that are depleted when the body loses fluids. Magnesium, sodium and potassium are examples of electrolytes.

Whizzing up a juice or smoothie is a great way of getting some of these electrolytes back into the body. Think avocado, blueberries, and beetroot with some coconut water for an electrolyte punch. Plus, avocadoes are packed full of skin-loving vitamin E, to give you an extra glow!

DOUBLE UP YOUR EXERCISE

The summer often makes us feel like we want to increase an existing exercise plan or get one started. The best way is to double up your gains is by joining a group or club (think tennis or outdoor fitness) or participating in a team sport.

High intensity training can be tough, especially in the summer heat. However, sessions are often relatively short and when done with other people (or a partner or friend), they can actually be fun too! It will make sticking to the plan much easier.

EAT AWAY STRESS

Stress is our modern day epidemic; long working hours, busy family life, relationship woes or money worries all take their toll. Plus, of course, it can impact on summer fun and enjoyment. Whilst stress is often unavoidable, the body can be fuelled to better cope.

Vitamin C is needed to help produce our stress hormone cortisol. Strawberries (in season right now), red peppers and citrus fruits are all great sources of vitamin C. Plus the B vitamins also play a key role in helping the body to manage the stress response.

Additionally get some walnuts in your life! Why? Because they’re high in the essential omega-3 fats. We frequently forget about them but omega-3’s are key in brain function and in helping the body better manage stress. If walnuts are not your bag, then pumpkin seeds or oily fish are also great sources.

So with a few dietary changes and some lifestyle shifts, you can be enjoying wonderful summer days to the full.

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Beat the winter blues with these top tips for combating low mood this season

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Turning back the clocks is often a pivotal moment in people’s thinking.  Short, dark days can often negatively affect mood, energy and appetite.  However, with greater understanding of how we can effectively ‘by-pass’ the winter, we can enjoy the season rather than wishing the next six months away!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on how we can boost our mood and keep on smiling through the winter.

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It’s estimated that as many as one in 15 people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or winter depression.  The onset of SAD is often governed by our hormones and the disturbance of natural body rhythms.  The body naturally likes to wake up when it’s light, which is rarely possible for most people during the winter months.

Here are some of my top tips for minimising the winter blues.

EAT YOURSELF HAPPY

Certain hormones have a significant impact on seasonal changes in mood, energy and appetite; a lack of serotonin is often responsible for mood disorders in general.   People (especially those affected by SAD) frequently crave carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, cereal, cakes and biscuits.  There’s nothing wrong with eating starchy carbohydrates as long as you stick to unrefined whole grain carbs such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and oats and avoid the sugary-laden snacks.

You can also increase serotonin levels by eating more foods containing the amino acid, tryptophan.  Great foods to eat include chicken, turkey, milk, yoghurt, bananas, figs, tuna and oats.

Levels of another brain neurotransmitter – dopamine – are also reduced during the darker months.  Foods that help to raise dopamine levels include lean meat, dairy products, fish and eggs.

BALANCING BLOOD SUGAR

During the winter months symptoms of low mood, lack of energy and increased appetite are common.  One of the ways to combat these is to balance blood sugar levels so that energy is sustained throughout the day.  This, in turn, will help to balance mood and stop food cravings.

The most important point to remember is to eat three meals a day that each contain some form of protein.  If you need a couple of snacks in between, that’s fine, but try to include some protein as well.  For example, sliced apple with nuts, oatcakes with chicken, plain yoghurt with fruit etc.   Additionally, it’s best to avoid or dramatically reduce coffee, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes which play havoc with blood sugar levels.

LIGHT THERAPY

The control centres in our brain determine our moods and daily rhythms, which in part are governed by the amount of light that enters our eyes.  When the light hits the retina of the eye it effects the release of the hormone melatonin.  Melatonin is released during darkness, making us sleepy.  This is one of the reasons we feel tired during the winter because it’s dark much of the time!

Light or phototherapy is a treatment for SAD involving daily exposure to high-intensity, broad-spectrum artificial light from a light box, which suppresses the release of melatonin.  It appears to work really well although sufferers usually need to make the other changes to diet and lifestyle for maximum benefit.

TRY THE HERB ST JOHN’S WORT

This popular and well-known herb is found in many part of the world, including Europe, Asia and the United States.  It produces distinctive yellow flowers and many parts of the plant are used to create a very effective natural solution to help symptoms of low mood.

St John’s wort appears to help raise serotonin levels which in turn improve mood and motivation.  It generally takes around three weeks to really see results but it’s certainly worth persevering.

For more information and to try St John’s Wort visit the Nature’s Way website.

GET ACTIVE!

We all know that the body naturally loves to be active. However, we’re also now realising the wonderful benefits of exercise on mental health.  Indeed, health practitioners involved in treating depression have seen how effective it can be.

When we exercise or ‘get active’ the brain releases endorphins which are powerful chemicals in the brain that make us feel good.  Exercise also relieves feelings of stress and anxiety and actually helps raise energy levels.

If the gym is not for you, don’t despair.  Just getting more active, for example taking a brisk 30- minute walk in the fresh air, can really invigorate and raise your mood.  So, instead of reaching for the remote control and hiding under the duvet when it’s damp and dull outside, get out there!

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad

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Boost your hikes with these top energising trail snacks

What can be better than getting out into the great outdoors!  There are so many activities to be enjoyed outside and walking and hiking are becoming increasingly popular.  But what food should you take on your hike to keep your energy up and those legs moving?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top energising and portable snacks to keep you going on the trails all day.

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When you’re walking for long stretches at a time, energy levels can become depleted quite quickly, particularly if you’re tackling some challenging inclines. Therefore, what’s needed is quick energy-boosting or high glycaemic foods; these are foods that help the body to break down our preferred fuel, glucose, for readily available energy.

Here are 5 of my top go-to snacks for walking, hiking and trail-blazing!

BAGEL AND JAM

A white bagel provides a dense source of energy which can be quickly accessed by the body without delivering a high fat content. Whilst the body can use fat as a fuel source, it takes much longer to be converted and delivered to the muscles where it’s mostly needed.

Jam of course has a high sugar content, which makes it a very usable short-term energy fix.  Even better, bagels and jam require no refrigeration and are light and easy to carry in a back-pack.

DRIED FRUIT

If you’re out trekking all day and maybe walking at altitude for some of the time, the body actually burns up carbohydrates a lot more quickly than in normal circumstances – so you’ll find yourself feeling super-hungry. Whilst eating lots of dried fruit is not to be recommended too often, it’s actually a great snack when you’re in need of some quick fuel.

You can choose whichever fruit you most enjoy.  Raisins, for example, are also a great source of iron which many people, especially women, are lacking, and iron is good at boosting energy levels. Dried apples, as an alternative, will provide a small amount of vitamin C and dried apricots are high in heart-friendly potassium.  The choice is yours – why not mix with a handful of your favourite nuts and create your own trail mix?

BANANA

Keeping the body fuelled whilst walking or hiking for long periods is essential for maximum enjoyment of the day. However, large quantities of food are not needed and in fact can cause digestive upsets (not great if you’re on a long walk!)

Bananas fit the bill perfectly; they’re very portable, they relieve hunger pangs quickly and they provide an energy boost plus additional vitamins and minerals to top up the body’s normal daily requirements.

However, it’s probably best not to consume more than one during the day as they’re high in fibre and may cause bloating.

MUESLI BARS

For many people, muesli is their favourite cereal.  Therefore, being able to take a muesli snack bar out for the day represents a real treat!  Whilst these bars contain quite high amounts of sugar, and are not recommended on a daily basis, they are perfect for this type of exercise.

Even better, why not make up your own bars using honey, caster sugar, butter, some rolled oats, sultanas, dried apricots and some mixed seeds (such as pumpkin seeds)?  They’re totally delicious and also contain some excellent nutrients: oats are great for reducing cholesterol levels, and pumpkin seeds are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats which are great for the heart, joints and brain.

Bring a few to share and everyone will love you on the mountain!

SPORTS BARS

There are an array of sports bars in the supermarkets and specialist sports shops, but which one to choose?  They all have their own merits but one of the biggest problems with sports bars is that they often contain chemical sweeteners, such as aspartame.  These types of sweeteners are not great for us because they are chemicals, plus many people get digestive upsets and bloating when eating foods containing high levels of sweeteners.

So when choosing a sports bar look for one that’s high in carbohydrates but be sure to check what else is in it before purchasing.  There are plenty of options that use natural sweeteners, particularly if you look in health food stores, and they’ll still keep you well energised throughout the day.

DON’T FORGET TO HYDRATE

Most importantly, don’t forget to take plenty of fluid with you – at least 2 litres if you’re out all day or tackling a more strenuous hike. The body also re-hydrates more quickly if you add a little fruit juice to your water rather than just drinking it plain, so why not take one bottle with water and fruit juice, and one without?

So get out there and enjoy your summer walks to their fullest, and with the right snacks you won’t be flagging up those challenging hills!

 FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

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For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit Herbfacts

Go clean in 2017: how to refresh your lifestyle for a healthier you

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As another year turns, January is always the time when thoughts turn to starting afresh and cleaning up certain areas of our lives, whether it’s our diet, our mind-set or our health.  To many people, this could mean losing some weight, starting a new fitness regime or having more structured life goals.

So where to start?  Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us seven key ways to create sustainable change and clean up all areas of your life for a much healthier you.

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CLEAN UP YOUR MIND

Cleansing the mind should be your number one detox tip. In order to make lasting, sustainable and effective changes to your body and your lifestyle, you need to adopt a positive and clean mind set to allow for new ways of thinking.

Start by stating your life goals – what do you want to achieve during 2017? Make these goals achievable and be realistic about your body and lifestyle too: if the goals are too far-reaching you may become frustrated and give up.

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For example, saying you want to lose 2 stone in weight during January is not healthy: losing weight over a longer period of time is much more realistic and reflects a change in mind set and lifestyle.  A good approach is to write down how you will make January the beginning of a much healthier eating pattern that will take you through the year, and what exercise you are planning to do each week.

Keep track of all your goals and see how well you’re doing at key times throughout the month and year to keep your motivation up!

CLEAN UP YOUR DIET

By far the most effective dietary change you can make is to ditch sugar.  Sugar in all its forms encourages weight gain and provides what we call empty calories; cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates and pastries all need to be avoided – it’s harsh but simple!  But if you really struggle to eat your cereal or porridge for example without a little sweetness, then look for natural sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia, which are readily available in the supermarkets, and are calorie free.

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Another benefit of clearing out the sugary foods is that they upset blood sugar balance, which is a main contributor to energy dips and mood swings. Once sugar has mostly been eliminated from your diet, you will feel much more positive mentally and your energy levels will soar – great ways to start feeling healthier all round!

CLEAN UP YOUR BODY

The acid/alkaline balance within the body is an important factor when assessing health. The body should be more alkaline than acid and unfortunately sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, processed foods and stress all create acidity in the body.  Acidity, in turn, can lead to poor detoxification, low energy, blotchy skin and, if this is one of your goals, difficulty losing weight.

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However, the good news is that when you load up on fresh vegetables, particularly the cruciferous variety such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and sprouts, you’ll be re-balancing the body towards being more alkaline.

Having a vegetable juice each day will also help to alkalise the body: try one including carrot, kale, beetroot, celery, cucumber, plus some ginger and apple to flavour.  Your body will really benefit from eating as many fresh vegetables as you can – eat plenty each day in order to gain the full nutritional benefit of these vitamins, minerals and fibre.

CLEAN UP YOU LIVER

The liver is your main organ of detoxification and the one that takes most assault from any overindulgence and excesses.  It’s also the only organ that can re-generate, so now is the time to get it back into full working order.  Everything we’ve already talked about will help to detoxify the liver but you can also drink dandelion tea or coffee for extra detoxification. Why not try adding parsley to your dishes (or vegetable juices) for an added detox boost!

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Most importantly, the herb Milk Thistle is a traditional herbal remedy (THR) that helps to support the liver – and it’s also a powerful antioxidant.  In fact, it’s the most liver-loving herb there is!  Take a course of Milk Thistle capsules for the next two months to really get your liver back on track, but make sure you choose a brand bearing a THR symbol so that you can be sure of the herb’s purity and efficacy.

CLEAN UP YOUR DRINKING

So we’ve talked about the food but what about the drinks?

Obviously, we know that alcohol is laden with sugar which simply provides you with empty calories.  Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola are stimulants which upset blood sugar balance, regardless of whether they are sugar-free. Whilst these may not be high in calories, they can add to fat storage and impact your weight loss plans.  Most importantly, they put a strain on the liver – your main organ of detoxification.

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Green tea is one of the best hot drinks you can choose; it’s packed with antioxidants to help quench those damaging free radicals, and also helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Try and replace at least one of your hot drinks every day with green tea – this is a good goal to start with and should be achievable.

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And it goes without saying that you should be aiming to drink at least 1 ½ – 2 litres of water a day to ensure your body is getting enough. If plain water is not very desirable and you know you won’t stick to this goal, think of ways to make it more appealing: add fresh fruit or frozen berries to give it an extra flavour twist. For every other type of drink you have, follow it with a glass of water and try to make this a habit day to day. And if you really can’t do without a nice glass of wine or beer, aim to alternate any alcoholic drink with a glass of water to stay hydrated.

CLEAN UP YOUR BOWELS!

When it comes to digestion, the bowels are a very important part!  Regular bowel movements are key to a healthy digestive system – they can become sluggish with too many rich and sugary foods.  Including plenty of fibre in your diet from wholegrains such as oats and brown rice, as well as beans and lentils, is key.

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You can also add things like ground flaxseeds to cereals or porridge or smoothies. Aloe vera juice is also great for cleansing and detoxifying.  And don’t forget the magic that is good old H2O – try to drink two litres of water a day.

CLEAN UP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE

As well as burning calories, exercise also moves lymph around the body. Lymph is the fluid that removes toxins from the tissue space around body cells, but is reliant on exercise to move.  A fast 15 minute intensive ‘blast’ in the gym (or regimes such as HIIT – High Intensive Interval Training) are incredibly effective at this.  A brisk 30 minute walk every day will also help to boost the lymphatic system as well as burning calories and enhancing your mood and motivation levels.

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Whatever you do, make sure you move – find an exercise regime that works for you and keeps you motivated week in, week out. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, try a few things out: buddy up with a friend and check out a local sports venue, exercise class, or adult dance school. You may even discover a new sport that you didn’t think was your cup of tea – but it might be! Until you try, you’ll never know!

So, set those goals and clean up your body and mind for your best year yet! Good luck!

 

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Combat your over-indulgences: how to stay healthy during the festive season

 

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With the festive season in full flow, you might be starting to feel the after-effects of late nights and over-indulgence. But there are some easy ways to support your body not just over Christmas but well into the New Year.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her top tips on staying healthy through the yuletide season and beyond.

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CLEAN UP YOUR DIET

This may seem strange advice, particularly at this time of year, but if 80% of your diet is ‘clean’ during the festive period, when you do enjoy some festive treats your health won’t suffer quite as much!  Plan three days during the week when you limit caffeine (try switching to green tea) and avoid processed foods (particularly pre-packed meals), chocolate and sweet treats. You could also consider ditching any extra sugar you consume (i.e. on your cereal or in tea and coffee) and switch instead to natural sweeteners, xylitol or stevia.

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Saturated fats found in red meat and dairy products such as butter can sometimes be more difficult for people to digest. Therefore, cutting down on these types of foods and eating fish or plant-based meals, including lots of vegetables and pulses, also helps to give your digestive system and your liver a break.

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The most important aspect of a clean diet is to support your liver as much as possible. Green tea is a great liver detoxifier and can be drunk as much as possible throughout the day.  Certain vegetables, particularly green leafy ones such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are all liver-loving veggies: packed with nutrients they really help in the detoxification process.  The better your liver is ‘fed’ with good foods, the better it will cope when you overindulge.

WATER, WATER, WATER!

This may sound like very simple advice, but the amount of water you take in is absolutely key to your health. You should aim to drink at least two litres of water daily. This will really help to get your bowels moving which in turn gets the body’s cleansing mechanisms revved up!

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If you are planning to lose a couple of pounds, the more water you drink the more effective your weight loss campaign will be.  Even better, your kidneys love to be flushed through with lots of water: dark circles under the eyes can be a sign that your kidneys are sluggish. So keep drinking that water – especially the morning after the night before, and ideally during the night before: try to alternate a glass of water with every alcoholic drink you consume.

GET MOVING

Not only does exercise raise your endorphin levels (which in turn makes you feel happy) but it helps to move lymph within our lymphatic system. Lymph is the fluid that removes toxins from the tissue spaces around our cells and is reliant on exercise to move.  So regular mild to moderate exercise not only boosts a sluggish lymphatic system, but also boosts your mood!

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Fresh air and exercise combined are a great way of combatting the feelings of overindulgence. Try to fit in a 30 minute walk each day over the festive period and you will feel so much better for it.

TAKE MILK THISTLE

Milk thistle is a popular and well-known herb that’s been used for centuries to help support the liver and pick you up the morning after the night before!  As well as supporting liver cells, it can help protect the liver from free radical damage caused by alcohol and it also helps break down fats in food.

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The best advice is to start taking it now and continue to take every day, in order to support you through the Festive season.  Your liver will certainly thank you and any late nights or over-indulgence should be less painful the next day!

RAMP UP THE B VITAMINS!

The family of B vitamins like to work together in the body to generate energy. However, one of their other main functions is to help detoxify the liver.  Therefore, on your 80% days, it makes good sense to eat as many B vitamin-rich foods as possible; chicken, turkey, fish, wholemeal bread and pasta, eggs and wholegrain cereals such as oats are good examples of B-vitamin staples.

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Green leafy vegetables are also high in B vitamins – another great reason for eating them as much as possible!

So, with a little forward planning, you can sail through the festivities and come out the other side feeling better than ever!

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Kick-start your immunity and fight off those colds: top nutrition tips to prepare for winter

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With a slight chill in the air the seasons have definitely changed and many of you may have already started suffering from the seasonal colds and bugs.  However, catching a cold doesn’t have to be inevitable just because winter is approaching: with some smart lifestyle choices you can boost your immunity and prepare yourself as much as possible for the cold weather.

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Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on staying as healthy as possible this season!

AVOID THE SUGAR!

Sugar is actually an immune suppressant.  And we’re talking about sugar is all its forms: table sugar, honey (but not including Manuka honey, which is actually a great immune-booster), fizzy drinks, biscuits, and of course, alcohol. Don’t forget the ‘hidden’ sources of sugar such as in cereals and ready meals when trying to cut down.

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It has been found that drinking two averaged-sized fizzy drinks can suppress the immune system for a minimum of two hours afterwards, and in some cases for as long as five hours, which really highlights the damage too much sugar can do to our bodies. So how can you cut down the sugar?

Try to eat food as close to its natural state as possible (i.e. fewer processed foods). Swap added sugar for naturally derived sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia.  When it comes to fluid intake, there’s nothing better than just drinking plain water – always try to drink a minimum of 1.5 – 2 litres of water per day – more when you’re exercising.

IMMUNE-BOOSTING VEGETABLES!

There’s no such thing as a bad vegetable, but some are overflowing with so many nutrients that they should feature on your plate as much as possible.

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When planning your meals always think about trying to eat a rainbow of colours every day.  Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower have amazing immune-boosting nutrients, particularly vitamin C.  Other great green vegetables including spinach, kale and Swiss chard are all high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

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Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene which is turned into vitamin A in the body and is also a great immune-boosting nutrient.

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For even more immune-boosting power seek out the purple: why not add some purple sweet potatoes, beetroot, aubergine or cabbage to some of your meals for an extra boost!

IMMUNE-BOOSTING SLEEP!

Your body needs sleep to restore and repair; lack of sleep can cause an imbalance in the immune system so that it’s less able to fight off any potential infections.

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The body has a natural 24-hour circadian rhythm that never changes even if you’re a shift worker – it likes to be awake when it’s light and asleep when it’s dark.  Shift workers can often find their immunity gets depleted and that they become poorly more often (although this can be conquered to some extent by ensuring decent catch-up on lost sleep).

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Generally, eight hours sleep a night is optimum. However if you’re having trouble sleeping it’s worth getting a good bed-time routine in place. Try a warm bath with some lavender or bergamot drops, a milky drink and a good book: avoid TV and smart phones or tablets just before bed as they are too stimulating for the brain. These are just a few great ways to unwind and get the body prepared for sleep, but whatever works for you try and keep the routine consistent and go to bed at the same time each night.

IMMUNE-BOOSTING HERBS!

Two herbs that are well worth keeping at the ready to boost your immunity: Echinacea and Pelargonium.

Echinacea helps support white blood cell production, which are essential for a healthy immune system. Remember to take this herb for a couple of weeks, especially if you’ve been around people with nasty bugs or your children are in danger of bringing infections home.

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If you’re starting to feel the first signs of a cold – that slightly scratchy throat coupled with a few sneezing fits – the herb Pelargonium is particularly effective and is suitable for all the family. Pelargonium is actually one of the most widely researched herbal medicines and it has been found to have some pretty potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Start taking it at the very first signs that you might be coming down with something for best results.

IMMUNE-BOOSTING EXERCISE

It’s a fact – exercise boosts your immune system. The increase in blood flow to your cells from exercising helps to increase the production of immune-boosting cells, particularly white blood cells.  And you don’t need to be running a marathon every week for your body to benefit. In fact, just raising your heart rate for around 30 minutes a day, four to five times per week is enough to gain the beneficial effects.

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On the flip side over-exercising can actually suppress immunity; this happens soon after an intensive training session and can last for quite a few hours.  You may have noticed friends or family training for an endurance event, such as a marathon, only to end up picking up an infection or multiple infections?  Moderation is the key, and the benefits of regular exercise to your immune system are far-reaching and build over time.

So be well prepared for the cold and flu season before it gets into top gear! Taking a few simple steps can make all the difference to the health of your immune system and your body’s ability to ward off any unwanted germs.

 

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Love lunch: how to get back into a healthy routine after the summer

For many of us, it’s now back to work after the holiday season. It can be hard to get back into a good lunchtime routine following a summer of treat-filled barbecues and delicious holiday cuisine. So kick those post-holiday blues into touch and start afresh with a new and exciting healthy lunchtime routine.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, tell us how to get back into the swing of things and feel motivated, positive and energised with these top lunchtime tips!

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PROTEIN IS KEY

Whilst you may not have time to prepare a creative meal to take to work every day for lunch, there are a few simple rules you can follow to make sure you eat something satisfying and leaving you feeling energised throughout the afternoon.

shutterstock_364428101 protein sources Sept16It’s all about avoiding the 3 pm slump! So your lunch should always contain some protein and there are so many options to choose from. Mix it up with eggs, fish (salmon, tuna or prawns are good choices), chicken or turkey, pulses or beans. Additionally, quinoa is high in protein and makes a great base for any salad.

shutterstock_80804287 halloumi salad Sept16Your choice of meal may depend on the availability of fridge storage or cooking facilities at your place of work. So always think about how you can use leftovers from the night before; grilled salmon can be added to salad leaves and other salad veggies; quinoa is great with some tuna, cucumber and tomatoes; grilled vegetables are delicious with some halloumi cheese added.

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If you have access to a microwave why not bring in a homemade bean soup with a wholegrain roll, or knock up a quick jacket potato with tuna and salad – as long as you follow the protein rule your nutritious lunch should last you through till dinner time!

EAT AWAY FROM YOUR DESK

Unfortunately, there tends to be a culture in many UK workplaces that if you take time out for a ‘proper’ lunch break, then you’re a part-time worker. This, of course, is not the case and does not promote a healthy work lifestyle.

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Most people experience some level of stress throughout the working day and it is shown that the digestive system slows down during stressful times. If you are eating at your desk it is more likely that you will not be digesting your food well and this is more likely to cause discomfort during the afternoon.

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Taking some time away from your desk to eat your lunch means you can switch off from work if only for a short time. You are more likely to rush your food whilst sitting at your desk, so moving away from your workspace means you will probably eat more slowly: this in turn means that your digestive enzymes can do their work properly, and should ensure you have less bloating throughout the afternoon.

TAKE A HIKE!

Well, a walk at least! Once you’ve eaten your lunch away from your desk, take a 15 minute brisk walk. Not only will this make you feel much more energised, it will also clear your head so you’re ready to return to your desk feeling refreshed. And while the sun still shines, just 15 minutes of sunshine a day will give you a good boost of vitamin D which will not only help your bones and teeth, but support your immunity throughout the coming months.

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Taking a walk shortly after eating also helps the glucose that has just been released to be better metabolised. This means you will have sustained energy for the rest of the day and that this glucose is less likely to be stored as fat. So, it’s a win-win situation!

PLUG INTO SOME ‘TEDUCATION’

Whilst eating away from your desk, it’s a great opportunity to plug into something completely different, something that will take your thoughts away from work: this could be listening to music, a podcast or an ebook, or engaging in an interesting topic online.

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‘Ted’ talks are really popular and there are so many that can be watched in around 15/20 minutes – great for anyone who really can’t spare a full hour for lunch. Why not use it as an opportunity to learn a new language, or engage in trending videos that day? Get up to date on the latest digital trends, explore new fitness ideas, discover recipe blogs. By turning your attention to new subjects, your mind will be more refreshed when you return to your desk after lunch.

DO A WORKOUT

Many workplace environments offer exercise facilities of one sort or another, whether on-site or somewhere nearby. If there is any opportunity to use your lunchbreak for exercise (whilst still leaving time to eat right) then grab it!

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Exercising at lunch time helps to reset you for the afternoon. Your body responds well at this time of day, due to its natural circadian rhythms. It’s a great time to do some kind of endurance exercise such as jogging or cycling, but any form of exercise that raises your heart rate will be beneficial not just to your physical health but also for your creativity and thinking ability for the rest of the day.

And if all else fails, that 15 walk around the block gets your body moving and ensures you get some much needed fresh air.

So as you return to work feeling refreshed and energised, seize the moment and keep that great feeling going with a new and energising lunchtime routine.

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition and health advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and wellbeing tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie