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:
- 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.
- Enjoy genuine flavours – avoid foods with high amounts of added fats, sugar and salt. They can be addictive, especially sugar-based foods.
- 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.
- Allow your palate time to change – when you eat less processed foods, you will gradually lose your taste for very sweet or salty foods.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avocados also keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Add to smoothies for an energy boost or serve fresh as a snack with lemon & pepper.
Adopt these 5 “low-risk” behaviours to help reduce your chances of heart attack:
- A healthy diet – eat freshly prepared wholefoods; avoid refined, processed choices.
- 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!
- Healthy waist circumference – less than 92cm for men and 80cm for women.
- Low to moderate alcohol consumption.
- No smoking.
A large number of biological changes occur from head to toe, when you exercise. These changes occur in your:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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:
- You have taken antibiotics in the last 6-12 months – you may have an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria.
- You can’t seem to lose weight, especially belly fat, no matter what – stubborn belly fat is a hallmark sign of Insulin Resistance.
- You have digestive issues – bloating, cramping, excess wind, or occasional constipation or diarrhoea, means there is a good chance you have an imbalance.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- stimulate appetite
- increase carbohydrate (sugar) cravings
- stimulate fat storage and weight gain
- boost your inclination to overindulge
It’s ironic that they were originally introduced to prevent the above.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
4 Tips to Fire Up your Metabolism:
- Do interval training – periodic fast-paced intervals raise your metabolic rate higher than a steady cardio workout can.
- Drink green tea – this really does impact on your metabolic rate. Some green teas are quite bitter in taste, so find one you like and drink 3 cups a day!
- Build more muscle – lean muscle mass acts like a furnace and helps burn body fat effectively. The more muscle you have, the better the fat burner you are.
- Pick up heavier weights – we are never to old to challenge our bodies with weight training. Progress to lifting heavy weights at a slow rate. This causes minor tears in the muscle, which repair and grow if provided with the right amount of protein and recovery time. Your metabolism gets a boost while the muscles repair.
Our brains are our control-centres, for decision-making and mood. Here are some easy steps to jump start your brain in the morning and feel better fast:
- Water your brain on rising – your brain is 80% water, so even the slightest dehydration can elevate stress hormones and impair physical power and focus. Your skin is a reflection of brain health. If your skin is dehydrated, so is your brain.
- Move your body – start your day with gentle stretching, walking or yoga to improve blood flow to your brain.
- Eat brain food for breakfast – include high quality protein, such as eggs, fish, yoghurt or protein powder; some healthy fat like coconut, seeds & nuts, avocado, nut butters; along with some smart carbs, such as greens, berries and oats.
- Snack smart – eating a small am and pm protein-based snack, with some smart carbs (sustaining, low GI), will keep blood sugar evenly balanced, prevent sugar cravings and provide a boost of energy.
- Supplement with brain nutrients – fish oil, probiotics, magnesium and vitamin D all support brain health.