Spring has Sprung! (3 Tips for a healthier you)
Spring is officially here, time to make the most of this time with these 3 Tips.
Eat Seasonally and Locally
The days are getting longer, the birds are singing gloriously, temperatures (in theory) are getting warmer, the daffodils and blossom have bloomed and for a week or so at least in March, it felt like Spring was upon us.
Cold weather reality check aside, Spring really is an amazing time of year. We’ve made it through another Winter and signs of life and new beginnings are starting to emerge all around us.
The clocks have gone forward giving us more daylight hours, which is a great boost for energy and mood. It can also help with productivity at work or home. Additionally, it’s the perfect time to start a new exercise program if the novelty of the New Years resolution has died off. Even better, take your exercise outdoors. The health benefits of outdoor exercise are varied and many.
If you’ve felt like a bear in hibernation these last few months and are looking for a way to kickstart your health and wellbeing coming into the warmer months, read on for my 3 top tips to reboot and reinvigorate yourself.
Also called Earthing, it is a therapeutic technique based on the belief that, by allowing our skin to come into direct contact with the earth - grass, dirt, sand, rock, sea or river water, we are literally ‘grounding’ ourselves – electrically reconnecting with the earth by soaking up its negative charge, to help us rebalance.
People all over the world, from many different cultures have recognised the benefits of grounding for thousands of years. These include - improvements in mood, energy and immunity, fighting inflammation, decreased pain, decreased stress response by helping to lower the stress hormone cortisol. It can help shift us from a sympathetic state (fight or flight) to a parasympathetic state (repair and recovery) in our autonomic nervous system. Exposure to the great outdoors can also help regulate circadian rhythm and improves sleep.
There are different pieces of equipment or wearables that supposedly help with grounding, but the most simple way is to get into a park and take off your shoes. Allow your feet to come directly in contact with the grass. Stand or sit. It’s that easy.
As little as 10 minutes has been shown to have a positive effect.
So go on, get outside!
2. Cold Exposure.
Cold exposure is another free tool that we all have at our exposure. It’s not as easy as grounding, but it is very effective and worth some consideration. Cold exposure/ cold exposure therapy has increased in popularity in recent years with high end gyms incorporating Cryogenic chambers, elite sports teams using ice baths and plunge pools and people like the mad, but brilliant Wim Hoff seemingly defying logic and science with his extreme feats of physical endurance and tolerance of extremely cold environments, setting multiple Guinness book of world records along the way.
As mentioned, it’s not as simple as taking your shoes off and standing on some grass. It actually involves you braving the elements or exposing yourself to something that for most us, seems very unnatural, which is why I’ve suggested starting in Spring. It is brutal in Winter and I will be honest, I haven’t been as consistent with this as I would have liked, but I definitely feel the difference when I stick with it.
The health benefits of cold exposure are impressive. They include increased metabolic rate, increased fat burning and fat use, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation and pain, improved mood, improved sleep, increased alertness and focus.
To start, simply jump into a cold shower or if you want to combine this with number one, into the sea. It will be a massive shock, so start small, 10 - 20 seconds and build from there. It will take your breath away and it will be incredibly tough, but stick with it knowing you can blast the hot water soon enough.
Afterwards, you will feel very alert and your mood and energy will be through the roof.
Be brave, give it a go.
3. Eat Seasonal and local.
Many fruits and veg come into season this time of year and it is always wise to eat in synch with the seasons where possible. Not only will the food taste better, but they will actually be better for you as their vitamin and mineral content will be higher and you will be consuming them as close to the time they’re harvested as possible, meaning less time for degradation and spoilage.
Another huge benefit of eating local and seasonal is that the products won’t have to be transported far, meaning less impact on the environment. Lastly, seasonal farming is gentler and more restorative to the land, which is a good thing for ensuring we have fertile soil for future crops.
• Beetroot - can be found in my red cabbage, beetroot and caraway seed sauerkraut. Beetroot is an amazing vegetable with tonnes of health benefits, low in calories and high in a wide array of essential nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, folate, potassium and fibre (a great prebiotic to feed your gut microbes).
Beetroots also are high in nitrates, which when converted to nitric oxide have a dilating effect on blood vessels, meaning they help maintain healthy blood pressure, can improve endurance and athletic performance.
Lastly, and this list is by no means exhaustive, beetroots contain powerful compounds known as polyphenols and antioxidants which have been shown to help fight inflammation and may help protect against cancer.
Beetroot is pretty versatile. We use it raw in our sauerkrauts, but it’s great roasted, in salads or juiced.
• Cabbage - The humble cabbage is often overlooked, but deservedly holds a place in the list of the most healthy vegetables out there. Grown in many varieties the world over for thousands of years, it has been a staple for many cultures and being the owner of a fermented food brand, I am obviously a huge fan.
Cabbage is the main player in all of my products. We use white/ green or red/ purple cabbage in our sauerkrauts and Chinese Cabbage/ Nappa Cabbage in our Kimchi. Part of the brassica family which includes other well known veg like broccoli, cauliflower and kale, they pack an impressive nutritional punch.
Like beetroot, cabbage is low in calories but bursting with nutrients like Vitamin C (just one cup of raw cabbage contains over half of your daily requirement), Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Folate and Fibre. Again, like beetroot, cabbage contains powerful antioxidants and polyphenols, meaning you get most of the same benefits, but one extra cool thing cabbage may help with is to regulate cholesterol levels, which is partly thanks to its high levels of soluble fibre and plants sterols.
Again, cabbage in all its varieties is a super versatile vegetable and can be enjoyed in a number of ways. Our favourite is fermented as in our delicious, raw, live, gut friendly sauerkrauts and kimchi, lightly sautéed or as the base for a raw slaw.
Below is a list of vegetables that are available in the United Kingdom in April
All with impressive health benefits that are too numerous for this article.
Aim to include as many as you can into your diet and you will see a huge boost in energy, mood, productivity and general health and wellbeing.
• new potatoes
• morel mushrooms
• spring greens
• spring onions
Read more about eating seasonably here "Eating Seasonably - Good for you and the environment"
Another great article also on the benefits of eating seasonally by the Food Medic
Get outside an boost your immune system "Boosting your Immune system - Getting Back to Nature"