Why Should You Exercise?

If you are not a person who really enjoys exercise then it can be hard to motivate yourself to do it.

Exercise has been shown to increase self-esteem. When we feel good about ourselves it encourages us to take care of our health and wellbeing and support us in our efforts to change. Try to make some form of exercise a priority and make time for it, because it is vital for your health and it will improve your mental outlook, mood and self-esteem.

Exercise is a fantastic stress buster and just a moderate increase in your level of exercise can leave you feeling calmer and in control. Whenever you feel stressed or anxious, take a long, brisk walk and see if you feel better afterwards. Exercise discharges the stress hormone such as cortisol, that accumulates due to chronic stress. Exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and stimulates the release of mood-lifting endorphins that relieve pain – a natural opium known as the runners high. These changes in the brain chemistry make us feel euphoric and exhilarated.

It has been shown in several studies that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants or traditional psychotherapy in elevating mood.

The more intensely you exercise, the more of these chemicals you produce, helping you to feel better and better.

If you haven’t exercised for a while then build up slowly, don’t try to do too much at once. If you are recovering from illness build up slowly and don’t over do it. I had Covid in April and im still not back at the fitness level I was before. I have to build it up slowly because if I do too much it will massively impact how I feel the next day and can result in me taking a step backwards.

Below is some of the amazing benefits of exercise:

Maintains weight loss over the long term

Increases resting metabolic rate

Improves strength and stamina

Improves muscle tone

Improves joint flexibility and suppleness

Strengthens back muscles and eases pain

Strengthens heart muscle

Improves lung function

Improves digestion

Helps reduce food cravings and regulates appetite

Slows down the body’s ageing process and helps you look better

Reduces stress and anxiety

Improves mental clarity

Elevates mood

Increases self-esteem and self confidence

Increases energy and reduces fatigue

Increases the production of endorphins, helping you to feel calm

Helps you sleep better

Reduces the risk of heart disease

Lowers blood pressure

Reduces the risk of mature onset diabetes

Improves your insulin/blood glucose mechanism

Reduces cholesterol to healthy levels

It feels good

My main exercises at the moment are yoga and walking.

Yesterday I had a little robin on my walk with me.

Due to the situation we are all in at the moment it is definitely worth trying to do some exercise to improve how you feel.

Go for a walk and enjoy your day.

Discover How To Get More Energy

Do you find that your energy levels drop throughout the day or do you find it hard to get out of bed in a morning?

Living an on the go lifestyle often results in burnout or recovering from an illness can greatly impact your energy which is very true for me at the moment.

A lot of people reach for pick-me-up snacks or energy drinks and wonder why the effects don’t last for a long period of time.

There is so many things you can do to improve or hep maintain your energy.

Some of the main causes of low energy are………..

Poor Dietary Choices

Our bodies are not designed to consume a lot of the processed foods we eat today in the Western Diet. This also includes fizzy drinks, alcohol and extra caffeine. A lot of these foods also contain high amounts of sugar. Eating lots of white foods such as white bread and pasta can create ongoing stress for the pancreas causing it to release high levels of insulin which is required to lower the blood sugar levels by pushing sugar out into the cells. This is what creates the high/low energy crash cycle. This can lead onto you craving more sweet foods.

Another diet related energy problem is candida , this is a fungus that belongs to the yeast family. When your body is healthy, it will maintain small amounts of the fungus in the digestive tract. Poor dietary choices can lead to a candida growth to spiral out of control. When this happens it can be a major cause of fatigue.

Stress

Most people deal with some sort of stress on a daily basis. In today’s busy lifestyle many people are multi-tasking and struggle to find time to have relaxed mealtimes and stop working while they are eating. This will continue to deplete our energy.

What Can You Do to Nourish Your Body??

First of all do not skip breakfast. Having a good breakfast is key for balancing blood sugar. Try to avoid sugary cereals especially ones that change the colour of your milk.

Try to ensure that all your meals and snacks include some good quality protein. Don’t forget this can include nuts and seeds.

Consume plenty of green vegetables and most non-starchy vegetables give nourishment without causing blood sugar spikes. Non-starchy vegetables include asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and celery.

Eating some raw foods will also help in a great way as these are bursting with energy and enzymes which are normally destroyed during cooking. By eating raw foods means that your body doesn’t have to use a lot of energy to produce enzymes for the digestive process, reducing in more energy available for daily activities. If you don’t fancy eating raw foods you could try them in a juice first. Add in chlorella or spirulina for an extra protein boost.

Hydrate

Drinking water is so important, if you make one change today drink more water. Try to have two litres per day this does not mean two litres of coffee. If you struggle drinking cold water include herbal teas or add some fruit to your water. I start the day with a cup of boiled water. I am not saying completely stop other drinks just be aware of how many you are having. It is all about balance I have one coffee mid morning then change to herbal teas or boiled water.

Exercise

Our bodies are designed to move all day long. Eventually lack of exercise will impair multiple physical functions necessary for health. Think of your body as a car that requires fuel from food and water and plenty of exercise to keep the engine running at optimum level.

It is important to get regular exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym. I personally don’t like gyms. I enjoy yoga, cycling, walking and hula hooping. Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is really important then it doesn’t feel like a chore. I do 10 minutes of yoga or hula hooping in a morning and it makes me feel so much better after I have done it. I won’t lie some mornings it can feel like a lot of effort, but it is definitely worth it. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while then build it up slowly. I haven’t been able to exercise properly for a few months and it has made a huge difference to my fitness levels. Set yourself small achievable goals.

Time For You

Mindfulness is good for stress, if that’s not for you do ensure that you take some time out just for you. Have a brew in peace on your own, read a magazine, phone a friend for a chat or go for walk. Even if you only have 10 minutes to remove yourself do it, it will make a difference if you are feeling stressed.

Try to make small changes don’t do everything at once or you are setting yourself up to fail. Change one thing a week and see how you get on. Before you eat something stop and think how will I feel after I have eaten it. Also I am not saying stop eating chocolate or your favourite foods, its about moderation. I eat chocolate and enjoy it, but I don’t have it every day.

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Is Your Food Causing You To Have More Headaches And Migraines?

Everyone suffers from headaches and migraines at some time in their life, but for some people their life can be ruined by cluster headaches or chronic migraines. Although the types are physiologically different there are many similarities in the nutritional management. Other factors can also contribute to headaches and migraines.

Have small well balanced meals little and often, with small satisfying snacks is the best plan for eating. One of the most common triggers is low blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar may occasionally drop a little too low or drop too quickly which can trigger headaches and migraines. One of the worst things you can do is eat very sweet food on an empty stomach. This can cause the sugar level to rise too quickly to which the body reacts by providing more insulin, the hormone that breaks down sugar, causing the sugar level to fall again. When you feel low in sugar eat something that is both high in fibre and sweet. This could be fruit, a slice of wholemeal bread with a topping of banana or honey, roast ham or a flapjack. It is advisable to keep snacks like these readily available at work and at home.

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, or when you are dehydrated, exhausted or stressed can lead to an enormous headache or migraine the next day. Champagne and red wine which are rich in phenolic compounds are the worst offenders. Next in line is white wine which is very acidic. If you know which drinks affect you more then avoid them or drink plenty of water before, during and after. If you still wake up with a headache try a cup of dandelion tea.

Many people find that the more caffeine they drink, the greater the chance of developing a headache or migraine. Coffee is the main offender here, but caffeine is also present in tea. Caffeine intake in general should be no more than three cups of tea or coffee in a day. This should be reduced if coffee affects you adversely. If you like coffee first thing in the morning then try having it just at weekends, rather than every day. Try other hot drinks to replace coffee such as herbal tea – peppermint, camomile, cranberry and boiled water which you can add a slice of lemon. If you decide to cut caffeine out of your diet entirely, you may suffer from withdrawal headache. This may develop approximately 18 hours after your caffeine fix as your body is being deprived of toxins. You may prefer to lower your caffeine dependence cup by cup over a few days. Also having caffeine when you are hungry, stressed or totting up to ten coffees a day then having another before you go into a stressful meeting can be a trigger for headaches and migraines. This can be caffeine in tea, coffee, cola or chocolate.

There are also other foods that have also proved to be triggers in some people. The foods include processed meats, such as salami and other sausages, mangetout and the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is found in a lot of ready meals, bottled sauces, crisps and often found in Chinese food. Eating fresh food will mean that you avoid MSG.

Aged cheese can be a trigger. This includes cheddar, blue, brie, parmesan, gruyère and Swiss. Fresh cheese that hasn’t through the process of ageing is a more preferable choice. For instance farmer’s, cottage, cream, American, risotto and mozzarella.

Aged cheese contains more of a substance called Tyramine is formed in foods as they age or are fermented. It comes from the amino acid Tyrosine.

Nitrates are the substances that are added to meat products in order to give them a pink or red colour to preserve them. Unfortunately they can trigger migraines / headaches in particularly sensitive people. Nitrates are found in many sausages, chipolata, chorizo, hot dogs, salami and cooked meats such as corned beef. If you find that these trigger then avoid processed meats that are coloured red, instead try cold cuts of beef, chicken or turkey. Don’t forget to include the fish in your diet.

Lactose may be a trigger that can cause severe headaches. This occurs when the digestive system is deficient in an enzyme called lactase which breaks down lactose found in dairy products for example cream, milk, butter, yogurt, cheese and ice-cream. For many people all that needs to be done is to avoid having too many foods that are high in lactose. You need to be careful that you don’t compromise your calcium status by cutting out dairy products. Consult your own doctor if you are concerned.

Research has displayed results that the metabolism of people who suffer from migraines is slightly different from those who don’t suffer and it seems that foods that are high in copper can cause problems. These foods include shellfish, nuts, chocolate and wheatgerm found in wholemeal bread and other wholewheat products, however you would need to eat quite a lot of these coppery foods before a problem occurred. Rather than completely removing these foods from your diet just reduce the amounts you have.

Sleep is also very a important part of your health schedule, irregular sleep patterns can often contribute to migraines. Over sleeping at weekends can induce migraines as much as under sleeping due to stress. Try to get the same regular amount of sleep each night.

General Advice

Keep a diary of what you are eating and what you are doing to find out if there are any triggers. Some trigger foods can cause a migraine or headache within 20 minutes of eating it, whereas a stressful meeting wouldn’t cause a migraine for a few hours.

Body weight – try to keep your weight within the ideal range for your height. Bring overweight can adversely affect your blood pressure and this heightens the potential for migraines headaches.

Water – are you dehydrated? Dehydration commonly brings on both a headache and poor concentration.

Relax – it is vital to reduce both physical and emotional stress and taking time out each day even it’s only 15 minutes a day. You will make a great difference to your wellbeing. Even if you can’t identify that it’s stress that provokes your headaches or migraines, you should still take the stress / relaxation aspects of your life seriously.

I hope this information helps as migraines and severe headaches can have a huge impact on your life.

Which Foods Can Help With Anxiety?

Anxiety levels can be especially high with the current situation. There is things you can do to help ease these feelings. One quick way that you can start straight away is to look at what you are eating and think about the effects the food can have on your body. When you are feeling worked up or stressed it can be easy to grab something sweet like a chocolate bar. We have all been there including myself. It might help initially, but not in the long run it will only leave you feeling worse. I am not saying never have a chocolate bar if you are feeling worked up as this would be unrealistic, just try not to do it on a regular basis.

There are some foods that can help in supporting the overall health of your nervous system.

Eggs

Eggs are fantastic and a great protein source. They are a low GI food so they can help to keep your blood sugar stable. They are also a good source of choline which is important for memory and learning.

Berries

Blueberries and blackberries are a very rich source of a group of compounds called flavonoids. These have been shown to have great effect on the cardiovascular system and, as such, may have a positive impact upon the brain. Berries cause blood vessels to relax, by stimulating the production of a chemical called nitric oxide by the vital inner skin that lines all of our blood vessels. The nitric oxide then causes the muscular walls of the blood vessels to relax, which makes the vessel wider.

Kale

Kale is one of the greatest leafy vegetables. It is very dense in magnesium, which can have a relaxing effect on the nervous system and the muscles so can really assist in relaxation during a time of high anxiety. Kale also contains iron and vitamin C so there’s an added bonus.

Cocoa

Yes you can eat chocolate!!!!! Well its the cocoa that is good for you especially for the health of your nervous system and for making you feel good. Cocoa is another good source of magnesium that can help you feel relaxed.

Lentils

Lentils are an excellent source of most of the B vitamins, so provide a multitude of benefits for the brain and nervous systems, regulating many of their important functions.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids that support the health and functioning of the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is involved in the immune system.

Mackerel

Like salmon, mackerel is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and also contains selenium.

Quinoa

Quinoa has a very low impact on your blood sugar and contains a substantial amount of protein. Protein further slows down the release of sugars from its own carbs.

Spinach

Spinach is a good source of magnesium and non-haem iron, both of these minerals are essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system.

As you can see there are some foods which can have great benefits and can really help your body and how you feel. They are not difficult foods to incorporate in your daily diet. You don’t have to change it all at once, try adding one food each week. Small changes are easier to manage and don’t make you feel overwhelmed.

Karen x

How To Give Your Immune System A Boost

Do you seem to be catching every bug that is going around at the moment?

There is a lot of bugs going around.

Your immune system can weaken at times, but you can give it a good boost!!

So here is what you can do to help………

Protein

Protein is the building block for many of the immune system’s key players such as antibodies and the white bloods that search out and destroy germs. Many protein foods are great sources of zinc, iron and many of the B vitamins which are essential for a strong immune system.

Make sure you are eating lean meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, yogurt and other foods that are high in protein.

Pumpkin Seeds

Just 1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds contains around 5mg of zinc, which one of the most vital nutrients for overall immune function. You can roast pumpkin seeds in the oven for 15 minutes at 150.

Brazil Nuts

These are a fantastic source of the immunity-supporting anti-oxidant mineral selenium. When you are low on selenium your white blood cells are slower to kill off microbes. Selenium also protects from free radical damage. Getting enough selenium rejuvenates immune cells so they are able to fight off the germs. All you need to have is 1 or 2 brazil nuts per day. If you are catching cold going then increase slightly.

Yogurt With Active Cultures

About 70 per cent of your body’s immune cells reside in the gut, so it just goes to show that a healthy gastrointestinal tract means a healthy immune system. Make sure you check the label on the yogurt for Lactobacillus acidophilus friendly bacteria. The more friendly bacteria you have, the less likely you are to be attacked by the nasty bugs. If you buy a live plain yogurt it will be low in sugar as well.

Cup Of Tea

The majority of us like a good cup of tea and now you have a reason to have one. If you haven’t tried green tea or you have and don’t like it, well this might just change your mind. Green tea is a major store house of immunity-boosting compounds including antioxidants like EGCG. Even black tea appears to have some immunity-enhancing properties.

Garlic

A very good friend of the immune system is garlic especially when you eat it raw. It has strong antibacterial properties. It is also good at fighting viruses. Its sulphur compounds are rich in antioxidants. Chop or crush your garlic and let it stand for 10 minutes to fully release the compounds healing potential.

Fruit And Vegetables

Eat a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables as they are a powerhouse of antioxidants, substances that our immune systems need in vast quantities especially when we are unwell or under stress. Stress and sickness increase the body’s production of the rogue, cell-attacking molecules known as free radicals. the damage these do makes us more susceptible to infections, which then means more free radicals. Antioxidants help break this cycle. Try to make sure you have a variety your immune system will thank you for it and so will your bosses when you aren’t always off work with illness.

As you can see it is definitely worth thinking about what you are eating and especially at this time of year when most people are busy and there is bugs everywhere you go.

Also don’t forget if you get bugs in your household make sure you regularly clean door handles and items such as TV remotes. Always have Dettol wipes at the ready!!

Karen x