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Friday, 18 January 2019 07:48 Written by

Five small changes towards a healthier you

Linda SimmsNone of us can get away from the constant steam of messages encouraging us all to adopt healthier lifestyles. Whether you agree with the recommendations or not, we can all make small changes that will make a difference.

Our expert nutrition partner Linda Sims gave us her top tips...

We caught-up with our expert nutritional partner Linda Sims and asked her for her top tips to being the best you you can be. Here’s her five of the best:

Linda Sims – Linda Sims Nutrition

Linda works with clients on a one to one basis to discuss symptoms, health concerns, medical history and current diet and lifestyle. From there she can asses a persons overall health, nutritional needs and insufficiency, and can also identify any underlying issues that might be contributing to other health concerns. Here's her tips for a healthier you:

1. Eat Real Food

“Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognise as food. When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients in it you can't pronounce, ask yourself ‘What are those things doing there?’.” (Michael Pollen, food writer).

Ideally, we should be eating food prepared from scratch made with real ingredients as we did for millennia. Instead of buying foods produced in factories, we should go back to our traditions and cook meals from ingredients that are as close to nature as possible. Eating a diet based on whole, fresh and seasonal foods is best strategy for our health and well-being.

When you cook from scratch you are in control. You know exactly what goes into your meals and how much salt or sugar is added. You can choose the best seasonal ingredients that are brimming with nutrients and there is evidence that cooking your own meals not only improves your health, but has been shown to reduce stress and boost creativity too.

2. Eat More Fruit and Veggies

We’re all aware of the five-a-day recommendations, however research from the Imperial College in London has shown that eating 600g (8-a-day) can help prevent cancer and 800g (10-a-day) can help prevent heart disease.

Why are fruits and vegetables so important?

They are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds found in plants). These have been shown to have many health promoting properties.

Phytonutrients can:

  • help reduce inflammation,
  • fight harmful oxidative damage,
  • support our immune system,
  • help detoxify toxins by supporting liver function or even dampen an allergic response.

And Fibre?

Did you know our Paleo ancestors consumed about 100g of fibre daily?

The average Brit achieves only about 12-18g fibre from daily meals.

Fibre ‘keeps us regular’, and feeds the beneficial bacteria that in turn help keeps our digestive system healthy. Science is now discovering there is more to beneficial bacteria that meets the eye, it is in your interest to keep these guys happy with plenty fibre from fruit and veggies. Eating just 1 cup of raspberries, half an avocado and a cup of black beans contains about the 30g of fibre (dairy recommendations is 30g+).

Top tips to eat more fruit and veggies:

  • Have a salad daily.
  • Make smoothies, include vegetables not just fruit.
  • Snack on veggies and fruit. Hummus with raw veggies is delicious.
  • Have a portions of leafy greens daily. Throw spinach into a soup, steam some broccoli for a side dish, top your pasta with rocket.
  • Cover half of your plate with vegetables. If you’re looking to lose weight, this is the best way to lower your calories without feeling you are eating like a sparrow.

3. Keep Hydrated

Water is essential for life.

Whilst we can last without food for quite a long time, we can only last without water for about 3-5 days. Water is involved all processes in our body, it keeps us energised, maintains our brain function, helps remove unwanted substances from our body, and can even help prevent headaches and much more.

To tips to staying hydrated:

  • Always carry a water bottle with you and aim for 8 glasses per day. Glass or stainless steel bottles are best.
  • To gage if you are properly hydrated look at your urine colour. The darker your urine the less hydrated you are.
  • Don’t like water? Try flavouring it with fruit, veggies, herbs or ginger. I love lemon verbena with cucumber.
  • Remember soups, juices, herbal teas and even fruits and veggies with high water content all count. Cucumber and water melon are true hydration stars.

4. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Poorly balanced blood sugar is not only associate with diabetes, but has been linked to many conditions from acne and hormonal imbalances to Alzheimer’s amongst many. Some of the symptoms of blood sugar imbalance are sweet food craving and mood swings when a meal is missed (“HUNGRY” anyone?) - dizziness when standing up suddenly, anxiety, shakiness, depression or poor concentration.

Whilst sugary snacks can be a quick pick me up, they will lead to a sugar crash. Rapid rise in sugar leads to body releasing too much insulin, this further leads to low blood sugar levels that make you tired, hungry and crave more high sugar foods. It can be a vicious circle. Well balanced meals that support healthy blood sugar levels result in slowly burned, more sustained energy and overall more balanced healthier you.

Top tips toward better blood sugar balance:

  • Minimise your refined sugar intake.
  • Choose whole foods over refined to slow down sugar absorption and prevent peaks and troughs. An apple is better than a glass of apple juice.
  • Have protein rich foods with your meals.
  • Eat high fibre rich foods. Like protein, fibre helps to blunt those blood sugar spikes. Beans are especially fantastic as they are both high in protein and fibre.

5. Get a Good Night's Sleep

Regenerative sleep is essential for good health. Many of us struggle to get a good night sleep, waking up without being refreshed and re-energised. Hormones, anxiety, our busy lives and even our addiction to phones can have a negative effect on our sleep. Poor sleep effects energy levels and immune system function, and can promote weight gain.

To tips towards better sleep:

  • Turn your phone off at least 2 hours before bed.
  • Meditate.
  • Consider taking magnesium. Have an Epsom (magnesium) salt bath or take a magnesium supplement before bed to relax your muscles and nerves.
  • Have protein and complex carbohydrate for your dinner. Amino acid tryptophan from protein rich foods is essential for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) that further serves as a precursor to melatonin (our sleep hormone). This process happens in the brain, carbohydrate helps deliver tryptophan directly to the brain.
  • Eat some goji berries or raspberries before bed - these are rich in melatonin.
  • Spend some time outside daily! This is essential for our sleep hormone production.

To Linda, nutrition is as important as full-body exercise. We hope you take away some inspiration from this article, and I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking Linda for her advice.

Linda offers full nutritional consultations and Hodge Health & Fitness Club Members get 10% off. Please check our Partners section for more details.

Jason Hodge

Personal Trainer & Boot Camp Instructor | 07855 465 872

Hodge Health & Fitness | Taking your fitness to the next level

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