With the summer holidays coming to an end, kids are going back to school and families are gearing up ready for the festivities of Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas, you may well find you forget about your own health, body and wellness when there is so much to prepare for. Yet the combination of increased stress levels and workloads, less sleep, and the inevitable seasonal drop in temperatures all culminate in us feeling tired and rundown. Our immune systems are put under strain and our health is compromised as we rush around trying to do everything. And invariably we end up crashing and burning, and full of colds, coughs and sniffles.
So in light of this we felt it was the ideal time to support you through this seasonal transition, with some top tips on how to stay well through Autumn and Winter.
Here’s how to nurture your body:
Get your 5 a day. Yes, temptation is aplenty but you must make a concerted effort to keep your diet on track. Otherwise, the mixture of alcohol and bad foods will take its toll on your body, your waistline and your health. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily (although 7 portions is now the increased recommended average, if you can manage it). Choose different coloured fruits and vegetables to ensure maximum intake of vitamins and minerals. Fresh, dried, tinned and frozen all count.
Stock up on protein. We all need to eat protein. It is your body’s main building block and it aids muscle growth and repair, as well as supplying a range of essential nutrients. Whilst a diet high in meat (especially red meat) is not advised, there are many other tasty and nutritious sources of protein available to us. For a start, chicken and turkey offer the best lean sources of meat-based protein. However, fish (especially omega-rich oily fish) is a top contender too, as is seafood. Vegetarian protein sources include eggs and dairy. And vegan sources include tofu, as well as lentils, pulses, quinoa, oats, chia seeds, almonds, cashew nuts, spinach, edamame beans, broccoli, asparagus, spirulina and peanut butter.
Eat good carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are bad and include white bread, white rice, white pasta, pizza, chips, cakes and biscuits. However, unrefined carbohydrates are really good for you and essential for effectively fuelling your body. So, choose jacket potatoes, brown rice, wholemeal bread and pasta, oats, quinoa, lentils, beans and pulses. Your body burns more fuel over the colder months in order to keep warm, so please don’t scrimp on eating the good, healthy carbohydrates because you think they’ll make you put on weight. They won’t, as long as they are eaten in conjunction with a sensible and balanced diet!
Sleep tight. The amount of sleep we need is personal to each of us. However, the recommended average is 7 to 8 hours, but parameters suggest that we should aim to achieve anywhere between 6 and 9 hours a night of unbroken sleep. Your body desperately needs this period of rest in order to repair and to do its regenerative work on skin, blood, muscles and brain. A lack of sleep is typically associated with ‘brain fog’ for good reason.
Stress less. Life is fast paced, tiring and stressful, and with so much to do and not enough time to do it all in it is only natural that you will start to feel stressed. However, stress has a direct impact on your immune system, as well as your overall health and wellbeing, leaving you more susceptible to illnesses. So try and keep stress under control by using mindfulness techniques, meditation and, of course, regular exercise.
Regular exercise. We all know regular exercise is good for us, but really and truly it is a miracle cure. It can help to prevent against serious conditions such as certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. It keeps your weight under control, it works your heart and lungs, it improves oxygen flow to cells, and it drastically improves your mood.
Keep hydrated. Your body needs water, and you cannot survive without it. It’s vital for ensuring your body functions properly and does not become dehydrated, which can result in digestive problems, such as a flair of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms as well as skin problems, including acne, dermatitis and eczema. Aim to drink 2 litres of water a day, especially to counter the effects of alcohol. Opt for mainly natural water (still or sparkling), but fruit juices (in moderation as they are full of sugars and calories), herbal teas, green tea and milk all count too.