Monday, 27 January 2014

Food: Quick & easy health tips (Pt 4)

As part of my five-part 'Quick & easy health tips' features, I continue to round up the best bits of advice I received from nutritionists and my own research that I wanted to share with you. I'm on a journey to find the best ways to alter my lifestyle towards a healthier one and I thought I would share this with you. I absolutely hate exercise and prefer dance class, so this will be more of a goal to find alternative ways of eating, drinking and behaving healthier on a day to day basis and making it part of everyday life...the easy way. Hope you like the tips and find them useful!

Check out the other posts in this 'Quick & easy health tips' series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

11. Limit alcohol, fizzy drinks and caffeine intake
Allright I know this one isn't as easy as it I didn't say eliminate. I personally did eliminate fizzy drinks and caffeine completely out of my diet as they are the worst things for my IBS. They cause bloating for a lot of people and sometimes instant stomach aches, so my life is better without them. A lot of people become very dependent on caffeine, and there are always alternatives to bringing your energy levels up such as Ginseng tea, eating something like an apple (natural sugars!) or just having a big glass of water. Your body will eventually know it doesn't need the coffee anymore and you will feel great! I'm not even going to preach about the alcohol part but cutting back on this has made me feel better all round, and I'm happier knowing I don't waste days feeling hungover sometimes. I also stick to just spirits (triple distilled, not the cheap stuff!) like vodka and no fizzy drinks, and I make sure I have a good meal beforehand to line my stomach. I then have a big glass of water before bed which helps with the next day. These strategies ensure I have a fun night out!

12. Study the ingredients on the food you buy and know where your food comes from
Some people take this very seriously, and only buy their food from local sources or organic farms. Living in a big city, this isn't always easy or cheap, but I have lately been trying to do my very best to eat well in every way possible, including CARING more about where my food comes from. Most products will now have labels telling you where the product is from (i.e. a farm, etc.), and what it is made of. The most deceiving labels are still legal, and labels like '80% less fat' or 'low fat' are the worst. Take a look in the back and you will probably get the shock of your life when you see the substitutes for the 'fat' such as high levels of sugar (most common) and E numbers. The labels are so deceiving, but it's not always just about the fat, it's about the sugar and saturated fat and I try to live by a rule where I don't eat anything will more than 3-4g of saturated fat. And why would anyone want to drink something with 35g/6 teaspoons of sugar (Coca Cola) and that damages your teeth, AND messes with your stomach (bloating)?!

Additionally, knowing what is really in your food will open your eyes and make you realise how foul some of the processed foods are (i.e. frankfurters) and will hopefully motivate you to eat healthier options. I don't think all organic is best, but organic, free range, etc. is a good way to go....and you can tell the difference in the taste and texture, too! You really do get what you pay for, and some things are worth the money.

13. Drink more green tea
Green tea and peppermint tea in particular are my daily drinks of choice. Green tea will help with controlling weight loss, regulating diabetes, reducing high blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol, and even the improvement of skin. Hot or iced, green tea can help with a workout, too. It's catechins (destroys viral bacteria like flus), antioxidants and caffeine help increase metabolic generation of heat if you drink it 10 minutes before you exercise. Personally, peppermint tea works wonders for my digestion and helps me relax so I absolutely love it.

14. Try lavender and epsom salts
A lovely old man I once met told me all about epsom salts and how he has been using it for years, helping him relax and unwind. I didn't know much about the amazing benefits until I researched it a little, and am determined to try it out even though I never take baths. For example, stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The salt baths help ease stress, relax the body, relieve pain and muscle cramps, and helps the muscles and nerves function properly. Another great benefit is that it will help eliminate toxins from the body by pulling the salt and harmful toxis out of your body whilst in the bath, Try it out - just two cups of epsom salt in a warm bath and a 12 minute soak will do the job. If you want a little moisturiser, add some baby oil in as well.

Lavender is a lovely scent used in many products, and I love to smell it in pillows, closets, and heated for soothing effects. Lavender is used in many health and beauty treatments, and can be found anywhere. Try spritzing some L'Occitane lavender pillow spray on your pillow and enjoy :)

15. Always have some echinacea on hand
This might not work for everyone (just like anything else!) but it works really well for me when trying ti prevent colds. If I can sense a cold/flu coming, I take echinacea tablets every day and my symptoms always get better. It's a herbal remedy so I prefer to do this than to take any other medicine unless I really have to (as a general life rule!). There are mixed studies about echinacea and its benefits, but trying the plant based herbal medicine won't hurt you in any way but can only boost your immunity, so why not give it a go? Its certainly better than stuffing yourself with manufactured medicine.

16. Get creative with your food, use cool gadgets
There are so many great foodie gadgets out there that can help you get more creative with your food. My favourite nutritionist Madeleine Shaw uses a great vegetable spiralizer to make yummy light salads, and I recently bought the amazing NutriBullet to make juices and smoothies. You can buy lots of cheaper clever things as well, that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle on a day to day basis, like this Citrus Zinger Bottle I recently received to review.

You may remember I mentioned the benefits of drinking lemon every day, and this is the perfect little bottle to help with that. It's easy to use as all you have to do is squeeze a lemon or fruit of choice on to the bottom infuser, and the natural juice will flow into your water to provide that little extra flavour. The bottle is lightweight and a lovely colour, and great quality. It costs £14.99 on JD Harris, and I can see myself using this all the time as it's quite easy to attach to a bag when travelling as well.

*I am not a professional nutritionist or doctor, so take this advice lightly and find what's best for your body! I do not endorse any of the products mentioned, and am not paid to feature them. I will only feature things that I have tried and tested and that have worked for me, but am not in any way entitled to give medical advice.

Images from Amazon and Google

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