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

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

Why You Should Alkalise Your Body

Maintaining the natural balance of your body in regards to your pH levels is important for several reasons. Both your immune system and the amount of inflammation in your body can be affected by whether or not you are in the correct alkaline range. When we consider that immune system function and inflammation are two of the biggest factors contributing to optimum health, then we can see how important it is to maintain balance in the body!

Immune System

The reason that your immune system becomes compromised when your pH is out of balance is that the cells in the body aren’t getting the minerals that they need. This means that less oxygen is being circulated and your immune system therefore doesn’t function as well as it could!

When you have the correct alkaline balance then your body is better equipped to prevent and deal with infections and illnesses.

Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading cause of illness and diseases, and can soon become a problem when normal levels of inflammation start to increase.

Acidic foods are known to cause inflammation in the body. When you consume excess amounts of acidic foods then your body is going to have to work extra hard to neutralise this acidity. One of the ways in which your body can do this is to take essential minerals from other parts of the body, which can of course be detrimental to your overall health.

Balancing Your pH Levels

If the foods and drinks that you are consuming are too acidic then your pH levels are quickly going to get out of whack. However, your lifestyle and overall diet also contribute to your pH levels.

Foods that are high in magnesium, phosphorous and calcium are great for restoring the alkaline balance in the body.

Unprocessed vegetables are the perfect choice for alkalising your body, especially citrus fruits. Garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar and turmeric are also beneficial choices. Eating your greens will also help with this, and you can aim to include broccoli, wheatgrass, chlorella and spinach in your diet regularly.

If you do not consume many processed and packaged foods then you are going to give yourself a head-start when it comes to alkalising your body. They can be incredibly acidic, and it is an amazing idea to replace these products with whole food options!

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!

Is Your Sleep Cycle Causing You Harm?

Getting a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep every night is something that many of us are aware that we need to do, but the reality is that it is not always achievable!

There are many reasons why you might not get enough sleep – or enough good quality sleep. This could be because of a busy schedule that keeps you up late, a young child that wakes during the night, or perhaps disturbances from other sources, such as noisy neighbours!

Whatever the reason for a poor sleep cycle, it is important to address and work to resolve the problem in order to preserve and boost your health. The following issues can quickly appear when you are sleep deprived, and can lead to further health issues.

Fatigue

Fatigue can often be accompanied by a short temper and a lack of focus, which can quickly cause problems during your day! Being fatigued can also become a safety issue as your ability to drive and complete other tasks will become impaired.

Obesity

Studies have shown that those who sleep less tend to be at a higher risk of obesity. It has been suggested that this is because there is a higher presence of leptin when a person is sleep deprived. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. Sleep deprivation also causes increased levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.

Illness

If a poor sleep cycle is a consistent problem then your immune system will soon become compromised and your overall health will suffer. This can contribute to the onset of relatively small health problems, such as a cough or cold, but can also lead to much more significant issues over time, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The risk of developing diabetes appears to be particularly prevalent in those who regularly sleep for less than five hours each night.  This is thought to be because a lack of sleep changes the way that the body processes glucose.

If you are aware that your sleep cycle is becoming damaging to your health, and your life in general, then it is important to take steps to improve the length and quality of the sleep that you enjoy. This is something that I will be discussing in a blog post next week, so check back soon!

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!

Plant Based Foods to Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is a worldwide problem and manifests in many different shapes and forms. It can range in seriousness from slightly inconvenient to completely debilitating and relief is sought in many different places. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States currently suffer, have suffered or will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. This equates to over 18% of the population! That huge number demonstrates just how many of us are afflicted with this condition.

Many people immediately turn to medication to manage their anxiety but in some cases it can be addressed through diet and exercise. Medication can cause some unfavourable side effects so if it is possible to avoid it then it is always worth exploring alternative options. Additionally, medication often only masks the root of the anxiety and as soon as treatment stops the problem can resurface. Finding ways to naturally treat imbalances in the body is the optimum way to move towards better long term mental health.

So let’s take a look at the things you can aim to include in your diet to combat the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

Green tea is cheap, simple and delicious. It is generally calming for the mind and when consumed regularly can work to decrease anxiety overall. Some variations of green tea are believed to have a positive effect on cortisol production in terms of balancing levels of this stress hormone in the body.

Turmeric is an amazing spice, both in terms of colour and taste and is known to enhance your mood. This spice contains antioxidants called curcuminoids which has neuroprotective qualities. Studies into the effectiveness of turmeric to combat depression have yielded encouraging results.

Avocados are an all round super food and can be useful for tackling anxiety. They contain high levels of potassium which works to control blood pressure, which in turn can help to keep your mood balanced. Avocados also contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to keep your brain functioning as it should!

Finally, asparagus can also be consumed regularly in an effort to reduce feelings of anxiety. This is because it contains folic acid which is connected to the health of your neurological function. Impaired neurological function can be an underlying cause of anxiety and it is always worth making sure you get ample amounts of folic acid in your diet. As an added bonus, asparagus contains a small amount of potassium too, which as mentioned previously helps with that all important blood pressure!

Ask Questions About Your Health to Stay Healthy!

For some people getting ill can be a common occurrence. However, some people get ill so infrequently that symptoms of illness can really catch them off-guard. A lot of people will tell you that they know their bodies so well that they are aware as soon as something starts to feel off; but that’s not the case with everyone!

For those people who aren’t incredibly in-tune with their bodies, asking questions about their health becomes all the more important. When other people ask us questions about our general well-being, such as doctors or family members, then we might not always feel comfortable going into great detail. This can be because of embarrassment about a certain ailment or just the basic desire for privacy. However, when we are asking ourselves these questions there’s absolutely no reason not to be 100% honest. Having said that, you should always be sure to give your doctor all of the information they request!

Asking yourself questions about your health and general well-being can help you to stay on top of any problems that might be developing – regardless of how insignificant they turn out to be!

If, for instance, you feel like your body is reluctant to function the way it usually does, then it’s important to take the time to consider why that might be. Ask yourself what it is your body is saying no to and how you can resolve that issue. Are you eating differently? Are you not getting enough rest? Compile a checklist of usual behaviours and see if any variations have emerged. Your body wants to talk to you and will often communicate in very subtle ways when something isn’t quite as it should be. The longer a problem remains undetected, the louder your body will try to talk to you.

Asking questions about your mental well-being is also important for maintaining optimum physical fitness. Feeling lonely or unhappy can lead to negative behaviours which can then become detrimental to your health on the whole. So, check in with your mind frequently and take positive steps to overcome any issues that you discover.

Your sex life also has a role to play in your overall health. Studies have shown that a healthy sex life can actually lower your risk of certain conditions, such as strokes and heart disease, whilst also helping to alleviate chronic pain and depression. A healthy sex life can also help to lower stress which makes it incredibly useful in our busy modern age of anxiety. Check in on your sex life occassionally to ask yourself if you are satisfied and if not, why not?If there are certain things that you are unhappy with that are within your power to change then make it a priority for your health and for your happiness.

Tofu and Vegetable Miso Soup

 This soup is an absolute secret weapon against any nasty colds or flu you might pick up this spring! With the weather still not fantastic it is essential to give your immune system as much help as you can to keep illness away. As we know, food is the best preventative medicine and this soup is packing some serious nutrition! There are some foods, like garlic and ginger for example, that are known to help the body through periods when you’re not at your best. Getting these foods into your diet isn’t difficult but discovering new and interesting recipes may not be something you have time for. Hopefully my blog has removed all of the leg work for you on that front though! Although this soup is great for kicking germs out of the body, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’re feeling sick to try it! The following ingredients will make enough for four or five generous servings.

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One red onion, sliced

A handful of ginger, finely sliced

Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

One fresh chilli, sliced

A handful of bean sprouts

One carrot, sliced

Three or four spring onions, sliced at an angle

Brown rice miso paste

150g of sweetcorn

Four or five sliced mushrooms

200g of tofu

Brown rice noodles

Soya butter

Veg stock

1 litre of water

So to begin, fry the onion in some soy butter with most of the ginger (leave some for later), chilli and garlic. Once they have had a few minutes to fry add in the mushrooms and carrot. Stir everything together and leave on the hob to cook. While this is happening, slice the tofu in half and press a paper towel against it to help remove any excess water.

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Next, take some of the miso paste and rub it into the tofu before frying it in a separate pan. Once you have begun frying the tofu you can add the sweetcorn and the veg stock in the litre of water. Once the tofu is crispy, remove it from the heat. However, leave the other pot to simmer for about 40 minutes.

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Once this time has passed, add four tablespoons of miso paste to the simmering pan and prepare the brown rice noodles by covering them in hot water. Next, cool the noodles by running them under cold water and then put them into the soup. Chuck the fried tofu in too with the sliced spring onions and the rest of the ginger. You immune boosting soup is now ready to serve!

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