Turn back the clock

HEALTH:

Whilst there are many variables involved in how long you live, staying active and eating a nutrient-packed diet can go some way to protect you against age-related diseases.

By looking after yourself to the best of your ability you can help boost your body’s natural defence systems against conditions such as cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis and diseases of the eye.

EXERCISE:

Much like muscle, bone is a living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Those who exercise regularly therefore tend to achieve greater bone density and strength than those who don’t.

The best exercise for your bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces you to work against gravity (such as weight training, walking, jogging, aerobics, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing).

NUTRITION:

The natural compounds found in blueberries can help alleviate the inflammation and oxidative damage associated with age-related problems in memory and motor function.

Sprinkle them on porridge or cereal for an anti-ageing boost to your breakfast, or blend frozen blueberries with live yogurt into a smoothie.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Good health on a budget

HEALTH:

Budget living is on everyone’s mind these days. The good news is that losing weight doesn’t have to mean spending more money. In fact, the main ingredient for lasting results – sheer determination – doesn’t cost a penny.

EXERCISE:

No amount of expensive equipment or specialist diet foods will achieve results without the will to keep at it and achieve your goals. So if you want a cheap way to top up the benefits you get from the gym, why not get walking?

A 30 minute brisk walk will raise your heart-rate and can burn an impressive 170 calories. Better yet, it’s free and accessible to anyone, no matter how fit you are or how much money you have in the bank.

NUTRITION:

Eating out is not only costly to our waistlines but also to out wallets; so try eating at home more often. When you prepare your own food you are in complete control of the ingredients, preparation method and portion sizes.

You also won’t be tempted to get your money’s worth by eating too much just because it’s there on your plate… put any leftovers in the fridge and save them for tomorrow for lunch instead!

© Sarah West Nutrition

Are you getting enough?

HEALTH:

Water is a primary component of the human body and is involved in nearly every physiological function.

It keeps us hydrated, maintains body temperature, transports nutrients and waste products in and out of cells, improves digestion and enhances organ function. So with all that going on, it is crucial that you get enough of it!

EXERCISE:

We lose a lot fluid through perspiration, so it is vital to replace that fluid when we exercise. Dehydration impairs both physical and mental functioning and you will be more prone to dizziness, fatigue or painful cramping if you don’t drink enough.

Always keep a water bottle to hand and try a sports drink after strenuous activity to help replace the sodium lost in sweat.

NUTRITION:

As well as increasing your pure water intake, try adding plenty of fresh or frozen produce to your diet.

Most fruits and vegetables contain up to 90% water which will satisfy some of your body’s fluid requirements whilst also providing you with essential nutrients and antioxidants.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Hearty reasons to get fit

HEALTH:

If you’re lacking enthusiasm, try making a mental list of all the ways that keeping fit can help improve your quality of life and increase your life-span.

Just thinking about all the amazing things you’ll be doing for yourself can be incredibly motivating; no matter what might be on your list of cons, they’re sure to be outnumbered by the pros.

EXERCISE:

According to research, physical fitness might be even more important than weight loss when it comes to protecting your heart.

54645Experts say that regardless of your Body Mass Index, if you’re physically fit you’re at reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.  So never let your weight make you feel self conscious about visiting the gym- every trip you could be increasing your life span.

NUTRITION:

One of the most commonly used vegetables is iceberg lettuce, which doesn’t provide many nutrients due to its high water content.

To get more benefit from your lunch, try replacing lettuce with salad leaves that really pack a punch – such as baby spinach, kale or watercress. These taste delicious and also provide valuable vitamin A and folate, the heart-healthy B vitamin.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Boost your immunity

HEALTH:

There is no avoiding exposure to germs and viruses, but some people seem more susceptible to them than others. A strong, well-functioning immune system is the cornerstone of good health; fighting off disease and infections and allowing you to recover more quickly if you do get sick.

EXERCISE:

Research supports a link between regular, moderate exercise and a healthy immune system due to its effect on the production of white blood cells.

Physical activity sends these immune cells through the body at a faster rate, enabling them to detect and fight bacteria and viruses more effectively. It can also slow down the release of stress-related hormones, which increase the chance of illness.

NUTRITION:

One of the best ways to boost your immunity is through the consumption of a healthy diet including brightly coloured fruit and vegetables (either fresh or from frozen).

Natural, unprocessed foods contain numerous immune-boosting antioxidants which help protect and repair our cells from damage on a daily basis.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Good fat, bad fat

HEALTH:

We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free, low fat options in the snack aisle at the supermarket. But how healthy are they really?

When fat is removed, more sugar is generally added to improve taste and appeal to consumer’s taste buds. An excess of sugar in the diet triggers the over-secretion of our fat storage hormone, insulin; so while our low-fat options have steadily increased, so have obesity rates.

EXERCISE:

High intensity interval training – involving a mix of intense effort followed by bouts of recovery – is one of the most effective ways to burn excess body fat in the gym.

To get the most out of an interval session you must ensure that you really push yourself, then ease right off during the recovery periods. Try a 2:2 work/rest ratio to start with and then gradually decrease the length of your rest periods as your stamina improves. You will soon see the benefits.

NUTRITION:

Are you fat-phobic? Essential fatty acids actually help to balance the key hormones that exert control over your weight and should never be avoided.

To increase your essential fatty acid intake, up your intake of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring and sardines. If you’re vegetarian or not keen on fish, take a good quality essential fatty acid supplement (such as Eskimo 3 stable fish oil or Solgar’s fish oil concentrate) or try adding a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your morning smoothie or mixed into dips and salad dressings.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Sleep tight

HEALTH:

How well you feel during your waking hours can depend entirely on how you sleep each night. A good night’s rest allows the body to repair and rejuvenate and is necessary to feel energised, mentally sharp and emotionally balanced.

EXERCISE:

Research shows that you sleep more deeply if you exercise regularly: as little 20-30 minutes per day can help you to enjoy a more restful slumber.

However, since exercise raises your body temperature and causes you to feel more alert, the timing of your workout is very important. A cooler body temperature and relaxed mind is associated with sleep onset so you should always finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.

NUTRITION:

If you have trouble sleeping it is a good idea to keep your evening meal light, with no strong flavours. Fatty foods is a lot of work for your stomach to digest and spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn: both of which may keep you up at night.

It may also be helpful to limit how much you drink before bed. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks – which act as both stimulants and diuretics – are particularly likely to have a disruptive effect.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Healthy digestion

HEALTH:

Digestion is the process by which food is broken down to be utilised by the body. Once the nutrients from your food have been absorbed, they are used to build and nourish cells and provide the energy needed to keep the body going.

 EXERCISE:

While there are countless ways to improve digestion, one of the most important – but often neglected – methods is through regular exercise.

sos cropped(1)Engaging in just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day encourages contraction of the intestinal tract and improves digestive transit.

 NUTRITION:

Chewing is the first stage of digestion. It not only physically breaks down what you eat, but also signals organs to secrete their digestive juices (such as pancreatic enzymes and stomach acids) to prepare for incoming food.

Next time you eat, try putting down your fork between mouthfuls in order to encourage you to really chew your food well. You might be surprised by the difference it makes to your digestion.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Eat your greens

HEALTH:

Dark green leafy vegetables are highly nutritious, providing a wide variety of important essential vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium) plus a source of carotenoids and anti-oxidants (including vitamins A, C and E).

However, despite their nutritional advantages they are one of the most under-consumed foods in the average person’s diet.

EXERCISE:

Spinach has long been known as the food that gave Popeye his bulging muscles. And it seems he had the right idea; research has indicated that eating 200g of green leafy vegetables can make your muscles more efficient, reducing the amount of oxygen needed to power muscles during exercise by as much as 5% (resulting in both improved muscle gains and better overall health).

So why not follow Popeye’s example for an improved workout?

NUTRITION:

Try some of these suggestions to increase your intake of leafy greens:

  • Wrap it up: Try preparing a tortilla wrap with chicken or turkey and adding romaine leafy greens for some extra nutrients and flavour.
  • Wilt It: Wilted green leafy vegetables will hugely reduce in size, providing the same nutritious goodness in a far more manageable form. Try lightly steaming spinach over a pan of boiling water then mixing with crushed garlic and stirring into hot pasta.
  • Curried: Spinach is an old favourite in curry houses. Make your own Saag Aloo by mixing shredded spinach with chopped new potatoes and adding turmeric, cumin and grated ginger.

© Sarah West Nutrition