Health & Wellness: Emerge from winter as the best version of you, thanks to the handy tips from our range of experts !
A – Anxiety
“Studies show that CBD oil has a stabilising effect on your mood,” explains nutritionist Alix Woods. “It indirectly stimulates serotonin and ‘happy hormone’ cannabinoid receptors, and exerts an anti-anxiety, happy mood effect. The cannabinoid receptors targeted are the same receptors that anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications target, but without the side effects.”
B – Burnout
We are finding it hard to slow down and relax due to the increased pace of life at work, home and socially. “Constant social media updates, 24/7 news feeds, shops open all hours, flexible working and zero-hour contracts mean old boundaries have melted and we are ‘on’ continuously,” says psychologist and psychotherapist Corinne Sweet, ThinkWell-LiveWell. “To prevent burnout we need to pace ourselves on a human scale. We need to eat well, sleep adequately, wind down, take exercise, moderate addictive pulls (limit alcohol, caffeine), and learn basic mindfulness techniques to live more in the present.”
C – Cholesterol
“Cholesterol in its own right is not dangerous but problems can occur when it’s been damaged by free oxidising radicals,” says the UK’s leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville. “They’re natural by-products of energy production but these molecules can be neutralised by the presence of anti-oxidant nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C. It is therefore very important to make sure you include fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet or consider taking a good anti-oxidant supplement.”
D – Diet
There’s no quick fix, so ditch the short-term fad diets for sustainable healthy eating. Diets can make you feel ill, low-carb diets can be high in fat while excluding certain foods can be dangerous. If you’re looking to lose weight, reduce your calories, or simply ensure that your activities mean that you use more calories than you eat.
E – Elasticity
If your skin is feeling like it has lost its elasticity, look for products that can help you reverse visible signs of skin ageing. There are formulas that provide a cumulative effect of lifting up, nourishing, thickening and firming of the skin, leaving it elastic and toned. It fills up, smoothens and reduces the depth of wrinkles, eliminates fine lines and unevenness, and neutralises free radicals responsible for skin ageing. They can also provide optimum hydration, protecting the epidermis against moisture loss and reducing the unpleasant feeling of tight skin.
F – Fuel
If you’re sweating out at a spin session, perfecting your shoulder bridge at Pilates or pounding the pavements on a run – it’s important to make sure your body has the fuel it needs. “To perform your best in your workout, the quality of your diet as a whole is more important than what you eat directly before or after a workout. The food you take in on a daily basis has to give you the vitamins and minerals to convert your food to energy, the protein to support muscle repair, the carbohydrate stores to fuel your muscles, and the antioxidants to help bring down inflammation and support recovery. So, a diet based on whole, real foods is key,” explains nutritionist and fitness instructor Cassandra Barns.
G – Gut health
“People with gut issues suffer from a wide array of symptoms, from cramping and pain to bloating and gas or strong food intolerances. Looking at gut inflammation and at improving gut environment to promote healthy flora is key for long-lasting results,” adds Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at NaturesPlus.
H – Hydration
Hydration is key. “Alcohol is a diuretic, and if fluid levels are not replenished symptoms of dehydration can occur,” says nutritionist Lily Soutter. “If you’re suffering with dryness in the mouth, dizziness, weakness or even headaches then you may be dehydrated. Water can also aid with the elimination of acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product that is produced from the breakdown of alcohol, which ultimately may help to improve hangover symptoms. Stay hydrated with water-rich foods such cucumber, watermelon, celery and strawberries.”
I – Iodine
Iodine is vital for thyroid function. “Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found in your neck. It may be small, but it plays a huge role in governing your metabolism and thus affects how vibrant you feel,” explains nutritional therapist Fiona Lawson. “Seaweed is a true superfood. It is a rich source of iodine, perfect for those on a vegan diet or cutting out salt, which may lead to iodine deficiency. And seaweed is full of protein too!”
J – Joke
It turns out that there is some truth to the phrase, ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Marilyn explains: “Having a laugh is one of the best remedies for stress – it triggers healthy changes in our body. Many studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones, improves immunity and diminishes pain. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed.”
K – Keep things in perspective
Achieving a good work/life balance can be tricky at the best of times, but to avoid feeling overwhelmed try to prioritise what actually needs to be done and then what can wait – everyone needs some time out. “There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health. Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much. Being assertive is invigorating and empowering. It also helps to make lists of what is or is not a priority and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life,” suggests Marilyn.
L – Libido
Certain nutrients and herbs can be extremely helpful if your sex drive needs a boost. Zinc is essential for hormone balance and sex drive, hence the old wives’ tale of using oysters (which contain high amounts of zinc) as an aphrodisiac. The amino acid l-arginine is important for good blood circulation in those areas, which are important for a healthy sex life. Vitamin B3 helps to reduce fatigue if you feel too tired to have sex.
M – Motivation
Chilly weather can definitely knock your motivation. When it’s cold (and wet), it can be hard to drag yourself out for a walk – but the endorphins from this active and social pastime can help give you that extra boost. Persuade your best friend to go with you or join an online community for support. Being with others who share the same interests, goals and hobbies helps to keep you motivated and creates the often-needed sense of accountability.
N – No energy?
If you’re often feeling zapped of energy it could be down to a lack of iron. A supplement can help. Iron contributes to the normal formation of blood cells and normal functioning of the immune system. It can also support energy yielding metabolism, reduction of fatigue and normal cognitive function – and supplements are ideal for the time poor.
O – Ombar
Ditching the milk chocolate in favour of raw cacao can have a big effect on curbing your sugar hits. “Cacao itself is actually a super food – it’s high in minerals such as magnesium and, particularly in its raw form, is rich in antioxidant flavonols too,” says Cassandra. “And if you go for a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, it’s relatively low in sugar.”
P – Pumpkin
“Pumpkin’s rich source of vitamin A means that it is the perfect vegetable for glowing skin. Vitamin A is a key nutrient required for supporting the daily replacement of skin cells, and is critical for the formation of healthy skin. It’s precursor beta-carotene is an antioxidant found in abundance in pumpkin, and has been shown to play a role in protecting skins cells from sun damage, which is critical for the prevention of ageing skin”, explains Lily.
Q – Quit sugar
Sugar provides no nutritional value and is essentially just empty calories. If you need a little natural help cutting down on those sugary treats, try NaturesPlus KetoLiving Sugar Control Capsules (£29.95, naturesplus.co.uk), which help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, minimising the chances of experiencing any peaks and dips that can lead us to temptation.
R – Realistic goals
Set goals. “Decide and write down what you want to do and in what time frame. Take measurements at the beginning of your journey, take ‘before’ photos. Then take new measurements every two weeks so you can see how you’re progressing towards your goal,” advises Cassandra.
S – Shut-eye
An element that can elude us when we’re stressed, but which is essential for our health, is sleep. Cassandra explains: “A good night’s sleep can be a great stress-reliever. Unfortunately, of course, sleeping well can be easier said than done when you’re already stressed or anxious. Do what you can to get to bed early enough to get seven to eight hours’ sleep, make sure your bedroom is a calming environment, and set up a good wind-down routine in the evening, such as taking a warm bath. Take a magnesium supplement in the evening too. Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it’s associated with calming and relaxing properties – it may help you sleep as well as cope better with stress.”
T – Take control of Type 2 diabetes
For those with Type 2 diabetes it’s crucial to balance your blood sugar levels. “Some GPs may be willing to support you taking herbal medicines that can improve glucose levels. They have very few side effects because they have low levels of different herbs rather than having a high amount of one [ingredient], which is more likely to cause side effects,” explains Dr. Sarah Brewer.
U – Up your protein
After water do you know what is the main constituent of our body? Protein! It has such an important role in the body, ranging from muscle growth and repair, creating hormones and enzymes that regulate the metabolism, support the immune system and more! Include eggs, yoghurt, almonds, fish, chicken, lentils and chickpeas into your everyday diet.
V – Veganism
The vegan trend has quadrupled since 2012 and we predict that this popular trend is set to continuously increase with the rise in plant-based alternatives. Don’t fight it!
W – Workplace wellness
According to Lily Soutter, “Our workplace diet can significantly impact our health”. Lily states that when you eat the right food, you create positive energy, which sets the right conditions to succeed. Lily believes the key is to meal plan. Batch cooking such as soups, curries and casseroles, is key to making healthy eating much simpler and you can take it to work with you and avoid over-processed convenience foods.
X – X marks the spot
Experiencing a breakout? Reach for an avocado to help banish those spots. “Avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which is thought to have several roles in skin health. Like vitamin C, it works as an antioxidant so may protect the skin cells against damage from free radicals, which in turn helps to keep your complexion looking refreshed and revitalised,” explains Marilyn.
Y – Your heart
Support a healthy heart with a good dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. “Sushi can be really good for us because fresh raw fish such as salmon and tuna are packed with nutrients,” says Cassandra. “Salmon in particular is high in those super-healthy Omega-3s, which are great for our heart and brain.”
Z – Zapped?
If you feel like your immunity needs a little boost, why not incorporate more vitamin C into your diet? Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system.
For more advice from the experts, head to Expert Tips.