This Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at The House of St. Johns in Bath along with Arron Collins-Thomas of Toniq. It was a lovely event to be part of, where we shared our top tips on supporting well being through the colder and darker months of the year, so here is a recap for anyone who missed it...
1. Choose whole foods over ultra-processed ones
These days it can be hard to keep track of the amount of processed foods in our diet. Convenience is king, especially in winter months, but ultra-processed foods only contribute to the levels on inflammation throughout our bodies and digestive systems. I gave the example of corn, in it's three stages of processing it is either 'in its sheath and on the cob' (not processed), in a tin (slightly processed) or in a chip or crisp (ultra-processed). Try to eat foods in, or as close as possible, to the way nature intended.
2. Eat the rainbow to get your anti-oxidants in
My second tip was to 'eat the rainbow'. The colours we find in natural foods are often there because of the plants' natural defence chemicals, Polyphenals. Think the bright red of a pepper or the lovely dark purple of an aubergine. When we eat these plant foods we feed our own gut microbiome and inherit the defence chemicals. Try to think of this as your own internal garden, natural plant foods fertilise the soil and help to grow lovely flowers whereas ultra-processed foods add oxidative stress and only help weeds to grow in your garden!
3. Honour your mealtimes
My third piece of advice for the attendees was to really make space in your daily routine for proper mealtimes. I get it, modern day living is busy and hectic. But its entirely possible to create three 20 minute windows in the day for mindful eating. By doing this we provide the opportunity for a proper Chepalic phase, the important part of our digestive process which happens before food even enters our body. It is the smells, thoughts and desire for food which stimulates stomach acid secretion and mouth saliva. Making time for our meals allows also allows us to get into the right mental state to eat. If we're stressed when eating our bodies are in 'fight or flight' as opposed to 'rest and relaxation', which means the systems we need for effective digestion are 'switched off' (or, at least, being de-prioritised). I also talked about the importance of chewing your food properly. Chewing is the only mechanical process of our digestive systems which physically breaks down food - our stomachs don't have teeth! The more we chew, the greater the surface area of our food and the more nutritional benefit we will get from it as it passes through our digestive system.
I final thank you to House of St. Johns, where I've been working one day a week since starting my practice, for throwing the event. To Hanora Health, for supplying delicious and nutritional refreshments and to Arron, for being a fabulous fellow speaker! Arron and I are actually partnering on a holistic 10-week health plan which launches this month, click here for more information on that.