The road to better health doesn’t always have to mean making huge lifestyle leaps! Here are seven activities and strategies you can easily incorporate into your routine to boost your health and wellbeing –
1. Spend more time in nature
Being outdoors and in nature, even for a short period, has been proven to have some incredible health benefits – and, it’s free! Research shows that being in nature boosts your immune system,1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/ increases your microbiome diversity2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5635058/ (and it’s all about diversity when it comes to good gut health!), reduces stress levels3https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289516300509 and improves digestion.4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22840583/ Pass me my wellies!
Check out more information on how the great outdoors can boost your health here.
2. Increase your fibre-diversity
Ideally, you should be consuming 30 g of fibre daily, but research suggests that as few as 9% of Brits are achieving this recommended intake.5https://www.circlehealthgroup.co.uk/health-matters/health-and-wellbeing/dietary-fibre-function-recommended-intake-sources The type of fibre you eat is important too – just one or two sources won’t cut it! Healthy gut bugs require many different types of fibre.
Your gut bugs ferment this wide diversity of fibres and produce SCFAs, or short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, which reduce inflammation inside the gut. Without these multiple critical food sources, your gut bugs cannot produce healthy levels of butyrate, and inflammation levels inside your system will soar.
So, for happy, healthy gut bugs, and a happy healthy you, start thinking of every meal as an opportunity to increase your fibre-diversity. Check out four easy ways to do this here.
3. Take a synbiotic supplement
Scientists have recently defined synbiotics as “a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that beneficially affects the host by improving the survival and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.”6https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/synbiotics Synbiotics have been associated with various health benefits, including improved gut health, enhanced immune function, and reduced inflammation.
Put simply, synbiotic = prebiotic + probiotic.
Want to know more? Read Shann’s blog post here.
4. Be more active
Studies show that physical activity can boost your health in a number of different ways –
- Increases your life expectancy. In fact, researchers have found that following the minimum guidelines for physical activity reduces the risk of early death by as much as 21%!7https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/exercising-more-than-recommended-could-lengthen-life-study-suggests
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases8https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/physical-activity.htm
- Strengthens bones and muscles9https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health
- Decreases the risk of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins10https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
5. Nurture your social relationships
A sense of social connection is one of our fundamental human needs and it impacts our mental health, physical health, and longevity. Studies show that people with strong social ties display lower rates of anxiety and depression and higher rates of self-esteem,11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9218058/ while further research suggests that a solid social network can boost longevity by 50%!12https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316 Social connectedness is clearly very important! So, what can you do to strengthen your relationships with others?
- Engage in more face-to-face interactions and be present – switch your phone to silent and avoid distractions
- Stay in contact and speak regularly to friends and family/existing relationships, whether it be over the phone, the internet or in person
- Even fleeting moments of connection can nourish – smile and wave or say hi to people as you go through your day – the waitress serving coffee, the co-worker you always pass in the hall, a neighbour
- Increase your opportunities to connect with others by attending social events, classes or groups
6. Boost your brain power
As we get older, the risk of cognitive impairments and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, increases. Keeping your brain fit and active helps boost overall health and ward off cognitive decline.13https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young You can boost your mental fitness by playing board games, completing sudoku or crossword puzzles, reading more and experimenting with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.14https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young15https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/mental-fitness#techniques It’s important to remember that relaxation and ‘time out’ is just as beneficial as the more stimulating activities – focus on one task at a time, meditate, visualise and practice positive affirmations.
7. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for your whole body. Drinking enough water boosts gut microbial diversity – the more different bacteria present in your gut, the more resilient you are to infection and illness.16https://www.ncoa.org/article/10-reasons-why-hydration-is-important It will also aid digestion, increase brain performance, including cognition, mood and memory, help you lose weight and decrease joint pain.17https://www.ncoa.org/article/10-reasons-why-hydration-is-important
The Eatwell Guide recommends drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water every day (roughly 1.2 to 1.5 litres).18https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/water-drinks-nutrition/ If you’re struggling to achieve this and need to increase your intake, try setting reminders/alarms (there are even apps that can help!), drinking a glass of water before each meal, investing in a reusable bottle with measurements and avoid getting bored by flavouring with fruits.
For more ways to boost your health, check out 5 tips for ‘spring cleaning’ your health & wellbeing, Simple tips to help you get fit! and 4 morning habits to improve your gut.
Questions? Get in touch with one of our Nutritional Therapists on live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.