Nutrition & Lifestyle Tips
Sleep problems are becoming more common these days.
Follow these tips for a good quality sleep:
1. Take daily time-out. During the day cortisol, which is our get-up and go hormone, is highest in the morning and slowly decreases into the evening until we go to sleep. When we experience stress and anxiety during the day our cortisol levels can often be too high at night to fall asleep or we wake only a few hours after getting to sleep. Taking the time during the day to relax, even if just for a few deep and mindful breathes here and there, will go a long way towards a better sleep.
2. Reduce sugar intake. The link between sugar and anxiety is now well-known and anxiety is one of the leading causes of sleep problems. Avoiding sugar or at least minimising its consumption will immediately improve anxiety levels. If you do consume sugar or processed foods (same effect as sugar), try and eat them with protein such as nuts and seeds as it will help to slow down its absorption and prevent your blood sugar from spiking.
3. Eat more high magnesium foods. This essential mineral is a powerful muscle relaxant, can help to reduce pain as well as to help your mind calm down, all beneficial for a great nights’ sleep. Good food sources of magnesium include spinach, sesame seeds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, black beans and avocado.
4. Make a regular bedtime. It is essential for a healthy circadian rhythm to have a regular bedtime, keeping within half an hour of a set time. This will allow the body to regulate your sleeping hours and your waking time. When our rhythm is regular, our body is more efficient at completing the activities it needs to do during the night. These include detoxing, repairing and growing muscle tissue, producing hormones and restoring energy levels in the brain.
5. Avoid or minimise stimulants. Caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate can have a lasting effect as it promotes the release of cortisol keeping your levels too high for a deep nights’ sleep. Alcohol is a sedative, however it limits how deep you sleep and increases the likelihood of you waking in the night.
6. Avoid blue light. The type of light that comes from the sun and from our screens is known as blue light and interferes with our sleep hormone melatonin, keeping us awake for longer. When the sun goes down, we naturally produce more melatonin, which increases our level of sleepiness. However, if we spend time in the evening, especially the hour before bed in this light, our melatonin levels don’t increase as much and you may have trouble getting to sleep. Best to keep the hour before bed reserved for calming the mind and doing restful activities.
7. Exercise regularly. The primary way exercise works to improve sleep quality is by reducing conditions of hyper-arousal such as anxiety and stress as well as lowering depressive feelings. There is also a drop in body temperature a few hours after exercise that promotes sleep.
TUESDAY TIP – LOVE YOUR TATERS?
They contain vitamins, minerals, and resistant starch, a type of fibre that’s been found to benefit gut bacteria. It’s how you prepare the potatoes that matter, so, with that in mind, here are five easy ways to make your potatoes way healthier.
1. GO FOR SMALLER POTATOES?
Many of the vitamins and minerals in potatoes are found in their skin, which is one of the reasons that the traditional preparation of peeling and boiling them is less
than ideal. The smaller your potato is, the higher your skin-to-flesh ration is, meaning you’ll be getting far more nutrients per bite. Bonus: if you buy the super small new potatoes, you don’t even have to cut them before moving onto boiling or roasting them—just give them a quick rinse and they’ll be good to go!
2. ROAST YOUR POTATOES
If you boil your potatoes, you’re not doing much for the flavour, so you have to add all of that flavour back in (which is where the butter and cream find their way onto your plate). Roasting, on the other hand, makes use of the maillard reaction, a fancy word for the browning that takes place when the sugars in the vegetable caramelise and become nutty and sweet. With that delicious of a base, you barely have to add anything to create a crave-worthy side dish.
3. USE A HEALTHY OIL
The type of oil that you reach for can help or hurt the health benefits of a dish. For potatoes, going with ghee, avocado, or extra virgin olive oil will not only amp up the flavour but make them way more healthy.
Oils can come into play in two ways when making potatoes—if you roast them, you can toss with an oil to get a delightfully crisp exterior (all three aforementioned fats work great for this, with the ghee imparting a buttery flavour, olive oil lending grassy notes, and avocado giving the most neutral results). If you do choose to go for mashed potatoes, you can drizzle in a liquid oil (so, avocado or olive) as you’re whipping
them, after you’ve added a non-dairy milk. The fat will emulsify with the liquid, making a super creamy result—no cream necessary.
4. ADD IN SOME HERBS
Fresh herbs are a win-win. They’re incredibly healthful, containing phytochemicals that help fight inflammation, but they also add a ton of flavour. If you’re roasting, toss them with fresh thyme and chopped rosemary. If you’re mashing them, mix in some thyme, or sprinkle a generous amount of chives on top.
5. GO SWEET
While white potatoes are healthful, sweet potatoes benefit from the antioxidants that give them that glorious hue. That’s not all: They are rich in potassium, which helps your muscles relax. They also have magnesium, which promotes GABA secretion in the brain—a relaxation-inducing neurotransmitter. You can give sweet potatoes the exact same treatment you’d give white potatoes, subbing them on a one-for-one basis in any recipe. It’s also fun to use them as an excuse to play around with fun twists on classic preparations—think, for instance, of mashed sweet potatoes with buttery ghee
and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
TUESDAY TIP – TOO SWEET? THE PROBLEM WITH SUGAR SUBSTITUTES
All sweet tastes, whether real sugar or sugar substitutes, act upon the same sweet taste receptors of the tongue and trigger similar brain neural reward pathways, maintaining sugar addictions and cravings. That means regular consumption of sweet substances, even with no calories, will maintain cravings for sweet tastes. People who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and non-sweet foods, such as vegetables, unappealing.
No-calorie sweeteners like Stevia and Erythritol, are typically added to foods that mimic or replace traditional high-sugary foods. This can promote snacking and extra consumption of desserts and treats, dramatically raising the risk that you may eat more than you need and keeping you tied to old patterns of your former high-carb eating contributing to weight gain.
In other words, use of artificial sweeteners can make you neglect healthy, filling, unprocessed and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavoured foods with less nutritional value. Research also suggests that artificial sweeteners could lead to glucose intolerance by interfering with gut bacteria.
The best strategy for achieving optimal health and weight loss may be learning to enjoy real foods in their unsweetened state.
Our bodies are incredible. They change and adapt with each season. What we once thought appealing in winter is very different to what we crave now its spring.
Much needed after a long, heavy winter, there is absolutely no better time to buy fresh vegetables than in spring. Nutritious. Delicious. Fresh. So important for your health and your performance. It’s always better to buy fruits and vegetables in season. That’s when they have the best flavour, and when prices are fairest.
Foods in season NOW: Antioxidant-rich leafy greens like spinach, basil, romaine lettuce. Bright, crisp root vegetables like asparagus, carrots, artichokes, rhubarb.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you always stick to the same thing, you provide your body with the same nutrients. Switching up your vegetables, means you get new nutrients.
Spring also provides some of the best herbs like chives, dill, sage and rosemary. All are healthy and really jazz up a meal!