Now that summer is only a couple of months away, there’s no doubt you’re putting your health at the top of your agenda to feel and look your best once the sunshine starts heading our way. With the 7th of April marking World Health Day, we’ve asked our health experts for their top tips on simple ways to incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle.
Switch to wholegrain staples
Swap your regular white bread, pasta and rice for brown and wholegrain alternatives to give your health an extra boost. Leading UK Nutritionist and author of Fat Around The Middle, Dr Marilyn Glenville, explains, “Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly. The carbohydrates in whole meal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream. Also, this gradual release helps you to feel full for longer, suppressing your appetite and stopping you craving sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar rollercoaster.”
Take up Pilates
Enrich both your physical and mental health by incorporating a Pilates class into your schedule. Eleonora Sansoni, Pilates Instructor at new holistic wellness boutique Maître of Thyme explains, “Pilates uses a combination of muscular strengthening, flexibility and postural awareness combined in an incredible variety of moves. The wider benefits of Pilates range from an increase in strength and flexibility, better postural awareness, a reduction of pain and an increased function to better sleep.”
Pilates has also been associated with improving mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, fatigue and fibromyalgia and reducing stress. In addition, Pilates helps with enhancing breathing patterns, the general joint range of motion, cardiovascular pump and muscle activation. All of these benefits combined together contribute to support your general health and wellbeing and therefore affect our immune systems as well.
Check the labels
Whenever you do your grocery shopping have a look at the label. You might find chemical names such as sodium benzoate or monosodium glutamate. Francesca Cappozzo, Nutritionist at Maître of Thyme, new holistic wellness boutique, explains, “These substances are classified as additives and preservatives, defined as non-nutritive substances added intentionally to food, generally in small quantities to improve appearance, flavour, texture or storage properties. Amounts used in food are usually regulated by the law, although that doesn’t mean that they are harmless. Most of them are potential carcinogenic and create imbalances in our metabolism. It is better to try and avoid them when possible. In addition, avoid trans-fats that increase cholesterol levels and are normally under the name of hydrogenated palm-oil/corn-oil/soya oil. Also, avoid E numbers, monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrates and nitrites, butylated hydroxyanisole and artificial sweeteners. Also, products are listed on food labels in order of quantity, so if you see any of the above listed initially on the ingredients, you know it’s better to put it down.”
Don’t opt for the ‘fat-free’ options
“Fat-free alternatives of milks and yoghurts are usually enriched with sugar to cover the bland taste. This means they are high in glucose, which immediately spikes insulin production. If all that immediate energy does not get used by exercising, our body stores it in the form of fat. Full-fat is better because fat, even if it has more calories, is slowly digested and promotes satiety, and in my opinion it tastes 100% better,” suggests Francesca.
Steer clear of the sugar
It’s well known that sugar contains a high amount of calories while providing no nutritional value. Start by cutting out sugar from your coffee and tea and then go on to try and lower your consumption of those sweet treats you tend to crave at 3pm.
If you’re struggling to resist reaching for that chocolate bar, try the brand-new Natures Plus KetoLiving Sugar Control Capsules (£29.95, www.naturesplus.co.uk). Peaks and dips in our blood sugar are a common trigger for sugar cravings. The natural ingredients in this product work in a variety of ways to help keep our blood sugar levels stable, minimising any peaks and dips that can lead us into temptation.
Add variety to your exercise regime
HIIT classes and cardio-type exercise such as cycling can be great for your cardiovascular health and burn lots of calories but incorporating weight training or a strength training class into your workouts too can have other benefits. First, it can be better than cardio exercise for boosting metabolism outside your workout, making it the ideal complement to HIIT or interval training classes for fat loss or weight control. Strength training also helps protect and build your bone strength. If you’re worried about developing big muscles, don’t: weight training can be adapted for all types of body shapes and goals.
Get better quality sleep
Help improve the quality of your sleep by introducing a magnesium supplement to your diet. Natures Plus Nutritionist Martina Della Vedova explains, “Magnesium has a great effect on our nervous system and it is usually the first remedy that practitioners choose when it comes to supporting stress, insomnia, and mood. Magnesium is able to nourish and balance a stressed body, improving relaxation and sleep quality.” Try Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Powder (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk).