Saturday, 10 October 2009

Don't be SAD this winter

As winter starts to draw in, you may notice everyone around you start to pick up the sniffles, runny noses, hacking coughs, feelings of tiredness and lethargy. But don't be SAD, the good news is, it doesn't have to be this way and no the answer doesn't lie in using a SAD lamp either!

What the doctor should order, is a balanced nutritious diet of vegetables and as much raw food stuff as possible. This combined with a sensible and sustainable exercise program will see you through to March 2010, ready and wanting to reveal your beach body mid Spring.

Quite simply, when the winter comes, we tend to become more lethargic and easily distracted from that run, from that visit to the gym.....dark mornings, dark would rather cuddle up in front of the fireplace and watch some good TV of an evening.
It is the body's natural response to want to slow down a little in the winter and we may all put a few pounds on over the season of excess. But it can be done sensibly and there is no need to pile on a stone or more in weight over this period....we are talking 3-4lbs at the very most! Adopting a more vegan approach to diet would aid in regulating your weight, even without exercise!

In truth we would really benefit from solving the issue of winter lethargy from grass-roots upwards.
We need to nourish our bodies firstly and change our mind sets to motivate ourselves to boost our metabolism.

It can be tough if you lead a busy life, to fit 'me time' in, especially if you have children....but what use are you as a parent to your kids if you are completely burnt out or lethargic, or dare I say it...full of cold and flu?! A pragmatic approach is required that will allow a sustainable level and quality of exercise and diet, without compromising your immune system and boosting your willingness to exercise throughout the winter period.

I see so many people over-training. The effects of this are not always so evident in the summer months. However over - training can suppress the immune-system and deplete the bodies mineral and vitamin resources, such as vitamin D stored over the summer months, not forgetting vitamin C. Thus in turn
leaving your liver over worked and your immune system weakened and prone to infection.

All this scare mongering of Swine Flu is nonsense....we as humans have the most amazing auto-immune system that should be so strong, that it could defend itself and adapt itself to ward off any threat to it. But it is modern day diet that is compromising peoples ability to deal with such issues, causing such hype over
Swine Flu and such like.

So really we should be looking at what foods are available that could help to underpin our immune systems over the winter period:

The Good Foods

Whole grains: Brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat (kasha), oats, barley, and other whole grains are a valuable source of the vitamins, minerals and fibre that are an essential part of keeping the immune system healthy. Fibre helps cleanse the colon of toxins and helps prevent intestinal infections.

Intact whole grains, not the flour products made from them are what really strengthen the digestive system. Cooked grains make a great breakfast or a substitute for pasta, white rice or white potatoes.

Vegetables: Eat as many vegetables as you can. These are really the immune-boosting heavyweights. They are the best source of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are known to protect the body against many diseases, including cancer. Especially try to have dark leafy greens, such as kale and collard greens. And include as many of the yellow and orange vegetables as possible for beta carotene, an important anti-oxidant. Broccoli, carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes are also great for satisfying the sweet tooth healthily.

Fresh fruit: Providing the same benefits as vegetables, fruits can be eaten as snacks, separate from protein for better digestion. Berries are particularly noted for their cancer preventative abilities. Fruit though is very high in sugar, so large quantities should be avoided, especially tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, etc. If you are prone to yeast infections (thrush, candida), avoid fruit juices, since the high concentration of sugar promotes the growth of yeast in the digestive system. If you must drink a fruit juice, choose ones which have the fibrous 'bits' in them.

Protein: Protein is important for maintaining rapid production of cells to support the immune system, preventing loss of lean muscle mass and boosting energy. For those of us that choose a vegan/veggie plant based diet protein sources would include, lentils, Quinoa, Tofu (in moderation), handful of nuts and seeds and chick peas for example.

For those carnivores amongst us, have plenty of fish, especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for building the body's immune
response. These include salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and tuna; flax seeds are an important source of this nutrient.
Dairy products are not the best protein source since they create digestive problems for many people, such as excess gas, loose stools, mucous and congestion. Yeast infections and thrush also thrive on dairy. Vegetarian sources of protein include soy products such as tofu and tempeh, and beans and
legumes, having the added benefit of fiber, which animal foods do not provide.

Other helpful foods include onions, garlic (unless you are having liver problems), ginger, and turmeric (a spice that is a good anti-inflammatory).
Small quantities of fresh almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources for zinc and healthy fats.

Water: This is essential for regulating all of the body's systems. It eases the job of the kidneys and liver to process and eliminate toxins from the blood. It helps keep mucous membranes moist enough to combat the viruses they encounter. And it is a little known tool for reducing sugar cravings. Sugar
cravings are often a sign of dehydration. If you find yourself craving carbs/sugar, drink a big glass of water, wait a few minutes and see if the need for the sugar is really still there.

Water, as well as other beverages, really should not be ice cold. Your body will have to use a lot of energy to warm it up to approx 98.6 degrees F, it tries so hard to maintain. Try to have 4 to 5 glasses of pure water every day, with additional water from fruits and preparation.
Over consumption of water can lead to excess Sodium intake, especially in bottled water.

Supplements: Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and herbs are an important part of making sure your nutritional needs are met. But taking a lot of supplements while maintaining a poor diet will not have the desired effects. As shop bought vitamins are usually full of chalk, barely digestible, or unrecognized by
the body, we should source our daily requirement from natural soil grown Organic foods......there is no need for any additional supplementation in the modern diet. Anyone that says, you must take a supplement, probably just bought a franchise to profit from them. We can source all of our requirements naturally. See Dr Doug Graham's web sites

Basic things to avoid:

Coffee: is the single worst thing you can pump into your body over the winter, it is an artificial stimulant and will leave you craving more of it. it is simply a drug. Not to mention the 200 plus chemicals that are found in coffee, caffeine (1,3,7 trimethylxanthine) is the primary reason for its consumption. Caffeine is both a central nervous system (CNS) and metabolic stimulant, affecting neurotransmitter function (adenosine, dopamine, serotonin, adrenergic, muscarinic, and nicotinic receptors) and endocrine function (ACTH, cortisol, insulin, gastric acid, epinephrine, and free fatty acid levels).

So avoid caffeine and sugar crashes....switch to a peppermint or herbal tea and reap the rewards!

Excess fat consumption: Regulation of fat intake, whether animal or plant based will help maintain a healthy and efficient pancreas insulin response. Thus aiding the effect of sugar level imbalances. I have found doctor M Klapers video so helpful in understanding this concept. See Doctor Klaper's Video.
Over training: As explained previously, pounding the streets 5 days a week, 10 miles a day, is not the answer to maintaining a healthy body, more over a recipe for disaster in the winter months especially. Exercise moderately, at a pace that is comfortable to you for a mimimum 25 mins, 3 times per week.....Dr Doug Graham recommends hill running to reduce impact stress damage on the joints....especially if you are jogging/power walking on hard surfaces as the loading pressure on knee joints can be measured in tons, especially running downhill!

A trip to the gym to load and stimulate your muscle groups is very highly recommended also. Blood flow and circulation/Blood Pressure will all benefit as a result. For best results, you really need to limit your time at the gym to one hour maximum per session and cardio would be better done outdoors. The less time spent in the gym will result in a want and desire to go back time and time again......rather than fall by the wayside.

Hope this helps you over the winter months.

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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Obesity and sleep deprivation link

Obesity and insomnia have been medically linked. Research also shows that getting too much sleep, or irregular sleep (less than six hours or more than nine per night), can lead to fat deposits in the belly. Over seventy five percent of people claim to have difficulty sleeping (according to the National Sleep Foundation).

61% of Americans are now considered overweight. Recent studies have now shown a link between sleep, hormones and weight loss.

The prime culprits could be hormones. The hunger signals in your brain are controlled by two hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your brain when it is time to eat, and leptin tells your brain when you are full. When you are fatigued, ghrelin levels in your blood increase and leptin levels decrease. A recent study showed a 5% increase in body weight in those who slept less than three hours a night.

The National Center for Health Statistics conducted a survey of over 87,000 adults over the two year period from 2004 to 2006. Going door-to-door, they confirmed that obesity and sleep loss were linked. One third of the people who slept less than six hours were obese, while only 22% of those who slept the normal seven or eight hours were obese.

Children show the same results and suffer the same statistical link between sleep and obesity. Sleep deprivation has also linked obesity in teens to fibromyalgia. Teens who sleep less tend to be overweight, especially if they are deprived of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that is associated with dreaming. Thirteen percent of teens are overweight. This increases their risk for heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as sleep apnea.

A recent report in ScienceDaily magazine linked truck drivers and truck crashes to sleep apnea caused by obese commercial truck drivers. Obstructive sleep apnea is common in the 15 million commercial truck drivers. It is suspected that as many as two to three million truck drivers may have apnea, a condition that is also attributed to causing hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. A report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that truck drivers who have sleep apnea increase their risk for causing a car accident by seven-fold. Over 450 drivers were involved in the study.

Science continues to find links between sleep and obesity, which leads to a simple conclusion. Increasing exercise and dieting may not only help with weight loss, it may also help you sleep. And visa versa. A good night's sleep may help you lose weight.