The Foundations of Health: Are the foundations of health holding you back from thriving?
Author: Alex Hamlin (Nutritionist)
Welcome to 2021! New year, new you and a new set of (sometimes unrealistic) health expectations and resolutions. Although we strive to be the healthiest versions of ourselves after the holiday period, chances are by February, everything has gone down the drain.
We’re here to remind you that health doesn’t have to be hard, it’s simple if you just keep the basics in mind. It's about consistently implementing the foundations of health and nourishing your body and mind in order to feel your best all the time. How? It’s easy – que the foundations of health:
Nutrition & Water
The food you eat can either be your most powerful partner or greatest enemy and at this time of year (where all the days seem to merge into one) it’s easy to overindulge and create unhealthy habits that can be seriously damaging to your health.
A diet with the right balance of macronutrients, and that is abundant in vitamins and minerals, is essential to help your body function optimally. With so much information available about what we should and shouldn’t be eating, it is more and more evident that there really isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to food.
The main aim when it comes to nutrition is to fuel your body with foods that provide the right balance of nutrients so you can function at your best. Creating healthy balanced meals is simple - start by following this formula.
- Fill ½ your plate with fibre. Fibre helps to regulate appetite, slow digestion and keep you feeling satisfied for longer, as well as supporting healthy digestive function.
- Sources of fibre include: Crunchy salad vegetables, leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables – aim to include a variety.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with protein. Protein provides the primary building blocks in the body and is essential for all bodily functions. Your brain, bones, digestion, immune system, skin and hormones all rely on a constant source of good quality proteins to function.
- Quality sources of protein include: eggs, fish, red meat, poultry, dairy, legumes, tofu, quinoa, raw nuts/seeds, high-quality protein powder like our Clean Lean Protein.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in foods. The right carbohydrates supply the body with essential fuel for energy. Steer clear of simple carbohydrates (white bread/pasta/rice, cakes, biscuits, processed foods etc.) as they provide little to no nutritional value and contribute to fatigue and hunger. Instead choose complex carbohydrates – foods that have high dietary fibre promoting satiety, fullness and stabilised blood sugar levels.
- Complex carbohydrates include: whole grain products (visible seeds), legumes, brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat products (breads and pasta), root vegetables.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats. Consuming the right fats in appropriate quantities is important for the structure and function of every cell in the body and is essential for energy production, stabilising blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
- Healthy fats include: Avocado, olive oil, coconut, quality dairy, raw nuts and seeds
How to maximise your nutrient intake:
- Follow the above formula to create balanced meals daily
- Boost your nutrient intake with a daily scoop of Good Green Vitality
- Always have fresh produce in the fridge
- Eat a wide variety of foods daily
- Avoid highly processed and packaged items
Water plays a role in almost every process in the body, with our bodies made up of approximately 60% water. Water enables the body to flush out toxins and is important for digestion, brain function, skin health and so much more.
Water is such a vital element of every biochemical process in the body that dehydration levels as low as 1-3% can have a noticeable impact on body function.
How to increase your water intake:
- When you wake up have a large glass of water
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you
- Set reminders or alarms on your phone
- Consciously swap soda/sugary drink for water
- Try herbal teas or add citrus, berries or mint to taste
Over the holiday period it’s easy to neglect moving your body or ditch your regular exercise routine but maintaining regular movement and exercise is not only important for your physical health but your mental health too.
Regular movement helps keep your body functioning and aids the body’s key systems to increase metabolic rate, strengthen muscles, increase energy levels, support mental health, mood, sleep quality and overall cognitive function.
Getting outside every day will contribute to getting your heart rate up, soaking up Vitamin D and breathing fresh air, as well as releasing endorphins to make you feel happy, healthy and confident.
How to schedule in daily movement:
- Aim to hit 7 000 to 10 000 steps daily through incidental movement
- Schedule in exercise and make it a priority
- Make it social – enjoy movement with friends and family
- Try something new – swimming, dancing, tennis or a yoga class
Sleep is one of the first sacrifices we make during the holiday season. Ditching a regular sleep routine for late nights, social events and Netflix binges delays the onset of natural drowsiness and gets in the way of quality and quantity of sleep. These activities delay the production of melatonin and disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (the internal body clock regulating the sleep/wake cycle) and can contribute to anything from weight gain, digestive issues, poor liver function, cardiac problems, congestion and, of course, an ongoing state of fatigue.
Sleep is classified as one of the foundations of health as without it the body cannot thrive or even perform basic functions like digestion and metabolism of food. It’s a time when your body relaxes and repairs and it’s important to promote quality and quantity sleep year-round. Sacrificing these precious hours and ditching a regular sleep routine can contribute to poor health and long-term illness.
How to support sleep health:
- Prioritise your sleep – aim for 7-8 hours each night
- Establish a regular bedtime routine and consistent bedtime
- Avoid drinking caffeine after 2pm
- Create a healthy sleep environment – quiet, dark and comfortable
- Avoid screens prior to bed – switch to night mode if needed
- Quiet your brain – journal, deep breathing, bedtime meditation
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid anxiety-driven activities before bedtime e.g., checking work emails or watching the news
This is the perfect time of year to create some healthy habits around mindfulness that will provide you with the tools and skills for the year ahead. Mindfulness can help with stress management, improve sleep, benefit your relationships and support your physical and mental health.
A mindfulness practice has been shown to help everyone from children to adults and proves to play an important role in overall health and wellbeing.
How to be mindful:
- Eat mindfully – sit down, chew your food and enjoy every mouthful
- Practice self-love and prioritise you
- Try guided meditations to kickstart a new habit
- Take deep belly breaths
- Actively listen to those around you and be present
- Unplug and recharge your batteries
- Become intuitive with your body
January is the time to ditch the resolutions and focus on long term, simple and sustainable changes that support your body. It’s often the foundations of health that will hold you back from reaching your health goals. When these foundations are out of balance, everything is out of whack. Get them right and everything else will follow.