With the various stresses and pressures of life and with a lot of noise around diet and exercise we have put together some simple pointers to help you achieve a more energised and healthier self this year.
1. Reduce or Eliminate sugar in your diet
Detox is about cleansing the body of toxins and what better toxin to start with than sugar in its various high glycemic forms. Obviously we have been preaching this for a while but sugar has become the demon of the media of late and that looks to continue as diabetes and obesity are the biggest nutritional challenges of our times: 1 in 4 children and 2 in 3 adults in Ireland are overweight. Fortunately this has increased the awareness of the harms of sugar.
Most of us go through a rollercoaster peak and trough cycle with our blood sugar levels every day: simply put, the cycle begins with high sugar food which triggers a spike in blood sugar levels. A high blood sugar level stimulates the pancreas to secrete a large amount of the hormone insulin in an attempt to regulate glucose levels in our bloodstream. This insulin release generally causes a significant drop in blood sugar levels whereupon the body feels shaky and craving sugary food… and so the cycle continues.
This accounts somewhat for the tea and biscuits craving at 11am and then again, perhaps accompanied by sleepiness, at 3-4pm. A lot of the latest health and nutrition research focuses on maintaining stable blood sugar levels in order to minimise fat storage and to have an overall lifelong health outlook. Endeavour to maintain steadier blood sugar levels with your nutrition and in particular with snacks which research shows as the biggest problem area for people attempting better nutrition. Opt for nutritional snacks that are high in nutrients, vitamins, fibre and/or protein and in particular snacks which do not raise blood sugar levels as much.
2. Integrate Coconut Oil into your diet
Coconut Oil is another hot trend of late but it is really a household essential that is more than just a trend. Coconut Oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) of which some 50% is lauric acid and is metabolised in a particular way.
Read more about coconut oil benefits and uses by Dr.Mercola here.
Top Uses for Dr. Coy’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1. Use for stir-frying and sautéing as it is more heat stable than most other oils.
2. Replace butter in many dishes as our coconut oil has a lovely rich flavour.
3. Add a teaspoon or two to your porridge.
4. Spread our unrefined coconut oil on your toast as a dairy free alternative.
5. Add to smoothies and protein shakes to give them a nutritional boost.
6. Stir into hot cooked quinoa, lentils or wholegrain rice.
7. Add to any oriental influenced dishes for an exotic sweetness.
8. Rub chicken with coconut oil & seasoning for roasting.
9. Mix with a little lemon juice to make a tasty salad dressing.
3. Get More Sleep
That sleep is good for us is so commonly said that we take the statement for granted. However, we should not underestimate the benefits of sleep and we all need to make more effort to get proper sleep. There are many tips on proper bedtime routines, with the main ones being regularity and not using electronics as the ‘blue’ light can suppress melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that controls sleep and wake cycles, sometimes called “the sleep hormone”.
The main benefit of sleep is that the body goes into repair mode. This is the reason that professional athletes often nap in the afternoon in between training sessions. Sleep is good for the skin as this organ goes into repair mode also. Poor sleep puts people at an increased risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. Aim to get 7-8 hours per night.
4. Get more Daylight
The flipside of getting more sleep is getting more daylight, in particular in the winter when we are cooped up in offices etc. Daylight has a direct impact on our bodies’ internal clock (the circadian cycle) whereby daylight in the morning stops the body’s production of melatonin allowing us to wake up quickly. Conversely the lack of daylight in the evening allows melatonin production to kick in again inducing sleepiness.
Unlike other essential vitamins, which must be obtained from food, vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin through a photosynthetic reaction triggered by exposure to sunlight. Therefore make an effort to get outside at this time of year even if only for 20-30 minutes at lunchtime.
5. Get More Exercise
So with less sugar, better snacks, coconut oil, more sleep and more daylight you should have better energy levels: Use all of this to get a little more exercise, which apart from all the obvious heart and lungs benefits, can help with anxiety too. Start with 30 minute walks or even easy 2-3 kilometre jogs. If you are more competitively inclined now is the time to sign up for a few 5km runs or cycling sportives in the summer – locking in the date will provide you with motivation and focus. The 5km ‘Parkruns‘ are a great social, fun and motivational tool to get out there.
Eat well and be healthy…