Want To Live Longer, Live Healthier? Who Doesn’t!

… Start by looking after your “telomeres”. These are the tiny end units of our DNA strands, which prevent the DNA from unraveling. (… Think of a shoelace which has it’s ends bound tightly.)  As our cells replicate our telomeres shorten. Longer telomeres lead to longevity. So how do we lengthen them?

Lengthen your telomeres, live longer & healthier with a few simple lifestyle adjustments:
  1. Improve your quality of sleep each night.
  2. Reduce stress with regular meditation and relaxation. 
  3. Exercise regularly and include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) one to two times a week.
  4. Eat the right fats.  Include a small amount of good fats at each meal and snack, eg. nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, olives, deep-sea fish, fish oils.
  5. Keep vitamin D levels adequate.  Include deep-sea fish, eggs, mushrooms (grown in sunlight). Expose skin daily to sunlight to boost your own production of Vitamin D. In Summer you’ll need less time in the sun because of the higher UV Index. This varies a little depending on location and season of the year.
  6. Reduce levels of inflammation by avoiding or greatly reducing refined processed carbohydrates, deep-fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, added sugars including artificial sweeteners. Choose green leafy vegetables, quality protein, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit & vegetables, free-range eggs, herbs.
  7. Reduce risk factors – quit smoking & recreational drugs, reduce alcohol intake, include daily movement and exercise.         … Does any of this sound familiar? 

How To Lose Belly Fat

No amount of daily sit-ups will help you lose belly fat. Some lifestyle, exercise and dietary adjustments are necessary. Incorporate a few changes at a time so you are not overwhelmed. 

Exercise adjustments:

  1. Include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) one to two times a week, for about 20 mins a session. Muscle tissue burns 3-5 times more energy than fat tissue. So as you gain muscle your metabolic rate increases, allowing you to burn more calories even while sleeping. Note: workout for short bursts of maximum intensity (eg. 30 sec) and rest in between these spurts for a similar time.
  2. Include weight (resistance) training. Perform your sets using the correct technique and at a slightly slower pace, squeezing & holding the abdominals taut during each set. Rest in between. Core-strengthening exercises like “planking” engages a wide group of muscles to improve overall strength. Push-ups are a great exercise to perform in sets of 20 throughout the day. We all need a break from sitting!

Dietary recommendations:

  1. Incorporate more protein in your diet if it is currently low, especially if you are doing weights regularly. We need good levels of quality protein to build more muscle.  Also protein has a higher Thermic Effect of Food. Protein burns about 5 times more calories than carbohydrates or fats.  So including extra protein and less carbs, means you will expend more energy & burn more body fat.
  2. Choose more organic, raw wholefoods containing fibre. This is better for the bowels and will help you feel fuller for longer.
  3. Cut out or reduce processed refined foods that deplete the body of energy.
  4. Add small serves of good fats throughout the day, eg. avocado, nuts & seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, green leafy veg, fish, fish oils. Avoid trans fats.
  5. Greatly reduce alcohol or avoid altogether.
  6. Add probiotics daily to make your tummy balanced, healthy and happy.
  7. Add a serve of fermented foods daily: eg. yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, lassi. Anything that makes the tummy balanced and happy will help reduce bloat and fluid retention.
  8. Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to a 1/2 glass of water once a day to increase your satiety and restore gut health.

Lifestyle suggestions:

  1. Reduce stress: cortisol is a fat-storing hormone that is produced in higher amounts under stress. Incorporate some daily relaxation or meditation (10-15 mins) to improve your sleep and recover your energy.
  2. Get some sunlight exposure each day and feel more grounded. This helps us sleep better at night. Take a walk outside during your lunch break.
  3. At night after dinner, dim the lights and reduce your exposure to blue lights and electronic devices an hour or so before bed. Both of these disrupt your natural melatonin production. This is the hormone that helps us wind down and sleep at night. If you’re wired, you’ll get tired! 

Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally

We have all experienced a rapid heart rate as a response to a stressor at some time. Whether it is being late for work or school, not meeting a deadline or almost getting hit by a car when crossing the road, the stress will generally result in shallow, fast breathing that activates a release of cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones. 

On the other hand, controlled, deep-breathing activates the relaxation response and calms the nervous system. This not only slows our heart rate, pulse and blood pressure, but also our digestive system, while at the same time promotes a state of calm.

Try my simple Yoga-breathing Exercise and feel the difference:

  • Lie flat on floor or bed, arms down by your sides, palms facing up, feet falling out (called Dead Man’s Pose)
  • Close your eyes
  • Focus on your breath – take 2-3 slow deep breaths, through the nose, breathe out through the nose (quietly)
  • This time, breathe in for 1 second and out for two seconds. Repeat.
  • Continue this breathing pattern. Place one hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, make the stomach rise. As you breathe out, make the stomach fall.
  • Now, as you are in a more relaxed state, change the breathing pattern. Breathe in for 2 counts and out for 4 counts. Keep your hand on your stomach, to check that your stomach is rising and falling as you breathe.
  • Return hand to your side and continue this pattern. Focus on the count as you breathe.
  • 10 to 20 minutes per day is highly recommended to reduce stress significantly.
  • When your session is complete, stretch and open your eyes slowly. Become aware of your surroundings, before you get up.

… There now, don’t you feel a little calmer? Have a lovely day.

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!

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.

What You May Not Know About Sleep!

Sleep affects every aspect of our life, but for many of us a sound and refreshing sleep completely evades us!

Did you know:

  1. about 30% of us suffer from insomnia at some point in our life
  2. around 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD have a sleep disorder. When poor sleep is addressed, their symptoms disappear.
  3. one night of sleep deprivation can put your body into a diabetic state.
  4. a decrease in sleep of only 1.5 hours per night can reduce performance by up to 32%.
  5. reaction time after staying awake for 17-19 hours is worse than a 0.05% blood alcohol level.

Improving the quality of our sleep is a priority for better health. 

To Defeat Stress, Eat What’s Best!

Here are 5 great foods to help you de-stress:

  1. Avocado – rich in glutathione which blocks your gut from absorbing bad fats, that cause oxidative damage. Also high in folate, good fats and potassium to help stabilise blood pressure.
  2. Berries – contain high levels of a particular antioxidant (anthocyanin) which helps improve cognition and slows ageing.
  3. Red capsicum – contains almost double the amount of vitamin C, of an orange. This vitamin helps people recover from stress and heal more readily.
  4. Salmon – the omega-3’s in this fish help to reduce levels of anxiety quite significantly.
  5. Spinach – contains high amounts of magnesium. Low levels of magnesium increase our risk of depression. Magnesium and folate in spinach will help you keep your head on straight when stressors come knocking!

Tips to Turbo-charge Your Metabolism

Genetics do play a role in our metabolic make-up, but our metabolism is also strongly influenced by our body composition, diet and lifestyle.

These tips will help boost your metabolism into overdrive:

  1. Lift weights – build muscle with weight-bearing exercise. This increased muscle mass means we burn more calories even at rest.
  2. Choose clean food – avoid processed, refined, devitalised food that leaves you flat and low in energy. Fresh is best as it is wholesome, sustaining and nourishing and provides loads of unlimited energy!
  3. Add some spice – garlic, capsicum, ginger, turmeric and fresh herbs naturally boost satiety (a feeling of fullness) and thermogenesis (fat-burning). These natural flavour enhancers also stimulate digestion.
  4. Never skip meals – if you go for long periods of time without eating, your body will try to conserve energy by burning fewer calories. It can also make you hungry, leading to binge eating.
  5. Drink up – being dehydrated slows the metabolism.
  6. Switch to green tea – the catechins in green tea naturally increase metabolism.
  7. Eat good quality protein – this feeds your muscle growth and stimulates satiety. You will feel fuller for longer.
  8. Choose good fats – healthy fats promote lipolysis (breakdown of body fat). Good choices are nuts, seeds, deep-sea fish, avocado, olive oil, etc.
  9. Get your beauty sleep – 7 hours of quality sleep per night are just as important as eating well. We recover, repair (muscles grow) and recuperate while sleeping soundly.