We put this guide together to bring awareness to what we believe are some of the most important areas you need to consider when losing weight or improving your health. It hasn’t been produced to solve every health problem but it will hopefully enlighten you and point you in the right direction. You can either dip in and out on the areas that interest you most, or of course read through it all as a starting point.
We haven’t gone in to huge details on all areas as most individuals areas discussed could fill this guide alone! But we hope we have given you some helpful starting points or get you thinking about your health in slightly different way.
The advice in this guide should not be substituted for face to face advice from a qualified professional and we are not liable for occurrences that result of changes you make in your exercise and eating plans.
Page 3: Remember these simple things above everything else!
Page 4: Natural, Fresh Food & what should be on my plate?
Page 5: Balance Blood Sugar Levels (weight loss & energy)
Page 6: Digestive Tract Cleansing is Key to Your Health
Page 7: Healthy Fats, Bad Fats and Low Fat Food
Page 8: Protein
Page 9: Carbohydrates
Page 10: Food Intolerances / Irritants / Allergies.
Page 11: Manage Your Food Cravings
Page 12: Cleanse, Reduce Inflammation and Toxic Load
Page 13: Check Your Calorie Intake and Calorie Counting
Page 14: Balance Your Hormones
Page 15: Coping with Stress and Fatigue (Adrenal Health)
Page 16: Chronic Fatigue
Page 17: Micro Nutrients
Page 18: Thyroid
Page 19: Removing Wheat, Gluten and Dairy
Page 20: Vegetarian & Vegan Diets
Page 21: Supplements
Page 22: Intermittent Fasting
Page 23: Bone Health
Page 24: The Power & Psychology of Choice
Remember these simple things above everything else!
- We believe you should be nourishing your body not restricting and depriving yourself. Besides, if it’s not fun it’s never sustainable long term. So remember to enjoy and nourish, nourish, nourish!
- Keep nutrition and healthy eating simple.
- Enjoy and be excited about any changes you make, be grateful for what you already have but also do not despair if your health is not where you want it to be right now. The changes you are about to make will be a great part of your life!
- Don’t worry or give up if things do not quite go to plan, thats life and it is never perfect so enjoy the ride.
- Be consistent with your eating and training / exercise plan.
Natural, Fresh Food
We have put together what we believe are some of the most important areas when it comes to nutrition and your health. They may not all apply to you but we encourage you to take time to read through it all.
Firstly, there is not a perfect diet or eating plan. Over the years I must have given out dozens and dozens if not hundreds of meal plans.
Do they get followed? Hmm possibly at the start, but not long term. You need to find your way, understand the basics and incorporate them into your lifestyle.
Above all, take responsibility yourself. Find the support you need but do not rely on other people to do it for you.
Your biggest challenge yet your greatest success? Focus on eating fresh, natural food and removing or avoiding processed food as much as you can. Do not start crazy restriction diets or fad diets unless you are going to use them sensibly for a short period of time as a means to make quick gains but with plans in place to then move on to a sustainable programme.
Relying on quick or fad diets to achieve your over riding goal will only end up in failure and you will end up de motivated as quickly as you started the diet!
For many of you, concentrating on eating fresh, natural foods will give you the desired results. For others combining supplements with your eating plan may be needed to get you back on track.
Fresh, natural foods will cleanse the body, reduce inflammation, balance your hormones and generally make you feel and look better.
Above anything else this is your biggest challenge….make your eating plan packed full of fresh, natural foods and you will achieve your health goals!
However, if you do choose to follow a hard core gym programme wanting to achieve a “beach body, six pack look” then it is hard dieting, restriction and lots of sacrifice! This is usually achievable if you are following a 90 / 120 day body transformation programme but not sustainable for much longer than that.
What Should be on My Plate?
- Aim for plenty of green vegetables with lunch and dinner, for most of use these should be the first thing on your plate.
- Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, oily fish, some animal fat, avocados and olives.
- Protein such as chicken, fish, beef, turkey and lamb, you don’t need huge portions of these, think quality before quantity.
- Carbohydrates such as oats, rice, potatoes and pasta. Yes its fine to eat Carbohydrates! However, portion size is crucial particularly when consuming carbohydrates. Around 40 grammes uncooked will seem a very small amount but it is a portion size. However, if you are training regularly then you will need to increase this amount.
- Reducing processed food will positively impact every system of your body. You will start to function better; your heart will be healthier, your brain will function improve, your hormonal balance will improve, your skin will glow and your digestive tract will recover from the bombardment of toxins its been overwhelmed by…what are you waiting for?
Keep your food choices as fresh & natural as you can!
Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels (weight loss and energy levels)
The number one rule for weight loss and improving energy is…balance your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are easily disrupted by sugary foods, refined / processed carbohydrates, alcohol and stress.
Spikes in your blood sugar level often effect weight loss as you swing from high to low energy. During the lows often sugary “hits” are reached for to pick you up and then the process starts again.
Sugar in the blood stream is recognised and your body produces insulin which helps balance your blood sugar levels by removing excess sugar from your blood. Insulin is storage hormone so excess sugar is readily stored as fat so a great reason to keep your insulin spikes to a minimum.
Your body does store sugar (glycogen in the stored form of sugar) in your muscles and liver so your body needs some BUT not too much – as stated in the paragraph above any excess sugar is stored as fat.
If you can control your blood sugar levels by consuming foods rich in protein and healthy fats and keep carbohydrate portions with those meals sensible then the positive impact on your health and weight management will be substantial.
There’s no need to fear carbs! Just choose the right ones and eat sensible portions; try around 30 – 50 grammes uncooked for starchy carbs
If you are regularly exercising at a good intensity then you will need some sugar in the form of starchy carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, bread) to replenish the stored glycogen that is used during your workouts. Glycogen is basically how the sugar you consume is stored in your muscles and liver. During high intense exercise that glycogen is broken down for energy so needs to be replaced via your diet.
However, if you are not exercising that often, at high intensities or long durations you won’t be using as much carbohydrate for energy so your starchy carbohydrate intake should be kept to the smaller portion sizes….this is the mistake many people make – too many starchy carbohydrates being consumed when not exercising hard enough to use / burn them up!
Digestive Tract Cleansing is Critical to Your Health
This is missed by most people but one of the key components for a healthy you.
Whatever your goals, making improvements to your intestinal tract should be a priority, imagine it as your core that everything else functions from.
We know, right? Who would have thought their intestinal tract deserves such attention?
Intestinal problems are not always characterised with the classic bloating, cramps, wind, gas type symptoms. Other health conditions that can be linked to poor intestinal health are fatigue, auto -immune problems, skin conditions and any form of inflammatory conditions. Diseases such as cancer, diabetes and dementia are also now being linked to intestinal health problems.
Optimal intestinal health appears to be key for virtually every aspect of your health from preventing disease to losing weight. The good news is that as you improve your diet the function of your digestive tract will also improve; however it may need some extra support to regain normal function.
Your intestines are incredible and you really need to take care of them.
For example; your small intestine houses approximately 70 – 80% of your immune system which means to reduce your risk of illness and disease then the functioning of your intestinal tract is absolutely crucial.
Aside from the functioning of your immune system it also produces many of your hormones such as digestive, sexual and mood effecting hormones.
Yet still it does more! It of course, helps digest your food and transfer nutrients from your food through its cell walls ready to be taken to your liver to be directed around the body.
Those are just SOME of the reasons why it needs to be your starting point and priority when it comes to your health and your weight loss too. Research is now showing the link between weight gain and your intestinal flora / bacteria.
However, intestinal health problems seem rife in todays modern world. Whilst some issues may produce symptoms which may be mild and tolerable other symptoms may be severe and really impact your daily life. Whereas other symptoms such as fatigue you may not directly link to your intestinal function.
The good news is many digestive problems can be managed and even alleviate through optimal nutrition and supplements.
The key areas that severely affect your intestinal health are:
- Chronic stress
- Processed foods that contain too much sugar, unnatural fats and chemicals.
- Food intolerances
- Regular medication
Several things can occur over time. One is damage to the intestinal lining termed Leaky Gut.Unfortunately, regular consumption of processed food, alcohol, taking regular medication and high stress level can damage the intestinal wall and over time the intestinal / gut wall can become porous.
Ideally the gut wall should only allow through what it needs, but when it has become porous other items can pass through the gut wall in to the blood stream leading to inflammation. These items are viewed as foreign invaders by your immune system, in turn they are attacked and as a result an inflammatory reaction occurs, over time this can lead to chronic systemic inflammation.
Therefore, if you suffer with ANY inflammatory condition you need to ensure the intestinal / gut wall is healthy and the intestinal tract is functioning properly. Hopefully, you can now begin to see that improving your intestinal health should be the first area you address.
We LOVE HEALTHY FATS!! You should too and from this moment forward make them your best friend!
They will truly bless you, help you lose weight (yes eating more fat may help you lose weight), balance your hormones (absolutely crucial), support your brain function (your brain is about 60% fat), improve your skin health, ensure your nervous system functions correctly (certain fats surround something called the Myelin Sheath that are the connections that link yours cells to each other to ensure they communicate properly with other cells) AND on top of all that healthy fats ensure that the structure of your cells are maintained.
So, healthy fats should be a regular part of your healthy diet. Some fats actually appear to be essential to our health. This means the body can’t produce them so they need to be consumed via your diet. Omega 3’s are one of these Essential Fats and can be found oily fish, nuts and seeds which you should consume regularly.
Healthy fats when consumed sensibly will NOT make you fat. This is one of the biggest misconceptions with people that want to lose weight, in fact some research shows consuming healthy fats may help manage and control your appetite and reduce your cravings which will all make sustainable long term weight loss far easier.
Healthy fats will not cause heart disease, as you can probably tell by now healthy fats should be encouraged in your diet. When it comes to fat and heart disease, it’s the type of fat you need to be concerned with consuming – avoiding healthy fats may actually increase your risk of heart disease.
Try adding some healthy fats to lunches and evening meals.
Fats are not all equal. Please do not live by the principle of “I need to avoid fat”. You need to eat the right fats and eliminate the bad ones, it’s that simple really. Unhealthy fats are NOT found in nature, they are man-made and found in processed foods.
Bad fats interrupt so many of the processes mentioned in the healthy fats section above and are now heavily linked to heart disease and high levels of inflammation (more on this later).
Another reason to avoid processed fats is that your body has a really hard time of identifying what these fats are, they are therefore treated as foreign invaders and attacked by your immune system. This in turn causes inflammation and over time this inflammation is linked to many of the chronic diseases we see today.
Low Fat Foods
This is up there with the best of them when it comes to nutritional mistakes. About 15 years ago I used to believe the message of choosing low fat foods was the right thing to do, how wrong I was.
Hopefully, by now you’re starting to appreciate the need to consume healthy fats for virtually every aspect of your good health.
Low fat foods were probably created with the best of intentions, take out the fat from food and we’ll all be healthier, right? Unfortunately not, one aspect of fat in our food is that it provides taste, take it out and you’re lacking taste so sugar is used to replace fat. Therefore, one great reason to avoid low fat food is that they are often high in processed sugar.
A simple method is: if the food package says low fat then avoid it and choose a fresh, natural option instead i.e. proper food!
Do not avoid all fat, just choose the right ones as they are vital to your health!
Protein is great for building lean, toned, sexy muscles…without the bulk:-)
Protein is crucial to your health, proteins are made of Amino Acids that are needed for virtually every aspect of bodily function. They are generally known as your body’s building blocks.
There are 22 Amino Acids, some are called “essential” in that the body can’t produce them so you need to get them from your diet and some are “semi essential” which means your body can synthesise them from the combination of other Amino Acids.
Animal proteins are called “complete proteins” as they contain all the amino acids. Nuts, seeds and vegetables still contain protein but not all the “Amino Acids” so are often referred to as incomplete proteins.
You should probably eat both in your diet. However, if you are feeling good and in good health when following a Vegan or Vegetarian diet then great, but some of us may need quality animal protein too. We are all very different and have different requirements so you have to work out what is best for your body.
Proteins are needed for all repair processes in the body so key to your health, animal produce contain high levels of vitamins and minerals as well as being excellent sources of protein.
We do appreciate that quality animal protein can be expensive at times, but you only need a relatively small portion so it can be more than affordable.
We recommend buying a small portion of quality protein as opposed to a larger portion that has less quality, so buy the best you can. A farmers market is an excellent place to find free range animal produce at great prices.
If you want to build lean, sexy muscle then you’ll need to train properly and have a higher level of protein than when you are not training.
Aaaah carbohydrates (carbs)! One of the great debates in nutrition! We get frustrated by how complicated people make this issue.
We want to make this easy for you, so think of carbohydrates in 3 ways:
• Fibrous carbohydrates are carbs such as vegetables, beans, fruits, oats and certain whole grains.
• Starchy Carbohydrates are carbs such as pasta, rice, potato and certain breads.
• Simple Sugars are of course things like sweets, chocolates and cakes etc!
A key thing to note! Starchy Carbs and Simple Sugars are broken down in to exactly the SAME THING – glucose (simple sugars). Yep you did read that correctly! Whether you consume a bowl of oats or a bar of chocolate the carbohydrate content of both those foods is broken down to Glucose – that is the form body needs it in to be absorbed.
A key element to be adhered to is:
Control your portion size of starchy crabs and simple sugars. Of course, we all know to eat simple sugars in moderation but a big mistake many people make is their portion size of starchy carbs is too high. Remember they are also broken down to simple sugars so too many will be stored as fat as the body doesn’t need large quantities to function!
Carbs Portion size: when choosing foods such as pasta, oats, rice and breakfast cereals (the latter as a treat!) an UN cooked portion size should be about 30 / 40 grams. Yes, when you measure it out you will be shocked at how small this actually is!
However, as we have mentioned previously in this guide that if you’re training regularly you will need to consume larger portions…thats of the starchy carb variety, not the simple sugars:-)
In our opinion consuming too many starchy carbohydrates is probably one of the biggest causes of weight gain. We aren’t anti them, just manage the portion sizes:-)
Starchy carbs and simple sugars are both broken down to the same thing to be absorbed – glucose!
Remove Food Intolerances / Irritants / Allergies
Do you constantly feel ill, run down or suffer with inflammatory conditions?
In your modern world your body is being bombarded by toxins and irritants; in this section we are talking food irritants / intolerances.
If the overload becomes to great the body will be unable to cope and ill health (in many forms) may occur.
If you’re struggling to lose weight or have health problems that are particularly linked to inflammation such as digestive problems, skin health, arthritis or fatigue then we would definitively advise investigating whether certain foods are causing you a problem.
We prefer to use the words irritants / intolerances as opposed to food allergies, they are really different things. Intolerances can build up when you are over exposed to something or you can just naturally react to certain foods – you may be reacting to certain foods without ever realising linking the dots.
Food irritants and intolerances can sometimes be overcome by total avoidance of the suspected food for around 12 weeks, this can sometimes “switch off” your body’s immune reaction to the food.
However, if you suspect that something is causing you a problem a simple check is to totally avoid that food for 7-10 days. If your symptoms go or reduce within that period then it is a fair bet to say that right now you need to totally avoid that food to give your system a break.
Food irritants / intolerances, over time, can become a real problem as they create low grade chronic inflammation as your body continually attacks the offending food as it sees it as a foreign invader creating inflammation – inflammation is now being linked to many chronic diseases. Unless you give your body a break from the offending food your body will keep the immune defence against that food on red alert and keep reacting to it and in many cases begin to over react to it – either way the symptoms will continue to esculate.
Food irritants will also make you feel tired (imagine a chronic hangover!) or in some cases exhausted, this can be related to the over working of your Adrenal Glands (more on that later on). Being constantly tired or exhausted makes trying to eat healthy foods and regularly exercise a chore or in some cases impossible – this is why it’s often key to establish if you have any reactions to food.
We would recommend using Genova Diagnostics food intolerance testing.
We are always cautious about creating unnecessary panic over food intolerances causing problems, but it stands to reason that they could be affecting some or many or us so are therefore something we often encourage people to investigate.
I know from my own experience, that I seem to react quite badly to wheat, dairy, gluten and yeasts so over time I have choosen to avoid those foods and I feel million percent better when I do. I seem quite sensitive and react to even small amounts of these foods.
Manage Your Food Cravings
Many people I speak to complain of having cravings and struggling to lose weight.
Cravings can be a sign that your body is missing something or there is an imbalance in your gut bacteria and or your hormones responsible for managing your appetite.
If you genuinely have cravings (different to sitting at home, watching TV thinking hmmm “I just fancy a piece of chocolate!”) then will-power alone will NOT work! So don’t blame yourself, but there are solutions:-)
One issue that can accompany food cravings is lack of energy, you feel tired so you crave something sweet and the rollercoaster begins.
Please note; this section is looking at day to day cravings not those specifically associated with your menstrual cycle. But using the information here should really help in balancing your cravings during your menstrual cycle.
Two good ways to tackle cravings are too remove processed foods and improve your intestinal health. A supplement plan with Chromium, L Glutamine, Magnesium and Healthy Gut Bacteria is great place to start improving your intestinal health and energy levels – always buy the best quality supplements you can.
You could be craving certain foods, often sugar / processed carbs, due to an imbalance in your gut bacteria. Certain gut bacteria thrive and actually live off sugar therefore you could be craving these types of foods due to the imbalance in your gut bacteria. Long term you want to start balancing your blood sugar levels and also your intestinal tract health as mentioned in the earlier sections above.
Regulating your blood sugar levels is also going to really help you in managing your cravings, imagine your energy levels in a nice straight line. Any deviation in this line either up or down is going to hit your energy levels…sometimes incredibly hard! This can easily lead to cravings as your energy levels bounce up and down so enjoy sugar rich foods occasionally.
If you crave salty foods or food like cheese then you may need to look at some additional support for your adrenal glands.
Your digestive tract produces hormones that regulate your appetite. Two major players are Leptin and Ghrelin which help regulate your appetite by telling your brain when you are full or hungry. The signalling of these hormones appear to be hugely affected by the choice of your foods so keep the majority of the foods you consume fresh and natural to help keep your intestinal tract in good working order:-)
The long term answer is to work towards eating a diet based on fresh, natural foods. However, to reach that a supplement plan to re balance your gut bacteria is probably crucial.
Cleanse Your Body, Reduce Inflammation and Toxic Load
Thoughts regarding the relevance of systemic inflammation and toxic load are becoming more and more linked to causes of chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer.
More subtle signs of chronic inflammation or toxic overload can potentially be seen in many people who are constantly ill, fatigued (often severe / chronic) but fatigue can also be mild, certain inflammatory conditions and digestive problems.
In our modern world your body is bombarded with toxins found in processed foods, drinks, chemicals and medicines. Your body can usually cope with some toxic overload but unfortunately if you are exposed to these elements repeatedly they may begin to accumulate as your body is unable clear them out quickly enough – we all have that tipping point. This can lead to low grade, chronic inflammation which is thought to lead to many of the common illnesses and diseases we see today.
You can beat systemic inflammation but it can take time and different approaches.
Check Your Calorie Intake and Calorie Counting
Aaah calories, everyone loves to calorie count but do we really need too? Be honest, have you ever tried a calorie controlled diet?
Are you happy with your weight right now?
In the section earlier on in the guide we said the number one starting point for weight loss was managing your blood sugar levels.
Well knowing you calorie intake is probably on par with that one!
You need to be aware of your daily calorie intake (initially anyway) and how too many calories can easily creep in to your daily eating ritual without you noticing…this is often a classic reason for weight gain.
However, you do NOT need to obsess over calories, they should not control your life, basing your weight loss around calories restriction is rarely effective long term but you might use it from to time and find what works for you.
Most calorie controlled diets eventually fail as they don’t fix the underlying issues and the real kick in the butt is that research shows those who lose weight on calorie controlled / calorie restricted diets eventually regained the weight lost and nearly always with around 10/20% more than their original weight! Usually within 2 years.
Our advice would be to spend a week listing what you eat and entering your food intake in to a calorie counting like My Fitness Pal. How accurate these types of counters are, I believe, is a little open to debate but nevertheless they will give you a starting point. Once you are in the ball park its just boring, tedious and time consuming to measure everything out at every meal but now you have an idea of how much to eat and then just adjust portions to how hungry you feel – thats the long term goal.
PLEASE NOTE: Long term calorie restriction is NOT the answer and is dangerous as you will overly stress bodily systems like your thyroid and adrenal function as they try to compensate for the lack of calories. Severe calorie restriction for long periods will also begin to break down lean muscle tissue for energy purposes
Not to mention, a too greater calorie restriction will lower your metabolism which is totally counter productive for weight loss!
Firstly, calorie restriction is NOT the only aspect to weight loss, in fact on many occasions it becomes the focus of weight loss, consuming people and becoming an obsession when it really doesn’t need to be.
Personally, I never count calories. I focus more on eating fresh, natural food. Do this regularly and your body will regulate your appetite and you’ll naturally control your calorie intake by eating when erm you’re hungry!
Remember you should be enjoying your changes, not obsessing over calories…if you are then you are probably eating the wrong the foods! Also remember, you need to be nourishing your body not having it governed by dietary restriction.
Now, most weight loss research states that if you want to lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories so your weight loss calorie target would be around 1500 calories.
Regardless of your current weight, don’t rush with calorie restriction, gradually reduce your calorie intake by around 200-250 calories until you’re between 1500 and 2000 calories.
Your daily maintenance calorie intake should be between 1500 – 2000 calorie. However, this upper limit may / will need to be increased if you are training / exercising at high intensities or doing regular bouts of long duration training.
Balance Your Hormones
One of the key aspects to a healthy, well functioning body is to have your hormones functioning optimally. Often nutrition plays an important role, whether it’s positive or negative on your hormone function / balance.
Hormones are part of your communication system around the body, being produced and then moved around the body to initiate action to be taken as needed. As in all walks of life, if there is a communication breakdown then things tend to go haywire, sometimes subtly and other times wreaking havoc.
Estrogen is the dominant female hormone (actually there are 3 separate hormones which combined are termed Estrogen) so obviously a key area for you to focus.
The ultimate biologic effect of Estrogen in the body depends on how it is metabolised. The metabolism of Estrogen takes place primarily in the liver through Phase I (hydroxylation) and Phase II (methylation and glucuronidation) pathways, which allows the Estrogen to be detoxified and excreted from the body, it’s this metabolism process that is crucial to your health.
Sugar has a large effect on insulin levels and in turn insulin can increase production of testosterone and generally effect hormone balance. I would strongly recommend you work on balancing blood sugar levels if you have any form of hormonal imbalance.
Foods and nutrients that aid Estrogen balance are generally those that impact on how it’s metabolised. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage play significant roles in the detoxification pathways. Vegetables in general are excellent sources of fibre and can bind to Estrogen in the digestive tract to aid clearance.
Magnesium and Vitamin E are also important in Estrogen balance. Low serum vitamin E is associated with elevated Estrogen levels and may negatively affect Estrogen detoxification whereas Magnesium promotes key Estrogen detoxification.
Also, B Vitamins such as B6 and B12 function as important cofactors for enzymes involved in Estrogen detoxification.
Coping with Stress and Fatigue (Adrenal Health)
How often do you feel “stressed”? May be regularly or even every day? The word “stress” is non-specific really, it’s just a general term we all use but here we are going to look at how your body responds to stress.
Stress can present in many ways, regular feelings of not being able to cope with relatively simple challenges / problems or feeling “wired but tired” are two classic signs you body is on the path to a chronic stressful period. Long term stress can present with symptoms such as a weakened immune system or chronic fatigue. In fact “stress” can manifest in many ways with a combination of symptoms at various stages…we are all very different so our reactions to stress will also be different.
When your body is under any form of stress it releases Cortisol from the Adrenal glands, Cortisol helps manufacture glucose from proteins and fatty acids to give us energy to combat the stressor.
If you are under continued stress then your Adrenal Glands will be required to continually produce Cortisol to combat the stress.
If you are in the nutrition camp then generally the thought is that your Adrenal Glands can only produce Cortisol for a limited time before function is impaired, this sounds quite reasonable as nothing can go on forever…this has been termed “Adrenal Fatigue”.
However, medically usually Adrenal Fatigue is not recognised as a medical term or condition. The belief being that your Adrenal Glands don’t actually get weaker, they actually get stronger the more they are used. Much like a muscle, if you use it, it then grows back stronger. On the other hand, of course, you could easily over train that muscle and likewise you could in theory easily over work your Adrenal Glands due to being under “chronic stress”.
Which camp you are in isn’t overly relevant, it’s all about feeling good and being healthy isn’t it. And, however that is achieved is absolutely fine…providing you find what works for you.
Otherwise feeling run down, tired, fatigued or feeling under “stress” is not just highly unpleasant but also has a huge impact on the quality of your life.
If you feel like the following, then investigating Adrenal Fatigue could be just what you need:
- Feeling unable to cope with life’s daily demands, even simple things
- Regularly or constantly de-motivated
- Lack of sex drive
- Constantly irritable / short tempered
- Suffer with regular colds and infections
- Constantly tired
- Completely fatigued
- Wired and tired: i.e. tired but can’t sleep
Adrenal Fatigue doesn’t have a blanket approach or one size fits all symptoms. For example, if you are completely fatigued / exhausted then you Cortisol production could be minimal.
If you are wired and tired then your Cortisol function is probably more dysfunctional i.e. your Adrenal Glands may be over or under producing Cortisol at the wrong times.
Both of the above are examples of Adrenal Fatigue but with differing symptoms.
However, regardless of what is happening, usually fatigue or exhaustion is involved and even the smallest of perceived stress can be too much for you to cope with.There are lots of things you can do to combat the issues.
From a dietary perspective key starting points are removing caffeine, sugar and processed foods from your diet as these heavily impact your Adrenal function. Yes, I very much appreciate that caffeine and sugar are the first things you reach for when tired so it can be very hard to break the cycle but it’s critical to your recovery. Find time for rest, sleep and relaxation. Your Adrenal glands repair at rest so REST is key, sleep as much as you need. Embark on a nutrient rich diet and supplement plan including multivitamins, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and Magnesium.
Investigate other health issues and identify the reasons you are experiencing the symptoms you are. For example, you may have food intolerances that your body reacts to causing inflammation. Your body produces Cortisol in response to inflammation so these “other” health issues are crucial areas to tackle as they will be the underlying cause of your problems / Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is usually “the symptom”, so identifying the causes are crucial.
I know firsthand how tough fatigue can be to beat but it can be beaten and you can recover. You need to be prepared to make some changes, sometimes significant as lifestyle changes are the answers to beating Adrenal Fatigue, it will take time but it will definitely be worth it.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Mitochondria dysfunction
We just wanted to touch on this and give you a good reference that may help you or someone you know.
Mitochondria dysfunction could be a key area to focus on if you’re suffering with CFS but one you may not have heard of before.
Mitochondria are referred to as the energy power house of your cells as they play a significant role in energy production.
Dr Sarah Myhill’s site is an excellent starting place if you suffer with, or know anyone, that suffers with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The link to her page is here : Dr Myhill
These are your vitamins and minerals and although only needed in small dosages are mightily important aspects of your diet. Without them your health may be severely affected – particularly over time. They are so often undervalued and under considered when considering food options.
Be honest, how often do you select your foods based on the number calories, levels of fat (i.e. low fat foods) and how much sugar and salt they contain? I’d guess nearly every time, right?!
From now on, pay as much consideration to the nutrient value of each of your meals. Remember your goal is to nourish and rejuvenate the body so start choosing your foods based not solely on levels of sugar, salt, fat or number of calories but on whether the food you are consuming is high in vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to weight loss often people ask about fat burning supplements. We believe weight loss comes down to nourishing the body so invest your money in a good quality multivitamin as a starting point before anything else, especially fat burners that even if they are what they say they are they will just mess up your metabolism.
Key Point: a healthy body will start burning fat so increasing your micro nutrient intake is crucial…so get nourishing!
The thyroid is hugely significant, in fact so much so that it governs many processes in the body. Lack of energy, completely fatigued, feeling cold, difficulty losing weight and digestive problems can be classical signs of Thyroid dysfunction.
Usually those suffering with Thyroid issues suffer with Hypothyroid which is a low or under active Thyroid which is what we are discussing here.
Thyroid dysfunction is usually managed by your medication but good nutrition is also important to help keep it functioning correctly.
Tyrosine which is an amino acid is an essential component for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters. In order for thyroid hormones to be produced effectively, the body must be receiving optimum supplies of this amino acid.
Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid hormone synthesis. Typical iodine deficiency signs include a metallic taste in the mouth and heavy mucous secretions. Kelp is a concentrated source of bioavailable iodine.
B Vitamins and Copper are necessary for the normal manufacturing of the thyroid hormones.
Calcium and Magnesium imbalances can be a problem for thyroid hormone function. It is important that these two minerals are well balanced for optimum functioning of the thyroid gland.
Vitamins A supports thyroid hormone production. This will be supplied in a good multivitamin.
Vitamins C, Zinc and B vitamins all help to support the adrenal glands, which in turn, help to support thyroid function.
If you suffer with Thyroid dysfunction and therefore low energy levels, regulating your blood sugar by avoiding refined sugar, large portion sizes of carbohydrates and processed food can also really help to improve your energy levels in general.
Removing Wheat, Gluten and Dairy
Removing food groups from your diet is quite controversial.
Firstly, if you are functioning well, have a happy, healthy body and enjoy eating wheat and dairy produce then there is probably no need to stop.
I personally do better when I avoid eating wheat, gluten and dairy but when I have them occasionally I can cope.
However, I tend to find I get a white coating on my tongue if I have too much of them, my energy levels drop (sometimes considerably) too. This may take 2 – 3 days to pass but if I was having wheat, gluten and dairy daily I know I would really struggle. In total I may have one piece of either wheat or dairy weekly but usually I’ll go weeks without either…the less I have the better I feel!
I would consider myself hyper sensitive to these foods and others may be too, without ever realising it.
If you suffer with a lack of energy or fatigue problems, any form of intestinal issues or struggle to lose weight then you could consider removing these food groups from your diet.
Within 7-10 days of total avoidance you would know whether you function better with or without wheat, gluten and diary and then whether to continue with avoiding them and or plan a reintroduction programme.
This is a key point, avoidance doesn’t have to be forever. 3 months or so of total avoidance can actually allow your body to “calm down” reactions to these foods and then when you re-introduce them, you may find them tolerable.
Finally, I do not agree with the view that you need to eat these foods for nutritionally value, you can meet all your nutrient needs by consuming a wide range of vegetables, fruits, quality meat, eggs, fish nuts and seeds!
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (abbreviated to VV for writing purposes!)
Like weight loss, there will always be a great debate or just a plain old disagreement on what works and in this case on whether a VV diet is better than the standard Omnivore diet.
It’s simple really, it comes down to your personal body needs. So try both, see how you feel and function and then make your decision.
However, I totally advocate that vegetables should be on your plate at lunch and dinner times. Personally, I have tried a VV diet and it didn’t work for me, but now I have far less animal protein and have VV days and meals throughout week so I have cut down my animal protein consumption considerably and I feel good.
Many of us probably “over do” animal protein, and often it’s of poor quality. So, if you enjoy animal protein then think quality over quantity. Often small, local farmers produce their meat in ethically farmed methods if that is a concern for you.
However, if you choose to avoid animal produce completely then there are a few areas you may need to supplement with to ensure your vitamin and mineral requirements are met.
With that in mind, some may argue that a VV diet does not meet all your dietary requirements. But I know there are many people, and also high level athletes, that function extremely well on VV diet so it’s a very personal thing.
Supplements you MAY need to include if following a VV based diet are B12, Omega 3’s, B Vitamins, Iron and Zinc. Some of these can be covered if you choose to eat eggs and fish but if you choose not too then you may need to supplement with them. A good B12, multivitamin and Omega 3 supplement should cover your bases but like everything with regard to your health…it comes down to your personal needs.
Remember nutrient deficiencies don’t often manifest quickly, in the case of B12 deficiency it can years for symptoms to develop and even then it may not be diagnosed.
Can we find everything nutritionally we need in our food? Possibly so if your diet is completely natural, fresh and organic, but for most of us that is not always practical.
Personally, I have used supplements for many years and believe supplements such as Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, a Multivitamin and healthy gut bacteria should be part of most women’s daily / weekly plan.
Vitamin D is recommended for virtually everyone as it’s only really obtained via exposure to sunshine and seems to play a key role in many critical aspects of your health.
Omega 3’s are an essential fat that your body cannot produce so its crucial you take them in via your diet or supplements. Omega 3’s appear critical to your optimal health so we recommend taking an Omega 3 supplement daily or several days a week.
Healthy gut bacteria are also critical to your health. In previous sections we mentioned the need for you to optimise your intestinal health and therefore recommend you supplement daily with a healthy gut bacteria supplement.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a regulatory body or standard body governing the quality of supplements.
We have been using Nutri for a decade now and we chose them for the following reasons:
- Many of their supplements are bio available, this means they are easily available and absorbed for the body to use. An example is Magnesium, there are several different forms available in supplements. Nutri only use the most bio available form, which does mean is more expensive. However, cheaper brands often use forms of Magnesium which are poorly absorbed which means you may well just be wasting your money!
- Nutri use sustainable sources, an example are their Fish Oils. They are one of very few supplement brands to be awarded the Friend’s of the Sea certification which means the fish used for their Omega 3 supplements are sustainably sourced.
- Nutri supplements are backed by a huge amount of scientific research and the nutrients in their products are always of the highest quality.
Intermittent fasting (IF)
IF 2-3 times per week NOT every day. Please note:
- IF should not be used if you are training hard (4-6 times a week), in that case you should be eating regular meals for energy and repair.
- If you are diabetic and on medication then IF may be contraindicated as your blood sugar levels will be affected when fasting.
- If you have problems regulating Cortisol, then IF may not be suitable for you.
Intermittent fasting, basically going sustained periods without eating, can work well for weight loss and for your health in general. It can also be practical in terms of implementing it in to your lifestyle..
IF works really well in terms of fitting it in to your lifestyle i.e. say you use IF 3 days a week, you skip breakfast and lunch and then just have an evening meal – that might work really on your busy days.
Here are a few examples of IF: You really don’t need to over complicate things, just do it 2-3 times per week.
- The 5:2 diet
- The 16:8 diet
- Or just skip all food and eat one meal a day in the evening so you are on a 24 hour fast – that may take some working up too.
There really aren’t any fixed rules to IF, just start by having periods of your day without eating!
Obviously consume water as you would normally.
Key points: With IF try and still eat fresh, natural food. Doing an IF day and then eating processed food or refined / non fibrous carbs at your meal time could be counter effective.
When you first start implanting IF you may start to feel nauseas or light headed when not eating for hours on end. This can often occur late morning, it’s nothing to be concerned about as it’s just your blood sugar levels dropping. It will pass as your body ramps up hormonal production to keep you energised but its not particularly pleasant so you may need something like a small handful of nuts or piece of fruit to hand to take the “edge off”…or of course you can just power through!
Your body will adapt to this and it will gradually go as your body gets used to fasting.
Try IF, if you feel better for doing it then use it appropriately, but if you feel worse for doing it (give it a few attempts) then quite simply…stop doing it!
IF relies on you having good hormonal production. As you are going longer periods without eating your body relies on a greater production of hormones to keep you alert, focus and energised. This is how our ancestors would have coped without eating for periods of time. It can be quite a stress on the body so you need test it and see if it works for you.
Of course, be sensible and contact your GP before starting IF if you have any doubts whether it’s suited for you.
Is there anything we can help you with so far? If so pop us a message!
It’s estimated 1 in every 2 women over the age of 50 will suffer from a fracture. That’s an incredible statistic and great reason to start taking care of your bone health now.
Vitamin D, K2, Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Omega 3’s are some of the key nutrients needed for optimal bone health.
Bone is constantly remodelled so it isn’t just Calcium that bones need, this turnover is affected by the menopause so even a more crucial time to start thinking about improving your bone health.
The great news regarding bone health, actually like most health issues, is that you are mostly in control over how healthy or unhealthy your bones become.
The two key areas for bone health, like most health issues are:
Regular impact exercise, body weight or strength / resistance training. Strength training / resistance training pulls on your muscles which pull on your tendons which pull on your bones which in turn strengthens the bone – simple! Impact exercises like running, box jumps and skipping of course also do a great a job in strengthening your bones.
Good Nutrition: This is the other element for healthy bones as the nutrients are needed for the continuing remodelling your bones are subject too. We mentioned the key nutrients in the paragraphs above and a good, varied diet really is crucial to keeping your bones healthy.
The Power of Choice and the Psychology of Eating and Exercising
If you were asked “what do you need to do to improve your health and or lose weight?” What would you honestly say? Probably “I should eat healthier foods and exercise more”, right?
We all know it and we all probably know how important both aspects are to avoiding chronic disease and keeping us healthy too.
So, the next question is “why doesn’t everyone choose healthier options?”
We all have similar choices / options in life, so what drives you to make better choices?
Many people think changes need to be perfect, or big or huge, or the timing has to be perfect or they need to be life changing….and then it can become over whelming!
What is driving you to make changes? Would small micro changes work for better for you? What support do you need around you? What advantages or disadvantages are there of making changes?
Where are you on the stages of change?
Pre contemplation – Contemplation – Preparation – Action – Maintenance –Termination?
Lot’s to think about, but why not start tomorrow? Make one small change, write it down, make it achievable and follow it…all big changes start with small micro ones!
Where to Start?
Start simply, there’s no right or wrong. What suits your lifestyle, what can you sensibly achieve right now and then build from there….even small changes can have a significant impact.
Don’t put pressure on yourself and of course…enjoy it!