Why Sitting is Bad for You!

Just as exercise can’t counteract the effects of smoking, it can not counteract the effects of sitting for lengthy periods of the day.

Here’s why:

  1. After 1 hour of being seated – electrical activity in our muscles and our ability to burn calories both reduce significantly.
  2. After 3 hours – our arteries reduce in diameter by about half, which decreases blood flow everywhere in our body.
  3. After 6 hours – insulin becomes less effective at clearing blood sugar.
  4. After 2 weeks of sitting about 6 hours per day – LDL’s (bad fats) accumulate in our blood; enzymes that help breakdown fat, take a dive and muscles begin to breakdown.
  5. After 1 year of this continued sedentary lifestyle – there is a marked reduction in bone density and our brain function slows as significantly less blood is being pumped around the body.
  6. After 10 or more years of this – our quality of life becomes severely impacted which may lead to a reduction in lifespan of quite a number of years  … Worth contemplating, while standing of course!

7 Ways to Ease Migraine Pain & Reduce Your Risk

Migraine headaches can be debilitating. Follow these 7 steps to help prevent future attacks and reduce the pain when you have a migraine:

  1. Avoid processed foods containing nitrates – these are found in cured & processed meats, canned vegetables, packaged seafood, hotdogs, etc.
  2. Reduce or avoid common food triggers – gluten or yeast products, dark chocolate, kale, onions, honey, processed sugar, aged cheeses, red wine, MSG, pickled or cured fish.
  3. Develop a strong gut microflora – eat fermented foods regularly (yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee), or take a high quality probiotic to boost your immunity.
  4. Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
  5. Use relaxation techniques to reduce pain – meditation, yoga, deep breathing, visualisations.
  6. Turn down the blue light –  many digital devices and LED light sources emit mostly blue light. Migraine sufferers can be photosensitive to this light.
  7. Use essential oils to soothe tension – effective oils include peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, frankincense & rosemary. Apply in small drops to your temples or neck to reduce tension.

Is Anxiety Getting the Better of You?

Most of us have felt the unsettling symptoms of anxiety at some point.
Here are some daily tips to support better overall wellbeing and to help manage stress and anxiety:
 
1) Connect with friends – keeping in touch with friends maintains our support network.
2) Exercise (ideally outdoors) – our ‘feel-good’ hormones (endorphins) we produce with regular exercise have been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress.
3) Choose healthy foods – choose protein at each meal and avoid refined, sugary products. This helps balance blood sugar levels, reduce mood imbalances and lessen anxiety.
4) Avoid caffeine – stimulants like coffee can exacerbate anxiety.
5) Breathe – this may seem obvious, but if you feel panicky, focus on some slow, purposeful deep breaths, to help to return to a state of calm. Meditation for 10-15 mins a day, can be a valuable way to instill calm. There are many free, very good meditation Apps on your phone.
… Peace and calm can prevail again!

5 Easy Steps to Stop Eating Processed Foods!

Processed foods may be convenient and sometimes cheaper, but don’t underestimate how they can damage our health in the long-run.

Try these 5 easy steps, to wean yourself off refined, processed foods:

  1. Read labels carefully – look for real ingredients; no additives, colours or artificial anything; if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it.
  2. Enjoy genuine flavours – avoid foods with high amounts of added fats, sugar and salt. They can be addictive, especially sugar-based foods.
  3. Relish what is on your plate – cook clean foods (from fresh raw ingredients) and take the time to savour the flavour! Many of us rush through our meals and neither appreciate what we are eating, nor digest it properly.
  4. Allow your palate time to change – when you eat less processed foods, you will gradually lose your taste for very sweet or salty foods.
  5. Treat yourself by not skipping meals – try some tasty home-made snacks (eg. Cashew Nut Protein Balls, Seeded Crackers with Parmesan) and enjoy a nibble on them between your nourishing meals.

4 Foods that Help Reduce Sugar Cravings

Excluding addictions to alcohol and drugs, the next greatest addiction is sugar. Refined sugar is a very powerful stimulant, which is added to almost all the prepared food we eat. It has a drug-like effect on the body, so people can develop a dependency on it. This is why it is so hard for many people to reduce sugar cravings.

If you are a sweet-tooth, here are a few foods that can significantly reduce your cravings:

  1. Fermented vegetables (eg. sauerkraut,kimchee) help to balance the gut flora, as they naturally contain probiotics. Add a scoop to your salad greens to enhance the flavour.
  2. Coconut oil helps you to feel fuller for longer. This type of fat provides the body with energy, the brain with fuel and burns body fat at the same time. 
  3. Sweet potatoes are a great snack food or training food for recovery. Bake in the oven (skin on), top with coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon.
  4. Avocados also keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Add to smoothies for an energy boost or serve fresh as a snack with lemon & pepper.

5 Lifestyle Changes that Could Prevent 80% of Heart Attacks

Adopt these 5 “low-risk” behaviours to help reduce your chances of heart attack:

  1. A healthy diet – eat freshly prepared wholefoods; avoid refined, processed choices.
  2. Being physically active – choose to exercise each day for at least 30 mins. Include a range of activities from weight training, to interval training (HIIT), to yoga/pilates and walking. Find something you enjoy!
  3. Healthy waist circumference – less than 92cm for men and 80cm for women.
  4. Low to moderate alcohol consumption.
  5. No smoking.

What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?

A large number of biological changes occur from head to toe, when you exercise. These changes occur in your:

  1. Muscles – which use glucose & ATP (a chemical compound that is in all living tissue), for contraction and movement. By increasing your breathing rate, more oxygen is introduced and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles. Lifting weights causes tiny tears in your muscles, which grow bigger and stronger as they heal.
  2. Lungs – as your muscles call for more oxygen, your breathing rate continues to increase, until you reach your VO2 max, your maximum capacity for oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.
  3. Heart – the fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles when you exercise. This allows you to workout longer and harder. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming.
  4. Brain – increased blood flow benefits your brain, allowing it to function better immediately. You feel more focused after a workout. Regular exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells. In the hippocampus (our memory centre in the brain), these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. Exercise also triggers the release of a number of neurotransmitters in our brain, which are important for mood control.
  5. Joints & bones – weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, as it helps build and strengthen bone density. 

Don’t forget your daily serve of exercise!

Should I Be Taking Probiotics?

The answer lies in paying attention to your body. If you have any of the following 7 signs, I suggest you take a therapeutic probiotic (high strength) to improve the balance of your gut bacteria:

If …

  1. You have taken antibiotics in the last 6-12 months – you may have an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria. 
  2. You can’t seem to lose weight, especially belly fat, no matter what – stubborn belly fat is a hallmark sign of Insulin Resistance.
  3. You have digestive issues – bloating, cramping, excess wind, or occasional constipation or diarrhoea, means there is a good chance you have an imbalance.
  4. Your skin is itchy or broken out – probiotics aid in the normal elimination of toxins via your gut. Since skin is an elimination organ, this may suggest you have a bacterial imbalance in the gut.
  5. You crave sugar, refined or processed foods – emerging evidence suggests that “bad” gut bacteria feed off sugar and unhealthy trans fats. By boosting more good gut bacteria,  the bad will be kept in check.
  6. You feel moody or blue – probiotics can alter brain function. Our greatest concentration of seratonin (our good mood hormone) is found in our intestines, not our brain.
  7. You are feeling tired during the day and are not sleeping soundly at night – Melatonin (our sleep hormone) is found in the gut in abundance, like seratonin. We need a balance of good to bad gut bacteria for ideal health.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Help or Hinder Weight Loss?

Although artificial sweeteners contain zero calories, they do trigger the brain’s pleasure centre. However, the lack of calories that accompany the sweet taste, fail to satisfy and this promotes sugar cravings like no other!

Over a decade ago, studies already revealed that artificial sweeteners may:

  1. stimulate appetite
  2. increase carbohydrate (sugar) cravings
  3. stimulate fat storage and weight gain
  4. boost your inclination to overindulge 

It’s ironic that they were originally introduced to prevent the above. 

Will I Get Big & Bulky Lifting Weights?

Many women are reluctant to start lifting weights, because they have visions of turning into female bodybuilders, with veins running through their biceps and chest. Keep in mind that these women are weight lifters to the extreme and their bodies are out of balance. This kind of build is not the typical result of weight lifting, because 99% of women do not have enough testosterone to gain muscle like men.

Having more muscle is a great advantage for many reasons:

  1. Muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less space – if you lose body fat and gain more muscle, you will reduce your overall size. You will gain a smaller waist and more toned muscles.
  2. Having more muscle than fat means that you become a better fat-burner, rather than a fat-storer – your muscle mass acts like a furnace, the more you have the better your metabolism  fires up to burn fat.
  3. Lifting weights aids in abdominal fat loss – high levels of abdominal fat (or VAT) increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver and many other chronic inflammatory diseases.
  4. Weight training helps prevent osteoporosis – bones become brittle and less dense with age and inactivity.  Lifting weights puts more tension on your muscles which puts more pressure on your bones. Regular training adds more constant pressure to your bones, resulting in building bone density. We can become stronger rather than weaker.
  5. Resistance training allows you to sculpt your body in a healthy manner – you will have the ability to reshape your shoulders, arms, back, legs & chest, to strengthen your body and overall posture. Prevent ageing by remaining toned, strong and more upright!