Winter Immune System Health

As the winter season begins to settle in it becomes all the more important that we pay attention to the health of our immune systems. Consciously supporting your immune system should be seen as giving yourself a helping hand to stay healthy through the winter, and always close to the top of your priority list! 

There are several small things that you can do to give this aspect of your health a boost, and doing so can not only protect your body from illness, but will also help you to maintain your positive mood. When we begin to get ill our happiness can suffer, and this can lead to increased levels of stress as we struggle to find the energy and the motivation to get things done. This can become a cyclic problem as higher levels of stress can further compromise the immune system!

Get to Bed

Getting enough sleep can sometimes feel impossible. We all have our different reasons for not always getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep at night – but whatever your reason, it is important for the health of your immune system that you work to resolve the problem.

You can try going to bed earlier, avoiding caffeine or other dietary stimulants in the evening, meditating before bed and creating a more peaceful sleeping environment for yourself.

Eat for Digestive Health

The health of your digestive system is closely connected to your immune system function, and this is something I discussed in my previous article on Gut Health and your Diet.

Cutting out highly processed foods and those that are high in sugar is a great place to start. Additionally, taking a daily probiotic can help to encourage the presence of good bacteria in the gut.

Want to learn more about how eating more plant-based foods can enhance your health in other ways too? Click here now to check out my starter guide!

Pay Attention to Vitamin D

Vitamin D is most commonly known for its role is protecting bone health, but it is also important for the health of your immune system. Your body naturally creates vitamin D from the sun, and getting outside into the sunshine is a simple way to make sure you are producing enough. However, this can become a problem during the winter months due to the grey weather and shorter days.

Fortunately, many foods are fortified with vitamin D and it also occurs naturally in quite a range of foods. Therefore making the extra effort to include vitamin D rich produce during the colder months will help to keep your immune system functioning properly.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Spotting the Signs of Ill Health

Staying on top of your health is super important if you are to help to lower your risk of illness and maintain your energy levels. You may initially think that this is quite difficult to do, especially given the large amounts of conflicting advice in regards to health and wellness. However, there are some key things that you can look out for! Continue reading Spotting the Signs of Ill Health

Three Leafy Green Pesto

My Three Leafy Green Pesto recipe is something that you can easily throw together yourself in less than ten minutes from start to finish! It is also bursting with nutrients, meaning you can use it as your delicious go-to dip on those days when you feel you need an extra burst of goodness! Personally, I love making it for dinner parties! Continue reading Three Leafy Green Pesto

Gut Health and Your Diet

In recent years there has been an emergence of research that has shown just how important the health of the gut is! When your digestive system isn’t doing its thing, all other areas of your health can soon become compromised. Continue reading Gut Health and Your Diet

Let’s Talk About Gluten

There is a divide in opinion when it comes to gluten, but the truth is that some people may unnecessarily be cutting it out of their diet! With all of the information on the topic it can be hard to know what is best for you. So, today let’s talk about gluten to see if your health could benefit from addressing your consumption.  Continue reading Let’s Talk About Gluten

White Bean Dip

If you haven’t discovered my YouTube channel yet then don’t worry! I am going to be bringing the videos from my channel straight to you here on my blog!

Today I want to share my recent White Bean Dip Recipe video! This dish takes less than ten minutes to create and is great for serving as a side during a dinner party, or also just as a snack for one!

Several of the ingredients in my White Bean Dip, such as the garlic and olive oil, are fantastic for providing your body with the energy that it needs, as well as being helpful for protecting the immune system. Additionally, the cannellini beans are an amazing source of fibre, making them great for weight loss and optimum digestion.

Turmeric is one of my star ingredients and is something that I try to include in my diet every single day. One of the best things about turmeric is that it is super anti-inflammatory, meaning it can keep levels of inflammation in the body at a positive level. It also helps to protect against the onset of certain health conditions, such as some types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and liver damage.

Ingredients:

400g cannellini beans
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of turmeric
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
Pumpkin Seeds
Pistachios

Method:

Take the canned cannellini beans and drain the water before adding them to your food processor with a quarter cup of olive oil. You can then add in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, the teaspoon of turmeric, the minced garlic and the chopped ginger.

Blitz the contents of your food processor until your dip has the consistency of hummus. You can then scoop it out and place it into a bowl to serve. Top with pistachios and pumpkin seeds and you are good to go!

My YouTube channel is packed full of recipes, yoga, lifestyle advice, self-care tips and more! Click here to head there now and subscribe to be the first to know when new videos are released!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Roasted Chickpea, Cucumber and Purple Sprouting Broccoli Salad

Salads aren’t dishes that are often associated with the winter weather, however, this one is not only incredibly filling but also full of the kind of goodness that helps to keep you healthy and smiling through the cold season. Sprouting broccoli is an ingredient that I have used once before on my blog but you may not be all that familiar with it. Growing during the winter and sprouting during the spring, this colourful vegetable is a great way to add nutrition and character to any meal. However, it is chickpeas that are the true nourishment bringer of this dish.

A cup of chickpeas only contains 4 grams of fat and absolutely none of it is the bad kind! Add to that, that they provide a decent dose of fibre and can help to lower bad cholesterol levels whilst improving digestive health. When you eat chickpeas your red blood cells benefit hugely as they are full of folate which is essential for the development of these cells.

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To make this salad for two people, you’ll need the following ingredients:

For the salad:

250g of purple sprouting broccoli
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp of paprika
2 tsp of cumin
1 small cucumber
A handful of corianderFor the dressing:A handful of coriander
1/2 an avocado
A small handful of pitted olives
1 tbsp of tahini
1 clove of garlic, crushed
7 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
The juice of 1 lemon

Firstly, bring a pot of water to the boil and blanche the broccoli for 2-3 minutes. Whilst you’re doing so, pre-heat your oven to 180C and then spread your chickpeas out on a baking tray. Take the pre-measured paprika and cumin and sprinkle over the chickpeas. You can then place the baking tray into the oven for approximately 25 minutes. Remember to put the broccoli to one side on a large bowl once it is blanched.

Whilst you’re waiting for the chickpeas to cook, chop your cucumber into small chunks and add it into the bowl with the broccoli. As soon as the chickpeas are ready, you can add them into this bowl also.
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The dressing is equally as simple to make as all you have to do is chuck everything into your blender and blitz until you have a smooth mixture.

As soon as you have the broccoli, chickpeas and cucumber in the same bowl, you can serve onto two separate dishes and top with the salad dressing. Add a generous amount of coriander to the top of this and your salad is ready to eat!

Five Steps to Improving Digestive Health

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to achieve the body you want. Even when coupled with exercise, there are several things that you might be doing to sabotage your diet attempts. If you are serious about your health then it is important that you follow the following five rules. You’ll soon be on track for the results you want! Continue reading Five Steps to Improving Digestive Health

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Oils?

Oil can be a big problem to dieters and it is something that I recommend all of my clients try to use less off if they are trying to lose those last 5 – 10 pounds. The harsh reality is that cooking oils are highly processed using manufacturing methods that are highly destructive to oil molecules.

According to Udo Erasmus, author of the book Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, oils are typically pressed or solvent extracted from seeds and nuts, using a process where they are de-gummed, refined, bleached, and deodorized. The thing about this process that many people don’t realize is that valuable ‘minor ingredients’ including antioxidants, phytosterols, chlorophyll, flavor molecules, color molecules, lecithin, and other oil-soluble beneficial molecules are removed too.

how_do_you_solve_a_problem_like_oils_theflexifoodieWhat we just discussed applies to the cooking oils you may purchase in a store, or find in packaged food, or consume in French fries from a fast food restaurant. But what about when you cook at home with something like olive oil? Unfortunately, olive oil has a fatty acid composition (largely Omega-9) that’s NOT highly resistant to high heat. Meaning, its structure gets damaged and becomes partially toxic when cooked at high heat. It is also not a whole food anymore. Olives are whole foods found in nature, but olive oil is processed, with the oil separated from the fiber and rest of the whole food that it came from. While it may not be as bad as common cooking oil, olive oil is far from the ideal solution to cooking with oil. So what’s the answer?

While this fat trigger is everywhere – from cooking oil, to packaged foods, used at restaurants and more – there are some simple steps you can take to avoid it.

First, stop cooking with oil. I know that may seem radical, but it’s possible to steam your vegetables or cook grains without using oil. You can even stir fry your vegetables lightly with water or vegetable broth in a “non-toxic” non-stick pan to avoid using oil. Then, if you want a little oil with your food, you can add it later. This way, you’re enjoying the food you want, without denaturing and making the oil toxic in the process.how_do_you_solve_a_problem_like_oils_theflexifoodie2

Another option is to ONLY cook with coconut oil, which is composed largely of medium-chain fatty acids that don’t denature the same way polyunsaturated oils do. This is especially important if you must fry something or cook at high heat. It’s unarguably better to use coconut oil than cooking at high heat with a less stable vegetable oil that will break down more readily.

The third and final option is perhaps the most radical, but worth considering. It is simply to give up oils all together if you really want to lose those last 5-10 pounds. For instance, I watch the amount of oils I consume – I find that it’s too easy to overdo fat when using them, and I don’t think they’re fundamentally necessary. When I do cook with oil, it’s always coconut oil.

how_do_you_solve_a_problem_like_oils_theflexifoodie4When I want some healthy fats in my diet, I”ll have a small avocado, or some whole nuts and seeds. Or perhaps a little coconut meat. Even the dressings I make and recommend to clients are oil-free.

Whatever option you choose here, the most important thing is that you reduce this fat trigger to the best of your ability and when you do cook, use small amounts of coconut oil instead or water. You’ll automatically reduce your intake of empty calories, detox faster, feel lighter, improve your digestion, reduce acne or skin blemishes, shed weight, and just plain feel better.