Use your head

HEALTH:

Whether it’s a thumping pain, a dull throb or a full-blown migraine, chances are we’ve all experienced some form of headache from time to time.

They have a variety of individual causes (including tension, over-exertion, dehydration, excessive caffeine intake or fatigue) but these diet and lifestyle tips may help provide some natural relief.

EXERCISE:

il_570xN.240901110The right kind of physical activity can be an effective preventative measure against headaches by stimulating the release of endorphins; your body’s natural pain killers.

Try aerobics, brisk walking or swimming (although always ensure your goggles are not too tight; a common and easily rectifiable headache trigger!)

NUTRITION:

Amines are bio-chemicals involved in blood vessel constriction/dilation and are suspected to be a major factor when it comes to triggering headaches.

Amines are not only found in the brain but also in foods such as mature cheese, strawberries, shellfish, tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate, nuts and some meats. If you are prone to headaches, cutting down on these foods could make all the difference.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Get happy

HEALTH:

Studies have found that feeling positive helps boost the immune system, making happy people less likely to suffer from physical illness. In contrast, stress and negative thoughts can exert a negative on effects on your health through the same biological pathways.

Try these natural mood-boosters to help avoid stress and give yourself a lift.

EXERCISE:

44050902574705617xtH0qrFGcPhysical activity is vital for health, fitness and happiness. Those who exercise frequently not only feel better but benefit from the added sense of accomplishment that comes from meeting personal fitness goals and improving their physical appearance.

By making a commitment to exercise, you will reap the psychological and physical rewards on a regular basis.

NUTRITION:

When trying to get healthy, don’t think in terms of sacrificing the foods you enjoy: concentrate on all the delicious things you can add to your diet that will make you look and feel better.

Chicken or chickpea curry served with cashew nuts, brown rice and live yogurt makes a delicious meal that is also packed full of tryptophan, the feel-good amino acid.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Are you getting enough?

HEALTH:

Iron is an integral component of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health and wellbeing. You must always ensure you take in sufficient amounts of iron-rich foods in your diet.

Excess amounts of iron can result in toxicity and even death, so it important to see your doctor for a firm diagnosis of iron deficiency before simply supplementing with iron tablets.

EXERCISE:

spinach-dd-02Keen gym-goers will deplete their iron stores much faster than their less physically active counterparts sweat & the digestive tract, putting them at greater risk of deficiency and decreased endurance.
Insufficient iron stores lead to a shortage of oxygen being delivered to the muscles during exercise. This means that those with low iron levels will have a much harder time sustaining their workout and will rapidly run out of energy. Watch out for signs of weakness, lethargy, dizziness and heart palpitations and see your GP if you are concerned or feel unwell.

NUTRITION:

Poor dietary choices are the cause of most cases of iron deficiency.  Try boosting your intake by including more lean red meat, poultry, shellfish, lentils, leafy greens (such as spinach and broccoli), almonds and iron-fortified cereals in your diet.

By combining these iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C (such as orange juice) and avoiding milk, tea and coffee while you eat, you will further optimise iron absorption.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Keep it up

HEALTH:

The key to staying healthy throughout life is consistency; it takes ongoing commitment to achieve long lasting results.

With this in mind, it can be helpful to think about how much of your current routine you can realistically see yourself sticking to in the future. If any part of your diet or fitness regime isn’t sustainable then you’re less likely to reap the long-term rewards.

EXERCISE:

6445After you finish your workout, ask yourself which aspects you enjoyed and which you didn’t. As a rule, the most gratifying aspects of your workout will be executed with energy and care while the rest may be rushed or avoided.

By seeking advice from a personal trainer on how to get more variety and enjoyment from your routine, you will be more likely to keep it up.

NUTRITION:

Healthy eating is not about strict diets, staying unrealistically thin or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Instead of being overly concerned with calorie counting, think of your diet in terms of colour, variety and freshness.

Try to eat foods in season and never cut out entire food groups. This should make it easier to make food choices that are both healthy and delicious.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Don’t go hungry

HEALTH:

Being healthy is not neccessarily about eating less. Whilst it’s important to watch your calorie intake, eating too little or too irregularly can lead to dizziness, low mood and fatigue. It can also hinder your progress by causing cravings and the urge to overeat.

By ensuring that you are regularly supplying your body with good quality nutrition throughout the day you will see far better results in the gym and feel better for it too.

EXERCISE:

Exercising without adequate fuel is like trying to drive a car with no petrol. Food eaten before exercise should be 1relatively low in fat and fibre, moderate in protein and high in carbohydrate in order to maximize maintenance of blood glucose (and therefore energy levels).

After exercise your dietary goals are to provide adequate fluids plus protein and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen and promote recovery.

NUTRITION:

An ideal pre-workout snack is a banana and a couple of oatcakes; this will give you a boost of energy without weighing you down.

Post-gym, try a chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread or a smoothie prepared with a handful of fresh or frozen berries, live yogurt, ice cold milk and some ground flaxseeds.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Everyday energy

HEALTH:

We all know that exercise improves your health and your physique, but it also benefits your energy levels and mood.

If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and find yourself flagging throughout the day, try the following tips to help you to remain energised.

EXERCISE:

1Research confirms that regular exercise gives you more energy, so always try to fit in some physical activity. Any kind of brisk movement will do; even walking the dog, doing the hoovering or working on your garden.

Get it done early in the day and your levels of the hormone melatonin will be higher at night, helping you to sleep better and feel more refreshed and alert the following day.

NUTRITION:

Although they provide a burst of short-lived fuel, refined carbohydrates will ultimately leave you feeling sluggish and tired after eating.

The trick for staying alert is to opt for nutrient-rich, wholegrain carbohydrates, paired with a source of protein. This combination releases energy more slowly and give you a gradual boost of long-lasting energy.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Look younger

HEALTH:

Ever wondered what the trick is to looking younger than your age?

Forget the expensive lotions and potions: one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to turn back to clock is to focus on your diet and exercise routine.

EXERCISE:

Physical activity produces a flood of feel-good hormones called endorphins. These suppress the effects of inflammatory hormones, helping your skin to look younger and smoother.

o-maticDopamine levels can also be increased through exercise, helping to increase blood flow and make your complexion look more luminous.

NUTRITION:

Fruits and vegetables – especially those that are dark in colour – are loaded with antioxidants that may help protect your cells from premature ageing.

Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other food; three times more than red wine and green tea. Other potent antioxidant-rich foods include blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, broccoli and spinach.

 

© Sarah West Nutrition

Break the habit

HEALTH:

Despite the wide variety of foods available in the UK, research shows that the majority of British people eat the same foods at breakfast and lunch every day.

Cereal, toast and tea were voted the most popular breakfast options, while sandwiches make up over half of all British lunches. For dinner, 48% of participants consumed pasta at least once a week, followed by chips (38%) and pizza (32%).

EXERCISE:

Always doing the same old exercises at the gym? Scared to try something new? Sometimes you need to take yourself out of our comfort zone in order to avoid overtraining and injuring yourself.

45Remember that your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers, so don’t be afraid to try a new machine or routine. You will work different muscles and keep your body guessing each week.

NUTRITION:

Eating the same type of food every day is not only boring, but could also lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients. A good way of addressing this is by looking at the colour of your food.

If you’re eating mainly colourless carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, pastas, rice and potatoes you’re ignoring other nutrient-packed foods that are essential for health. For a full complement of antioxidants, up your fruit and vegetables and try to eat something red, purple, orange, yellow and green each day.

© Sarah West Nutrition

The dangers of detox

HEALTH:

Thinking of embarking on a detox diet to boost your health and wellbeing? Before you do, it’s time to cleanse you of the concept that we need to be periodically detoxified.

Strict diets might claim to rid your system of toxins, but your body already does that job for you; working to break down what goes in, absorb the good and excrete the not so good. No diet required!

EXERCISE:

The skin is the body’s largest organ and plays a large part in helping the body stay healthy, through perspiration.

Lemon-detox-logo-tinWorking up a sweat helps your internal organs stay cool by lowering your overall body temperature and aids with the removal of toxins from the body through the skin. So if you want a quick ‘detox’ fix, try sweating it out at the gym.

NUTRITION:

Restricting your food consumption limits intake of energy and important nutrients needed for good health, which can cause unhealthy side effects such as headaches, dizziness and low energy.

If you want to maintain optimal health then the best approach is a balanced diet containing a variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, plenty of wholegrain cereals, lean meat and fish (or vegetarian alternatives) plus low-fat dairy products.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Winter wellbeing

HEALTH:

Had enough of grey skies and cold weather? Lack of sunlight lowers the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, meaning your enthusiasm to get fit can seem lower than ever at this time of year.

But don’t be tempted to hibernate; it is particularly important to keep active if you want to stay feeling your best and help fend off those winter germs and viruses.

EXERCISE:

Exercise is an essential part of any healthy lifestyle and you should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week, whatever the weather.

492649930158102_do6Vso4s_cWinter is a great time to try out something new that you can do indoors, so why not give badminton or squash a go? A burst of activity will make you feel far better (and warmer!) than just sitting around at home.

NUTRITION:

The secret to fighting off infections is to keep the immune system strong. To enhance your immune function this winter try eating plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables and increasing your intake of foods containing zinc (such sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans, poultry, yogurt and wholegrains).

Try to avoid too much refined sugar, as this has been shown to reduce energy levels and suppress immune function.

© Sarah West Nutrition