It's Your Life Blog
Whether we are in lockdown or still under restrictions we know we must follow the safety guidelines and live in a way which will help our body to stay healthy.
In order to do this we can look at the way in which we eat, drink, breathe, exercise, stand, sit, think and more... During a time of uncertainty let's investigate the things we can control.
Firstly, we can be sure to remain socially distanced!
The next thing we can control is how we fuel our body, with air, water and food:
- Air : We need to breathe well. Often being certain that we are breathing in deeply and exhaling completely.
- Water : The next main fuel being water. We need to drink enough water. We are told 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day. You wouldn't run your car without enough fuel so why would you run your body without the fuel it needs? Ensuring you have a "full tank" will let the body work like the beautiful engine it is.
- Food : The next thing we can control is our food, again we have to ensure our "engine" is getting the correct ingredients for it to run properly. The inner workings of the digestive tract for this engine are the microbiota which form the microbiome of our gut. Looking after this microbiome by feeding it the right nutrients at the right time will help us in many different ways. Also, if we learn to work with, not against, our natural body clock it will make all the difference in how we feel. Most living things work with body clocks, naturally responding to the light and dark signals brought about by the sun in a 24-hour cycle, the rhythms of nature. New findings are linking "gut microbiota - circadian clock and the nutritional environment" with health and wellbeing.
Think to live with the rhythms of the body. The body clock, circadian rhythm, is conducting various physical, mental and behavioural changes which are prompting us to know when we are naturally ready to get up and go, and when to calmly relax or sleep. The most effective way is to plan and enjoy our day to work in conjunction with our natural body clock, starting to allow some daily repetition of this repeat almost to stick to a daily routine. If we do this, we can begin to naturally boost our energy and encourage all the body's essential functions and processes to work at their best. For instance, if we set 3 well-spaced meal times for each day. To eat well at the meals, then decide to eat nothing for a while, we will be giving the digestive system time to digest the food. This is working with the body's rhythm, eating with respect. Conversely: if, when the meal is really over, we continue eating, or graze this might exhaust the body, a disruption for the gut microbiota to manage. The body likes the routine, the reliable daily repetitions.
To think not only about WHAT we do each day but also WHEN we do things.
Stresses: For us humans, the body clock's own routine is being massively disturbed by man-made things such as: smart phones, work pressures, eating late at night and modern life generally getting in the way. Important sometimes to think away from all of that, to give yourself 5 minutes to enjoy the sunshine outside or a walk in the fresh air .. your body will thank you for it.
Once we begin to notice just how many functions the body is carrying out and synchronising, very often without us even consciously noticing, we can almost applaud the body. The body's biological clock is in control. It is running in the background, linked to everything from our sleep, to hunger, eating habits, body temperature, hormone release, metabolism, the heart function, mental health and our immune system. Helping us to live well, 24/7.
Our actions during the day affect our sleep, making a real difference to the number of hours we sleep and to our sleep's quality. Making it more important than ever to make your own routine for you and your body to live in line with your body clock.
Actions we can control
WHEN WE SLEEP .. if we can arrange to go to bed and to sleep early enough that we can have 8 hours or longer and if we repeat this each night, this is beneficial for our health.
Against the body clock : If we decide to live in a way which is fighting against the clock the body adapts, it re-sets its clock and, although this is sometimes necessary, for instance for travel to a different time zone or if we are working on a night shift or if there is an hour change made to the time of the clock, if it is not necessary and we are constantly asking the body to re-set its body clock this might not be ideal, especially if the change is happening just because we want to watch TV or be on the Internet or whatever .. especially not ideal if it keeps us awake until the early hours.
USE AND ENJOY THE DAYLIGHT HOURS .. As humans we are healthiest if we use our awake hours to be alert, to exercise and breathe well, to maintain good posture, to drink plenty of fresh water, to provide our body with good nourishment, good nutrition.
ROUTINE .. Once we have set our routine, the body can become accustomed to it, begin to trust it. Choose the meal times, certain times, each day. Such that the body becomes naturally hungry and talks to the mind of its hunger, when the chosen meal time is approaching. As the trust between the hunger, the meal time and the choice of ingredients being eaten at those meals builds it might be that quite rapidly there can be a lowering or an elimination of food cravings. Repeating the routine, daily. It takes 21 days to form a habit. For the body to know and rely on the routine .. to be used to it, to work with it.
Now we have chosen our WHEN we eat, lets look at the best WHAT we eat.. to provide the body with the nourishment, the ingredients, it needs to work well.
For a second think again about the car, when we re-fuel the car we are certain to put in the correct fuel, we also know not to overfill the tank .. in the same way we can be careful about how we fuel our body, to start noticing closely what foods we eat and when. Deciding what to eat at each meal, to eat until full then to stop eating for a while.
With today's most recent knowledge about NUTRITION it is clear that to eat well we should eat with THE HEALTH OF OUR GUT in mind.
What to eat for a healthy gut?
The intestine is home to a vast concentration of microbes: bacteria, yeasts, millions of micro-organisms, this concentration is called our MICROBIOME. The Microbiome is unique to each of us and plays an important role, not only in digesting our food but also in keeping us healthy. The health of the Microbiome represents our health. A healthy microbiome is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. Sam Wong in the New Scientist: “For the Microbiome to be happy we must eat a wide range of plant-based foods, plenty of vegetables, pulses, beans, whole grains. To eat this way, with diversity in the plant-based elements in our weekly diet, brings a wider range of bacteria to the gut. Different microbes, each playing their part in immunity and health .. a healthy Microbiome. Your Microbiome is a big part of who you are.”
If anyone is quarantined or self-isolating there are frozen and canned plant food options.
To ensure that the good bacteria in the gut are reproducing, and to ensure that these bacteria are being well fed, we need to be eating Probiotic and Prebiotic foods:
- Probiotics are live bacteria, live cultures, which help support a healthy digestion and immune function, helping the immune system produce more good bacteria and tackle bad bacteria. We can add to the number of good bacteria in the microbiome by regularly eating food which contains probiotic cultures or by taking a Probiotic Supplement. Consuming probiotic/fermented food regularly. See examples of probiotic foods.
- Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fibre which, when eaten, encourage and feed the good bacteria (the probiotics) in the gut. The prebiotics can give energy to the probiotics. Prebiotics are found in many, but not all, fruit and vegetables, especially those which contain complex carbohydrates. All prebiotic food is fibrous but not all fibrous food is prebiotic. See examples of prebiotic foods.
Probiotics and prebiotics working together to maintain healthy bacteria in the Microbiome. Eating some of both to help maintain a healthy digestive system, helping us to keep our Microbiome happy, helping us thrive and live well.
As stated by Dr Michael Mosley: "Eating balanced amounts of both prebiotic and probiotic foods can ensure you have the right balance of these bacteria. Good for health. Good for sleep."
What to eat?
Now let's look at which foods to have in our 3 meals a day, for our bodies to function well. Knowing we are now going to eat in the modern way which is to think about our Microbiome, we want the good bacteria to be reproducing and to be well fed. So, to include some probiotic and some prebiotic foods. Many people are already doing this without even knowing the words probiotic or prebiotic! Let the 3 meals a day be breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The NHS Eat Well Guide suggests a good variety of foods, SOMETHING FROM EACH FOOD CATEGORY, NOTICE THE PERCENTAGE OF THE VEGETABLES/ SALAD IN THE DAILY DIET - showing clearly how important vegetables are as a major part of our daily diet, encouraging us to eat more fibre, to eat lean protein, some oils/spreads and some fruit. Follow the chart as you decide upon and prepare your 3 meals a day. As you choose your ingredients, now taking care to include vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, yogurt .. you will see that you are eating a balanced diet and are including prebiotic and probiotic foods. Including at dinner, then a space to wind down for the night with the rhythm of your body clock, so that the Microbiome is happy for the night.
Frozen and canned vegetables are very available. Great to always have some of these in stock. Especially if you are self isolating or quarantined. Enjoy the colours, the flavours and the recipes you can make with plant food.
Each night, the body cleanses itself, it rejuvenates, ready to start the day afresh ..
In the morning, I drink plenty of water, then I take 15ml of MODERE's Mineral Classic plus I take Protozymes, Durian and Aloe Vera. Then I have my breakfast which is normally an oat porridge or muesli with some seeds, some almonds and berries or other fruit and a cup of green tea. This is the first of my three meals a day. At lunch plenty of green veg or salad with protein .. perhaps with some soup .. dinner similar to yet smaller than lunch with veg and protein, then for dessert at dinner I usually have some full fat, live, natural yogurt with some almonds, perhaps a chopped banana, a couple of dates and a small glass of Kefir.
For more information please see my It's Your Life Way to Eat.
At each meal chew well .. eat until full then stop eating. Breakfast, lunch and a light supper. After each meal of the 3 meals each day eat nothing for a while .. Let the body's digestive system do its work uninterrupted .. respecting the body, recognising the natural hunger cycles, the natural ebb and flow of the energy, working with the body clock. Also, let the body's natural balance say when it is really hungry, be ready to listen. Our bodies are governed by our body clock and its natural link to the day/night rotation of the sun.
Having learned about the Microbiome and our wish to keep it healthy even in the evening .. perhaps some hummus or some lentils with a little rice or a rice cake. Or natural yogurt with a few natural almonds.
In the evening ... if having take away or fast food .. take care as fast food doesn't always contain vegetables .. hunt for salad and vegetables .. hunt for fibre.
Particular note: We are advised to steer away from, or minimise the consumption of, highly processed, high-sugar foods. Think - care for the gut - minimise such disturbance to the gut .. think of the Microbiome and its need to function well.
The Mayo Clinic states: "the healthier your Microbiome, the healthier you are". Also saying "the key to a healthy Microbiome is nourishing a balance - helping the microbes which are already in the gut to grow by giving them the foods they like (Prebiotic) and adding living microbes directly to your system (Probiotic). Everyone has their own individual Microbiome, each one is different".
Try to eat well at meal times. Being sure to eat well at breakfast, lunch with a light supper, to chew well then to stop eating for a while. Let the body's natural balance say when it is really hungry, be ready to listen. This is a good balance for the body, a balance with which it can work and rest well as it brings some space for the body's naturally calming rhythms to let the mind know when it is hungry, in particular to recognise when the body clock is calming in the evening, clearly letting us know when it is time to eat some supper/dinner and when it is time to stop eating.
The Research about health and the Microbiome is continuing .. this year, 2020, during the last lockdown, John Cryan at University College Cork, Ireland and his colleagues, wrote, in Cell Metabolism, about their current knowledge on the microbiota-gut-brain relationship, showing how gut bacteria and circadian rhythms act together to influence health and disease. They noted that many gut bacteria exhibit oscillatory behaviour in response to the time of day and time of eating. It is now thought that gut bacteria tell us when we are full, asking us to stop eating.
To live with a personal routine, to have fun, to organise and enjoy eating, choosing foods which satisfy our taste buds, being sure to eat plenty of plant based foods. As Michael Moseley says: "Look after the Microbiome and it will look after you".
Think of 2 cars which are about to set off on a beautiful journey .. The first car has been and is being looked after with utmost care and attention, it is going to drive smoothly and elegantly along the highway, the second car is the old banger that's coughing and spluttering on its way down the road… Which one would you rather drive? Fuel your body as if you were fuelling your dream car.
I hope you have a good few weeks. Please email with any questions. I am SueB, I eat without wheat, I eat the IYL Way .. I am certainly taking note to up the amount of fibrous fruit and fibrous vegetables and salad .. am now introducing some beans and pulses into almost every meal .. for my dessert at supper I shall continue to eat full fat, natural, live yogurt with a few almonds and have a glass of the delicious Kefir.
Plus, as soon as I see the sun come out, I am being sure to step outside for a moment or two! Keep smiling, keep dancing! Stay safe.
Happy Winter 2020.
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