Serve your bones the best nutrition this Wimbledon season

Close up of mixed doubles tennis match

It’s time for one of our favourite summer traditions – Wimbledon! Whether you love it or not it’s still a great time to be thinking about maintaining healthy bones and joints.

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Summer is a time when we want to be active and outdoors as much as possible and this is where the right nutrition can really help keep you mobile. Plus you might be dusting off your racket for a game of tennis!

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips for keeping your bones and joints strong and mobile this summer.

Boost your vitamin D

We know that vitamin D is the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it’s predominantly made on the skin in the presence of sunshine. However, don’t be fooled that just because it’s summer, all will be fine with your vitamin D levels. It’s a well-accepted fact that at least 30% of the UK population are vitamin D-deficient all year round. This is partly because sun cream blocks its production but also because we’re not necessarily out in the sun that much. Plus, there’s mixed data on how much the body actually stores and what’s sufficient for our needs.

A range of foods containing vitamin D

Vitamin D is absolutely essential for healthy bones and joints, mainly because of its activation of calcium. Therefore, ensure you’re eating plenty of vitamin D-rich foods such as liver, oily fish with bones (sardines are great), mushrooms and eggs. Plus, it’s a good insurance policy for your joints and bones to continue taking a supplement at the amount recommended by Public Health England of 10 micrograms daily. And, most importantly, try to spend around 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen.

Load up on your greens

Green leafy vegetables are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that’s as important for the bones as vitamin D and calcium. Unfortunately it’s widely deficient in the UK population and this can cause joint stiffness, amongst other problems.

A selection of green leafy vegetables

Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and spinach are your bones’ best friends and they’re easy to include in the daily diet. Try making some cauliflower cheese (also rich in calcium), stir fried broccoli and chard with garlic and ginger, Brussels sprouts with bacon, or an omelette with spinach. These are all easy and super-healthy, nutrient-packed additions to your day!

Oil up your joints

Like any ‘machine’ the body needs to be well-oiled. And there’s no better way of doing this than by eating plenty of omega-3 fats. These really are essential for helping to keep the joints mobile and, hopefully, injury-free. They also have amazing anti-inflammatory powers.A range of foods containing healthy Omega-3 fats

 

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines (all delicious fish for a summer barbeque) are packed with omega-3s. If you’re not a fish lover. or are vegetarian or vegan, then flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds are also great omega-3 sources. Pumpkin seed butter on oat cakes is a quick and filling snack and flaxseeds can be easily sprinkled over cereals or stirred into yoghurts.

Get moving

Clearly, tennis is a great game and the whole family can get involved. However, if you’ve been a little too sedentary over the winter months then it’s better to get the body used to being more active before running around the tennis court.

Close up on woman's trainers walking in forest

Whilst it might seem very simple, brisk walking for 30 minutes, elevating your heart rate (make sure you include some hills), is one of the best forms of exercise you can do and it’s not too stressful on the joints. Bones need to be exercised too to help keep them stay strong. Any exercise that contains forward and backward movements (dancing is great), weight training, yoga or most gym classes will be really beneficial for bone health. Whilst bones need the right nutrition, exercise also plays an essential role in maintaining bone integrity for the future.

Fermented foods to fortify the bones

It might sound strange to say that good gut health is essential for strong bones, but this is absolutely the case. The good bacteria that naturally live in the gut help nourish the rest of the body and assimilate the essential nutrients to keep bones and joints healthy. Probiotics or friendly bacteria help to increase bone mineral density and it is here that fermented foods have some of the most beneficial effect

A bowl of natural yoghurt on a wooden background

Foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kefir, natural yoghurt and kimchi are becoming ever more popular and can easily be included as part of the daily diet. Plus, these foods naturally contain calcium so it’s even more reason to include them as much as possible.

So even if you’re not a tennis fan, why not serve up some of these winning, bone-building foods this summer.

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Walk to Work Day: the health benefits of doing more walking

A woman wiht a rucksack enjoying a walk outdoors in a forest

Today is National Walk to Work Day, encouraging everyone to walk more. Walking is a wonderfully versatile and healthy form of exercise that can easily be fitted into the busiest of days and suits everyone regardless of ability.

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From taking a stroll in your lunch break to planning a hiking holiday, there are so many ways to get more walking into your daily life and reap the benefits of being outdoors in the fresh air at the same time.

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer provides her five top ways to walk your way to a healthier mind and body.

Walk to work

If you can, walk to work. An alternative is to find somewhere to park a little way away from work, and then ‘park and stride’ to get your steps in. Clearly, this is not possible for everyone. However, if you’re office-based then it’s really important to take time away from your desk during the day.

A woman in a business suit having a walk during her lunch break

Try to fit in a 20 to 30 minute walk at lunch time every day. This will get blood flow to the brain, which will help concentration during the afternoon, but will also help balance blood sugar levels. Walking after you’ve eaten lunch (or any meal) helps the body’s natural insulin response, which is needed for effective weight management. Moreover, brisk walking is great for toning the leg muscles and helps towards overall cardiac fitness levels.

Eat a protein-based lunch beforehand: both the choice of food and the walk afterwards will help stop that common 3 pm energy dip!

Walk uphill

For those who enjoy running, it’s a great form of exercise. However, for people wanting to get fit who don’t want to run, then uphill walking is fantastic for all-round good health.

Uphill walking quickly raises the heart rate meaning its’s great for cardiovascular fitness and also good for burning calories. Even better, it’s one of the best ways of exercising your thighs and glutes! Either walk uphill for at least 30 minutes three times a week on a running machine in the gym, or ideally get out into the great outdoors; there’s always a hill to climb somewhere.

A woman out for a walk in the hills with her arms outstretched enjoying herself

Whilst it’s important that the body is properly fuelled for exercise, you don’t need to be eating any more than normal. For example, if you’ve had some porridge for breakfast and then you take a walk, you’ll have plenty of energy for exercise. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with doing an early morning pre-breakfast walk, especially now the lighter mornings have arrived now the clocks have gone forward. Lighter evenings also mean a pre or post dinner walk is a lovely way to enjoy some exercise in your local area.

Join a group

With the hope of warmer weather and certainly longer days, now is a good time to fully enjoy the great outdoors. Walking with an organised group really helps motivation; you’ll see parts of the countryside you never knew existed previously and you’ll always make new friends and acquaintances. There are many groups all around the UK organising day hikes of varying lengths and paces – just find one that suits you.

Two hikers enjoying a walk

If you’re taking a day hike, you generally won’t need to pack any more food than you’d normally eat. For example, a sandwich lunch with a protein filling such as egg or chicken is great. Alternatively, a falafel or avocado and hummus wrap will help sustain energy levels throughout the day with plenty of energising B-vitamins. Also, pack some snacks: low glycaemic fruit such as berries or an apple, or a handful of nuts, are great for sustained energy and you’ll be good to go all day long. However, and most importantly, don’t leave the house without having breakfast; anything oat-based or packed with protein would be the best choices.

Be a little adventurous

For those that may want to travel further afield or fancy the idea of something a little tougher, then why not investigate some of the many walking challenges on offer? The famous Camino de Santiago in Spain is one such example. You can do as little as a seven day walk or longer if preferred. If you have the time you could try something more challenging such as a mountain hike or the Great Wall of China. Setting yourself specific goals is great for the body and mind. Many people find that walking improves their mood.

A woman hiking in the mountains

Longer challenges will always require additional training and a specific nutrition programme, both great for keeping health and weight in check. Many people make the mistake of eating way more food than is needed when they start training for an event or challenge. Don’t forget, the body has masses of energy stored both in the muscles and organs as glycogen (glucose) or in the fat cells. If in doubt, research online: there are plenty of resources and recommendations from people who have already been on such treks and hikes that you can learn from.

Enjoy the coast

Obviously the UK is surrounded by water and this means there are plentiful coastal walks and paths to be investigated. Coastal walking brings its own special blend of magic as well as more challenging hikes. Most are gently undulating paths, as opposed to more difficult climbs, but a little prior research will give you the information you need.

A family enjoying a coastal walk

Why not celebrate the success of your coastal walk by enjoying some delicious seafood once you’ve finished. In season right now, squid is great barbequed, tossed in a salad, stir fried or grilled, making an excellent high protein, low fat post-walk treat! Squid is also great with prawns, tomatoes and linguine to properly re-fuel after exercise. It’s essential to eat protein after exercise to help muscles repair, plus carbohydrate replaces glycogen into the muscles so you’ll have plenty of energy the next day.

So get out there and get those legs moving! Find the walking that suits you best and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.

 

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Autumn wellness: is your body fit for winter?

Happy woman in autumn playing with autumn leaves

As our beautiful UK summer comes to an end, just as night follows day, winter will be upon us before we know it! Sad as it is to feel the cooler days (and nights), it’s also the perfect time to ensure your body is well equipped to prevent any nasty bugs or infections from getting a hold this season.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top tips for winter immunity.

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OVERHAUL YOUR DIET

Whilst it’s often hard to eat the ‘perfect’ diet every day, the more foods you can eat that help boost your immune system on a daily basis, the better. In fact, your diet is the first port of call when it comes to ‘prepping’ your body for winter.

Eating some protein such as fish, chicken, eggs, dairy produce, beans, lentils and wholegrains at every meal is key. The immune system needs these types of foods to produce immunoglobulins – blood proteins that act as disease-fighting antibodies. Plus, many other nutrients such as vitamin C (found in most fruits and vegetables), vitamin E (in wholegrains, nuts, seeds and avocadoes), vitamin A (high in liver, cheese, eggs and sweet potatoes) and zinc (especially rich in pumpkin seeds and lean red meat) are all key immune boosters. So try to keep your diet as varied and colourful as possible to ensure your body gets the spread of nutrients it needs.

Range of foods to show a balanced diet

It is also important to keep sugar to a minimum; try to reduce the amount of refined carbs, alcohol, and fizzy and caffeinated drinks on a daily basis. Sugar in all its forms has an adverse effect on the immune system.

INCREASE YOUR HERBS AND SPICES

There are a wealth of herbs and spices that have strong immune-boosting powers and even anti-viral and antibacterial properties. Plus, they all enhance the flavour of many popular dishes.

For example, garlic is probably one of the best known infection-fighters and works well with so many different foods; meat, fish, and vegetables – the list is endless. Additionally, ginger is equally beneficial to the immune system. Both herbs can be used in easy stir-fries, for example.

A range of fresh herbs in pots to add to cooking

The herb thyme is delicious added to casseroles or pasta dishes and is great made into an infusion with boiling water and gargled if you’re unlucky enough to get struck down. Thyme tea is recommended for all types of infections, including earache and sinusitis. All herbs and spices will have far-reaching health benefits, so add as many as possible to your dishes!

BOOST YOUR MOOD

A healthy mind is equally important for a strong immune system and can reduce your likelihood of getting struck down with a cold or flu. If you’re suffering from low mood, then you’re more likely to suffer from infections. Sharing problems with friends or family can often help. However, it may also be helpful to seek out some complementary therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture to help lift a low mood.

Woman with legs crossed sitting on bed meditating

Equally, self-help strategies can be very powerful. Daily meditation, for example, is very effective for many reasons and may really help alleviate stress. It takes some practice (and obviously a little time, initially), but it is well worth persevering.

However, if low mood persists or there are emotional issues in your life, then it may be helpful to seek the services of a qualified counsellor. Often talking to someone who is properly trained to deal with problems can be very beneficial.

ACTIVITY AND EXERCISE

There are so many positive reasons to get moving! Not only will it support the immune system by boosting infection-fighting white blood cells, it will help relieve stress, release mood-enhancing endorphins and better nourish your body generally by enhancing oxygen to every part of your body.

Close up of two women enjoying a run outdoors together to show benefits of exercise

You may not want to spend hours in the gym, which is fine. However, any form of exercise carried out four or five times a week, for around 30 minutes, is going to be hugely beneficial to the immune system. And don’t forget that a brisk walk every day certainly counts as great exercise. If you haven’t got a dog to walk, maybe ‘borrow’ one from a friend to help with motivation!

SUPPORTIVE SUPPLEMENTATION

If your diet isn’t always as nutrient-dense as you’d like or you’re under a lot of stress, this is going to put a strain on the immune system. It makes sense, therefore, to take a good quality daily multivitamin to help plug any nutrient gaps and to ensure you’re definitely getting the sufficient vitamins and minerals associated with a strong immune system.

Echinacea flower and tea

There are certain herbs, licensed as herbal remedies, which are great to take as a preventative measure. Echinacea is a popular herb, which has been used for many years to help prevent and treat colds and flu. It’s worth starting it now for a few weeks, since it increases white blood cell production. Equally, the herb pelargonium is anti-viral and antibacterial and can be taken at the very first sign of a cold, if you’re unlucky enough to get caught! Both herbs should be a medicine cupboard staple for the winter months.

So with a few simple tweaks to your diet and lifestyle, you can have a bug-free autumn and winter!

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

 

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.

shutterstock_115541830 green tea Aug16

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!

shutterstock_517947136-wine-and-water-nov16

 

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!

shutterstock_289557317 family country winter walk Dec15

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.

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Fun in the sun: get fit outdoors this summer

shutterstock_78391000 family cricket beach June16Summer is officially here! Well, at least according to the meteorological office! With the warmer and longer days now here, or at least around the corner, it’s a great time to get active outside with the family, with friends or for a solo adventure and have some fun in the sun!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five great outdoor activities together with some nutritional tips to send your energy levels soaring this summer!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

HILL WALKING

Whilst many people dismiss walking as being a bit slow and boring, it is actually one of the best exercises we can do for the body. Our ancient ancestors walked everywhere, therefore we have completely evolved for this type of exercise.

shutterstock_310378145 hill walking June16Walking is an aerobic exercise which sufficiently elevates the heart rate, meaning your body is burning fat, as opposed to anaerobic exercise (which reflects more intense bursts of energy where you are not burning fat as efficiently). Walking is also one of the best ways of building strong and healthy bones. And you don’t need to be tackling monster hills – just some nice undulating scenery!

shutterstock_270983414 porridge with blueberries June16In order to keep your energy levels sustained throughout the walk, make sure you eat some porridge with blueberries or another wholegrain cereal, for breakfast, and you’ll just need to drink plenty of water as you go along. You won’t need to be eating lots of snacks unless you are planning an all-day hike – your body should have sufficient energy stores to keep you going until lunchtime!

CYCLING

shutterstock_375534670 woman cycling June16Cycling has emerged as one of the most popular sports across the country, and for very good reason! You don’t need to spend loads of money on a bike, it’s a great family activity and it will tone up your legs perfectly! Plus, it’s excellent cardio exercise!

If you’re new to cycling and you just want to gently enjoy the countryside around you, then as with walking, have a good breakfast before you start out. Again, porridge would be great – why not try quinoa porridge with apple for something different? It provides an excellent source of protein, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

shutterstock_166492592 quinoa porridge with apple June16If your bike ride is one to two hours long, you shouldn’t need to eat a snack during this time – just keep sipping water. However, if you are going a little more ‘hard-core’ or planning a longer ride then a specialist carbohydrate sports drink to keep you hydrated (available in supermarkets and health food stores) or a protein bar will to keep your energy levels in top gear!

A FRISBEE AND A PICNIC

shutterstock_125669204 frisbee outdoors June16An hour spent throwing a Frisbee and running around the park will really get the heart rate going and burn some calories to boot!

It’s makes great family fun or indeed an entertaining day out with friends, and if you choose a sunny day, you’ll also be getting some much-needed vitamin D to help boost your bone health and immunity.

shutterstock_324733493 fruit picnic June16Taking a summer picnic can also be a real treat at this time of year – there’s so many different colourful and healthy foods you can include; why not make a large salad with lots of tomatoes and peppers, plus some strawberries, raspberries, cherries or melon slices for afters. There’s an abundance of colourful foods around at this time of year which contain a wealth of antioxidants to help protect the skin from sun damage and keep your immune system in tip-top shape! Why not go into your local fruit and veg store and choose some that you’ve never tried before?

SWIMMING

shutterstock_232853251 woman swimming outside June16You may have to be a little brave swimming outdoors in the UK (the Mediterranean has certainly more appeal), however, swimming is another all-round great exercise. It works the heart and many different muscle groups in the body, without any impact. Therefore, any injuries you may have are not aggravated.

Whilst you might just want to enjoy swimming in a pool, sea swimming is completely different and will help to burn even more calories. If you can manage half an hour of fairly constant swimming, you’ll feel really refreshed, plus it’s a great stress-buster.

shutterstock_362941577 egg mushroom tomato breakfast June16It’s always best not to swim on a full stomach so make sure you’ve eaten breakfast at least an hour and a half before swimming. An egg-based breakfast will keep you feeling fuller for longer and your energy levels will be sustained. And if you get really into swimming, there are many triathlons organised now, especially for the new-comer, that include a short distance of sea swimming; why not sign up for one and challenge yourself further?

ROLLER BLADING

This may be an exercise for the slightly more brave but it’s another great activity that can be done with friends and family and you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors at the same time!

shutterstock_328052888 woman rollerblading June16Clearly, some flat roads or park paths are required – it’s ideal along the seafront and it’s certainly really ‘on-trend’ right now! If you’re heading out for a day of fun, then you can pack a light picnic or just some snacks to keep you going; some fruit, particularly apples, together with some cashews or almonds will balance your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels high, plus provide you with both some vitamin C for your immune system and some calcium for strong bones.

The action of roller blading uses both your legs and arms, so you’ll get a good body work, tone your legs and your glutes as well as building your bone strength. An hour’s roller-blading will leave you feeling invigorated and energised – plus it’s just so much fun!

So, just a few ways to get active and have some fun in the sun this summer – plus you’ll be getting fitter and healthier at the same time!

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