10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips

  1. Eat a diverse variety of foods 

The body needs loads of different nutrients to function optimally, so don’t limit yourself to just a few food types. The gut microbiome also loves diversity, and the more diverse our gut microbiome is the healthier we’re going to be. How diverse is diverse? I recommend aiming to eat 30 portions of different plant-based foods across all your plant-based food groups.

  1. Fill up on fibre

Fibre is your microbiomes favourite food, and keeping your gut bugs well-fed and happy will benefit just about every organ in your body, including your heart, mind and skin. Where do you get it? Different forms of fibre are in all the plant-based foods, not just fruit and vegetables, they are also in nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and wholegrains. How much do you need? Most guidelines recommend getting 30g of fibre a day, but most of us are getting less than 20g. When you’re increasing fibre, go slowly, and make sure to stay hydrated as increased fibre intake means you’ll need to increase your water intake too.

  1. What is the overall pattern of your diet like?

When it comes to diet it’s not about what you ate at one particular meal.  It’s about the overall pattern of your diet. Focus on trying to get most things right (so that means natural and minimally processed) rather than stressing about every meal being perfect.

  1. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat

Fats are crucial for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our health. Different kinds of fats have different impacts on our health, and some of these tips could help us keep the balance right:

  • Limit the consumption of total and saturated fats (often coming from foods of animal origin), and completely avoid trans fats; reading the labels helps to identify the sources.
  • Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week, contributes to our intake beneficial omega-3s.
  • When cooking, try and boil, steam or bake, rather than frying, as well as removing the fatty part of meat, and try to only cook with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is hands down the winning oil. Cook with it (good quality extra virgin olive oil can handle the heat of home cooking up to 190°C/375°F), or drizzle it cold on your salads. This liquid gold can benefit your brain and heart health, as well as your gut microbiome. It’s packed with beneficial plant chemicals and several studies show the wide-ranging health benefits. Make sure you’re getting the minimally processed real thing by looking out for the LOT number and harvest date on the bottle.
  1. Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. And different colours of fruits and vegetables denote different types of nutrients and phytonutrients. We should try to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, ideally more toward 7-10.

  1. Maximise your sleep

Just two days of poor sleep can negatively impact your gut health, and throw off its natural cycle. To maintain the balance, try to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Try to go to bed at the same and wake up at same time (give or take 30 mins). Your body needs to drop its core temperature by about 2-3 °F in order to initiate sleep. The ideal room temperature to sleep in is about 18°C (65°F). Keep the bedroom a dark, quiet and technology free zone (this means plugging your phone in in another room), stay away from glowing screens in the hours before bed and swerve caffeine after 3pm.

  1. Reduce stress

Stress is a perfectly normal human emotion, but our bodies aren’t designed to be constantly stressed and on the go. There is an inextricable link between the gut and the brain. So, if your stress levels are through the roof, the chances are your gut health is paying the price. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have all been shown to help.

  1. Move your body

You all know this one. But it really is important. Not only does movement help with issues like constipation, but it is linked to a more diverse gut microbiome. Try and get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes each day. Whether it’s using the stairs instead of the elevator, having a walk on a lunch break or going to a yoga or HIIT class, do whatever you like best and your whole body with feel the benefits.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids

Adults ideally need to consume at least 2 litres of fluid a day! Or more if it’s very hot or they are physically active. Water is the best source, so drink tap, filtered or mineral water, sparkling or non-sparkling. It’s a good idea to keep a large bottle wherever you spend most of your day and use this to track how much water you are drinking throughout the day. Fruit infused water (with lemon, cucumber or berries) or herbal teas can also be a great option if you’re not keen on the taste of water.

  1. Start now! And keep changing gradually.

Gradual changes in our lifestyle are easier to maintain than major changes introduced all at once. For three days, write down the foods and drinks you consume throughout the day, and make a note of the amount of movement you’ve done. You’ll soon spot where improves could be made.

  • Skipping breakfast? A small bowl of muesli, a piece of bread or fruit, could help slowly introduce it into your routine
  • Too few fruits and vegetables? To start with, introduce one extra piece a day. Try adding a different colour vegetable to your plate.
  • Favourite foods high in sugar or fat? Eliminating them abruptly could eventually cause you to return to old habits. Instead choose low fat/sugar options, and eat them less frequently, and in smaller portions
  • Too little activity? Start by using the stairs or going on a daily walk.

Remember, there is no one size fits all when it comes to health. What works for one person may not work for another. So, if you would like to learn more or have any concerns about your diet then check out the clinic section of my website here to see if a nutrition consultation is for you.