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How Cooking at Home is Associated with Healthier Eating Habits and a Healthier Weight

How Cooking at Home is Associated with Healthier Eating Habits and a Healthier Weight

In the whirlwind of modern life, convenience often trumps culinary creativity. Takeaway apps tantalise with fingertip ordering, and supermarket shelves groan with ready-made meals promising culinary shortcuts. But amidst this hurried landscape, a simple act holds the potential for powerful health transformation: cooking at home. Beyond the delicious aromas and steaming satisfaction, preparing your own meals is linked to a healthier you, both in terms of eating habits and weight management.

Rebooting Your Menu: The Control Factor

Numerous studies paint a compelling picture. A 2017 analysis published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that those who ate home-cooked meals five or more times a week consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables, key players in preventing chronic diseases. Additionally, the same study found that they were 28% less likely to have a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight range and 24% less likely to have excess body fat [1].

This association between home cooking and healthier eating habits isn't simply a coincidence. It boils down to control. When you're the chef, you're the captain of the ingredients. You choose the quality, quantity, and composition of your dishes, wielding power over hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive sodium that often lurk in processed foods [2]. A 2014 study by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those who cooked most meals at home consumed substantially less sugar, fat, and carbohydrates compared to those who rarely donned the apron [3].

This control spills over into portion sizes, too. Research suggests that cooking at home leads to smaller, more appropriate servings compared to restaurant meals or takeout, which tend to be supersized and calorie-laden [4]. A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate home-cooked meals consumed an average of 187 fewer calories per day than those who relied on restaurant or takeaway food [4].

Beyond the Plate: Nurturing Body and Mind

But the benefits of home cooking extend beyond the physical. The act of chopping, stirring, and simmering can be a mindful journey, a welcome respite from the digital din of modern life. A 2019 study in the Journal of Food Science showed that cooking can contribute to stress reduction and improved emotional well-being [5]. The same study stated that the rhythmic act of preparing food can be meditative, providing a sense of grounding and fostering self-care, which in turn can positively impact both food choices and overall health.

Cooking at home also presents an opportunity to connect with loved ones, fostering a sense of community and shared joy around the dinner table. A 2018 study published in the journal Appetite found that families who cook and eat together have a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and lower intakes of sugary drinks and fast food [6]. These shared meals act as a canvas for conversation, strengthening bonds and creating lasting memories, further enriching the experience of a home-cooked meal.

From Tentative Toaster to Culinary Confident: Embracing the Journey

Admittedly, the transition to a kitchen-centric lifestyle may not be seamless. Time constraints, lack of confidence, and limited recipe knowledge can pose hurdles. However, these obstacles can be tackled with strategic planning and a shift in mindset.

Start small: Aim for just one or two home-cooked meals a week. Experiment with simple, healthy recipes found online or in cookbooks. Gradually build your repertoire, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients. Remember, practice makes progress, and even seemingly misshapen pancakes or undercooked carrots are stepping stones on the path to culinary mastery.

Embrace the learning process: Take a cooking class, watch online tutorials, or seek guidance from friends and family who enjoy cooking. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. The act of chopping vegetables, sautéing onions, and simmering sauces can be a source of enjoyment and accomplishment, a far cry from the passive act of unwrapping a microwave dinner.

Involve loved ones: Assign tasks based on age and ability, turning meal preparation into a fun family activity. Let children mix batters, wash vegetables, or set the table, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement in their meals. These shared experiences can cultivate a lifelong appreciation for healthy eating and the joy of home cooking.

Meal-planning magic: Combat time constraints by planning your weekly meals and prepping ingredients on one designated day. Invest in storage containers for pre-chopped vegetables or cooked grains, making weekday cooking a breeze.

Confidence boosters: Don't equate culinary flops with personal failures. Instead, view them as opportunities to learn and adapt. Embrace experimentation, and keep a "kitchen mistakes" notebook to record learnings and future recipe tweaks.

Budgeting bites: Cooking at home doesn't have to break the bank. Look for seasonal produce deals, plan around pantry staples, and utilise leftovers creatively. Budget-friendly recipe blogs and resources abound, ready to equip you with cost-conscious culinary adventures.

Savour the experience: Slow down and engage your senses while cooking. Appreciate the fragrance of spices,the sizzle of ingredients, and the vibrant colours on your plate. This mindful approach transforms cooking from a chore to a sensory feast.

Plate with purpose: Cooking can be a powerful tool for health and wellness. Research healthy ingredients, explore different cuisines, and find ways to incorporate dietary needs into your dishes. Nourish your body while gratifying your taste buds.

Share the bounty: The act of cooking brings people together. Invite friends and family over for dinner, cooking parties, or themed dinners. Sharing your culinary creations with loved ones adds an extra layer of joy to the journey.

Home Cooking: More Than Just a Meal, a Path to Lasting Wellness

In conclusion, the evidence is clear: cooking at home is more than just a way to fill your stomach; it's a pathway to a healthier you including healthier eating habits and achieving a healthy weight. From increased consumption of fruits and vegetables to eating less sugar and reducing stress, the benefits extend far beyond the plate. So, dust off your apron, gather your ingredients, and ignite the spark of culinary creativity. Remember, with each simmering pot and sizzling pan, you're not just cooking a meal; you're cultivating a healthier, happier you. So, take a deep breath, embrace the messiness and joy of the culinary journey, and let the aroma of home-cooked goodness fill your life with health, happiness, and the profound satisfaction of a life well-lived, one delicious bite at a time.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Reference List:

[1] Pereira, B. M., Lino, C. G., Vieira, I. N., & Barros, A. C. (2017). Frequency of eating home-prepared meals is associated with higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food among Brazilian adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(1), 36. doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0495-0

[2] Monteiro, C. A., Moubarac, J. C., Levy, R. B., Cannon, W., Ng, D. T., & Popkin, B. M. (2013). Ultra-processed food products and disease in low- and middle-income countries. The Lancet, 381(9883), 260-278. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61092-4

[3] Poti, J. M., Gunstad, J., & Reynolds, K. D. (2014). Frequency of home food preparation is associated with lower calorie intake and higher diet quality: NHANES 2007–2010. Public Health Nutrition, 17(8), 1790-1796. doi:10.1017/S1368980013002582

[4] Temple, N. J., Spiegel, B. M., & Barnett, K. H. (2016). Relationship of frequency of home-cooked meals and fast food consumption to total energy intake and diet quality among US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(6), 1470-1476. doi:10.3945/ajcn.1270788

[5] Kang, O., & Lee, E. J. (2019). Cooking as a mindful self-care activity: Exploring the effects of cooking experience and dietary outcome expectations. Journal of Food Science, 84(12), 3506-3513. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.14895

[6] Fiese, B. H., Stepphagen, K., & Hoyningen, R. v. (2018). Family meals together, diet quality, and children's eating behaviors. Appetite, 125, 332-339. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.02.019

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Food Isn't Like Medicine, It Is Medicine - Why Nourishing Your Plate Should Top Your Treatment Plan

Food Isn't Like Medicine, It Is Medicine - Why Nourishing Your Plate Should Top Your Treatment Plan

For decades, the healthcare landscape has painted a picture of pills and procedures as the primary weapons against illness. While these interventions have their place, neglecting the power of food in our arsenal is a costly oversight. In the UK, where chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer claim countless lives, a paradigm shift is needed. We must recognise that food isn't just fuel for our bodies; it's powerful medicine, often the first line of defence against illness.

This isn't just wishful thinking. Mounting scientific evidence underscores the profound impact of diet on health. A 2017 study published in The Lancet found that poor diet is the single leading risk factor for global death and disability, contributing to 11 million deaths in 2017 alone [1]. Closer to home, Public Health England reports that diet-related ill health costs the NHS a staggering £74 billion annually, a figure dwarfing the cost of smoking and alcohol combined [2].

The implications are clear: embracing a healthy diet is not just a personal choice, it's a national imperative. But how do we translate this knowledge into action? Here's why you, as a discerning UK citizen, need to prioritise food as the foundation of your health, even if your doctor doesn't explicitly mention it:

Why Food Should Be Your First Line of Defense:

 

 

  1. Targets the Root Cause: Unlike most medications, which treat symptoms, food addresses the underlying imbalances that contribute to disease. For example, chronic inflammation, a key player in many chronic conditions, can be significantly reduced by a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while minimising processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a Mediterranean-style diet significantly reduced inflammation markers in patients with heart disease [3].
  2. Personalised Medicine: No two bodies are the same, and what works for one person may not work for another. Food allows for individualisation, enabling you to tailor your diet to your specific needs and health goals. This is especially crucial for managing chronic conditions, where one-size-fits-all approaches rarely succeed. A 2020 review in the journal Nutrients found that personalised dietary interventions were more effective in managing type 2 diabetes than generic dietary advice [4].
  3. Empowers You: Taking control of your health through food is incredibly empowering. It shifts the focus from passive dependence on medications to active participation in your own well-being. This can be a powerful motivator, leading to sustained dietary changes and improved health outcomes. A 2019 study in the journal BMJ Open found that patients who participated in a cooking intervention for diabetes management reported increased self-efficacy and better glycemic control compared to those receiving standard care [5].

Bridging the Gaps in Food's Power:

While prioritising food doesn't negate the importance of medical interventions, it redefines their role. Imagine food as the cornerstone of your health, with medications and procedures acting as targeted tools to address specific issues when necessary. This holistic approach is not only more effective but also aligns with the NHS's long-term plan to promote preventative healthcare and empower individuals to take charge of their own health.

However, acknowledging the power of food isn't enough. We need to address the challenges that hinder its effectiveness. One major concern is the nutritional depletion of our soil, a consequence of intensive farming practices. This translates to fruits and vegetables with lower levels of essential nutrients [6].

Nature's Helping Hand: Fulvic Acid Supplementation

 

To bridge this gap, supplements like Revitacell Fulvic Restore can be valuable allies. This specific fulvic acid supplement, extracted from ancient plant minerals without chemicals, has several unique advantages:

 

  • High Hydrophobic Fulvic Acid: This type of fulvic acid is best absorbed by human cells, making Revitacell Fulvic Restore more effective than many other supplements [7].
  • Rich in Trace Minerals: It provides a natural source of over 70 trace minerals, often missing from our modern diet, and crucial for optimal health [8].
  • Improved Nutrient Absorption: Fulvic acid has been shown to enhance the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food, further optimising the benefits of your healthy diet [9].

Revitacell Fulvic Restore is just one tool in your health arsenal. It's not a magic bullet, but when used alongside a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle habits, it can support your body's natural healing potential and optimise your overall well-being.

In conclusion, it's time to break free from the outdated notion that food is merely sustenance, and instead embrace food as the most potent medicine we have, readily available and brimming with potential. By prioritising a healthy diet, we are empowering ourselves and taking control of our health. Both physically and mentally.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

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Gentle Rejuvenation Guide - Reclaiming Your Health This New Year

Gentle Rejuvenation Guide - Reclaiming Your Health This New Year

The festive season might be over, but the echoes of indulgence and perhaps a touch of sluggishness linger. While drastic resolutions might seem tempting, the path to optimal health is often paved with gentle, sustainable steps. Let's ditch the crash diets and gym marathons this New Year, and embrace a holistic and sustainable approach to getting healthy that nourishes both body and mind. Bringing with it long-lasting healthy changes.

Nourishing Your Body:

 

 

  • Prioritise Whole Foods: Ditch the processed temptations like readymade meals, crisps, biscuits, snack bars and embrace the vibrant world of whole foods. Think colourful vegetables, lean protein sources like fish and chicken, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Try to prepare lunch the night before with these kinds of food in mind to ensure you stay on track with eating more whole foods. These foods provide essential nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants, keeping you feeling energised and your body functioning optimally (1).
  • Hydration is Key: Water is the elixir of life, and neglecting it can leave you feeling drained and sluggish, and can even cause headaches. Aim for 8-10 glasses a day, and consider adding a squeeze of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing twist (2). Don't forget herbal teas, soups, and even fruits like watermelon for a hydrating boost.
  • Mindful Movement: Exercise doesn't have to be a punishing ordeal. Find activities you enjoy, be it brisk walks in nature, dancing to your favourite tunes, or a gentle yoga session (3). Start with short bursts and gradually increase duration and intensity as your body adapts. Remember, movement is a celebration, not a chore!
  • Sleep for Restoration: Prioritise quality sleep, aiming for 8 hours each night (4). Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and limit screen time before bed. Adequate sleep is essential for physical and mental health, boosting your energy levels and cognitive function.

Nourishing Your Mind:

 

 

  • Stress Less, Live More: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our health. Practice stress-management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature to reduce stress levels (5). Find activities that bring you joy and peace, whether it's reading, gardening, or connecting with loved ones.
  • Gratitude is Golden: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by reflecting on the things you're thankful for, big or small. Studies show that gratitude can improve mood, sleep, and overall well-being (6). Start a gratitude journal or simply take a few minutes each day to appreciate the good things in your life and get those feel good hormones flowing.
  • Connect with Community: Social connection is vital for mental and physical health. Spend time with loved ones, join a club or group based on your interests, or volunteer your time. Strong social bonds provide support, boost self-esteem, and help us feel less alone.

Boosting Your Health with Natural Aids:

 

  • Maximum Vibrance Powder: This delicious superfood powder, available in chocolate or vanilla, is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It supports energy levels, immune function, and overall well-being, making it a great nutritious addition to your daily routine that can help you reach your daily nutritional needs.
  • HydroTab Molecular Hydrogen: These effervescent tablets dissolve in water to enrich it with molecular hydrogen, a powerful antioxidant with potential health benefits (7). Studies suggest it may improve energy levels, reduce inflammation, and protect against cellular damage.

Remember, getting your health back on track is a journey, not a destination. This can take some time especially if you haven’t given yourself the care you deserve in quite some time. So be gentle with yourself this New Year, celebrate small victories to help reinforce new healthy habits, and most importantly, enjoy the process. With these gentle steps plus the support of natural products like Maximum Vibrance Powder and Hydro Tabs Molecular Hydrogen, you can begin reclaiming your health and vitality this New Year and beyond.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

 

  1. Popkin, B. M., Adair, L. S., & Ng, S. W. (2012). Global nutrition transition and the role of public health policy. Lancet, 379(9813), 1131-1143. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60053-4
  2. Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. National Academies Press.
  3. Warburton, C., Nicol, C. D., & Tremblay, M. S. (2016). Health benefits of physical activity: A summary of the evidence. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 107(Suppl 2), S29-S46. doi:10.17790/107.29
  4. National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Sleep duration recommendations. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
  5. National Institute of Mental Health.
  6. Wood, A. M., & Bjornstedt, J. (2020). Positive psychology and emotional well-being. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (3rd ed., pp. 177-194). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199662340.001.0012
  7. Gonsalves, A., & Shiva, P. (2015). Molecular hydrogen in medicine and biology: from mitoenergetics to cell signaling. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 81, 19-44. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.12.005
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Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Can Diet and Lifestyle Help with Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumours that grow in the wall of the uterus. Though typically small and symptomless, fibroids can cause pelvic pain, abdominal swelling and heavy menstrual bleeding, and are believed to affect around 50% of women of reproductive age.

Fibroids tend to shrink post-menopause, and with that, symptoms – where present – typically ease. Treatment for uterine fibroids usually includes medication to relieve symptoms (including NDAIDs), and in the worst cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended.

Lifestyle and diet can also play a key role in the treatment of uterine fibroids, and in recent years several online communities have sprung up to share information and advice about managing the condition.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at natural treatments for uterine fibroids.

Vitamin D

There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D could be beneficial for those with uterine fibroids.

In one double-blind clinical trial performed in 2019, for instance, vitamin D deficient patients were treated with 50,000 IU of vitamin D on a fortnightly basis for ten weeks, with their results compared to a placebo group.

After the trial ended, vitamin D level were predictably significantly higher in the group that had received supplementation.

Importantly, though, the size of their fibroids had also significantly decreased as compared to placebo group (52.58 vs 61.11 mm, respectively).

The study built upon previous in vivo and in vitro studies that demonstrated vitamin D’s inhibitive effect on uterine fibroid growth. What’s more, vitamin D3 supplements were said to be more effective for this purpose than sun exposure.

As with many poor health outcomes, a link between vitamin D deficiency and uterine fibroids has been underscored.

Weight Loss

Risk for uterine fibroids can correlate with weight. According to one BMJ paper, the risk increases by 21% for each 10kg increase. This may be due to the fact that fat cells produce large amounts of estrogen.

Another paper from 2019 showed that “visceral fat area (VFA), body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, waist circumference, waist?height ratio and waist?hip ratio were positively correlated with the incidence rate of uterine fibroids,” with VFA and body fat correlating with the size of fibroids – albeit the correlation was said to be relatively weak.

The take-home? Maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk.

Birth Control

Because fibroids are hypersensitive to hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, birth control pills can cause fibroids to grow in size.

This is why doctors will often advise fibroid patients to stop taking birth control pills, though paradoxically, the same pills may help to manage a common symptom (namely, heavy bleeding).

Low-dose hormonal birth control pills are another option, including low-estrogen and progestin-only pills.

Needless to say, your GP is the best person to speak to about contraception.

Diet

Research into dietary influences on the development of uterine fibroids is ongoing. Some papers suggest that an abundance of red meat sets the stage for fibroids, though conversely, there also appears to be a link between animal-derived Vitamin A (eggs, meat, cheese, liver, cod, kidney) and reduced risk.

Alcohol consumption also appears to be a risk factor, while green vegetables, fruit, fish and green tea have protective effects.

Ultimately, you are best served avoiding highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates and choosing natural alternatives: fresh produce, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, omega-3 rich fish and mostly white meat.

Related10 Portions of Fruit and Veg to Live Longer

Conclusion

Because fibroids are hypersensitive to hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, birth control pills can cause fibroids to grow in size.

Uterine fibroids are incredibly common, and as such, there is no reason to be unduly concerned if you are diagnosed. Fibroids can be as small as a grain of rice or as big as a grapefruit.

The fact is, fibroids are non-cancerous and do not increase the risk of uterine cancer. In fact, two-thirds of fibroids aren’t large enough to be detected! They are usually caused by genetics and prolonged exposure to estrogen.

If you do experience bad symptoms, though, treatment could be necessary. Hopefully this article has provided some food for thought, though naturally you should discuss your options with your healthcare practitioner.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

The pandemic has forced employers throughout the world to adopt new ways of operating, chief among them ‘working from home.’

While some people don’t have the luxury of working from their spare room or home office, the so-called laptop class – those who only need a computer and internet connection to do their job – have been getting to grips with this format on a part- or full-time basis for a year now.

The topic tends to divide opinion – some people love working from home, others can’t wait to get back to the office. Among the former, the appreciation stems from the ability to spend more time at home, see family, stay on top of household chores, and save money, time and stress by eliminating a daily commute.

Those who yearn for the office, meanwhile, bemoan the lack of social interaction and the unpredictable workday routine. Many experience a sense of disconnection working from home: rolling out of bed and booting up the laptop just doesn’t get them going like the early alarm clock and morning train or car journey.

Whatever camp you fall into, you can’t deny that working from home presents some challenges, specifically in regards to health and fitness.

In this article, we’re going to provide some tips to help you stay in shape while working from home.

Working From Home: Good or Bad for Health?

As mentioned, opinion is split on the merits of working from home.

As such, we can’t readily say that it’s bad for you – undoubtedly some people’s mental health has suffered while others have experienced an uptick. It really depends on the person.

Let’s consider the pros and cons. Two years ago, research conducted by the TUC found that getting to and from work every day takes an average of 59 minutes. To take a glass half-full approach, that’s one hour saved for the working-from-home crew.

It could mean an extra half-hour in bed and a half-hour saved in the evening, when you can simply turn off your computer and go about the rest of your day.

Alternatively, you could get up at the same time as you normally would but spend the time preparing a healthy breakfast, reading the newspaper or a good book, taking a leisurely shower, or catching up on some household chores.

We can probably say with some confidence that the majority of people aren’t exactly fans of their commute. Not too many people enjoy sitting in traffic or on a packed train… do they?

OK, so where’s the downside to this hour saved? Who’s really grumbling about missing a commute?

The truth is, some people just miss the routine of waking up early, getting showered and dressed, and stepping out the door ready to tackle the day ahead.

The commute can be a drag but it’s quickly forgotten when you get to the office and stick the kettle on, or when you arrive home at night knackered and ready to relax.

We can’t say that working from home is necessarily good or bad. But we have heard quite a few stories from people who are struggling, not just with their mental health but also their physical.

After all, gyms are currently closed. We are encouraged to avoid crowds and spend most of our time indoors. Loneliness and social isolation are corollaries of the current government guidance. 

Many people working from home wake up, switch on their computer, go about their work, fix themselves a quick, easy lunch, and neglect to exercise, spending their evenings reading emails, watching Netflix or tuning into the news for the latest soul-crushing update.

There’s got to be a better way.

1. Go for a Lunchtime Run

This one’s a no-brainer: staying active when working from home is essential. Not only does it work wonders for your mood, but it’ll help you stay in good shape while the gyms are shut.

Many people underestimate the restorative effect that sunlight provides, and there’s even a social aspect, after a fashion: that smile and nod of acknowledgement as you pass another runner on the pavement.

Of course, you don’t have to run on your lunch-break: you can do so before you clock on; it’s an excellent way to start the day.

You could also schedule a run in during the afternoon if you prefer. Just make sure you don’t need to be in front of your computer for that half-hour!

RelatedHow Lifelong Exercise Routines Impact Performance Later On

2. Substitute a Coffee for a Green Smoothie

Caffeine is great, and has some serious health benefits. But as with anything, you can have too much of a good thing.

What’s more, there may be a tendency to drink more coffee when working from home, and to neglect drinking water or other beverages.

The solution is simple: substitute one coffee a day for a green smoothie.

You can still have your morning cuppa first thing (although we’d recommend a glass of water to help balance the lymphatic system and boost metabolism), but come midmorning, when you’re craving another, fire some fruit and veg into a blender with water and blitz it.

It’s all too easy to sacrifice nutrition when working from home. So, consuming one nutrient-loaded green smoothie a day is a smart move.

If you can’t stand the hassle of stocking the pantry with fresh fruit and veg, just throw a scoop of green superfood powder into the blender instead. We recommend Green Vibrance. However, if you want the benefit of greens with some added protein, Maximum Vibrance is the one.

Related10 Green Smoothie Health Benefits

3. Batch-prepare Your Meals

Preparing fresh, nutritious meals from scratch every day is a real chore. It requires constant effort and ingenuity, at least it does unless you’re a natural in the kitchen.

So, what’s the answer? Batch-preparing your week’s meals in advance of course. 

Breakfast might be simple – granola, eggs, sourdough, fruit – but at lunch it can be all too easy to reach for a Pot Noodle or microwave meal.

We recommend batch-preparing your week’s lunches on the weekend. You can even prepare a few weeks’ worth and freeze them. Alternatively, make double helpings at dinner and have half for lunch the next day.

4. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

It’s a sad truth that most of us are vitamin D-deficient, which is why Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a supplement during autumn and winter. Stay-at-home mandates only exacerbate this nationwide problem. 

Needless to say, if you’re following Tip 1 you may be getting some natural sun on your face during peak daylight hours. But given our notoriously unpredictable climate, there’s no guarantee. Best to supplement to make sure.

RelatedHow Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

5. Stay Hydrated

Water coolers are staples of the modern office, so most of us don’t have a problem staying hydrated during the workday; strolling along to the water cooler to fill our glass gives us a break from our screens. But what about at home?

Sadly, it can be all too easy to ignore our body’s cries for water. Keep a glass by your side when you work and top it up regularly throughout the day.

6. Create a Relaxing Environment

Clutter isn’t conducive to a productive workday. Nor is having the TV on in the background.

If you want to get the most out of your day, make an effort to create a relaxing environment in which to work. If possible, set up a separate office space and get into the zone. 

You might want to light a candle or play some relaxing music, or alternate between sitting at the desk and sitting on the couch. Some people like to station themselves at a window, to enjoy the fresh air and a view of nature.

Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate stress. 

7. Stock Up on Healthy Snacks

Seaweed thins. Rice cakes. Kale chips. Carrots and hummus. Apples and pears. Nuts. Olives. Blueberries. Greek yogurt.

If you’re well stocked, there’s really no excuse to deviate from your diet. When you get peckish, reach for a healthy snack and fuel up.

RelatedHow to Improve Nutrition & Exercise in Lockdown

Conclusion

Well, there you have it: 7 practical tips to keep your health and fitness goals on track while you’re working from home.

Naturally, it’s important to recognise that not every day will be perfect. You might miss your run one day due to stormy conditions, or fall off the wagon and hit the drive-thru during your lunch break. We’re humans, after all: we’re fallible!

The crucial thing to remember is that working from home can be an incredibly positive experience if you have the right mindset. Get up every day with a spring in your step, fuel your body with nutrients rather than empty calories, strive to get your body moving, and make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

It’s often said that a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen, but while cooking fresh foods from scratch can make it much easier to achieve a healthy diet, you could also be jeopardising your gut health if you aren't storing, prepping and cooking food in the right way.

Rates of foodborne illnesses have risen over the last few years, with cases hitting 2.4 million last year according to the Food Standards Agency, so it's important not to get complacent.

Here, we’ve shared ten common mistakes that could be putting you at risk of getting a foodborne illness or digestive trouble.

1. Eating raw ingredients 

When baking, it’s often tempting to steal a bite of uncooked cookie dough or brownie batter, or to lick the spoon before doing the washing up.

But as tasty as this might be, it can also be quite risky, because uncooked dough and batter contains raw eggs and flour that may carry harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E. coli.

So, to keep your gut healthy, wait until those baked treats have been cooked before tucking in. 

2. Using metal utensils on non-stick cookware

Non-stick cookware can be a fantastic addition to your kitchen equipment collection — they stop food from getting burnt onto pots and pans, and are easy to clean.

However, it’s important to make sure that you’re using them correctly: if you don’t, the surface can become scratched during cooking, and the non-stick coating may flake off and get into your food.

The coating that gives these pans their non-stick properties is perfectly safe to cook with, but it can be harmful if accidentally ingested, and may lead to gut health issues. 

To prevent this from happening, you should avoid using metal utensils on your non-stick pots and pans, and instead use silicone tools or wooden spoons.

You should also avoid using scourers or other abrasive cleaning equipment too. If you notice that the surface of the pan is starting to get scratched or flaky, replace it as soon as possible. 

3. Using the same chopping board for all foods 

While it might be convenient to chop all your ingredients on one chopping board, doing so can be incredibly dangerous for your gut health.

This is because raw ingredients like meat and seafood — while high in protein and full of nutrition — can carry food-borne diseases and harmful bacteria until they have been thoroughly cooked.

As such, they should never come into contact with other raw ingredients, like vegetables and dairy, when you are prepping your meals. 

In professional kitchens, chefs use colour-coded chopping boards for meat, vegetables, fish, and dairy, and take care to clean and store them all separately to avoid any risk of cross contamination. So, it may help to invest in a set of coloured boards that you can use for different cutting tasks.

You should also be careful to wash your chopping boards between each use: using hot, soapy water and an antibacterial cleaner, or putting them in the dishwasher, should get rid of any harmful bacteria. 

4. Using old, scratched chopping boards

While we’re on the subject of chopping boards, it’s also important to note that you should avoid using very scratched or damaged boards.

This is because particles of food can easily get stuck in the tiny gaps on the surface of the board, and it can be very difficult to remove them, even with thorough cleaning, which in turn increases the risk of your foods becoming contaminated by bad bacteria.

So, if your plastic chopping boards have lots of nicks or scratches in them, it’s time for a replacement. 

For wooden chopping boards, you can also try sanding the surface down to remove any light scratches. 

5. Defrosting food at room temperature 

Defrosting foods in the fridge can take hours or even days, and as a result, it’s often tempting to just leave it out on the countertop for a few hours to help speed things up. However convenient this might be, it’s also very hazardous, as harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly in warmer temperatures.

To be on the safe side, you should always take the safest option and defrost food in the fridge. Once it’s fully thawed, the Food Standards Agency recommends eating defrosted food within 24 hours.

If you forget to take something out of the freezer ahead of time, you can also use the defrost function on your microwave to quickly and safely thaw it out before cooking. 

6. Eating too many high FODMAP foods

Certain foods can be very high in FODMAPs — or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, to give them their full names.

These are short-chain carbohydrates that our bodies can struggle to digest, and it’s thought that they may interfere with gut health and worsen conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

If you often struggle with digestive problems, it may help to cut down the amount of FODMAP-high foods in your diet. 

Meat, poultry, and fish are all naturally FODMAP free, and so are perfect for those who are sensitive to FODMAPs. However, certain processed meats — like deli meat, or ready meals — may contain added ingredients that are high in FODMAPs, such as garlic or onion. Instead of these, it’s best to buy raw meat without any marinades or other ingredients and cook them from scratch. 

7. Not refrigerating your leftovers 

We should all be trying to save and re-use our leftovers wherever we can in order to reduce food waste. But, leaving cooked food out on the counter for too long provides the perfect conditions for bad bacteria to multiply.

Always put leftovers in the fridge as soon as they have cooled down, and throw away any cooked food that has been sitting at room temperature for over two hours. 

8. Not following proper fridge hygiene 

Stacking your fridge properly is about much more than just staying organised — it’s vital for preventing cross contamination.

Cooked and raw food should always be kept on separate shelves, and it’s best to keep meat and dairy on the bottom shelf, so any leaks can’t drip down onto other foods.

Fruit and veg is best stored in a drawer or crisper, which will protect it from cross contamination and keep it in good condition. 

It’s also important that your fridge is chilled properly, because if it isn’t cold enough, harmful bacteria is more likely to grow in your food.

According to the Food Standards Agency, you should aim to keep your fridge chilled to 5°C or below. Using a fridge thermometer is the easiest and most accurate way to check this. 

The shelves inside the fridge door are usually the warmest part of the fridge. So, although it might be convenient, you should avoid storing milk and dairy here.

Instead, you can use the door to store jars of sauce or preserves, as these don’t need to be kept as cold as dairy.

9. Not rotating foods

It can be all too easy to forget what food you’ve got at the back of the fridge until it’s gone off. This is why restaurants and caterers use the first in, first out (FIFO) system to help stay on top of fresh produce and raw meats.

This system involves stacking older, less fresh foods towards the front of your fridge, and newer items towards the back.

This way, it’s easier to stay on top of what needs eating and when, and it also helps to stop food from going bad and potentially contaminating other items in the fridge. 

10. Overusing cleaning tools

Your kitchen equipment is only as clean as the tools you use to wash it, so if you’re using an old, dirty sponge or dishcloth, you could be putting yourself at risk.

To stop your dish sponges and cloths from becoming breeding grounds for germs, always take care to rinse them with hot water after washing up, and then squeeze out any excess liquid before leaving them to dry on a small dish overnight.

You should also be replacing dish sponges every week or so to keep them fresh and clean. 

Cloths and tea towels should be swapped out for clean versions and laundered every two days or so. Washing them on a hot cycle in the washing machine with an antibacterial detergent will help to kill off any lingering harmful bacteria. 

The Bottom Line

Healthy habits start in the kitchen, but if you’re not careful, you could accidentally be doing more harm than good.

Watch out for the common mistakes we’ve shared here, and you should be able to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and improve the overall health of your gut.

Guest blog by Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at catering and hospitality supplier Alliance Online

Further reading

• Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity

• 6 Signs of Poor Gut Health & 11 Ways to Improve Them

• How to Dramatically Improve Nutrient Absorption

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5 Supplements to Bring About “New Year, New You”

5 Supplements to Bring About “New Year, New You”

5 Supplements to Bring About “New Year, New You”

People don’t tend to change when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. There’s no denying, however, that a metaphorical switch is flipped for many, and the gluttonous festive season officially comes to an end.

With the dawn of a new year, it’s definitely a good time to consider your priorities and refocus after the Christmas period, a generally jubilant time of year during which it’s far too easy to lose track, particularly where health and fitness are concerned.

In truth, nutritional supplements shouldn’t be high up your priority list when contemplating a New Year’s regime. Your focus should be on following a wholesome, nutrient-rich, balanced diet and pursuing plenty of exercise. At the time of writing that’s more challenging than ever, with gyms shut across the country. Thankfully, the pavement’s not off-limits – and there are plenty of home workouts to try on YouTube.

Though supplements should rank behind diet and exercise, they can certainly potentiate your results by promoting improved post-workout recovery, meeting a dietary shortfall, supplying much-needed energy, building muscle and more.

Taking supplements can also have a psychological benefit: which is to say, you are more likely to stick to your healthy routine if you’ve already shelled out on a supplement to help you achieve that goal.

Below, we’ve summarised five supplements to enhance the “New Year, New You” spirit that tends to pervade the country every January. Now, make that New Year’s resolution and stick to it!

1. Green Vibrance


The best-selling supplement in our well-stocked larder, Green Vibrance is the original green superfood powder: a comprehensive formulation designed to support the four pillars of health, namely nutrition, digestion, circulation and immunity.

Green Vibrance was the first greens powder on the market, making its debut in the early 1990s. Since then, it has been continually reformulated to stay ahead of its competition, going from 34 ingredients to over 70 today.

Green Vibrance contains an assortment of vitamins and minerals, as well as 25 billion probiotics from 12 strains. Key ingredients include barley and wheat grass, spirulina, broccoli, kale, goji berry and turmeric root.

Because of its sheer nutritional value, Green Vibrance is used by customers around the world, many of them pursuing different goals. Some use it as a nutrient-rich, low-calorie drink. Most take it to up their intake of antioxidant green vegetables. Some, to combine with fruit in their morning smoothie. The choice is yours.

Whatever your goal, Green Vibrance is undoubtedly one of the most trusted nutritional supplements on the planet. In our view, it’s the single best post-Christmas supplement for those who’ve overindulged!

RelatedGreen Vibrance – The Original and Best Greens Supplement

2. Mega Multi


It’s a well-known fact that vitamins boost the immune system, and that our immune systems need all the help they can get during winter, since it’s both respiratory season and, paradoxically, the season in which many of us let our guards down by not looking after ourselves as well (eating the wrong types of food, skipping exercise).

It’s also a season when many of us can suffer from low mood due to the cold weather and lack of sunlight; this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Again, there are vitamins (and minerals!) that can help.

Step forward, Mega Multi, a vegan multivitamin and mineral complex with fulvic and humic trace minerals to aid absorption and for detoxification.

Adding Mega Multi is a great idea at any time of year. But especially during winter.

3. UnoCardio 1000


Ranked as the world’s best-quality fish oil since 2015, UnoCardio 1000 is truly in a league of its own. Derived from small-species fish harvested from sustainable sources, the premium omega-3 supplement combines EPA and DHA with vitamin D.

Thanks to this synergy, it supports not only the heart but also the brain and bones, and vision. Third-party tested for quality, UnoCardio 1000 has a five-star rating with the International Fish Oil Standards Program and is one of our best-reviewed supplements.

Is there any particular reason why you might want to take a fish oil as part of a New Year, New You regime though? Well, yes.

According to several studies, much of the world’s population suffers from low blood levels of EPA and DHA. This is especially true of those who don’t eat two servings of fish per week.

Omega-3 is also anti-inflammatory, and one of the best nutrients for post-exercise recovery.

4. Protein

Protein is an especially valuable nutrient for those looking to lose weight, especially the stubborn fat that clings to the midriff. Countless studies bear this out, many of which are referenced in this article on Healthline.

One of the reasons is due to protein’s high thermic effect. Protein-rich diets can also lead to improvements in biomarkers of metabolic syndrome, and help to build muscle.

Dietary sources are abundant, of course, so meeting your daily target is simply a question of eating enough chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, tuna – whatever the case may be. Adding a protein supplement into your diet can help with that.

Maximum Vibrance is our recommendation – mainly because it’s more than just a protein powder. Vibrant Health’s vegan-friendly formula is the world’s most comprehensive formulation of plant protein, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and antioxidants

It’s also non-GMO, with no soy, dairy or gluten. Did we mention it’s also delicious?

5. Progurt Probiotics

Probiotics have been variously shown to improve blood pressure, alleviate anxiety and hay fever, promote hormonal balance and digestion, boost immune health and even help people lose weight.

A new study also indicates that probiotics can reduce the incidence of colds in people prone to catching the virus. If it’s true that “good health begins in the gut,” probiotics (live bacteria) are the key ingredient.

Our gut microbiome is as unique to us as our fingerprint, and none of us have the exact same balance of bacteria. But it’s true that a high-strength probiotic can make a major impact on modulating the gut microbiome and ensuing a slew of benefits.

Progurt is the most powerful probiotic currently available, boasting one trillion beneficial bacteria per sachet (30x the average). Simply disperse in water, drink and enjoy. 

Progurt includes multiple bacterial strains, including missing and fragile strains, and you won’t have to wait long to feel an effect. If your digestion or immune system could use a boost, Progurt is a terrific addition.

Conclusion

There is a reason that gyms (in non-Covid times!) get busy every January: this is the time of year when commitments are made, personal trainers hired, diet plans hatched. It’s also a month in which an increasing number of people decide to quit alcohol for a month.

While you shouldn’t wait till January to instil healthy habits, everyone needs to cut loose once in a while. We need Yin as well as Yang. Christmas is a time to be merry and January is the time of rebirth. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

With any luck, one or several of the aforementioned supplements will help you achieve your New Year’s fitness resolutions. Good luck!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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How Obesity is Impacting the Pandemic: An Evidence-Based Guide

How Obesity is Impacting the Pandemic: An Evidence-Based Guide

How Obesity is Impacting the Pandemic: An Evidence-Based Guide

The pandemic continues to affect our lives – perhaps now more than ever.

“Pandemic stress” is a real thing, and it can lead to a wide array of both mental and physical health issues. Not least, overeating and a lack of physical exercise which impacts weight gain.

Worryingly, almost a third of all adults in the UK are obese, and a further third are overweight. Accounting for two-thirds of the UK population. Think about that for a second.

In the UK, a person is classified as overweight if their body mass index (BMI) is over 25 and obese if their BMI is over 30-40.

The global upward trend of obesity is proving increasingly dangerous to overall health.

Obesity is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, dysglycemia, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and hypertension. Additionally, Public Health England and the CDC in America have issued stark warnings about the dangers for those suffering from obesity and the risks of catching viruses.

In this article, we'll dive deep into the scientific findings as to whether overweight people are more likely to catch the virus, and who is at risk of developing serious problems.

Plus 5 steps that you can take to boost immunity and get to a healthy weight to fight off the virus.

Are Overweight People More Susceptible to Viruses?


You may have seen Boris Johnson promoting weight loss on TV, and for good reason. The obesity epidemic and the pandemic have collided, creating a tsunami of health problems.

Evidence from around the world has now pointed to the increased risks for contracting the virus, the increased risk for hospitalisation, and also a greater risk for death for those with obesity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US has published data saying that anyone suffering from obesity, “at any age” is at a higher risk for contracting the virus.

Here in the UK, Public Health England has said that “excess body weight is one of the leading causes of poor health in Britain,” and “people living with severe obesity (BMI ? 40kg/m2) are also deemed to be clinically more vulnerable” to contracting the virus.

People suffering from obesity are also at greater risk of hospitalisation for H1N1 influenza and a wide range of other illnesses.

Related: 5 Natural Ways to Protect Heart Health, Lower Cardiac Risk

How to Check If You're Carrying Excess Weight (Without Scales)


All you need is a measuring tape…

One easy way to check if you are at increased risk due to excess weight is to measure your waist circumference. Also known as “visceral fat.”

An excess of visceral fat or inches around your weight is a good indicator that shows an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and a wide range of other chronic illnesses.

 All factors that put people at increased risk for contracting, shedding and complications when exposed to the virus.

According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome can occur when your waist circumference is larger. More specifically:

  • For Men – waist circumference of equal to or more than 40 inches
  • For Women – waist circumference of equal to or more than 35 inches

Related: Junk Food Advertising Drives Obesity Figures

Existing Scientific Research and the Pandemic


The relationship between the virus and obesity has been clearly established. A wide range of studies have found that patients with obesity suffer for longer and are at increased risk of hospitalisation and death if they contract the virus.

Additionally, “shedding” (how the virus spreads) happens for longer in those with obesity because of the severity and prolonged infection time.

75 research papers written in both English and Chinese, were analysed to try to establish the risk and mortality rates. The findings were unanimous – obesity resulted in 46% higher positive test cases, the likelihood of being hospitalised increased by a whopping 113%, ICU admission was 74% higher and mortality was 48% higher. When compared to lean and healthy individuals (with a BMI of under 24) who contracted the virus.

Related: Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprehensive Guide

Chronic Illness & Risk of Catching the Virus


Because those with obesity are at greater risk of having coexisting chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea or metabolic syndrome, we need to establish whether it is these underlying conditions or the actual obesity that is causing the complications.

In one study that looked at 5,700 patients who were hospitalised with the virus from 1st March to 4th April 2020, 553 patients sadly died. Doctors reported that patients who had diabetes were more likely to be admitted to intensive care and require invasive treatment.

Related: Can Viruses Spread Via Water? Plus the Best Ways to Disinfect Water

5 Steps To Boost Your Immunity

Other than the current general public health advise of wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping a safe distance, there are additional measures that you can take.

In particular, there are several lifestyle changes that will increase your chances of fighting the virus, such as losing excess weight.

To achieve these changes, there are several important points to consider in a successful lifestyle program such as:

  • Nutrition – Eat a diet filled with healthy fruits and vegetables. Wholefoods offer valuable phytonutrients that protect your cells from damage. Also eating a lot of good food will crowd out bad foods, as you’ll be filled up with the good stuff.
  • Supplementation – Ensuring that you consume all of the right nutrition from a balanced diet is hard in 2020. Mainly due to industrialised farming practices that have wiped the soil of essential vitamins. Check your vitamin and mineral status, and top up as necessary with high-quality supplements. Especially vitamin D, Omega-3 and multivitamins. B12 and magnesium are also vital, particularly in the current moment.
  • Mindset – Stress can drive us to overeat and consume the wrong food. Take time to keep yourself on track by focusing on a positive healthy mindset.
  • Exercise – The NHS suggests that we should aim to be physically active every day. The NHS exercise guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise weekly.
  • Hydration – The NHS also suggests we drink at least 6-8 mugs of water throughout the day. If you feel like you are dehydrated, then you can check your urine colouring. Clear or pale is what you want; darker shades indicate that you need to drink more water.

The Bottom Line

The pandemic is showing no signs of slowing. Therefore, we must take this time to boost our overall health and wellbeing.

Stress reduction, exercise and a focus on healthy lifestyle practices used to be a choice – before the pandemic hit. But in 2020 (and beyond), leading a healthy lifestyle is becoming a must.

Excess weight can lead to a heightened risk for contracting, spreading the virus and the possibility of hospitalisation. By keeping properly hydrated, exercising and following healthy lifestyle protocols (as outlined above), you can increase your chances for survival, and enhance your overall life experience.

It’s a win-win situation.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Why It's Best to Buy Organic [Plus How to Avoid Toxic Fruit & Veg]

Why It's Best to Buy Organic [Plus How to Avoid Toxic Fruit & Veg]

Why It's Best to Buy Organic

It's Organic September, so we thought we'd keep things topical by writing about why buying organic is a good idea. The month-long campaign raises awareness of the producers and farmers who bring organic products to market with their many benefits.

To be classed as organic, products and foods have to adhere to strict regulations. Producers are inspected annually to ensure they are sticking to these strict EU guidelines.

The main benefits of buying and eating organic are:

- You help to protect the environment, combating climate change and protecting biodiversity and wildlife.

- Any livestock reared by organic farmers have a better quality of life, with the freedom to roam. The highest standards of animal welfare protect them.

- Any foods or products won't contain any preservatives, herbicides or additives, and there should be no genetically modified ingredients.

- Organic produce contains far fewer pesticides. - You are eating good-quality food that is more nutritious, as more natural and sustainable organic farming practices ensure there are more nutrients in the soil.

- According to the Soil Association, by switching just one item in your shop to organic, you will help to contribute to changing our food system. Buying more organic food increases the demand for organic farms, meaning fewer pesticides in our environment. It's better for our wildlife and means more farm animals can be raised humanely, under higher welfare standards.

The blight of pesticides in food & waterways


According to the Soil Association, conventional food production widely uses pesticides that harm the environment, water and our food chain. 

Not only does it affect the food we eat but also that of wildlife. While these toxins are entering waterways and finding their way into our drinking water, they’re also polluting the drinking water wildlife depend on for their survival, and they contaminate the habitat of aquatic life.

They damage the finely tuned ecosystem and create adverse toxic effects on directly exposed organisms. Pesticides can reduce the abundance of weeds and insects, which are essential food sources for many species.

In 2017, government testing found pesticide residues in 47% of British food, many containing multiple pesticides

Often, conventionally grown produce is sprayed with more than one pesticide. When you bite into a non-organic apple, it may have been sprayed up to 10 times while still on the tree, and there may have been more than one type of pesticide used with apples testing positive for up to 30 different pesticides.

Scarily, in the UK between 2011 -2015, 100% of oranges and 86% of pears tested contained multiple pesticide residues.

What’s the accumulative effect of these? Has anyone carried out substantial research on how a cocktail of pesticides across the board of all that we eat and drink truly affects us? What about any interactions between them?

Rather like taking several different prescribed medications, all with side effects and interactions – what’s the overarching impact of these pesticides collectively? Does anybody really know? 

Either way, toxins are toxins which can negatively impact your health if your body is exposed to too many. And while safe limits have been established, resilience to pesticides, the body’s natural toxicity ceiling and capacity to detoxify varies from person to person.

Besides, how rigorous is the research on which safety is based? And who is paying to carry out that research? Is there any conflict of interest?

Let’s not forget a history of blaring blunders where pesticides and fungicides that were deemed safe. For example, DDT was banned in 1972 after being widely used for decades for insect control in crop and livestock production, as well as in institutions, gardens and homes.

Mounting evidence showed that this extremely toxic pesticide was having a detrimental effect on the environment, impacting on wildlife and human health. DDT is very persistent in the environment. For instance, it is still showing up in sediments of remote Canadian lakes.

To this day, some animals and fish consume DDT from grass, algae and other plants growing in contaminated sediments and soil. By entering their food chain, it enters ours. Among other health concerns, DDT exposure may be linked to Alzheimer’s.

While we can’t avoid toxins altogether, limiting our exposure to them is possible by making a few smart choices. Organic foods undoubtedly contain fewer pesticides, so choosing organic fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat products will unquestionably lessen your toxic load.

Using organic and eco beauty and household products will also help. Not only will you benefit from this, but as a consumer, these choices have a positive environmental impact.

Soil Association facts and figures


– In 2016, over 16,600 tonnes of pesticides were used on British farms to kill weeds, insects and control crop diseases.

Many pesticides don’t just kill the target pest. They can affect other wildlife and the environment by either direct poisoning, contaminating water courses or disrupting ecosystems.

– Many people don’t realise almost 300 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food we eat despite washing and cooking.

Organic farming standards, on the other hand, don’t allow any synthetic pesticides and absolutely no herbicides such as glyphosate.

– Organic farmers are permitted to use just 20 pesticides, derived from natural ingredients including citronella and clove oil, but only under very restricted circumstances.

Research suggests that if all UK farming were organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%! This means that organic farms are a haven for wildlife, and these toxic pesticides can’t make their way into the food chain and into us.

– Organic farming reduces disruption to the natural environment. By rotating crops and selecting crop varieties with a natural resistance to particular pests and diseases, organic farmers can reduce or avoid disease problems and the need to control them with chemical inputs.

– Organic farms have around 50% more bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Glyphosate

Alongside all the pesticides and fungicides, the insidiously harmful herbicide glyphosate is also finding its way into the water and food chain.

The world’s most heavily sold and widely spread weedkiller, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) comes with a wealth of environmental and health concerns. Among other things, it’s commonly used to dry out wheat crops before harvest, and the Soil Association are currently calling for a UK ban of this practice. 

In UK farming alone, its use has increased by 400% in the last 20 years. It’s also used in public parks and gardens and can be found in your non-eco-friendly garden weedkiller. Glyphosate is one of three pesticides regularly testing positive in our UK bread. It showed up in over 60% of wholemeal bread samples tested by Defra.

While glyphosate manufacturers try to convince us that the levels in our food are safe, WHO have listed glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’. Glyphosate can even cause harm if being sprayed nearby. The Soil Association state that the IARC (International Agency on Research for Cancer) suggests there is no safe level for glyphosate in food.

Organic farming does not allow the use of glyphosate or any other weedkillers, so by buying organic, you are reducing your exposure to this harmful herbicide. If this is something that concerns you, help the Soil Association to rid our food of glyphosate. Find out how here.

The prevalence of pesticides


From creams and lotions to cosmetics, soaps and toothpaste, it’s not uncommon for pesticides (including glyphosate) and GMOs to be found in non-organic toiletries and health and beauty products.

It’s always best to check the ingredients list before purchasing these products as it’s not just pesticides and GMOs you need to worry about. Many of them contain other nasties like parabens, a petrochemical hormone disruptor linked to breast cancer.

You can also find phthalates, oestrogen mimickers linked to infertility and hormone imbalance. 

While not always organic, it’s still better to go for eco-friendly household and gardening products. They don’t contain toxic chemicals, so are safer for you, your family and the environment.

They have fewer risks and gentler ingredients. One common ingredient found in cream cleansers, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners is MCI or MIT or MI. On the label, it can be called methylisothiazolinone or methylchloroisothiazolinone. It’s a preservative active against bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

The Soil Association states that it’s a common irritant, and prolonged exposure to low levels may damage a developing nervous system.

We can also consider organic when it comes to our clothes, bedclothes, towels and fabric used for any other household and personal care products.

This includes tissues, cotton pads and buds, cleaning cloths, tea towels and anything else you can think of. 

The textile industry is one of the most polluting ones around. By buying organic, you protect the planet and wildlife. Animals are reared more humanely (think leather goods), the soil is enriched by natural farming methods, and no GMO seeds are used.

Any textile products you purchase will have been more sustainably produced. You also protect the livelihood of cotton farmers and reduce the amounts of microfibres from synthetic fabrics being released into waterways. 

Cottonseed is used for cooking oils, shortenings and margarine. It is also used as poultry and livestock feed. Buying organic cotton can help to reduce the amount of GMOs, pesticides and herbicides finding their way into these products.

The fast fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water and responsible for 8 to 10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

With only an estimated one-third of purchased clothes in the UK being worn, reducing our clothing consumption is one way forward. Another is to go for organic, sustainable, environmentally friendly clothing whenever possible.

The dirty dozen and clean 15


Did you know there is a list that shows who the worst non-organic fruit and vegetable offenders are? And another that shows the cleanest?

An updated American version is brought out by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) every year. Every year, in the UK, the government checks pesticide residue levels in food. Using data over five years, PAN UK has compiled a handy downloadable list of the meanest and cleanest that you can reference

The Dirty Dozen is the most heavily sprayed fruit and vegetables, but an extended EWG list shows an additional 39 items that have tested the highest within popular fresh produce. While this list is American, it can still be a handy benchmark for the UK. 

Sadly, many of your favourite fruits and vegetables may well be lurking on this list, so if possible, purchasing organic versions of these foods might be best.

Can't afford to buy organic?

– As mentioned earlier, the Soil Association state that by switching to just one organic food or product, you can help change our food system. This benefits the environment, encourages biodiversity, supports wildlife, and protects animal welfare.

– You can ease your toxic load by investing in a comprehensive water filter to help remove pesticides, toxins and other impurities from your drinking water. The Biocera jug is a more cost-effective way to do this, and it’s worth every penny.

– If you can stretch to adding a few organic foods to your weekly shop, go organic for anything listed on The Dirty Dozen. At least you will be exposing yourself to fewer pesticides from the most heavily sprayed produce of all.

– Seeing as so much glyphosate is showing up in our bread and one of the biggest crops it’s used on is wheat, buying organic bread, and any other products containing wheat would help to cut down your intake of this and any other pesticides.

– Try to shop at local farmer’s markets and from local producers. Not only do you tend to eat more seasonally, which is better for you, but it can also be lighter on your pocket when it comes to eating cleaner food.

It’s not unusual for many local producers to follow organic and environmental farming methods even though they are not listed as organic. Don’t be afraid to ask them what practices they use and whether or not they use many pesticides. A bonus is that you will also be supporting local business.

– You can look up producers online if you’re curious about suppliers to your favourite supermarket and make an educated decision about what non-organic brands you prefer to buy.

– There are some chemical-free fruit and vegetable washes on the market that claim to remove many of the pesticides regular cleaning can’t. Before picking one, do your research to find out which is the cleanest, most ethical and effective. You can find them in most good health food shops.

Be aware that you will never be able to get rid of all the pesticides as many chemicals penetrate beyond the skin into the very fabric of the fruit or vegetable.

– When buying any household products, toiletries or beauty essentials, look for brands that are eco. They’re more likely to have fewer nasties and are safer for the environment. They can often be more cost-effective too.

– The same rules apply when buying food supplements. So if you can’t afford or source good-quality organic ones, buy them from a trusted supplier that uses no additives, preservatives or GMOs. Look for accreditation and read up on their production methods and any testing they carry out for impurities and toxins.

Conclusion

As it’s Organic September, you can play your part by switching to just one organic product in your weekly shop. Consequently, you can contribute to changing our food system. You can help increase the demand for organic farming which helps the environment, encourages biodiversity, supports wildlife, and rears animals under higher welfare standards.

It’s not just about organic foods either. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can turn up in non-organic beauty products, toiletries, clothes and textiles and non-eco household cleaners and weedkillers. By choosing to go organic and eco-friendly, not only do you get direct health benefits, but you play a significant part in all of the above.

Filling your trolley up with organic essentials can get pricey. If you’re on a lower budget, do what you can. Even the smallest of trades is something. Where possible, if any foods in your basket are in the Dirty Dozen, try to swap them for organic.

Also try to go organic with any animal produce (dairy, poultry, eggs and meat). Consider buying organic bread, and any other staples that contain wheat like crackers, pasta, cereal and baked goods.

Click here for 30 ways to join the Organic Revolution.

Check out our detox supplements here

By Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Can Precision Nutrition Help With My Weight Loss Plan?

Can Precision Nutrition Help With My Weight Loss Plan?

Weight loss is one of the most exploited areas in the fitness industry. As much as there are viable means of losing weight, people often favour lose-weight-quick schemes like slimming teas. If only they knew how inimical slimming teas could be.

Regular fitness training, on the other hand, pays huge dividends in terms of weight loss, and also mental health. And it needn't cost a penny.

To complement your fitness training, it's important to choose the right nutrition. You might wonder how eating will help you lose weight, since it's most likely what made you gain weight in the first place. This post will put you through.

Nutrition is vital for better overall health too.

Let’s go!

The Importance of Nutrition for Weight Loss

So can precision nutrition really help with your weight loss plan? Short answer: YES. Long answer: Read on!

Nutrition is an essential aspect of weight loss. When you engage in fitness training, you burn lots of calories, and your energy levels deplete.

The natural way to restore your energy level to a maximum are through quality rest and sound nutrition. Indeed, your fitness goals can only be realised by combining physical exertion with healthful rest and proper nutrition.

Besides, a healthful diet can help you lose weight on its own. We refer to these kinds of foods as “real food”. Real foods are those that contain plenty of minerals and vitamins, are devoid of any chemical additives and are mostly unprocessed in any form.

Here are some examples of real foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fish and seafood
  • Nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted)
  • Sweet potatoes etc.

These are the kinds of foods that can significantly aid your weight loss plan. Here are some reasons why they do.

They are nutritious

Proper nutrition is crucial, and real foods offer that. Since they’re filled with minerals and vitamins, they’re recommended for your health.

When you consume processed foods, you deprive your body of enough iron. Your body needs iron to transport oxygen around your body. Oxygen is vital to aiding your exercise drills.

However, when you consume real foods, your body gets enough iron to aid oxygen transportation. This way, your exercise drills prove to be more effective, and your weight loss plan becomes more productive.

They lack refined sugars

Real foods often contain natural sugars – sugars that are rather different to the refined sugars usually found in processed foods. For example, natural sugars can be found in fruits and vegetables.

Refined sugars provide high calories to processed foods. Since the essence of weight loss is to get rid of extra calories, it is not beneficial for the body.

When you consume processed foods with refined sugars often, obesity occurs.

It is why real foods should always be your first choice – because they contain only natural sugars and do not contain surplus calories.

They lack artificial trans fats

Every nutritionist understands one thing: artificial trans fats are bad for everyone. Trans fats are primarily made up of vegetable oils that contain hydrogen molecules. They’re solid as opposed to the liquid form of natural vegetable oils.

Trans fats are usually used to preserve processed foods like doughnuts, cakes, etc. However, they have adverse effects on the health and waistlines of individuals who consume them.

Fortunately, real foods do not have trans fats in them. Real foods like lamb and pork contain natural fats, but they do not pose any threats to people who consume them.

Some real foods reduce your urge for sugar

It is natural for every human to love sugary things. They have a positive reception by the taste bud. However, consuming much sugar makes you vulnerable to stasis or weight gain. It is in direct contrast to your weight loss plan.

Not to worry – some real foods help to eliminate sugar cravings. When you eat fruits like berries and apples, they satisfy your desire for sweet things, and they help to reduce your sugar intake.

When you continue to consume real foods, your urge for sugary things starts depleting over time until you find them less desirable.  

Weight loss is possible even while eating plenty of real foods

Did you know that you can eat lots of real foods yet lose weight? Well, you can. This is why most nutritionists and personal trainers advise eating regular, modest-portioned meals throughout the day. Look at the nutrition plan of any elite athlete and you’ll notice just how much they eat every day. The difference is, they are eating properly.

Real foods are rich in protein

Protein is quite essential for every weight loss program. Here’s why: it increases the rate at which the body converts food and beverages into energy, reduces your hunger level, and influences the formation of hormones that control weight gain.

Luckily, real foods boast high protein levels. It is partly because there is not much processing involved with real foods.

When a meal is processed, it makes essential amino acids more tasking for the body to digest. In the same vein, it reduces the availability of these amino acids to the body.

With real foods boasting high protein and low calories, it is beneficial for weight loss.

How to lose weight with nutrition

Alongside fitness training, diet is the safest and most feasible way of losing weight in a gradual process. 

Different steps can help you lose weight with nutrition. Here are some of them.

Regular dieting

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. If you resolve to reduce your calorie consumption by 500 per day on average, you’ll lose 1 pound every week.

You can set feasible goals and work towards achieving them.

You can eat three balanced meals every day and at exact times. Avoid the consumption of processed foods too. They’re bad for your weight loss plan.

Ration what you eat

As much as we want you to eat balanced foods, there is a need for you to control what you eat. There are different recommended portions depending on age, gender, and other criteria.

For example, if you want rice or pasta, three tablespoons are enough for you. Similarly, you shouldn’t eat more than one medium slice of bread.  

Use a meal planner

For consistency, you are advised to stick to a meal timetable. There are diet plans available for you to take advantage of. These plans help you eat the right food combination.

Drink water often

The temptation to drink beverages that are high in calories will always arise. The onus is on you to resist such. You can often take water. Avoid consumption of non-diet juice and juice. Find out the healthiest water to drink

You should also read up on supplements that can help your body lower cholesterol levels.

Conclusion

By combining precision nutrition and a proper fitness plan, weight loss logically follows. Of course, when you have reached your target weight, you may have another ambition: to improve your musculature, for example, or enhance your athletic performance. Again, tailoring your diet and training accordingly is what is necessary.

You’ll be surprised by how it easy it becomes to snub empty calories in favour of nutrient-dense alternatives. Natural food. Real food. The food that sustained our Palaeolithic ancestors. Don’t look back!

Guest blog by Tyler Read, owner of ptpioneer.com – a website dedicated to helping people get started in the personal training industry. Tyler helps people discover, study and pass their fitness exams. Check out his free videos for the latest trends.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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8 Effective Ways to Help Relieve Common Aches and Pains

8 Effective Ways to Help Relieve Common Aches and Pains

If you suffer from nagging aches, pains, stiffness or tension, you know how debilitating life can be. The hurt can stop you from working, exercising, socializing and generally living your (best) life, especially if it’s chronic or recurring.

You may believe the search for relief is futile, especially if you feel like you’ve already tried everything. But there may be a few things you haven’t tried yet that engender real, noticeable relief.

Reference the list below for some great solutions that can lead to a reprieve from the pain.

Note: If you have lingering, chronic pain, it’s a good idea to see your physician and inquire about treatment options before you try any solutions on this list.

1. Laser Therapy


Have you heard the buzz about low-level laser therapy for back pain? This is a non-invasive therapy that uses low levels of lasers to affect the function of tissues and increase local blood circulation, providing temporary relief from minor muscle aches, pain and stiffness.

The beauty of this kind of treatment is that it can be done anytime, with at-home devices in just a half hour or so each day while you read or watch TV. The devices temporarily relieve pain while helping you relax and relieve stress, providing a two-for-one pain relief benefit.

2. Hydrotherapy


Hydrotherapy is anything and everything to do with using water for healing, including spending time in the sauna, pool, or hot tub. This kind of therapy is routinely used in treatment for osteoarthritis, especially in the knee.

Studies have shown that people who suffer from osteoarthritis in the knee experienced less pain and better function in the knee after partaking in a hydrotherapy treatment program in a heated pool.

Hydrotherapy may also help relieve aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis and muscle strains.

3. Massage Therapy


Massage is one of the best ways to work out knots and muscle tension that may be causing pain throughout your body, especially in the back, legs and neck.

While seeing a professional masseuse is always the best way to enjoy the benefits of this type of therapy, you can also use self-myofascial release (SMR) devices – massage balls, foam rollers, etc. – to give your pain points a gentle massage yourself.

This therapy works by relaxing contracted muscles and stretching them and realigning them so they no longer cause pain.

4. Cryotherapy and Heat Therapy

Cryotherapy (cold therapy) is commonly used for pain management following injury, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it can also lead to relief from muscle sprains, tendonitis, arthritis, lower back pain, runner’s knee (chondromalacia patellae), and more common triggers of aches and pains.

This therapy involves using ice or gel packs, sometimes coupled with compression and elevation, to reduce swelling and ease the pain.

Similarly, applying a heated pad to muscles and joints can promote blood flow and relax the muscles. Your doctor may recommend alternating hot and cold therapies at different intervals throughout the day for the best results.

Learn More5 Surprising Health Benefits of Taking a Cold Shower Every Day

5. Stretch


You may be surprised to find how much stretching can relieve aches and pains throughout the body. Not only will a quick, daily stretch session – such as yoga or a 15-minute full-body stretch routine – help to lessen the tension and knots in specific muscles throughout the body, but more limber and flexible muscles will also lead to less pain and injury risk in general.

For example, stretching out the hamstrings can help prevent pain in the hips and lower back. Be sure to incorporate a thorough stretch into your routine each day.

6. Change Your Diet


Much of the pain throughout your body may be caused by inflammation, especially if you struggle with arthritis and other conditions that can trigger inflamed, tender muscles and joints.

However, there is evidence to suggest that you can use food to help your body ward off inflammation. Specifically, research shows that food affects your blood’s C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are markers for inflammation.

Plant-based foods, like fruits and veggies, help your body fight oxidative stress, while certain processed foods do the opposite by creating an inflammatory response that leads to chronic pain.

Fill your diet with antioxidants – berriesleafy greens, avocados, beans, turmericgreen tea, ginger – as well as omega-3s and plenty of plants.

Learn MoreHow Eggshell Membrane Benefits Arthritis, Joint Pain, More

7. Acupuncture

This alternative therapy has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and involves using thin needles throughout the body to balance its flow of energy.

When it comes to pain, acupuncture is frequently used to treat neck pain, osteoarthritis, dental pain, migraines and low back pain.

While there is some debate on the efficacy and science behind acupuncture, experts say that it releases endorphins, which provide natural pain relief.

8. Reduce Stress

Medical researchers are just starting to understand the full spectrum of ways that stress affects the body, but we know now more than ever that it has an incredible impact on our physical health.

In fact, in its list of signs and symptoms of stress, the American Institute of Stress lists headaches, jaw pain, neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms, chest pain and stomach pain.

Engaging in some stress-relief activities, such as yoga, meditation, hydrotherapy, or going on vacation can help mitigate stress and, in turn, relieve some pain.

Conclusion

With these treatments, you’ll surely find an option that works for you. The goal is to find non-pharmaceutical treatment options that are effective and reliable, so you can get back to feeling like your best self again.

As always, be sure to consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to your health and wellness routine.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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lit neon sign saying AND BREATHE

Understanding Your Body’s Stress Response [Plus 7 Ways to Destress]

Understanding Your Body’s Stress Response

Ever felt the need for answers? Like your head is filled with cotton wool and you end up going round and round, with no final solution? It's because certainty is one of our basic human needs, and right now we are living in very uncertain times. Uncertainty can lead to chronic stress, which can in-turn weaken your immune system.

Factors that impact our stress response include uncertainty, worry and negative thinking. Worrying about what’s going to happen is natural. If we don’t get an answer, we’ll keep on looking. Our brains crave certainty. Which can result in perpetual checking of your mobile phone or internet. Adding to the stress, especially when we are presented with draconian measures from the government and media.

What’s more, the hysteria that’s being felt all over the world right now layers on top of our own anxiety. The question is: how do you slow down, and keep calm in times of acute or ongoing stress?

The first step is to understand your body's stress response. So that you can alter your behaviours to produce a sense of ease and calm. In this article we’ll discuss your bodies stress response and choices that you can make to allow you to think clearly again.

What’s the Definition of Stress?


When the demands of life exceed your resources, you’re said to be under stress. Stress can also be described as mental, emotional or physical tension. Contrary to popular opinion, stress isn’t always harmful – some forms of stress, like exercising, are healthy.

Healthy stress is known as eustress.

57% of people feel paralysed when they’re stressed, while 43% state that stress invigorates them. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a completely different matter.

Stress is when your fight-or-flight (parasympathetic nervous system) is activated. Your body is then flooded with the hormones of action – cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.

When you’re stressed out, your conscious brain responses are almost switched off. In favour of instant automatic responses. At the same time, your digestive and immune system are put on hold. 

Too much cortisol can raise your blood sugar levels, which is bad news for diabetics, or those with metabolic syndrome. Suffice it to say, prolonged chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body.

Stress Exacerbates Underlying Health Problems


It’s never been more important to reduce stress by practising healthy coping mechanisms, and removing yourself from stressful situations.

Underlying conditions like diabeteshigh blood pressure and obesity can become worse if a person is stressed out.

In fact, stress in and of itself is a risk factor for heart disease.

Does Stress Weaken the Immune System?

In short, yes!  Stress negatively impacts your immune system.

Your immune system is made up of billions of tiny cells that travel through your bloodstream into all organs of your body, looking for foreign invaders. When the stress response is activated, digestive activity stops and your heart rate increases.

Stress switches your body from rest, repair and digest mode (the parasympathetic nervous system), to the fight-or-flight response (the sympathetic nervous system). Where energy is taken from the body’s internal organs and sent to the extremities for an emergency response. While hormones like cortisol are up-regulated.

Short bursts of cortisol can stimulate your immune system. While prolonged stress, also known as chronic stress, can weaken the immune system due to producing high levels of inflammation. Furthermore, the increased heart rate, from the stress response can increase blood cholesterol levels according to the NHS.

Learn more: Top 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System

3 Stages of the Stress Response


There are three key stages of the stress response that you need to know about. Alarm, resistance and exhaustion, as described below:

• Alarm Stage – Heart beats faster, sending blood to your arms and legs, ready for action.

• Resistance Stage – Reduced sense of urgency, silent alert.

• Exhaustion Stage – Too much stress can lead to exhaustion. At this phase, your immune system can become weakened.

Chronic stress has been linked to lifestyle illnesses like depression, diabetes and heart disease, as well as a risk for viral infections

Related: The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue, Stress & Water

10 Physical Symptoms of Stress


Many people are complaining that they can’t sleep right now, with headaches and a lack of appetite generally cited. Others are saying that they feel like they’re stuck to their bed, unable to get up. These are all symptoms of chronic stress.

• Tension headaches

• Fatigue

• Upset stomach

• Lack of libido

• Insomnia

• Aches and pains

• Agitation

• Low self-esteem

• Chest pain or irregular heartbeat

• Clenched jaw or teeth grinding

Related: 9 Nutrients That Can Counteract the Impact of Stress

How Emotions Change When You’re Feeling Stressed


Emotional stress can lead to feelings of worry, the inability to focus, poor judgement and negativity. This can result in procrastination or consuming alcohol to unwind. These responses are understandable, but not helpful and will self perpetuate.

Fear and uncertainty are two of the most common causes of emotional stress.

Right now, we’re facing a global pandemic that’s producing a lot of fear and uncertainty, in turn this is creating a lot of stress. Your ability to deal with stress will alter depending on how you view (or frame) the world.

7 Natural Ways to De-stress

Break the addictive cycle of chronic stress by following these seven natural ways to de-stress.

• Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water every day

• Practice deep diaphragmatic breathing

• Spend time in nature, or bring nature into your home

• Unplug from social media (and your phone in general) for several hours each day

• Set healthy boundaries

• Create healthy bedtime and morning routines

• Exercise every day (go for a run or use a home workout app)

Learn More: 5 Fun Ways to Reduce the Impact of Chronic Stress

Final Thoughts

We’re living in uncertain times, but there is a lot we can do to take charge of the situation.

Understanding the body’s stress response will allow you to know if you are under stress. In turn, you can then do some breathing exercises or go for a walk to unwind.

Setting boundaries and creating routines also go a long way to restoring some form of normality, and reducing stress.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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7 Valuable Nutrients That Help Skin Health from the Inside Out

7 Valuable Nutrients That Help Skin Health from the Inside Out

Your skin is a reflection of how healthy you are on the inside. Just think about how dull and lacklustre it can look when you’re stressed out, unwell or after a miserable night's sleep.

An unhealthy diet, hormone imbalance, poor gut health and inflammation, and sluggish detoxification can all contribute to problematic skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis.

What you eat has a massive impact on your health and wellbeing. So while you might have a beauty serum you swear by, and what you apply to your skin is important, a healthy glow really does stem from the inside. I

f you want to look and feel good, what you feed your body counts; eating the right foods and taking a few well-chosen supplements can build sturdy foundations and provide unparalleled long-term benefits for your skin.

1) Water


If you want healthy, glowing skin and a clear complexion, make sure you drink enough water

Adequate hydration is essential for good health. Every cell, tissue and organ need and use it, and without it, we can’t function.

Water hydrates all your tissues, flushes out toxins and aids digestion which all helps to keep your skin looking fresh.

There’s no fixed daily amount as we are all different, but aim for roughly two litres a day – more if you are pregnant or exercising. Listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.

Alkaline, hydrogen-rich, filtered water is a cut above normal tap water. It’s rich in beneficial minerals, free from chlorine and heavy metals, well-structured and has antioxidant properties.  

You can also apply it directly to your skin with Biocera Hydrogen Water Mist which generates mineral-rich, natural antioxidant hydrogen water with a long-lasting moisturising effect.

If your skin could do with a pick-me-up, breathe deeply, close your eyes and spray this over your face and neck. It’s refreshing and provides a rejuvenating lift to tired, dehydrated skin.

2) Healthy omega-3 fats and fish oils


The typical Western diet promotes an unhealthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Too much omega-6 increases inflammation, affecting your overall and skin health.

Eating plenty of healthy omega-3 fats can help to improve your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, providing anti-inflammatory benefits to encourage healthy skin

Research shows that the fatty acids found in oily fish have the potential to improve skin barrier function and inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation. They can relieve dry skin and pruritus brought on by dermatitis, accelerate skin wound healing, and help prevent skin cancer development. 

The EPA and DHA in fish oils have anti-ageing effects which improve your skin tone, keep it hydrated, plumper and radiant. EPA has the power to protect collagen from UV damage, preventing premature ageing. 

Fish oils aid cell wall flexibility so that you can receive nutrients and expel toxins more effectively. Healthy cells mean you’re more vital on every level with increased immunity, energy and longevity.

This will undoubtedly be reflected in your skin as well. They improve hair and nail quality too.

Ideally, you should eat oily fish three times a week, but if this is difficult, you might prefer to take a good quality fish oil supplement

Not a fish eater? Eat walnuts, the king of nuts when it comes to omega-3 fats. They also provide other beneficial nutrients for your skin like zinc, and trace amounts of antioxidants including selenium and vitamins C and E.

Generally adding nuts and seeds to your diet will also up your omega-3 intake and feed your skin with goodies. For the most easily absorbed vegan source of EPA and DHA, consider taking a good quality marine algae supplement.

3) Omega-7 (palmitoleic acid)


Though it’s not classed as an ‘essential’ fatty acid, omega-7 is a monounsaturated fat that helps to make up the structure of your skin and mucous membranes.

There is growing research to suggest that it benefits skin health, and it may also protect against cardiovascular disease and insulin sensitivity. 

Avocados, macadamia nuts, anchovies, salmon and olive oil contain small amounts of omega-7, but one of the most abundant and concentrated sources is sea buckthorn berries. 

Studies so far have shown that omega-7 may improve skin hydration and elasticity and reduce wrinkles. It may also decrease skin and mucous membrane inflammation and relieve dry eye symptoms.

When applied topically, omega-7 can speed wound healing and soothe burns.

WHC O’Hisa (Omega Hair Immunity Skin Anti-ageing) is a specially formulated beauty complex. It contains concentrated organic sea buckthorn oil to calm and hydrate your skin, and protect it from free radical damage.

Zinc and B vitamins support the immune system, while Hyabest® 100% hyaluronic acid replenishes moisture and encourages a more youthful complexion.

4) Vitamin C

There are high concentrations of Vitamin C in the skin. It plays a pivotal role in collagen synthesis, a fibrous protein that gives structure and elasticity to your skin, preventing wrinkles (vitamin C also aids collagen production in your hair). Its potent antioxidant status prevents cell damage and oxidative stress, and it can improve and prevent UV photodamage. 

If you want to stock up on your vitamin C, consume plenty of broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, spinach and other leafy greens, Brussel’s sprouts, winter squash and sweet potatoes. Also eat fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and other berries, kiwis, guava, papaya, oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, pineapple and mango.

5) Collagen


Collagen is a protein that is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue. It holds our bodies together, providing a stable structure, promoting tissue elasticity and mobility.

As we age, our collagen levels decrease, and we start to see more wrinkles and looser, saggy skin

Some promising research suggests that collagen supplements can reduce the signs of ageing and aid wound healing. Supplements have the potential to increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. 

In one small study, women between 35 and 55 years of age were randomised to take either 2.5g or 5g of collagen hydrolysate per day or a placebo. After just eight weeks, both groups taking the supplements showed significant improvements in skin elasticity versus the placebo group.

Four weeks after stopping the supplements, the older women still showed a statistically higher skin elasticity level.  

Another trial gave post-menopausal women a nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and essential vitamins and minerals. The result was a marked improvement in wrinkle depth, skin elasticity and hydration.

If you would like to try a collagen supplement, ensure it comes from sustainable and clean sources, e.g. free-range or organic, grass-fed cows or sustainably sourced, non-toxic fish. Look for hydrolyzed collagen which is broken down into more easily absorbed particles. Bovine (collagen types 1 and 2) and fish collagen (type1) are the best forms to take for the skin.

6) Vegetables 


Research shows that healthy skin is associated with a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating a generous and diverse mixture every day will supply you with a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help fight free radical damage and prevent premature ageing.

If you’re worried you’re not getting enough, make it your mission to up your intake. You can also boost it with a food supplement like Green Vibrance Powder.

Aside from containing a preponderance of fruits and vegetables, it also includes a selection of organic grasses and algae which are highly nutritious with anti-ageing and skin rejuvenating properties. 

pHresh Greens is another alternative: a 100% organic, green raw food supplement that helps to neutralise acids in your blood and tissues, detoxify your body and energise your cells.

One teaspoon supplies you with the equivalent of 3-4 servings of raw vegetables. A natural source of antioxidants, B vitamins, carotenoids, phytonutrients, enzymes, dietary fibre and essential fatty acids, this is packed full of skin-feeding nutrients.

It contains grasses and algae including spirulina which calms inflammation, encourages a faster turnover of skin cells, and releases oxidative stress and toxins leading to a glowing complexion.

7) Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, and many of us could do with regular supplementation unless we are getting ample sun exposure.

Research shows that Vitamin D may protect against some skin diseases and conditions. There also appears to be an association with low vitamin D status and psoriasis.

Due to its significant role in keratin production (a valuable protein that forms a protective layer over the skin), vitamin D is a promising treatment option for managing this condition. 

Vitamin D may also help to improve acne, although there is currently minimal research to support this. According to a small study involving 43 patients with newly diagnosed nodulocystic acne, there appears to be a connection with low vitamin D status, so supplementing may help in those who are deficient.

Another trial with 80 acne patients found that vitamin D deficiency is more frequent in those with acne. Patients who took an oral supplement showed a significant improvement in their symptoms

If you are concerned that your levels are low, get tested by your GP. Otherwise, Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take over 10mcg of vitamin D daily during the winter months while the Vitamin D Council recommends a supplement of 5,000 i.u. daily.

Conclusion

When it comes to having glowing and healthy skin, feeding your body right is the way forward. 

If you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced, whole, real food diet packed full of brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, you should get all the nutrients you need to nurture your skin from the inside out.

Regularly including pre and probiotic-rich foods alongside a nourishing diet will help to keep your gut healthy, protecting you from inflammatory skin conditions.

Exercise, good sleep, effective stress management, love and laughter all contribute to good health and great skin too.

Taking some strategically well-chosen supplements alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle may also help to improve inflammatory skin conditions and hydration and promote plumper, more toned skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. 

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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two women gazing over green landscape

5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Nature Therapy

5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Nature Therapy

Nature lovers the world over have attested to the power of the great outdoors for boosting health and wellbeing. We’ve always intuitively known that time in nature is good for us. But it’s only recently that science has begun to back up our long-held beliefs.

Nature affects human health in many ways. Trees, in particular, provide food, shelter, medicine and offer a firm footing that prevents flooding and landslides. Conversely, they harbour insects, produce pollen and can be a hazard in high winds.

Undoubtedly nature impacts human behaviour and experiences. People love to go into nature, forests and oceans to unwind and relax.

Nature therapy is increasingly popular as a free and easy approach to boosting health. But what does science say?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some scientifically-backed health benefits of nature, and answer the question: how does nature improve mental health?

Why is nature so important to humans?


Most people think of health as a state free from disease. More accurately, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

While this may err on the side of unrealistic and utopian, it does allude to the inclusion of all aspects of health.

When we view health as multi-dimensional, it’s easier to understand how time in nature could impact wellbeing.

Rather than viewing health (or lack thereof) through the lens of symptoms that are in need of treatment.

Time in nature has many implications, such as the ability to improve focus. As well as physical and biochemical foundations that support balance and harmony.

What do we mean by nature?


We’ll be referring to nature as the natural features and processes that people can perceive without the use of specialised instruments.

Nature in a broad sense – related to trees, forests, vegetation, animals, wind and weather, sunlight and the ocean.

In essence, we’ll be exploring how the natural environment, that has had little human intervention, impacts the health of humans.

Promoting nature isn’t a lucrative endeavour. Perhaps that is why we are only now seeing an explosion of studies supporting its benefits.

Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood.” – Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, UEA Norwich Medical School

1. Increased Self-Esteem

Children who participated in a 2016 research study on the effects of nature on health, showed improved concentration and self-esteem.

Time in nature allowed them to take risks, get creative and discover the great outdoors.

In some children, the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were reduced as they got better at focusing.

In other research, it was found that spending more time in nature could lead to a more positive body image. “It is possible that exposure to environments with depth and complexity restricts negative appearance-related thoughts,” speculated Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University and lead author of the study.

2. Greater Overall Health


According to a massive study of over 290 million people published by the University of East Anglia, those who spend more time outdoors report overall good health.

This was backed up in the Wildlife Trust study in point one. Where those reporting that their health was “excellent” increased by 30% after 30 consecutive days taking time to “go out in the wild.”

3. Natural Aromatherapy


It’s common practice for Japanese people to forest bathe – this practice is known as “Shinrinyoku.”

Interestingly, they point to the natural aromatherapy as one of the health benefits of spending time in the forest.

This theory is backed up by a recent 2020 study into how smells of nature can lower psychological stress. In the study,  virtual reality headset scenes were coupled with sounds and smells that correlated to the perceived location.

For example, tar and gunpowder smell with cityscapes and the smell of grass, fir trees and mushrooms in the virtual nature scenes.

Interestingly, it was the smells in particular that affected people most.

4. Long-Term Boosts to the Immune System


In a Japanese study, male and female participants spent 3 days in the forest, with 2 nights of sleep. Blood and urine samples were taken to measure Natural killer (NK) cells and levels of urinary adrenaline before, during and after their stay in the woods.

Researchers found increased NK activity, which is a signifier of an enhanced immune system.

Amazingly, this rise in NK cells persisted for 30 days after the trip.

It’s possible that the phytoncides released by the trees may be responsible for some of the immune-boosting qualities of spending time in green space.

Phytoncides are organic compounds with antibacterial properties, which may explain an underlying scientific mechanism by which trees boost health.

Related: Top 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System

5. Reduced Stress Levels

Our Japanese study (above) also showed that the levels of adrenaline in the urine of participants was significantly lower on the days they spent in the forest.

This could be due to a combination of factors, a lack of overwhelming digital stimulus, smells of nature or physical exercise.

Stress is measured both in spikes of adrenaline and also cardiovascular activity.

A simple walk in the forest can have favourable cardiovascular responses, balancing out the whole human organism.

Because humans have evolved to adapt to their surrounding environment, natural stimulation via forests or green spaces can enhance both physiological and psychological relaxation.

Learn More: The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue, Stress & Water

The Bottom Line

The many health benefits of spending time in nature can be attributed to increased physical activity and the antibacterial substances emitted by the plants.

Does nature make us healthier? Absolutely! A raft of studies are showing that nature therapy is a free and easy tool to boost overall wellbeing.

In our increasingly hectic, stressed, technology- and image-obsessed age, there are few things better than to disconnect and embrace the simplicity and beauty of the natural world. The benefits of exercising outdoors are also significant.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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man passing water bottle to another

The 6 Best Times to Drink Water and When Not To

The 6 Best Times to Drink Water and When Not To

The healing properties of pure water are immense. Water is required for every system in the body to run efficiently, and as such is a top priority for health and wellness.

You’re probably aware that you should drink about eight glasses of water per day, or 2-3 litres.

But did you know that there are key times to consume water?

In this article we’ll discuss the best times to drink water during the day to optimise your health.

How Often Should I Drink Water?


You should aim to drink eight glasses of water a day. However, this intake might increase if you are in a hot climate, sweating a lot, ill or exercising.

The amount of water and frequency of intake also varies depending on your age and gender. As a rough guide, a woman should drink 2.2 litres/ 8-9 cups while a man should drink 3 litres/ 13 cups.

There’s no one size fits all, though. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers will need to drink up to 3 litres per day. Humid weather can also increase the amount of water that you should drink.

Some people who are prone to dehydration  (like the elderly) will need to be more strict to ensure that they are drinking enough water. Drinking water at optimal times of the day can help to promote adequate water consumption.

Learn more: Dehydration and Dementia: 6 Ways to Get Elders to Drink More Water

Create a Drinking Water Schedule


If you (or a loved one) are having trouble drinking enough water, then try writing out a schedule for drinking water.

This could look like 1 glass of water in the morning, 1 before breakfast, 1 before lunch, and 1 before dinner. That will cover half of your daily quota. You can either double the quota or add in a bottle of water before and during exercise.

Best practice is to have a bottle of fresh pure drinking water with you at all times and sip it throughout the day. Which should make up your daily water intake, especially if you follow the schedule above.

Related: Is Water Nature’s Very Own Antidepressant?

1.   500ml First Thing


Before you get out of bed, it’s a great idea to drink a 500ml glass of water. If you need to get up and go to the bathroom first, that’s ok.

The idea is that you flush your body with pure water as soon as you wake up.

Drinking a large glass of water when you wake up is a signal for all of your organs in the body to fire up, and be ready for the day ahead.

One Youtube video looked at what type of water will get your cells flowing smoothly. They compared tap water, coffee and alkaline water then looked at how the cells of the blood reacted under a microscope.

Interestingly, they found that the most beneficial water to drink was alkaline water.

Another idea is to add grated ginger or a slice of lemon into your water to nourish your body. Why not keep a glass of water on your bedside table? And drink it as soon as you wake up, as part of a healthy morning routine.

2. Drink When You Feel Hungry


Dehydration can send mixed signals to the brain, making us feel like we’re hungry.

In actual fact, we are in need of water. Interestingly, science has exposed that our feelings of thirst, hunger and satiety are most likely developed in childhood. Which in turn can alter cognition and behaviour accordingly.

Hunger, energy intake and thirst are probably more intricately linked than we had previously thought. Until recently 75% of our fluid intake would occur at meal times. Which means that the signals for hunger or thirst can easily be confused, as we do both activities at the same time.

3. Drink When You Feel Tired

Have you ever noticed that dip in energy at 4pm?  This energy slump could be due to dehydration.

One of the key reasons for feeling tired is, in fact,  dehydration. So every time you feel tired during the day, reach for a glass of water and see if that makes you feel more awake.

4. Before Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


You’ve probably heard that drinking water will fill you up. Often when we think that we’re hungry, it’s actually our bodies’ many cries for water that we are hearing.

By drinking a glass of water before a meal, you’ll avoid overeating. Water also flushes out the stomach lining and the intestines so that it is ready to digest the new meal.

5. Before, During and After Exercise


In the warm weather you’ll probably need more than one 500ml glass of water before exercise. Ensuring that you’re properly hydrated before and during exercise is critical to a good workout.

Both extremes of heat require that you drink extra water to keep the fluids in your body moving. Drinking extra water before exercise in hot weather can also help prevent heat stroke.

Replenishing the water you used up while exercising is essential. However, you should already have done a good job prepping your system and sipping water during your workout. After you’ve completed your workout, sip gently out of your water bottle to prevent stomach cramps.

6. Bacteria, Flu and Germs


If you’ve been around people who are sick, or are ill yourself, drink lots of water. By drinking water you’ll be hydrating your organs while flushing out the bad guys.

Diseases with the symptoms of diarrhoea and sickness can quickly lead to dehydration and complications. Therefore, if you’ve been exposed to germs then drink lots of water to flush your system out.

When Not to Drink Water

 

It’s a good idea to stop drinking water an hour or two before bed. Especially if you have a weak bladder.

Drinking too much water before a test or important meeting can also be a bad idea. Instead, sip water before and rehydrate fully afterwards.

The Bottom Line

No matter when you are drinking water, it’s important to drink pure clean water. Contaminants in the water can be bad for your health.

You can install a water purifier directly under your tap or in your shower to ensure that you and your family are consuming the purest water possible.

Starting your day off with one or even two glasses of water is an easy healthy habit to get into.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

 

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young woman's face, clear complexion

Dehydrated Skin? Read Our Guide to Getting a Healthy Glow

Dehydrated Skin? Read Our Guide to Getting a Healthy Glow

Skin is made up of several layers – three, to be exact. The outer layer (the epidermis) is our protective, waterproof barrier. The dermis is just underneath the outer layer and contains connective tissue.

The third deeper, fatty layer is called the hypodermis. Babies and children have a lot of circulation in the outermost areas of the skin due, in part, to the water content of their bodies. We are born with a bodily water content of around 75%, which drops to 55-60% as adults.

There are many reasons that the water content of our bodies diminishes with age, resulting in less plump skin. Babies have rosy cheeks because their skin has plenty of blood circulating to the epidermis. Ensuring proper circulation with water and other activities is critical for healthy glowing skin.

In this article, we’ll discuss why our skin requires A LOT of water, especially through drinking. We'll also look at the five symptoms of dehydration, as well as seven lifestyle changes we can take to encourage circulation to get glowing skin.

What are the Main Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin?


Dehydration can be extremely serious and even fatal if left unchecked, especially in the elderly.

Knowing the early signs will allow you to begin to reverse the symptoms.

  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • Dull complexion
  • Deeper surface wrinkles
  • Itching
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin

Related: 5 Problems Caused by Not Drinking Enough Water

How to Keep Skin Glowing Longer


The surface layer of the skin gets thinner with age. However, if we properly hydrate the skin then we’ll be able to keep healthy skin for longer.

The elderly have the least amount of water in their bodies, and as such their skin often appears grey and dull.

Additionally, the elderly are more prone to dehydration.

Interestingly, as we age our skin becomes duller and correspondingly so does our perception of thirst.

Getting water to the outer layer of the skin becomes increasingly difficult when there is not enough water in the body.

When we’re dehydrated, our skin lacks water – resulting in dry, dull or itchy skin. When the skin is dehydrated, overall complexion will be patchy and fine lines may appear deeper.

So, how can you tell for sure whether your skin is dehydrated?

Other than checking if you have any of the symptoms above, you can test whether your skin is dehydrated with a simple pinch test.

To test whether your skin is dehydrated, simply pinch it to see if it wrinkles or sticks in position.

Diet & Lifestyle Factors That Contribute to Dehydrated Skin


There are several diet and lifestyle factors that can contribute to dehydrated skin. If you feel that your skin is dehydrated, then it could be because of the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of water
  • Lack of sleep
  • Eating a standard western/ American diet (SAD)
  • Illness

Related: These 3 Natural Supplements Could Improve Your Sleep

7 Lifestyle Factors That Encourage Glowing Skin

Below is a list of 7 things you can do to rehydrate your skin and encourage a healthy glow.

1.   Use Salt and Minerals to Open Up Subskin Layer

It’s critical to consume enough (of the right kind) of salt to ensure healthy circulation. Salt helps make the inside of your cells alkaline and to keep water in the blood.

Go for either sea salt or pink Himalayan salt as they are filled with trace elements which are essential for healthy skin such as calcium, potassium, selenium and zinc, alongside 80 other trace minerals.

2.   Soak in Epsom Salts/Sea Salts

Soaking in sea salts or Epsom salts has been shown to slow skin aging and calm the nervous system. There’s also calcium in the sea salts that increases circulation.

Potassium helps to balance skin moisture. Just under your skin, there are lymphatic vessels that carry waste out of your body, plus the sodium in salt helps move your lymphatic system.

3.   Sit in a Steam Room

Going to a steam room helps to open up your pores and increases the circulation of blood in the outer layers of your skin. This is great for detoxifying – ridding the body of dead cells and cellular waste.

The heat will stimulate your nerve endings, opening up the capillaries and supplying blood, water and nutrients to that area.

The body uses rationing programs if you don’t have enough water in your system. This includes keeping the water for essential internal organs and keeping it away from the outer layer of your skin.

Baths, steam rooms, steaming your face and hot towels can trick the body to change its rationing process because it senses that there’s enough water to go round.

4.   Drink Alkaline Water

Drinking alkaline water will help to make the insides of your cells alkaline, which is essential for healthy cells. Alkaline water can be consumed internally or topically. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.

Acidic cells breed disease, so reducing the consumption of acid-forming foods and drinks, then replacing them for alkaline foods and alkaline water, is a good way to alkalise your body.

Related: What’s the Healthiest Water You Can Drink?

5.   Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial and as such can be consumed both internally and externally to improve the quality of your skin.

ACV is ideal for the removal of spots and blemishes, it clears the skin of daily cellular waste and external build-up which will help your skin cells breathe and be more healthy overall.

6.   Eat Green Vegetables & Fruit

Consuming a diet that is heavy in plant-based nutrition will give your cells the nutrients they need to thrive and glow. If you don’t like all that chewing, you can juice your veggies or make a fruit smoothie.

The chlorophyll in green plants contains magnesium which will encourage your skin to relax and increase blood flow.

Chlorophyll will also bring more oxygen into your system, which allows your cells to breathe.

7.   Cardiovascular Exercise

Exercise is one of the only things that will pump blood into every corner of your body (including the skin). This helps your body hydrate and oxygenate, which in turn gives your skin a radiant glow.

Movement is one of the only things that moves your lymphatic system (the sewage system of the body). Therefore to eliminate waste and hydrate your whole body, drink lots of water and exercise!

The Bottom Line

Although dehydrated skin can be irritating, there are many lifestyle changes that you can make to enhance the quality of your skin. Ensuring that you stay active and properly hydrated with quality water will go a long way to improving the quality of your skin.

Consuming high-quality salt, meanwhile, will allow water to be absorbed properly by your body, while eating a diet rich in plant-based nutrition will give your body the nourishment it needs to provide nutrients to your skin.

Following these lifestyle tips will undoubtedly go a long way towards ensuring you maintain a healthy glow.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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twentysomething man and woman cooking healthy food in kitchen

8 Incredibly Nutritious Plant Foods to Enhance Wellbeing

8 Incredibly Nutritious Plant Foods to Enhance Wellbeing

You need to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. The best way to do this is to eat a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy proteins and healthy fats, including omega-3s.

When properly prepared, plant foods have a lot to offer, and they are all amazingly nutritious in their own way.

So, we have selected eight impressive plant foods that we think possess some sterling prowess in the nutrient-density stakes. They are most definitely up there with the crème de la crème.

1) Spirulina


An amazing superfood, spirulina is beyond healthy. This ancient blue/green freshwater microalgae has a whole lot to give and is truly wondrous.

A valuable food source of the Aztecs, spirulina is produced all over the world and is commonly used as a dietary supplement. It gains its nutrient density properties from the water in which it grows, so the better the environment, the more nutritious the spirulina.

Believe it or not, this little plant is around 60% protein and is also a ‘complete protein’ – meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It’s easily broken down in the stomach and is well absorbed.

Spirulina is also high in antioxidants and carotenoids that help to fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation, protecting you from chronic disease. It’s a great source of vitamins C and E, iron, and a host of B vitamins.

Spirulina is a heavy metal detoxifier. One 2006 study successfully treated chronic arsenic poisoning in a small group of Bangladeshi patients by supplementing with 250mg spirulina and 2mg zinc twice daily for 16 weeks. 

It’s immune-modulating, and high antioxidant status is also linked to cancer prevention. Several in vitro studies have demonstrated spirulina’s ability to decrease cancer cell growth for many different cancer types, including colon and pancreatic cancers. 

It could be suitable for prevention of oral cancer too. One trial involved Indian tobacco chewers with oral leukoplakia. After giving them 1g of spirulina every day for 12 months, 45% showed complete regression of lesions compared to the placebo group.

Add to this spirulina’s potential to improve candida, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and boost energy and what’s not to like?

2) Kale


Let’s begin by saying that this delicious dark leafy green has a perfect ANDI score of 1000. What’s an ANDI score? Well, it’s the ranking of a wide assortment of plant foods on the ‘Aggregate Nutrient Density Index’ as created by Dr Fuhrman.

Kale is King and is overloaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other goodies. It’s exceptionally high in vitamin K, making it great for your bones and wound healing. 

It’s also high in vitamin C and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A). Kale’s combination of vitamin A and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin means that munching on its cruciferous leaves is excellent for your eyes.

Several studies show lutein and zeaxanthin can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts and that eating a diet high in these is great for your vision.

Related: Eye Health and Nutrition – How Diet Can Protect Your Vision

Cruciferous vegetables like kale are linked to cancer prevention. This is partly due to a group of substances called glucosinolates. These break down into biologically active compounds, including Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which have been researched for their anti-cancer effects. 

Let’s not forget that kale also has enviable anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and heart-healthy properties too, so get chomping.

3) Spinach


Spinach also ranks pretty high on the ANDI index with a ‘not to be sniffed at’ score of 707. Another valuable addition to your plant-based repertoire, spinach is packed full of a range of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

It’s brimming with flavonoid antioxidants, essential nutrients, B and C vitamins, and is a fantastic source of vitamin K, magnesium, folate and iron.

Gently cooking your spinach releases and increases its nutritional yield, including the calcium which would otherwise be bound to oxalates.

Spinach joins kale with its anti-cancer properties. This is partly due to its ability to reduce free radical damage and also the fact that it contains glycoglycerolipids. It’s rich in nitrates which can help to lower blood pressure and has other heart-protective properties too.

Spinach is fibre-rich, helping to slow the release of blood sugar while keeping you feeling fuller for longer – helping to maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes. Its abundant antioxidant profile aids immunity, reduces inflammation and protects against chronic disease.

Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin to look after your vision, and with its prolific amount of vitamin K, it also supports bone health.

4) Brussels Sprouts


This brassica is very high in nutrients. Half a cup provides 2g of protein, high amounts of vitamins C and K, a range of B vitamins and minerals.

Like kale, Brussels sprouts also have anti-cancer properties due to their glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. According to researchers, consuming Brussels sprouts can help to prevent DNA damage and reduce oxidative stress in cancerous cells. They may also help to protect against colon cancer. 

Loading up on these little balls of goodness could also reduce your risk of diabetes. This is because they are rich in alpha-lipoic acid, which can help to regulate glucose. The antioxidant effects of alpha-lipoic acid may also slow the development of diabetic complications, such as diabetic neuropathy.  

Brussels sprouts’ high levels of vitamin C help to reduce inflammation and boost immunity, while its vitamin K keeps your bones healthy. The glucosinolates may also help to protect against cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and look after your gut.

5) Carrots

These popular root vegetables come in a variety of shades, including orange, purple, deep red, and yellow. They are high in antioxidants and several nutrients. 

There’s some truth to the old wive’s tale about carrots helping you to see in the dark. They are exceptionally high in carotenoids which convert to vitamin A and protect your vision. Carrots also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which aid your eyesight too.

Carrots are high in alpha and beta-carotene. Some studies, including a 10-year one involving older men in the Netherlands, have linked the consumption of carrots to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Drinking carrot juice may also protect against heart disease by increasing antioxidant levels and reducing oxidative stress and cell damage.

The beta-carotene and polyacetylenes in carrots are also linked to cancer prevention. In 2011, an in vitro study found that leukaemia cells treated with carrot juice extracts had increased cell death, and it halted cancer progression. Beta carotenes may also reduce the risk of breast, colon and lung cancer.

The high levels of antioxidant carotenoids, vitamin C and polyphenols in carrots all help to boost immunity, lower inflammation, fight free radical damage and protect against illness and disease. Beta-carotene in carrots may also protect the brain and aid cognitive function.

6) Berries


Berries are one of the best fruits around. They are high in anthocyanins and other antioxidants and are one of the richest sources of polyphenols.

Polyphenols are plant compounds such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignans that have a wealth of health benefits. They help to protect against oxidative stress and cell damage, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

A high flavonoid intake may also contribute to a lower BMI (body mass index), helping to maintain a healthy weight. Flavonoids decrease C-reactive protein, too, which can be an indicator of chronic inflammatory conditions.

The multiple compounds and nutrients found in berries have cardioprotective effects in both healthy and chronically ill people.

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sour cherries and blackcurrants are among some of the highest antioxidant-rich plant foods. Each different type of berry has its own unique nutrient profile and strengths.

For example, raspberries contain a host of nutrients including vitamins C, E and K, manganese, copper, biotin, folate and other B vitamins, potassium and fibre. Their high vitamin C and zeaxanthin content protect the eyes from UV damage and macular degeneration.

Blueberries and strawberries offer neuroprotective effects, safeguarding the brain. They are linked to slower rates of cognitive decline in the elderly.

Related: 5 Compelling Reasons to Eat More Berries

7) Flaxseeds


These little seeds have been around for thousands of years and are bursting with goodness. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds also provide a nutritious mix of minerals including selenium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and zinc.

They also host folate, vitamin B6, iron and phosphate along with generous amounts of fibre and protein. 

So it’s no surprise that a spoonful of flaxseeds every day can do you a world of good.

Omega-3 fats have all manner of health benefits. They feed your brain, improving alertness, concentration and cognitive function and can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

They can promote eye health, protect your heart, improve insulin resistance, fight inflammation and may aid ADHD and autism.

Related: 6 Foods High in Omega-3 and Why You Should Eat More

Flax seeds contain a prolific amount of lignans (considered to be 800-fold higher than any other food). These phytoestrogens have mild oestrogenic and non-oestrogenic effects. 

Some studies support eating flax seeds for the easing of menopausal symptoms. In one pilot study, hot flashes improved in menopausal women who took 40g of crushed flaxseeds per day for five months. Lignans may even have the potential to regulate the menstrual cycle.  

Lignans also have anti-cancer properties. They may reduce the risk of breast cancer, and in one study, patients with prostate cancer took 30g flax seeds per day and had significantly reduced tumour growth.

Linseeds provide both soluble and insoluble fibre and work wonders for your digestive system, keeping things moving and encouraging timely elimination of toxins. They are high in antioxidants and have immense anti-inflammatory properties.

Flaxseeds may also improve the symptoms of diabetes, can protect  cardiovascular health and have the potential to lower blood pressure.

9) Turmeric


This member of the ginger family has been used as a spice since ancient times. Turmeric’s principal active ingredient is curcumin, and it also contains turmerones in its root. 

Turmerones aid curcumin transport and enhance its availability and benefits. These antioxidants work collectively to reduce inflammation and sensitivity to pain. 

Studies have shown the potential for turmeric /curcumin to relieve the inflammation and pain of arthritis. The antioxidants it provides help to protect your mitochondria from harm (the powerhouses of your cells) and also reduce free radical damage.

Curcumin may also help to guard against Alzheimer’s as it can help lower oxidative stress in the brain. 

Turmeric isn’t used as a spice just because of its aromatic flavour and vibrant yellow colour, but also for its calming effects on the digestive system. It could also help in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.  

Epidemiological studies have linked lower rates of cancers, notably large bowel cancers, in India to the heavy use of turmeric in the diet. Turmeric’s combination of curcuminoids and turmerones can halt the growth of breast cancer cells. Turmerones have also demonstrated an ability to stimulate the immune system.

Related: 9 Proven Turmeric Benefits for Skin, Arthritis, Diabetes & More

The bottom line


The more nutrient-dense your diet, the more healthy you will be. Eating a diverse array of nutritious foods is the best way to protect yourself from illness and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

As demonstrated, there is an abundant selection of plant foods out there to provide you with many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Several are also a great source of healthy protein.

Some foods like spirulina, soybeans and quinoa form complete proteins which provide all the essential amino acids in one perfect package. 

Plant foods also provide an abundant assortment of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which all serve their own vital purpose in your body. 

To get the best that plant foods have to offer, you need to eat a vast array of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and oils every day.

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The Power of Antioxidants: Glutathione, Vitamins, Molecular Hydrogen

The Power of Antioxidants: Glutathione, Vitamins, Molecular Hydrogen

Antioxidants are an essential component in the body's defense arsenal. They are used to fight free radicals that contribute to the pathophysiology of illness and premature aging. Free radicals can be harmful to the body if not cleaned out swiftly.

It’s important to ensure that our body has adequate amounts of antioxidants, particularly during cold and flu season. Antioxidants are found in foods as well as being produced in the body, and they are absolutely critical for health and wellbeing.

Interestingly antioxidants were initially studied in the 19th and 20th centuries for their ability to prevent metal corrosion and the fouling of fuels in combustion engines. The study of antioxidants in the human body is a relatively new approach to disease prevention and treatment.

The first antioxidants to be discovered were vitamin C and vitamin E, by Henry A. Mattill who fed whole foods to animals and found that they lived longer. We can measure the antioxidant content of foods and supplements by using the FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analysis test.

In this article, we'll explore what antioxidants are and how they work in the body; as well as taking a look at the most potent antioxidants.

How do Antioxidants Work?


Antioxidants donate electrons to unstable free radicals, which neutralises them and cancels them out.

Your body uses antioxidants to balance out free radicals. If there are too many free radicals in the body then it gets overwhelmed and this results in chronic oxidative stress.

Consuming an abundance of antioxidants is, therefore, a natural approach to combating oxidative stress and ridding the body of nasty chemicals.

IMPORTANT: Always opt for natural antioxidants as synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole are reportedly dangerous for human health.

How are Free Radicals Bad for Human Health?


Free radicals are produced as a byproduct in the body when it carries out various chemical reactions, as part of the normal metabolic processes. For example, the breakdown of food into nutrients, or the building of muscle.

All of the reactions in our body produce waste; scientists call this cellular waste “free radicals”.

Free radicals are also produced in some pathological states and by the exposure to chemicals like tobacco smoke. Free radicals are either reactive oxygen species or reactive nitrogen species.

The hydroxyl radical (HO) is a notable example of a reactive oxygen species (ROS) free radical. You’ll notice that the HO molecule is one molecule short of water (H20), the missing hydrogen molecule results in a missing bond that can attach itself to other cells in the body and cause damage.

Free radicals change the make-up of lipids, proteins and DNA, as well as triggering a number of human diseases.

The cellular damage that free radicals can do is seriously detrimental to our health. To effectively manage disease, it’s important to ensure that the body is routinely cleansed of these harmful free radicals. The best way to do this is with antioxidants.

Types of Antioxidants


The term antioxidant refers to the ability of a compound to act as a free radical scavenger. Each type of antioxidant plays an important role in the body.

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure” and antioxidants are no different: the first line of defense is the “preventive antioxidants” that suppress the formation of free radicals.

Glutathione is the best example of a preventative antioxidant.

The second line of defense is antioxidants that travel around the body scavenging active free radicals. Some are water-soluble (hydrophyilic) or fat-soluble (lipophylic). Vitamin C, uric acid, bilirubin, albumin, and thiols are all water-soluble antioxidants. Vitamin E and ubiquinol are good examples of fat-soluble antioxidants.

Plant-based foods are rich in all forms of antioxidants. You can also get artificial antioxidants. The body makes its own antioxidants called “endogenous antioxidants”. The word endogenous means that they are created inside; exogenous antioxidants come from outside the body.

The types of antioxidants found in abundance in plant foods are as follows:

  • Catechins
  • Flavonoids
  • Flavones
  • Polyphenols
  • Phytoestrogens

Berries are one of the best dietary sources of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins (flavonoids), ellagic acid and resveratrol (polyphenols).

What are the Health Benefits of Glutathione?


As stated above, glutathione is our first line of defense and an essential antioxidant. Thankfully, the body can produce glutathione – but this process can be disrupted due to stress, toxic exposure, illness or poor nutrition.

The amount of glutathione in your body can be reduced due to a lack of sleep. Glutathione can also be found in foods, taken in supplement form or administered intravenously. Glutathione is made up of three amino acids – glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.

Related: Why Take Glutathione with Vitamin C and Other Nutrients?

Glutathione can improve circulation and reduce oxidative stress, which can, in turn, help fight autoimmune disease.

Children on the autism spectrum have been found to have low levels of glutathione in their brains as well as higher levels of oxidative damage. Therefore boosting glutathione could reduce their susceptibility for further neurological damage.

Foods high in glutathione include: avocado, spinach, asparagus and okra

It’s important to note the amount of glutathione in foods reduces significantly with heating or processing.

Antioxidant Properties of Molecular Hydrogen

A more recent discovery of the beneficial antioxidant properties of molecular hydrogen (H2) has been made. Giving rise to hyperbaric hydrogen therapy being used as a treatment for metabolic syndrome, cancer and organ injury.

H(also known as dihydrogen) is a flammable, colourless, odourless gas that was previously thought to be inert in the human body. In 1975, high-pressure H2 was inhaled by animal models and a regression in tumours was found.

Related: Hydrogen-Rich Water as a Powerful Antioxidant

H2 has been studied extensively and found to have preventative and therapeutic effects on various organs of the body such as the brain, heart, pancreas, lung, and liver. H2 is a powerful mediator of oxidative stress, making it an effective contributor to disease treatment.

The Bottom Line

Although our bodies can naturally create antioxidants, this process can be disturbed by external or internal factors.

To ensure adequate antioxidants it is important to eliminate factors that reduce the number of antioxidants in our bodies such as toxins from cigarette smoke.

There is a wide range of antioxidants that can be consumed in plant-based foods. More recent discoveries of molecular hydrogen offer new and novel approaches to disease treatment and prevention.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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