NUTRITION FOR YOGA

Over the years it has become increasingly common in the West to practise vigorous and demanding styles of yoga, and even to practise in the heat, with styles such as Bikram taking the yoga world by storm. Even though the benefits of such yoga disciplines are unquestionable, it is still important to look after your body to ensure it is getting everything it needs to stay in tip top condition. Get the best out of you and your yoga practice by following these 5 simple tips:

  1. Antioxidants – when engaging in a yoga practice, or any kind of exercise for that matter, it is important to keep antioxidant levels topped up. Things called free radicals can be produced inside the body when physical strain or stress is experienced, and can cause damage quickly if not stopped by antioxidants, which have a neutralizing effect on these nasties. Two of the most important antioxidants are vitamin E and vitamin C, as they act as free radical scavengers, so make sure you are eating foods rich in these two vitamins to stay protected. Dark green leafy veg, berries, nuts, peppers, and cruciferous veg such as broccoli and cauliflower, are all packed with a variety of amazing antioxidants.
  1. Stay Hydrated – we lose water through our breath and our sweat when we engage in physical exercise, so making sure we keep water levels topped up is crucial. Water helps our body to exercise effectively, meaning not only performance will be better when we are hydrated, but recovery will also be extra efficient, as tissues will heal more quickly. The amount of water needed by the body varies from person to person, but aim to drink about 2 litres per day, slightly more if your yoga practice (or exercise regime) is physically demanding. Try adding an electrolyte powder or drops to water to ensure any electrolytes lost through sweat are replenished.
  1. Vitamin D – bone health is super important, especially when we practise yoga or exercise regularly. Vitamin D helps yours body absorb calcium and keep your bones strong and healthy, so it is vital to make sure you are getting enough, especially when we live in a climate with very little sunshine! Mushrooms, oily fish, and eggs all contain high levels of vitamin D. If you think you may be deficient in the sunshine vitamin, which quite a lot of us are, a vitamin D test by your GP will tell you exactly what your levels are, and what they should be. By keeping vitamin D levels up, you’ll also be giving your immune system an extra turbo boost – essential for fighting off any colds or infections.
  1. Protein – protein is essential when engaging in any form of exercise, even yoga, as it helps to maintain a healthy body. As scary as it sounds, when we exercise we break down and tear muscle fibres, and protein is needed to help repair these. It also plays a major role in helping to keep our blood sugar levels balanced and helps support the immune system – both important factors to ensure we get the most we can from our yoga practice. A diet rich in fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, lean meat, beans and pulses, will help to ensure you’re getting enough. You can even try adding a scoop of protein powder to your morning breakfast smoothie or post yoga shake!
  1. Omega – 3 – well what doesn’t this super nutrient do!? Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to overall health and wellbeing, and will ensure your body and mind function optimally both on and off the mat. Heart health, cholesterol, mood, skin, the nervous system, and joint health, are all benefited by this wonder nutrient. Oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and green leafy veg, are all great sources of Omega-3. So start filling your plate with these beauties and begin to feel the glow from within!

5 TOP TIPS FOR A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

The city life can make it hard for us to truly switch off and get a good quality night’s sleep. Late nights, or broken sleep with minds’ racing, can mean that we often wake up with low energy and foggy minds – not ideal when we have a day of work ahead of us! When we sleep is when the body’s cells regenerate and rejuvenate, so having a good sleep is vital to keeping us feeling refreshed in the mornings.

Here are 5 simple tips to keep you catching Zzzzzz’s all night long:

  1. Avoid stimulants close to bed time – having caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bed time can have a stimulating effect on the body’s nervous system, making it extremely difficult to fall into a relaxing sleep. Every person’s body handles stimulants differently, so try to work out how long before bed time you need to avoid these stimulants for. Turning electronic devices off an hour before bed will also allow the mind to switch into relaxation mode before you hit the pillow – promoting a peaceful slumber.
  1. Try a magnesium salt bath – have a magnesium salt bath just before bed time a few nights a week – it works wonders! Add 2 cups of salts to your bath and feel every muscle in your body relax. Not only does magnesium relax the muscles, it also lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be crawling into bed after one of these.
  1. Manage stress – when you’re stressed and your mind is constantly racing, this is likely to put some strain on your sleep. Make sure to put a bit of time aside to engage in relaxing activities, such as yoga and meditation. Breathing exercises before bed can also be a great way to get those brain waves flowing a lot more calmly.
  1. Protein – this essential macronutrient helps to reduce cortisol, the hormone that is produced by the body when we are stressed. When cortisol levels are high, sleep levels are low. Protein also helps to balance and maintain blood sugar levels, meaning that insulin spikes, which can contribute to excess cortisol, are kept in check. Try to have a portion of protein with each meal to ensure sufficient protein levels. Eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean meat, and quinoa are all good options.
  1. Potassium – this important electrolyte is required by the body to maintain water balance and reduce blood pressure, which in turn contributes to a restful night’s sleep. Eating potassium rich foods such as oats, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados and fish, will set you on the path to that dreamy sleep you’ve been longing for.

INFLAMMATION OVERLOAD

Inflammation is crucial – we need it to survive, and when it is working optimally it is our body’s natural immune defence to tissue damage. However, when we are exposed to a constant supply of mental, environmental, and physical stressors, inflammation becomes chronic and our immune defence can break down, potentially leading to a whole host of other illnesses and chronic disease. Stress, poor sleep, a diet lacking in nutrients, and exposure to toxins can all have a major effect on inflammation and our immune response. Here are my 5 top tips to help you keep inflammation under control –

  1. No to processed – foods that are highly processed and high in refined sugar and flour are one of the top nasties when it comes to inflammation. Make sure you are eating a wide variety of fresh plant-based and whole foods, as these contain a multitude of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants, which help to keep inflammation at bay and your immune system healthy.
  1. Omega-3 – this important nutrient is vital for its anti-inflammatory properties, however the body cannot make it, so we have to get it through our diet. Omega-3’s have been shown to significantly reduce inflammation, as well as potentially lowering the risk of other diseases, such as arthritis and heart disease. Try adding mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon to your diet for a healthy dose of Omega-3.
  1. Relax and restore – stress is a major player when it comes to inflammation. When we experience high levels of stress, cortisol (our stress hormone) levels run riot, which can seriously effect immune function and overall health. Taking time to chill out and relax is essential for ensuring our mind and body stay healthy. Yoga, meditation, walking, and even enjoying a long soak in the bath will work wonders.
  1. Bad fats – fats like trans-fats have a very negative effect on inflammation and cholesterol. Avoid fried food and trans-fats and opt for good fats, such as those found in oily fish, almonds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil. These will not only help to lower inflammation, but will help to keep your heart ticking along nicely.
  1. Exercise regularly – exercising doesn’t have to mean intense work-outs at the gym that leave you feeling sore for days afterwards. Find a type of exercise you enjoy! Whether it’s a yoga or pilates class, a cycle around your local park, or some time with a skipping rope in the garden – regular exercise will help to lower inflammation and promote a healthy heart and body.

TOP 5 ENERGY TIPS

3pm dip?

Is that notorious energy slump catching you out in the afternoon? Finding it hard to keep motivated post lunch? Here are my 5 top tips to keep you going throughout the day:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast – eating a well-balanced breakfast full of essential nutrients will help to keep energy levels balanced throughout the day. A breakfast rich in fibre, complex carbohydrates, and a portion of protein, will ensure blood sugar levels are kept in check, and a constant supply of energy is on hand when needed. Missing this important meal and heading for sugary snacks will send blood sugar levels on an energy rollercoaster, leaving you unsatisfied, fatigued, and heading for the next sugar hit.

Look out for my weekly meal plans for healthy breakfast ideas

  1. Ditch the sugar – instead of reaching for the nearest chocolate bar or box of biscuits when you’re feeling peckish, snack on foods rich in protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Snacking on a handful of nuts, or a couple of oatcakes with creamy hummus will help keep that blood sugar and energy supply at a consistent level. Upping the protein will mean less sugar spikes, improved concentration, and a happier, calmer mind. One of my fav snacks at the moment is cashew or almond butter spread on slices of pear – totally yummy! Give it a try!
  1. Keep stress levels in check – being stressed takes up so much of our precious energy! Being aware of the stress in our lives and making a conscious effort to manage and reduce it will drastically increase energy levels and our energy reserves. Taking time out for ourselves, even if it’s only half an hour a day, is one of the most beneficial things we can do. A yoga class, some meditation, a walk through the park – anything that calms your racing mind, will boost your energy.

Try a relaxing magnesium bath before bed to relax all the muscles of the body – believe me, you will not be disappointed!

  1. Keep hydrated – being dehydrated can leave you feeling fatigued and lethargic. In our hectic city lives it is so easy to forget to keep our water levels topped up. An adequate water intake is vital in maintaining energy levels, with every cell of our body requiring it to function, and not to mention its importance in flushing toxins and waste from the body. Keep a water jug or bottle on your desk so you’ve always got some nearby. Aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres per day. I have recently purchased a water bottle with an in-built filter – filtered water always on hand and less money spent on buying bottles on the go!
  1. Are you getting enough magnesium? Although magnesium is essential for helping muscle relax, the mineral also plays a vital role in energy production. Over 300 biochemical reactions in the body require magnesium, and without it energy production will not be at its best. Ensure your diet is rich in magnesium to keep those energy supplies in abundance. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocado and mackerel all contain high levels of magnesium – so start making these delicious foods part of your daily diet!

 

 

 

WEIGHT LOSS WINNERS

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Are you constantly trying to shift the pounds but plagued by yo-yo dieting? Sick of countless diets that leave you feeling drained and frustrated? These 6 lifestyle tips will put you firmly in the fast lane for ditching the inches – and there’s no dieting involved!

  1. Don’t skip meals – when trying to lose weight it is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, otherwise insulin spikes and sugar dips will leave us craving for the next sugary hit. By eating regular meals it is much easier to maintain this balance and keep the cravings, that potentially lead to weight gain, at bay.

 

  1. Safe snacking – when we are feeling peckish in-between meals, aim for snacks containing protein, and avoid those high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. This will leave us feeling fuller for longer and will keep those all-important blood sugar levels on an even keel. Protein bars, nuts, and veggies with hummus are all good choices. Fruit is also great but does contain sugar – try having some nuts or nut butter with fruit, as this protein portion will ensure the sugar enters our bloodstream at a much slower pace.

 

  1. Breakfast shots – try a lemon and ginger shot at breakfast to speed up your metabolism, digestion and weight loss. Ginger helps to speed up the metabolism by raising the temperature of the body, and gives a helping hand to the digestive system by regulating the movement of food. By adding the alkalising properties of lemon you’ll be helping your body to achieve its optimal healthy weight. To make this yummy shot juice some ginger, a wedge of lemon, and a pear – add a sprinkling of cinnamon for an extra kick!

 

  1. Keep yourself watered – aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day to make sure every cell in your body is getting an adequate supply. Keeping hydrated is essential for your overall health, to ensure toxins are flushed from the body, and vital nutrients are delivered to your cells. Drinking water is also known to keep hunger at bay!

 

  1. Exercise regularly – implementing a regular exercise routine that you enjoy will make it easier to reach your weight loss goals. Yoga, pilates, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have all been shown to produce fantastic results, as well as producing many other benefits for the body. Engaging in exercise also produces chemicals called endorphins, which leave us feeling happy and less stressed – a true winner for ensuring we stay on the right path!

 

  1. Complex carbs – swap simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and baked goods for complex carbs, such as quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans and sweet potatoes. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly, causing a blood sugar spike and only a short burst of energy, whereas complex ones are absorbed more slowly, supplying you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Complex carbs are also a great source of fibre, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer and not reaching for those after dinner treats.

 

Are you constantly trying to shift the pounds but plagued by yo-yo dieting? Sick of countless diets that leave you feeling drained and frustrated? These 6 lifestyle tips will put you firmly in the fast lane for ditching the inches – and there’s no dieting involved!

  1. Don’t skip meals – when trying to lose weight it is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, otherwise insulin spikes and sugar dips will leave us craving for the next sugary hit. By eating regular meals it is much easier to maintain this balance and keep the cravings, that potentially lead to weight gain, at bay.

 

  1. Safe snacking – when we are feeling peckish in-between meals, aim for snacks containing protein, and avoid those high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. This will leave us feeling fuller for longer and will keep those all-important blood sugar levels on an even keel. Protein bars, nuts, and veggies with hummus are all good choices. Fruit is also great but does contain sugar – try having some nuts or nut butter with fruit, as this protein portion will ensure the sugar enters our bloodstream at a much slower pace.

 

  1. Breakfast shots – try a lemon and ginger shot at breakfast to speed up your metabolism, digestion and weight loss. Ginger helps to speed up the metabolism by raising the temperature of the body, and gives a helping hand to the digestive system by regulating the movement of food. By adding the alkalising properties of lemon you’ll be helping your body to achieve its optimal healthy weight. To make this yummy shot juice some ginger, a wedge of lemon, and a pear – add a sprinkling of cinnamon for an extra kick!

 

  1. Keep yourself watered – aim to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day to make sure every cell in your body is getting an adequate supply. Keeping hydrated is essential for your overall health, to ensure toxins are flushed from the body, and vital nutrients are delivered to your cells. Drinking water is also known to keep hunger at bay!

 

  1. Exercise regularly – implementing a regular exercise routine that you enjoy will make it easier to reach your weight loss goals. Yoga, pilates, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have all been shown to produce fantastic results, as well as producing many other benefits for the body. Engaging in exercise also produces chemicals called endorphins, which leave us feeling happy and less stressed – a true winner for ensuring we stay on the right path!

 

  1. Complex carbs – swap simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and baked goods for complex carbs, such as quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans and sweet potatoes. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly, causing a blood sugar spike and only a short burst of energy, whereas complex ones are absorbed more slowly, supplying you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Complex carbs are also a great source of fibre, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer and not reaching for those after dinner treats.

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