Easy Health Strategies: Feeling Better From Head To Toe

Easy Health Strategies: Feeling Better From Head To Toe (by Jennifer McGregor)





Healthy living is something more and more people are thinking about these days. From figuring out how best to take care of your mental health to making sure your body is in great shape, there are plenty of things to consider. But it’s not always easy to map out a plan for overall wellness, especially if you have a busy schedule or suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. You may be wondering how to find time to fit in a workout each day or how to go about incorporating healthier foods into your diet that you can stick with.

Fortunately, there are several easy ways you can make healthier choices in your life without making major sacrifices. You might make sure you’re motivated enough to work out every day by creating a fun routine to follow, or come up with a strategy for getting better rest by changing your bedtime routine. Of course, it will also help to get to know your own body so you can take care of your unique needs.

Read on for some great tips on how to incorporate healthy strategies into your life.



Take care of your digestion

Your digestive tract can have a major effect on the way you feel, so it’s important to do all you can to understand how it works. Do some research on the microbiome–the place in your gut where millions of different organisms live and produce essential nutrients that your body needs. These organisms also play a role in how your immune system works and, believe it or not, your mental health. Eating the right foods can have a great impact on your microbiome, so look for probiotic-rich choices–such as yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar–to introduce to your diet.



Clear your mind

We all need to clear our heads once in awhile to relieve stress and anxiety, and after a long day at work or school, it can really help to participate in an activity that takes you out of what you’ve been doing all day. Make an effort to get outside for a little while, practice yoga, read a book, or go for a walk. Finding a way to clear your mind and put the day behind you will allow you to reduce stress and can even help you sleep better.



Get better rest

The way you sleep has a deep reach into other parts of your life, from your ability to focus during the day to the way you feel physically. Your mental and physical health are significantly tied to your rest patterns, so it’s essential that you create a sleep routine that works. Whether that means changing your mattress or bedding, going to bed at an earlier time, or engaging in relaxing practices–such as taking a hot shower or bath, or sipping on sleep-inducing tea–before you lie down, there are many things you can do to help your body and mind rest easy at the end of the day.



Keep your heart healthy

Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death for Americans, but in many cases, it can be prevented with diet and exercise. That’s why it’s so important for you to choose the right foods and to make sure your workouts involve cardio to get your heart rate up. Berries, dark chocolate, nuts, whole grains, and lean meats are all wonderful foods to incorporate into your daily diet.

Finding the right head-to-toe health strategies to work into your everyday routine can take some practice, so try to remain patient as you go through the process. With a little planning and some motivation, you can start feeling better in no time.

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Fats – Friend or Foe?

Introduction to FATS – friend or foe?

Carbohydrates & proteins often take a lead role when talking about our diets, as they are needed to fuel the body and for growth & repair. Fats however, due to their name, are often believed to be the cause of us to put on weight or ‘get fat.’ Yes this may be true when consumed in excess (as is true of any foods) – but is this really the case for all fats in our diet?


Saturated Fat

We spend most of our days sleeping, sitting or walking and all this time we are still using energy. During these intrinsic activities oxygen is easily present in the body and the demand for energy is low. The body therefore uses one of its main energy sources, which are fats! The body stores fat for insulation as well as padding around bones, joints and vital organs. However, it is also stored for energy at rest and during exercise. When fitness levels rise the body has a greater ability to use these fat stores for longer as a primary energy source– this is how marathon runners can maintain a quick pace for so long! By doing this it allows for a delay before switching to the much smaller energy source of carbohydrate in the form of muscle & liver glycogen.

As fats are so vital The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that a healthy diet in the UK diet should consist of less than 35% fat. With such a high proportion recommended as fat and with its high calorie density (9 kcal per gram), it is important to understand the different types.

We are often hit with words in the media such as saturated, unsaturated, transfats and many more – so what do these all mean? How much should we have? What foods are they in?

Of the 35% recommended, less than 10% of your fat intake should come from saturated fat (under 30g for men & 20g for women). These fats are mostly found from animal sourced foods such as red meat and dairy. They are known as the bad fats as overconsumption leads to a rise in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Fatty deposits occur from this resulting in a restriction of blood flow around the body and an increased risk of heart disease & strokes. Similarly Trans fats, which are formed artificially through industrial processing, have this same effect on the body. Therefore heavily processed foods should try to be avoided! Guidelines state less than 2% of total energy or 5g to be ingested (SACN). Other countries in Europe have taken this further and have banned trans fats due to their detrimental impact on health.

What should we be having…?

Unsaturated fat is labelled as the ‘good fat’ in our diet and it is recommended by the NHS that we aim to replace saturated fats with unsaturated. There are two types of these fats monounsaturated & polyunsaturated. The former aids the reduction of cholesterol in the body and can be found in household products such as nuts, avocado & olive oil (uncooked). Polyunsaturated are more popularly known as omega 3 and omega 6. These are both ‘essential fats’ as your body can’t produce them and therefore they’re needed in the diet. Omega 3 helps with cognitive functioning and the structure of cells, sources comprise mostly of oily fish, salmon, tuna & sardines to name a few. Recommendations are for 2 portions of fish a week. Omega 6 is mainly obtained in sufficient doses through cooking oils and nuts, and promotes good growth, skin and fertility.

Simple, small changes in your diet between these fat sources can have a large benefit to your health.


Witten by Josh Smart

BSc Applied Sports Nutrition

MSc Applied Sports Nutrition

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