4 tips for a healthier, longer life
Updated: Feb 3
Experts agree, quick-fix regimes are set to fail.
Dry January and Veganuary can inspire and do your body a lot of good but if you don't use this as a starting point to re-adjust your relationship to alcohol and food, what happens when February hits?
Helthier habits just need to become a way of life
Permanent health benefits require permanent dietary and liestyle change.
Here are my top tips for the healthiest, longest life.
1) Intermittent fasting.
Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6/8-hour window during the day and fasting for 16/18 hours (mainly during sleep, and for a few hours in the evening and morning) can trigger a change in metabolism leading to increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and diabetes.
It is probably the most popular fitness trend at the moment as people do find it easier to stick to an eating pattern than to a diet. And it's effective.
When you fast:
-the levels of growth hormone increase helping you lose weight and gain muscle mass
-insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible and losing weight easier. This also decreases your chance to develop type 2 diabetes
-your cells initiate cellular repair processes essential to prevent many diseases
- you improve the expressions of genes related to longevity and protection against illness
If 18 hours without food feels too much, start with a 12-hours overnight break and work your way up to at least 14 hours.
2) Eat (mostly) a Mediterranean-low glycemic index (GI) diet.
The Mediterranean diet has long been linked with greater health and longevity and reduced mortality for coronary heart disease, cancers and diabetes. The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Poultry, eggs and fish are eaten in moderation (weekly), red meat only occasionally. Olive oil is the primary source of added fat.
A low GI diet is very useful if you want to control your weight and prevent diabetes and heart disease. That’s because it improves blood sugar and insulin control and helps manage cholesterol levels. The effect of stabilising blood sugar levels should also mean you feel improvements in energy, mood and concentration levels.
How can I make my Mediterranean diet a 'Low GI' one?
Generally, the less processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a low-GI score.
Foods that are white, including processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, tend to have a high-GI. These include pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, baked goods and sugary drinks.
High fiber foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits take longer to digest and therefore produce a slower rise in blood sugar levels. They are the foundation of the Mediterranean diet and have a low Glycemic Index. High protein foods such as fish, eggs, poultry, meat, tofu, beans lentils are also low-GI
3) Take care of your microbiota
Gut microbes are key to many aspects of human health including immune, metabolic and neurobehavioural traits. Several studies have shown that diversity is key. Low bacterial diversity increases the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, coeliac disease, obesity and arterial stiffness. Numerous studies have reported changes in the gut microbiota during not only obesity, diabetes, and liver diseases but also cancer and even neurodegenerative diseases.
Here's the rule to maintain a healthy gut flora:
Eat Lots of Vegetables, Legumes, Beans. They are high in fiber. Fiber promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Eat Fermented Foods such as yoghurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha. They enhance the function and composition of the microbiota.
Stay away from artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin) and food additives (such as emulsifiers) they reduce microbial diversity.
Beware of gluten-free diets. Unless celiac or gluten-sensitive, keep gluten in your diet as going gluten-free lower the abundance of several key beneficial microbe species.
Eat organic as much as possible: antibiotics used on animals as well as pesticides and other chemicals commonly sprayed on foods harm the gut microbiome.
Beware of common over the counter antacids. Proton pump inhibitors (Nexium 24HR, Prevacid 24HR, and Prilosec) have major effects on the microbial community, which could explain higher rates of gastrointestinal infection in people taking these drugs.
4) Gently detox from time to time
A Healthy detoxification system is critical for good health.
Many diseases are connected to impaired detoxification, including skin prblems, asthma and allergies, migraines, autoimmune disease and cancer.
Your liver is not the only detoxification organ (digestive system, skin, kidneys, lungs, also play an important part) but it's like the sun in the galaxy of detox, tirelessly filtering toxins in the blood coming from your gastro-intestinal tract before allowing it to enter the rest of the body.
When the liver is overburdened it cannot filter out the poisons in the blood properly, leaving you feeling tired, sluggish and generally unwell. You will also be more prone to colds, infections and depression.
Your metabolism becomes sluggish making it much more difficult to lose weight.
Substances and factors overworking the liver are alcohol, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, smoking, chemicals, improper digestion, repressed emotions, overeating, refined carbohydrates (like sugar) processed fats (found in packaged foods), fast foods, takeaways, low fibre intake (insufficient fruit & veg intake, processed grains), eating when stressed or eating in a hurry.
As you can see, it's easy to overburden the liver.
A detox diet generally involves eating a simple diet with ample amount of detox-friendly foods and herbs, along with plenty of water, detoxifying herbal teas, vegetables, low sugar fruits and pulses.
I'm not talking about a severe detox but a gentle programme allowing the slow release of toxins from our bodies. You can choose the duration. Four weeks is ideal but even a few days will produce a positive effect.
DETOX FRIENDLY FOODS
Bitter vegetables: artichoke, lettuce, escarole, radicchio, rocket salad, bitter greens, bitter melon
Diuretic vegetables: dandelion, parsley, burdock, celery
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, kale, watercress, cabbage, bok choy, Brussel sprouts
Citrus fruits: lemon, oranges, clementines, grapefruit
Garlic and onions
Flax and chia seeds
Culinary spices especially turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper
Yellow dock root.
Common food allergens: milk, nuts, shellfish, soy, peanuts, eggs (the list may be different for each of us)
Remember to eat adequate amounts of protein, though- it is important for liver function (and for detoxification!). Get it from pulses, seeds, wild-caught salmon/sea-food, organic chicken or a high quality, sugar-free protein powder.
Take at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
Ensure it is gentle, such as walking, as you may feel tired and lethargic during the first 3 days
Make sure you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night
If you wish to discuss a personalised 4 weeks detox diet you can contact me here