LAURA WARREN: Evolution, not revolution – simple health and nutrition steps that can transform your life
WE all go through periods when we burn the candle at both ends. I certainly know all about the toll overdoing it can take on your health – I’ve just had the craziest seven months of my life and I’ve never looked forward to winter, with all the drudgery it promises!
The body, and the mind, can only take so much. And when the tipping point comes it can hit you like a freight train.
Life is incredibly fast paced these days. It’s easy to take your finger off the pulse and neglect yourself between long working days, commuting long distances to work, heavy workloads, deadlines and trying to fit in all the rest of the madness that comes with it.
It’s been a hell of a year for me so far: there was the small matter of a wedding, trying to get a new business off the ground while studying for my final exams with the Irish Institute of Health and Nutrition. Thankfully, it was all worth it – I graduated in Health & Nutrition Coaching and Sports Nutrition for Weight Control & Performance with an Advanced BTEC Diploma with the Irish Institute of Health & Nutrition and a member of The Association of Health Care Journalists & The Nutrition Society. The business, thankfully, is doing well, although as we all know there are many things (Brexit, anyone?) outside of our control can unravel our best made plans. Oh yeah, and the marriage thing is doing pretty good too …
All of us go through periods like this when it feels as though there’s simply never enough bloody hours in the day. At times like this, it’s all too easy to succumb to stress and ill health, so it’s vital to keep some sort of healthy regime, to eat healthily and maintain some sort of exercise, even if it’s just a stroll down the road.
No matter what your diet is, it’s virtually impossible to tick all of the right boxes and this is where essential supplements can help.
Fatigue can lead to burn-out, leaving your immune system in tatters. Tiredness and lack of sleep affects our mood, our skin, the way you look, the way we perform in work.
Put simply, the cells of your immune system work night and day to protect your body from horrible infections using mechanisms to detect and destroy disease-causing organisms. If those mechanisms are not functioning properly, this is when you begin to feel run down and are more susceptible than usual to minor infections such as the cold and flu. And if you don’t feed your body with the proper nutrients required for a healthy immune system function you leave yourself open to infection.
As the cold dark winter nights loom, my advice is to stock up on Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D (particularly if you live in Ireland or the UK!). In this corner of the planet we are used to long winters, so Vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin) is vital for a healthy immune system.
You should also consider get some essential fatty acids into your systems (Omega 3) which are essential to every cell in your body to function property. You will, of course, also get it naturally from eating fresh or tinned fish. Omega 3 vitamin is also essential for brain health, no matter what your age, and they also help to regulate the effects of mental and physical stress. I also recommend taking 1000mg of Magnesium before you go to bed every night which helps to relax the entire nervous system, muscles and reduce anxiety.
Changing the way you live and your lifestyle is not that hard once you get into the swing of things: even the smallest of changes can have a positive visible effect on a person in as little as three days. The summer (the little we saw of it!) is, aside from a freaky positive forecast for this weekend, over and with 15 weeks to Christmas many of will be hibernating for the winter – so it’s actually a pretty ideal time to start a healthy eating plan.
When it comes to healthy eating, I prefer evolution to revolution. I don’t believe in shocking your system and trying to change too much, too soon.
Take simple steps: reduce your caffeine, alcohol, high sugar foods and processed foods. All these can interfere with your sleep and stimulate stress hormones. They knock your blood sugar levels completely out of sync and are nutritionally deficient in vitamins and minerals.
So there’s no need to surrender all the good/bad (depending on your viewpoint!) things – just cut back gradually and try to live a healthy balance. And try to recognise when you have had enough of the bad stuff and when you need to cut back, otherwise you’re killing yourself slowly.
You’ll often hear me say ‘eat a rainbow of food’, but there’s some reason behind my madness. Fruit and vegetables increase antioxidants your body needs to fight the effects of stress. And let’s be honest – as we get older like has a tendency to get that bit harder! Our daily challenges and responsibilities mount up, and we can all suffer from stress in some shape or form. And stress can be, literally, a killer. It eats the vitamins and minerals in your body and this is why you need to eat fruit and vegetables every day. I recommend starting each day by eating three choices of fruits that are low in sugar such as red apples, pears, kiwis and berries. You can follow this an hour or two later with a healthy breakfast, such as an omelette of your choice or good old-fashioned porridge.
It’s also essential to get some quality protein into your system. And you can do this very easily by going a little nuts – Brazil nuts, red skin peanuts, almond nuts or pine nuts! You’ll also get good protein from lean meat, poultry and fish, cottage cheese, Greek style yoghurt and broccoli. Protein is essential to eat to repair damaged cells in your body caused by stress.
Then there’s the drink! Always remember to hydrate and drink lots of water throughout the day: it cushions the brain, spinal cord and sensitive tissues and your airways also crave it. It also flushes out the bad toxins from your body.
Finally, and probably most importantly from a mental health point of view, make some you time. Swim, walk, do the gardening, take up yoga or Pilates or mediate – do whatever you fancy just find some you time and to enjoy your life! Every once in a while, just stop – take a look around you, breathe in and out and count your blessings for the family or friends (or both) you have around you! And never, ever, let the b@$&ards drag you down!
P.S…. I am thrilled to have made the short-list to go forward to the Beauty Blog Awards and voted The Best Nutritional Influencer 2019. Please vote for me if you think I deserve to make the final cut to go the final as the Best Nutritional Influencer 2019. Click the link below select Elite Living Nutrition and click submit. https://www.beautyblogawards.com/12-best-nutrition-influencer-2019-shortlist/