I’m going to put it right out there – New Year’s Resolutions are over. Who needs them? We’ve got enough people right now telling us what we can’t do, or what we have to give up. (Thank you, Boris Johnson! Said NO. ONE. EVER.)
But you do want to feel more energetic, healthier and more in control for 2021 – because you’ve got a lot on your plate!
So, here are three simple, do-able changes that you can make right now, that will boost your energy and radically improve your gut health without pain or deprivation.
1. Add good fats to your daily Gut Health Smoothie.
You should already be starting your day with a Gut Health Smoothie, to boost and repair your gut health after the pounding it took over Christmas. Ideally you start with a base of Kefir, and Complete Prebiotic, to get those good bugs into your system and give them all the fibrous food they need. Add in fruit (and veg!) to your taste.
But before you blend it all up – add 1 TBSP of flaxseed oil. For a long time, everyone was on this “low-fat” craze, which had the overall effect of making people eat more sugar, and created a lot of obesity. Now we know better – your body actually needs good fats in order to function properly. And flaxseed oil is one of the best.
Flax seeds are one of the best plant sources of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that you must obtain from foods, as your body can’t produce it.1 Flaxseed oil has been shown to aid in weight loss, relieve constipation and diarrhoea, remove cellulite, reduce eczema and boost heart health.2
And importantly, for the purposes of our discussion here – adding flaxseed oil to your Gut Health Smoothie makes you feel full and satiated, so that you will be able to make better food choices throughout the day. It also helps your body regulate insulin, which will lessen sugar cravings.3 It’s a one-stop shop for making healthy choices easier!
2. Fibre-Up at lunch time
Fibre is soooo important for improving your overall health, and especially your gut health. We’re used to hearing things like “fibre keeps you regular,” making it sound boring and old-timer-ish. Not at all! Fibre is the essential food of your gut bugs. Happy gut bugs ferment insoluble fibre, turning it into magical short chain fatty acids like butyrate, which reduce inflammation inside your entire system. No fibre, no happy gut bugs!
Critically, fibre also creates a filtration system for your body. Collected at the end of the digestive process, fibre forms a convenient filter for the toxins that are collected from your system. When the fibre filter is filled with toxins, it is expelled in a bowel movement and another filter is started with new fibre, in an elegant and seamless system that keeps your system beautifully scrubbed out.
UNLESS of course, you’re not eating enough fibre! Then your poor body has to create work-arounds, to try and get rid of those nasty toxins in other ways. First stop is your sweat glands – you’ll start to notice an unpleasant odour – and then the toxins will be dumped into your kidneys, which can rapidly become overworked.
Finally, in desperation, your poor body will start packing the toxins into fat cells around your liver – resulting in the dreaded middle aged spread.
So, do your body a massive favour and increase your fibre intake! According to the British Nutrition Foundation, you should be consuming around 30 g of fibre per day. Most adults only get 10-15 grams. If you’re taking 10 g of complete Prebiotic in your morning smoothie, that still leaves a whopping 20 grams of fibre that you need to consume. Lunch is a perfect time to raise your fibre intake, because it will also make you feel full, giving you preemptive power against those sugar cravings, and helping to regulate your insulin system and blood sugar levels.
High levels of fibre at lunch will help protect you against dips and troughs in blood sugar that create the dreaded “postprandial dip,” which is that desperate desire to sleep after lunch. It can be a real productivity killer when you’re working from home, and your bed is only one room away!
So, how to increase your lunchtime fibre? The goods news about lockdown is that it’s harder to grab convenience foods when you’re working from home. Stock up on the following fibre rich foods and keep them ready to eat:
Wholegrain breakfast cereals- think oatmeal, buckwheat flakes, millet flakes
Quinoa or high-fibre pasta – lots of good gluten-free options out there
Wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye. Try Ezekiel bread for sprouted grain goodness!
Fruit such as berries, pears, melon and oranges
Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn
Peas, beans and pulses – I keep tinned black, cannelini and kidney beans in the cupboard – tip them onto a salad for a quick fibre boost.
Nuts and seeds – a bowl on the table for a quick handful makes a nice treat.
Potatoes with skin – new potatoes are lower GI.
3. Eat supper at 6 pm – and don’t eat afterwards
Your gut bugs are like children or animals – they adore routine. Structure is a good thing. And one of the tough parts of lockdown is that working from home, our schedules can ten to go out the window.
But eating regular meals, at regular times, is one of the friendliest things you can do for your health and your gut. Research has found that your gut bugs fluctuate with time of day – they get used to your dietary patterns, and even start gearing up to digest your meal before you eat it! If your meal times are all over the place, they can’t prepare properly. So try to nail down those meal times – three regular meals, and two small snacks are ideal for gut health. (All meals should be based around whole foods, high levels of fibre, good fats and a rainbow of fruit and veg.)
Also – think of yourself as a plant! Plants take in and process their energy during the day, and so should you. Make your last meal of the day an early one – 6 pm is ideal, but no later than 7 pm – and then don’t eat after that. Research has shown that as well as contributing to weight gain, snacking late at night could increase your risk of health complications such as diabetes and heart disease.
Make these three do-able shifts, and watch your energy levels soar in 2021!