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Traditionally, spring is the time of year when many of us undertake a deep clean of our home, finally prioritizing our attention to decluttering our cupboards and throwing out unnecessary objects.
Still, with all that time spent devoting ourselves to resetting the environment around us, many of us fail to put the same time and effort into spring cleaning our lifestyles. With an estimated 80% of us abandoning our New Year’s resolutions by mid-February, spring is the perfect time to bounce back into better habits. If you are looking for a boost to help you smash that next gym session, or simply need some added motivation to keep on moving, M&F has you covered with these essential tips for improving overall health and fitness so that your energy levels can bloom at any age or stage in your fitness journey.
While the daffodils of spring need healthy soil to grow, your body also requires a rich foundation of good nutrition in order to work at its optimum level. If you are feeling sluggish, the root of your problem may lie with the things that you fail to put into your body.
“Nutrients are the raw materials that our cells need to perform their functions,” says Dr. Bill Cole, who is the founder of Key Cellular Nutrition and the Cellular Health Accelerator Program, boasting one of the largest online health coaching resources of its kind. “The cells’ energy factories are called mitochondria and they require certain levels of macro and micronutrients to produce abundant energy. Without them the mitochondria can’t produce enough energy units, called ATP, to adequately fuel cell function. Because we’re made of cells, if our cells are low in energy then we’re low in energy.”
Looking for some food for thought? Try implementing bananas or sweet potatoes into your diet. Both contain potassium to boost your electrolytes and improve energy levels. Vitamin C from sources such as oranges will aid with the growth and repair of tissues. Snacking on seeds such as chia are also a handy way to conveniently consume protein and healthy fats, keeping your body’s energy levels stable throughout the day.
If you are constantly feeling weak and unmotivated, but try to eat the right foods, it is important to understand that many people, especially where prolonged exposure to sunlight is scarce, may still be lacking in some essential nutrients.
“Vitamin D3 supplementation is what I recommend for my patients,” Cole says. “It’s important to understand that vitamin D3 is better absorbed when taken in combination with vitamin K2, magnesium, and vitamin A. Finding a supplement with all four is helpful. Also, another important supplement is omega 3 fatty acids. Our overconsumption of omega 6 fats, like those found in vegetable oil, has created an imbalance of omega 6 to omega 3. In most people this is known to be pro inflammatory. Eating fatty fish like wild salmon provides lots of omega 3 fats, but fortifying the diet with a good fish oil supplement makes sense in today’s world.
“Magnesium is another important nutrient needed for so many cell functions. It’s also a nutrient that many people are deficient in because of the lower level of magnesium in modern food vs. the food that our ancestors ate. Magnesium glycinate is my favorite form of magnesium as it’s well absorbed and utilized by the body. Raw pumpkin seeds and spinach are good food sources of magnesium too.
“A good B complex supplement that contains methylfolate (B9) and methylcobalamin (B12) is another supplement mainstay. The B vitamins play a very important role in the production of energy in the cell.”
Diets that are heavy in sugar, salt and other preservatives have been linked to increased obesity, heart disease and diabetes, but you don’t need to suffer with any of these ailments to get healthier by taking better care of your belly.
“Another supplement staple is a good probiotic because of the overuse of antibiotics and other things like chlorinated water and certain herbicides that can kill our good gut bacteria,” Cole says. “Many people have a condition called dysbiosis; where they have an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in their gut. Besides causing poor digestion, dysbiosis has also been linked to so many other health issues; like weight loss resistance, poor brain function, and a depressed immune response. Choose a probiotic with at least 5 billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day to help restore the good bacteria balance. Also, eating fermented vegetables like raw sauerkraut is very helpful but it has to be raw since pasteurized or heated sauerkraut will kill the good bacteria.”
The quality of the food you eat will dictate the quality of your gut’s ability to digest what you are feeding it, so always opt for the whole and natural foods that nature intended you to enjoy.
While you banish unwanted clutter from the cupboards, don’t forget to spruce-up those neglected cells too, because when they become damaged by free radicals, primarily at the cell membrane, the growth and survival of your cells is put under threat. Not all free radicals are negative for your health and they are essential for oxidizing nutrients, converting them from food to energy, but excessive free radical accumulation can be harmful.
“This is oxidative stress caused by the [over] production of damaging free radicals, and this stress reduces the ability of our cells to clear them,” says Cole. “Chemicals in our food, beauty products and cleaning products, for example, can increase oxidative stress and aging. Most chemicals are fat soluble meaning that they’re attracted to areas in the body composed of fat. The cell membranes are a bilipid layer meaning that they are composed of two layers of fat. When toxins get in the body they’re attracted to the cell membranes, creating chronic inflammation until they’re removed. We can avoid this by simply being aware of what we are putting in our bodies or exposing ourselves to. Reducing refined sugars is a great way to help clean-up your cell health.”
Other ways of reducing your over exposure to free radicals include managing your carbohydrate intake and limiting your consumption of processed meats such as sausage and bacon, since they often contain preservatives that lead to greater free radical production. Antioxidant rich foods include cranberries, because they are packed with vitamins A, C, and E. Broccoli is another great addition to any meal, thanks to the presence of lutein and zeaxanthin, thought to prevent oxidative stress.
So, there you have it. While you spring clean your home this year, take a good look at the fridge and the pantry, and clean up your health as well as your home.