As we say goodbye to the sun-kissed days of summer and welcome those cosy autumn days, it's the perfect time to re-evaluate and rejuvenate our wellness routines. I’m sharing my go-to wellness habits that make me feel my best, as a registered Nutritional Therapist. There’s nothing complicated about these practices, I am a true believer in focusing on the basics for long term health and wellbeing.
1. Hydration First Thing
Most of us wake up dehydrated, so after hours of sleep it’s important to rehydrate – water is essential to many bodily functions, including digestion. I slowly sip two to three glasses of water at room temperature as soon as I wake up.
2. Sleep is Key
Sleep is the cornerstone of good health. It's the time when our body repairs, rejuvenates, and resets. A consistent sleep routine ensures hormonal balance, improved mood, and optimal cognitive function. I aim for 8 hours of quality sleep each night - for that to happen I make sure I am in bed by 10pm. I like my bedroom to be dark, quiet and free from distractions.
3. The Magic of Morning Light
Our body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is influenced by natural light. Exposure to natural light in the morning helps regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for sleep. Morning light signals the body to halt melatonin production, helping you feel awake and alert. This synchronisation with the natural light-dark cycle aids in maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. I try to get out of the house within 30 minutes of waking up - this is much easier to do during spring and summer but consistency is key!
4. The Breakfast Boost
Breakfast is the fuel that kick starts our day. A high-protein breakfast not only keeps you satiated but also stabilises blood sugar levels, ensuring sustained energy throughout the day. Despite its importance, from clinical experience, I find that protein is often overlooked by women. For breakfast I like to have an egg white omelette with veggies for its protein value, Greek yoghurt with fruits, nuts and seeds, or a well-balanced protein smoothie, using Free Soul’s Vegan Protein Blend, if I am short for time.
5. The Strength in Heavy Lifting
Exercise, especially heavy lifting, has profound effects on metabolic health. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and plays a significant role in glucose metabolism. To make sure I don’t miss my workouts, I schedule them in my diary just like I do with work meetings, clients and other responsibilities. I do weight training three times per week, lifting as heavy as I can.
6. Plant-Power and Balanced Meals
Every meal is an opportunity to nourish your body. I prioritise a plant-oriented diet, rich in fibre, healthy fats and good quality protein. A plant-oriented diet, in particular, offers a myriad of benefits for gut health. Plants are rich in dietary fibre, which acts as a prebiotic, feeding the beneficial bacteria in our gut. These bacteria, in turn, produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which have anti-inflammatory properties and play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. Moreover, a diverse intake of plants introduces a variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants that support overall health. By consuming a range of colourful vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, I am not only supporting my gut microbiome but also fortifying my body against oxidative stress and inflammation.
7. Meal Spacing to Beat The Bloat
Spacing meals allows for the complete digestion of food and one of the primary benefits of allowing time between meals is the prevention of bloating. When we eat back-to-back meals or snack frequently, our digestive system can become overwhelmed, leading to incomplete digestion.
Undigested food particles in the gut can ferment, producing gas and leading to that uncomfortable bloated feeling. Meal spacing allows the 'migrating motor complex' (MMC) to work, a series of electrical waves that move through the gut in a regular cycle during fasting. The MMC helps to clear out undigested food and bacteria from the stomach and small intestines. Without adequate spacing between meals, the MMC cannot function optimally, potentially leading to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, further contributing to bloating and other digestive issues. I aim to space my meals out by 4 hours.
8. Mindful Breaks
In our fast-paced world, it's essential to pause and reconnect with ourselves. Whether it's deep breathing, meditation, or simply enjoying a cup of herbal tea, I try to find moments in my day to centre myself. Chronic stress has a direct impact on our gut health. When we're stressed, our body releases cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can alter gut motility, leading to constipation and/or diarrhoea. Furthermore, stress can compromise the integrity of the gut lining, making it more permeable and leading to what's commonly referred to as intestinal hyper-permeability (aka leaky gut). This increased permeability allows undigested food particles and bacteria to enter the bloodstream, potentially triggering inflammation and immune responses.
Additionally, our gut and brain are intricately connected through the gut-brain axis. Stress can disrupt the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut, which in turn can impact our mood and mental well-being. Elevated cortisol can also lead to inflammation, impaired cognitive function, and metabolic disturbances. By taking mindful breaks and managing stress, I am not only supporting my mental health but also fostering a healthier gut environment.
Written by Marilia Chamon
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Gut Health, IBS & SIBO Expert
Founder of Gutfulness Nutrition