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Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that have fundamental roles in the body, and there is a vast amount of evidence demonstrating a strong relationship between our diet and gut microbiome. So we thought we would put together a list of 6 simple dietary changes to help support the growth of healthy microbes in the gut.

1. Eat A Wide Variety Of Foods

There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome, each with different roles in the body and providing health benefits. Each specie of bacteria found in the gut requires different nutrients for growth so a wide variety of foods in the diet will help to create a more diverse microbiota.

2. Increase Fibre Intake

I’m talking more fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.

Non-digestible carbohydrates such as fibre are not broken down in the small intestine, instead they travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by microorganisms, providing microbes with an energy source. This fermentation process produces short chain fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiometabolic disease, including cardiovascular diseases, strokes, type 2 diabetes, as well as colorectal cancer.

In the UK, we are currently not meeting our fibre recommendations. The current average intake is only 18g, only just over half of the recommended amount 30g per day (aged 17+). Try swapping to whole grains such as wholemeal bread and pasta, starting your day with a bowl of oats with fruit and nuts/seeds, adding more vegetables to meals and finally snacking on things like unsalted nuts/seeds, fresh fruits or vegetable sticks with hummus.

3. Add Some Fermented Foods To Your Diet

The process of fermenting foods involves microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) converting sugars into other products such as organic acids or alcohols. Examples include yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir, all of which contain healthy bacteria - mainly Lactobacilli. Through the process of fermentation, these foods provide additional health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

4. Consume More Prebiotic And Probiotic Rich Foods

Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits, with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium being the most well known (try say that 3 times quickly). They can be taken as a supplement but are also found naturally in yoghurt (in particular plain, natural yoghurt without added sugars). The evidence suggest probiotics create a more favourable gut environment, as well as supporting a healthy immune system.

Prebiotics on the other hand feed the microorganisms in the body, in order to grow and live. Prebiotic rich foods include: garlic, onions, chicory, wheat and bananas. As with the probiotics, evidence also shows prebiotics create a more favourable gut environment.

5. Consume More Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based foods are packed full of fibre, as well as non-digestible carbohydrates such as beta glucan. Beta glucan is found in oats and other whole grains - it is strongly linked to reducing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and reducing the risk of developing heart disease, as well as lowering blood pressure. Beta glucan also has a role in slowing down transit time in the intestines, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, avoiding sudden spikes.

6. Drink more water!

Water is vital to help encourage everything you consume to pass through the digestive system, which will help keep your gut healthy! Aim for at leaset 6-8 glasses a day and if you're particularly active you'll need to increase that.

The post 6 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that have fundamental roles in the body, and there is a vast amount of evidence demonstrating a strong relationship between our diet and gut microbiome. So we thought we would put together a list of 6 simple dietary changes to help support the growth of healthy microbes in the gut.

1. Eat A Wide Variety Of Foods

There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome, each with different roles in the body and providing health benefits. Each specie of bacteria found in the gut requires different nutrients for growth so a wide variety of foods in the diet will help to create a more diverse microbiota.

2. Increase Fibre Intake

I’m talking more fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.

Non-digestible carbohydrates such as fibre are not broken down in the small intestine, instead they travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by microorganisms, providing microbes with an energy source. This fermentation process produces short chain fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiometabolic disease, including cardiovascular diseases, strokes, type 2 diabetes, as well as colorectal cancer.

In the UK, we are currently not meeting our fibre recommendations. The current average intake is only 18g, only just over half of the recommended amount 30g per day (aged 17+). Try swapping to whole grains such as wholemeal bread and pasta, starting your day with a bowl of oats with fruit and nuts/seeds, adding more vegetables to meals and finally snacking on things like unsalted nuts/seeds, fresh fruits or vegetable sticks with hummus.

3. Add Some Fermented Foods To Your Diet

The process of fermenting foods involves microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) converting sugars into other products such as organic acids or alcohols. Examples include yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir, all of which contain healthy bacteria - mainly Lactobacilli. Through the process of fermentation, these foods provide additional health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

4. Consume More Prebiotic And Probiotic Rich Foods

Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits, with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium being the most well known (try say that 3 times quickly). They can be taken as a supplement but are also found naturally in yoghurt (in particular plain, natural yoghurt without added sugars). The evidence suggest probiotics create a more favourable gut environment, as well as supporting a healthy immune system.

Prebiotics on the other hand feed the microorganisms in the body, in order to grow and live. Prebiotic rich foods include: garlic, onions, chicory, wheat and bananas. As with the probiotics, evidence also shows prebiotics create a more favourable gut environment.

5. Consume More Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based foods are packed full of fibre, as well as non-digestible carbohydrates such as beta glucan. Beta glucan is found in oats and other whole grains - it is strongly linked to reducing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and reducing the risk of developing heart disease, as well as lowering blood pressure. Beta glucan also has a role in slowing down transit time in the intestines, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, avoiding sudden spikes.

6. Drink more water!

Water is vital to help encourage everything you consume to pass through the digestive system, which will help keep your gut healthy! Aim for at leaset 6-8 glasses a day and if you're particularly active you'll need to increase that.

The post 6 Ways To Improve The Health Of Your Gut appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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2019 is here and we find ourselves in perhaps the greenest of Jan's to date. Record numbers of people have ditched their usual meat and dairy options in favour of plant-based alternatives for the Veganuary movement.

So in the spirit of all things veg, we've put together a selection of some of our favourite Vegan options the London high street has to offer.

Lords of Poke - Paddington Central, Camden Market

First up, we've got Lords of Poke with their crunchtastic "Veg Out Bowl".

This tasty dish is packed with a colourful combo of nutritious ingredients. It contains ginger, Jack 'n' Tempeh (a combination of pulled Jackfruit and Tempeh), sweet pickled beets, shaved radish, edamame & orange/sesame carrot.

It's fully loaded with veggies dense with immune boosting Vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, but by no means does it compromise in the protein department.

It contains 27g of protein in total, largely down to the inclusion of the jackfruit, tempeh and edamame beans which are a great lean source of protein, minus the cholesterol.

Also, if you're a fan of aoli, they now serve a vegan one. Plus, if you feel like adding a little extra heat to your garnish, go for the wasabi aoli. Bring on the fire! (note: garlic breath inevitable).

Lords of Poke also provide the option of adding hemp protein powder to their vegan acai breakfast bowls making them a pretty punchy post-workout option.

Kua 'Aina - Goodge Street, Carnaby Street

Kua 'Aina are nothing short of masters when it comes sizzling up some smokey meats. But recently they've launched a vegan menu and it's proving to be pretty popular!

The standout option is the Moving Mountain Vegan Burger. It's packed full of delicious spices, plant proteins and mushrooms to create an amazing meaty flavour and consistency. Moving Mounting is fast becoming a big name in the Vegan community thanks to its innovative meat replacements.

The Moving Mountain Burger is said to be one of the best beef patty alternatives on the market. So if you're craving a juicy old burger this Jan and you've got #vegunchuary on lockdown (yes, we combined "vegan", "lunch" and January to name our vegan-lunch-all-month challenge...) then head to Kua 'Aina for vegan patty feast. They're one of few restaurants in London that serve them.

Kua 'Aina also serves an avocado and peppers burger/sandwich, a mushroom and "cheese" burger, and a falafel sweet chilli burger. All of which can be served with either skinny fries or for more of a fitting January complex carb option - the sweet potato fries.

Vegan Express - Garratt Ln

Awesome vegan food made from scratch. Vegan Express source food from local growers and avoid, as much as possible, products that use too much of the planet’s resources.

For something truly optimised with healthy carbs, fats and proteins, go for the Vegan Express Green Bowl. It's packed with fresh seaweed, kale, spinach, avocado, mung bean sprouts, beetroot noodles and fonio. So, super rich in vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Vitamin K and iron.

Ginger & Mint - Crouch End, Covent Garden, East Village

A super thoughtful cafe and juice bar that is as committed to sustainability as it is to boosting your happiness with bright and antioxidant-rich food and drink. There's even an entire kitchen devoted to vegan cooking; rustling up a tasty selection of hot rice dishes, wraps, delicious desserts and veggie treats.

Two particularly good vegan options are the Falafel, Mixed Veg and Spinach Wrap and the Mean Green Smoothie which is packed with spirulina, Broccoli, Kale, Spinach and apple - a fantastic source of calcium, iron and antioxidants.

All Bar One - Waterloo, Leicester Square, Henrietta Street, New Oxford Street

All Bar One has a special Veganuary menu packed with healthy and nutritious goodies available throughout the whole of January.

A particularly good mains option is "The Power Of 5" with its chargrilled medley of greens, butternut squash, aubergine, mushroom, peppers and nigella seeds with a sesame & miso sauce and rice noodle cracker.

They also have a vegan burger sporting an aubergine and harissa patty, beetroot humous and fire roasted peppers served in an ancient grain bun. It's packed with 23g of protein and comes with the option of chips on the side and a gherkin within.

Also worth noting is the Avocado & Black Rice Salad. This dish is loaded high with Avo, sprinkled with onion seeds, accompanied by quinoa, soya beans, baby kale and chilli topped with coconut dressing and tortilla crisps.

Yo! Sushi - All over London

In celebration of Veganuary, Yo sushi has extended its plant-based menu and now features a load of exciting new hot and cold vegan dishes! A particularly good hot option is the "Vegetable Yakisoba" with its characteristic tangy sauce and fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Then, for a light dish with a protein hit, there's the "Miso Soup Unlimited" - a light and healthy shiro miso broth with wakame, spring onion and tofu.

A nice cold option is the vibrant Kaiso Seaweed with its marinated mix of seaweed edamame and carrot in a su-miso dressing. Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals such a Vitamin K, B, Zinc, Iron and loaded with antioxidants, while edamame beans are a great source of protein.

A tasty and nutritious parcel to enjoy alongside this dish would be the Inari Nigiri. These are sweet parcels of bean curd filled with sticky rice. Bean curd, or tofu, is high in protein, zinc and calcium.

The Gate - Islington, Marylebone, Hammersmith, St John's Wood 

The Gate has achieved green god status among fellow veggie and vegan restaurants, thanks to it’s exquisitely fresh, healthy food. Each dish exhibits a perfect balance of nutritious ingredients and a masterful combination of flavours.

Sweet potato and pomegranate salad is a particularly optimised option providing a mix of complex carbs, healthy fats and cleansing herbs. The paprika dressing is pretty lively as well!

Nandos - All over London

Nandos have a load of great vegan options. Who'd have thunk it?

Here are some great little vegan hacks:

Supergreen pitta/burger is filled with all sorts of goodness like broccoli, edamame beans and kale (ask for it without mayo).

Then there's the Sweet Potato and Butternut pita/burger filled with red pepper, onion and edamame beans (ask for it without mayo).

Portobello Mushroom pita/burger, usually served with halloumi, so just switch that up for something like pineapple or avocado and you're good to go.

Then there's the super healthy Supergrain Salad, just make sure to ask for it without chicken or buttermilk dressing. The Supergrain features a nice mix of grains, greens, beans with avocado chunks. Make sure to ask for it without the avocado and buttermilk dressing to make it vegan.

Bababoom - Battersea rise, Islington

These guys know a thing or two about charcoal grilling and spicing things up with a middle eastern flavour - and they don't stop at meat. They serve up a wicked chargrilled cauliflower kebab with sweet potato hummus, pomegranate molasses, crispy onion and pomegranate seeds.

They've also got the Falafel BoomBox  (under 500 kcals, wholegrain carbs, no refined sugar) made-up from broad bean falafel with Avocado tahini, bulgur wheat, pickled chilli, chargrilled red pepper, harissa drizzle and rocket.

Rola Wala - Spitalfields

Rola Wala already boasts a menu packed with delicious veggie options. One of our favourites being the delicious veggie Tahli bowl, loaded with all sorts of crunchy, vitamin-rich goodness.

This Jan they launch Karma Korma as part of their #feedanuary campaign. T

his veggie dish is a no mess, no fuss, spice-fuelled powerhouse, free from nuts, dairy, heavy oil and sugar. Seriously delicious healthy stuff!

For every meal you buy at Rola Wala, they provide a school meal for a child living in poverty. You eat, they eat.

And they've just reached the incredible milestone of 500,000 meals!

And to celebrate this, for every Karma Korma you buy, they provide two school meals for children living in poverty. Pretty fantastic eh?

The food as Rola Wala is also nutritionally optimised. This is mostly down to the way they develop such flavour without the use of oil! So not only is it super tasty, it's pretty darn lean.

The magic is in the slow cooking of the base ingredients - the sweetness of the onions infuse with the spices and water creating a wonderfully rich base.

The post Top 10 Vegan Lunch Spots London appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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2019 is here and we find ourselves in perhaps the greenest of Jan’s to date. Record numbers of people have ditched their usual meat and dairy options in favour of plant-based alternatives for the Veganuary movement.

So in the spirit of all things veg, we’ve put together a selection of some of our favourite Vegan options the London high street has to offer.

Lords of Poke – Paddington Central, Camden Market

First up, we’ve got Lords of Poke with their crunchtastic “Veg Out Bowl“.

This tasty dish is packed with a colourful combo of nutritious ingredients. It contains ginger, Jack ‘n’ Tempeh (a combination of pulled Jackfruit and Tempeh), sweet pickled beets, shaved radish, edamame & orange/sesame carrot.

It’s fully loaded with veggies dense with immune boosting Vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, but by no means does it compromise in the protein department.

It contains 27g of protein in total, largely down to the inclusion of the jackfruit, tempeh and edamame beans which are a great lean source of protein, minus the cholesterol.

Also, if you’re a fan of aoli, they now serve a vegan one. Plus, if you feel like adding a little extra heat to your garnish, go for the wasabi aoli. Bring on the fire! (note: garlic breath inevitable).

Lords of Poke also provide the option of adding hemp protein powder to their vegan acai breakfast bowls making them a pretty punchy post-workout option.

Kua ‘Aina – Goodge Street, Carnaby Street

Kua ‘Aina are nothing short of masters when it comes sizzling up some smokey meats. But recently they’ve launched a vegan menu and it’s proving to be pretty popular!

The standout option is the Moving Mountain Vegan Burger. It’s packed full of delicious spices, plant proteins and mushrooms to create an amazing meaty flavour and consistency. Moving Mounting is fast becoming a big name in the Vegan community thanks to its innovative meat replacements.

The Moving Mountain Burger is said to be one of the best beef patty alternatives on the market. So if you’re craving a juicy old burger this Jan and you’ve got #vegunchuary on lockdown (yes, we combined “vegan”, “lunch” and January to name our vegan-lunch-all-month challenge…) then head to Kua ‘Aina for vegan patty feast. They’re one of few restaurants in London that serve them.

Kua ‘Aina also serves an avocado and peppers burger/sandwich, a mushroom and “cheese” burger, and a falafel sweet chilli burger. All of which can be served with either skinny fries or for more of a fitting January complex carb option – the sweet potato fries.

Vegan Express – Garratt Ln

Awesome vegan food made from scratch. Vegan Express source food from local growers and avoid, as much as possible, products that use too much of the planet’s resources.

For something truly optimised with healthy carbs, fats and proteins, go for the Vegan Express Green Bowl. It’s packed with fresh seaweed, kale, spinach, avocado, mung bean sprouts, beetroot noodles and fonio. So, super rich in vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Vitamin K and iron.

Ginger & Mint – Crouch End, Covent Garden, East Village

A super thoughtful cafe and juice bar that is as committed to sustainability as it is to boosting your happiness with bright and antioxidant-rich food and drink. There’s even an entire kitchen devoted to vegan cooking; rustling up a tasty selection of hot rice dishes, wraps, delicious desserts and veggie treats.

Two particularly good vegan options are the Falafel, Mixed Veg and Spinach Wrap and the Mean Green Smoothie which is packed with spirulina, Broccoli, Kale, Spinach and apple – a fantastic source of calcium, iron and antioxidants.

All Bar One – Waterloo, Leicester Square, Henrietta Street, New Oxford Street

All Bar One has a special Veganuary menu packed with healthy and nutritious goodies available throughout the whole of January.

A particularly good mains option is “The Power Of 5” with its chargrilled medley of greens, butternut squash, aubergine, mushroom, peppers and nigella seeds with a sesame & miso sauce and rice noodle cracker.

They also have a vegan burger sporting an aubergine and harissa patty, beetroot humous and fire roasted peppers served in an ancient grain bun. It’s packed with 23g of protein and comes with the option of chips on the side and a gherkin within.

Also worth noting is the Avocado & Black Rice Salad. This dish is loaded high with Avo, sprinkled with onion seeds, accompanied by quinoa, soya beans, baby kale and chilli topped with coconut dressing and tortilla crisps.

Yo! Sushi – All over London

In celebration of Veganuary, Yo sushi has extended its plant-based menu and now features a load of exciting new hot and cold vegan dishes! A particularly good hot option is the “Vegetable Yakisoba” with its characteristic tangy sauce and fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Then, for a light dish with a protein hit, there’s the “Miso Soup Unlimited” – a light and healthy shiro miso broth with wakame, spring onion and tofu.

A nice cold option is the vibrant Kaiso Seaweed with its marinated mix of seaweed edamame and carrot in a su-miso dressing. Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals such a Vitamin K, B, Zinc, Iron and loaded with antioxidants, while edamame beans are a great source of protein.

A tasty and nutritious parcel to enjoy alongside this dish would be the Inari Nigiri. These are sweet parcels of bean curd filled with sticky rice. Bean curd, or tofu, is high in protein, zinc and calcium.

The Gate – Islington, Marylebone, Hammersmith, St John’s Wood 

The Gate has achieved green god status among fellow veggie and vegan restaurants, thanks to it’s exquisitely fresh, healthy food. Each dish exhibits a perfect balance of nutritious ingredients and a masterful combination of flavours.

Sweet potato and pomegranate salad is a particularly optimised option providing a mix of complex carbs, healthy fats and cleansing herbs. The paprika dressing is pretty lively as well!

Nandos – All over London

Nandos have a load of great vegan options. Who’d have thunk it?

Here are some great little vegan hacks:

Supergreen pitta/burger is filled with all sorts of goodness like broccoli, edamame beans and kale (ask for it without mayo).

Then there’s the Sweet Potato and Butternut pita/burger filled with red pepper, onion and edamame beans (ask for it without mayo).

Portobello Mushroom pita/burger, usually served with halloumi, so just switch that up for something like pineapple or avocado and you’re good to go.

Then there’s the super healthy Supergrain Salad, just make sure to ask for it without chicken or buttermilk dressing. The Supergrain features a nice mix of grains, greens, beans with avocado chunks. Make sure to ask for it without the avocado and buttermilk dressing to make it vegan.

Bababoom – Battersea rise, Islington

These guys know a thing or two about charcoal grilling and spicing things up with a middle eastern flavour – and they don’t stop at meat. They serve up a wicked chargrilled cauliflower kebab with sweet potato hummus, pomegranate molasses, crispy onion and pomegranate seeds.

They’ve also got the Falafel BoomBox  (under 500 kcals, wholegrain carbs, no refined sugar) made-up from broad bean falafel with Avocado tahini, bulgur wheat, pickled chilli, chargrilled red pepper, harissa drizzle and rocket.

Rola Wala – Spitalfields

Rola Wala already boasts a menu packed with delicious veggie options. One of our favourites being the delicious veggie Tahli bowl, loaded with all sorts of crunchy, vitamin-rich goodness.

This Jan they launch Karma Korma as part of their #feedanuary campaign. T

his veggie dish is a no mess, no fuss, spice-fuelled powerhouse, free from nuts, dairy, heavy oil and sugar. Seriously delicious healthy stuff!

For every meal you buy at Rola Wala, they provide a school meal for a child living in poverty. You eat, they eat.

And they’ve just reached the incredible milestone of 500,000 meals!

And to celebrate this, for every Karma Korma you buy, they provide two school meals for children living in poverty. Pretty fantastic eh?

The food as Rola Wala is also nutritionally optimised. This is mostly down to the way they develop such flavour without the use of oil! So not only is it super tasty, it’s pretty darn lean.

The magic is in the slow cooking of the base ingredients – the sweetness of the onions infuse with the spices and water creating a wonderfully rich base.

The post Top 10 Vegan Lunch Spots London appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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2019 is here and we find ourselves in perhaps the greenest of Jan’s to date. Record numbers of people have ditched their usual meat and dairy options in favour of plant-based alternatives for the Veganuary movement.

So in the spirit of veggie, we’ve put together a selection of some of our favourite Vegan options the London high street has to offer.

Lords of Poke

First up, we’ve got Lords of Poke with their crunchtastic “Veg Out Bowl”. 

This tasty dish is packed with a colourful combo of nutritious ingredients. It contains ginger, Jack ‘n’ Tempeh (a combination of pulled Jackfruit and Tempeh), sweet pickled beets, shaved radish, edamame & orange/sesame carrot. This bowl is full of flavour, immune boosting Vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, but by no means does it compromise in the protein department. It contains 27g of protein in total, largely down to the inclusion of the jackfruit, tempeh and edamame beans which are a great lean source of protein, minus the cholesterol.

Also, if you’re a fan of aoli, they now serve a vegan one. And if you feel like adding a little extra heat to your garnish, go for the wasabi aoli. Bring on the fire! (note: garlic breath inevitable).

Lords of Poke also provide the option of adding hemp protein powder to their vegan acai breakfast bowls making them a pretty punchy post-workout option.

Kua ‘Aina – Burger 

Meaty masters of the grill, Kua ‘Aina, have recently launched a vegan menu and it’s proving to be pretty popular!

The standout option is the Moving Mountain Vegan Burger. It’s packed full of delicious spices, plant proteins and mushrooms to create an amazing meaty flavour and consistency. Moving Mounting is fast becoming a big name in the Vegan community thanks to its innovative meat replacements.

The Moving Mountain Burger is said to be one of the best beef patty alternatives on the market. So if you’re craving a juicy old burger this Jan and you’ve got #vegunchuary on lockdown (yes, we combined “vegan”, “lunch” and January to name our vegan-lunch-all-month challenge – small changes, big positive impact baby!) then head to Kua ‘Aina for vegan patty feast. They’re one of few restaurants in London that serve them.

Kua ‘Aina also serves an avocado and peppers burger/sandwich, a mushroom and “cheese” burger, and a falafel sweet chilli burger. All of which can be served with either skinny fries or for more of a fitting January complex carb option – the sweet potato fries.

Vegan Express

Awesome vegan food made from scratch. Vegan Express source food from local growers and avoid, as much as possible, products that use too much of the planet’s resources.

For something truly optimised with healthy carbs, fats and proteins, go for the Vegan Express Green Bowl. It’s packed with fresh seaweed, kale, spinach, avocado, mung bean sprouts, beetroot noodles and fonio. So, super-rich in vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Vitamin K and iron.

Ginger & Mint

A super thoughtful cafe and juice bar that is as committed to sustainability as it is to boosting your happiness with bright and antioxidant-rich food and drink. There’s even an entire kitchen devoted to vegan cooking; rustling up a tasty selection of hot rice dishes, wraps, and delicious desserts.

Two particularly good vegan options are the Falafel, Mixed Veg and Spinach Wrap and the Daily Fresh Vegan Salad.

All Bar One

All Bar One has a special Veganuary menu packed with healthy and nutritious goodies and available throughout the whole of January.

A particularly good mains option is “The Power Of 5” with its chargrilled medley of greens, butternut squash, aubergine, mushroom, peppers and nigella seeds with a sesame & miso sauce and rice noodle cracker.

They also have a vegan burger sporting an aubergine and harissa patty, beetroot humous and fire roasted peppers served in an ancient grain bun. It’s packed with 23g of protein and comes with the option of chips on the side and a gherkin within.

Also worth noting is the Avocado & Black Rice Salad. This dish is loaded high with Avo, sprinkled with onion seeds, accompanied by quinoa, soya beans, baby kale and chilli topped with coconut dressing and tortilla crisps.

Yo Sushi

In celebration of Veganuary, Yo sushi has extended its plant-based menu and now features a load of exciting new hot and cold vegan dishes! A particularly good hot option is the “Vegetable Yakisoba” with its characteristic tangy sauce and fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Then, for a light dish with a protein hit, there’s the “Miso Soup Unlimited” – a light and healthy shiro miso broth with wakame, spring onion and tofu.

A nice cold option is the vibrant Kaiso Seaweed with its marinated mix of seaweed edamame and carrot in a su-miso dressing. Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals such a Vitamin K, B, Zinc, Iron and loaded with antioxidants, while edamame beans are a great source of protein.

A tasty and nutritious parcel to enjoy alongside this dish would be the Inari Nigiri. These are sweet parcels of bean curd filled with sticky rice. Bean curd, or tofu, is high in protein, zinc and calcium.

The Gate

The Gate has achieved green god status among fellow veggie and vegan restaurants, thanks to it’s exquisitely fresh, healthy food. Each dish exhibits a perfect balance of nutritious ingredients and a masterful combination of flavours.

Sweet potato and pomegranate salad is a particularly optimised option providing a mix of complex carbs, healthy fats and cleansing herbs. The paprika dressing is pretty lively as well!

Nandos

Nandos have a load of great vegan options. Who’d have thunk it?

Here are some great little vegan hacks:

Supergreen pitta/burger is filled with all sorts of goodness like broccoli, edamame beans and kale (ask for it without mayo).

Then there’s the Sweet Potato and Butternut pita/burger filled with red pepper, onion and edamame beans (ask for it without mayo).

Portobello Mushroom pita/burger, usually served with halloumi, so just switch that up for something like pineapple or avocado and you’re good to go.

Then there’s the super healthy Supergrain Salad, just make sure to ask for it without chicken or buttermilk dressing. The Supergrain features a nice mix of grains, greens, beans with avocado chunks. Make sure to ask for it without the avocado and buttermilk dressing to make it vegan.

Bababoom

These kebab kings know a thing or two about piling in tonnes of flavour and they don’t stop at meat. They serve up a wicked chargrilled cauliflower kebab with sweet potato hummus, pomegranate molasses, crispy onion and pomegranate seeds.

They’ve also got the Falafel BoomBox  (under 500 kcals, wholegrain carbs, no refined sugar) made-up from broad bean falafel with Avocado tahini, bulgur wheat, pickled chilli, chargrilled red pepper, harissa drizzle and rocket.

The post Vegan Food London | Nutrifix Top Picks appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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Creatine Supplementation for Vegans – Game-Changer for Exercisers and Athletes

Creatine supplementation for vegans is a topic that not many other blogs have touched upon, but it is one that could be a game-changer for those of us who have adopted a vegan diet.

Creatine is among the most popular ergogenic aids for athletes and exercisers regardless of diet. Research has consistently demonstrated that creatine supplementation increases intramuscular creatine concentrations, promotes improvements in exercise performance, and enhances training adaptations.

In addition, studies have shown that creatine supplementation might boost recovery from exercise, prevent injuries, and enhance thermoregulation, rehabilitation and concussion neuroprotection.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that carries energy within cells and drives several processes such as muscle contraction. The adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatine (ATP-PC) system is our body’s most dominant energy pathway during short explosive exercise bouts.

It has the highest rate of ATP production out of all of our energy systems, and has the greatest power potential as it utilises the energy obtained through intramuscular stores of ATP and phosphocreatine (PCr). The amount of energy that can be acquired via this energy system is limited, and it is typically the dominant energy system for roughly the first 6-7 seconds of all-out work.

When our PCr stores begin to deplete during high-intensity exercise, we are no longer able to resynthesise ATP at the rapid rate at which our bodies require it, and our exercise performance is reduced.

Related: How Much Protein Do I Need? | We Asked A Nutritionist 

The key factor in the replenishment of ATP during and after exercise is the levels of stored PCr in the muscle. Therefore, increasing the amount of intramuscular PCr is critical if we are to delay PCr depletion, hold off fatigue, and perform at a higher intensity for longer. Creatine supplementation may be an effective way to achieve this aim.

It is important to remember that, although the ATP-PC system makes a large contribution to high-intensity efforts, it is also constantly involved in providing energy for lower intensity tasks too, albeit to a lesser extent. In this article, we make the case for creatine supplementation for vegans, and lay out some of the potential benefits of this powerful nutritional supplement.

Creatine Supplementation for Vegans

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid compound which is primarily found in food sources such as red meat, seafood and poultry. It’s not surprising, then, that adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet decreases muscle creatine stores and vegans and vegetarians therefore typically have lower levels of creatine in their blood and muscle tissue

The research also highlights the potential benefit of creatine supplementation for vegans due to our low pre-existing muscle creatine stores. In this study, the researchers found that supplemental creatine increased previously low creatine stores in vegetarians, who demonstrated greater improvements in fat-free body mass, maximal strength and type II muscle fibre area compared to omnivores.

Therefore, creatine supplementation may be a beneficial ergogenic aid for vegan athletes and exercisers, and may compensate for decreased levels of muscle creatine stores that result from the nature of our lifestyle choice.

Supplementation Protocols

The majority of our stored creatine is found in skeletal muscle (~95%) with modest amounts found in the brain and testes (~5%). Roughly 1-2% of our intramuscular creatine is degraded into creatinine (a metabolic by-product) and excreted in the urine, which is why some authors suggest that we replenish our stores with 1-3 g of creatine per day to maintain an adequate supply.

Omnivorous obtain roughly half of this daily requirement from diet alone (one pound of uncooked salmon or beef contains approximately 1-2 g of creatine). 

In an omnivorous diet that contains 1-2 g/day of creatine, creatine stores are generally around 60-80% saturated. Accordingly, dietary creatine supplementation should serve to increase muscle creatine and phosphocreatine by 20-40%. A dosage of 5 g of creatine monohydrate or 0.3 g/kg body weight four times daily for 5-7 days has been shown to be the most effective method of increasing muscle creatine stores in omnivores.

After a 5-7 day loading protocol of 5 g of creatine monohydrate four times daily and with creatine stores fully saturated, creatine stores can be maintained by consuming 3-5 g/day, although larger athletes and exercisers may require up to 5-10 g/day to maintain their creatine stores.

Athletes with a larger body mass who engage in intense training might require 10 g/day of creatine to maintain optimal creatine stores, and 10-30 g/day may be required by clinical populations throughout their lifespan in order to offset creatine synthesis deficiencies and/or produce a therapeutic effect in numerous disease states.

With this information in mind, and since vegan diets have been shown to reduce muscle creatine stores, we may need to consume slightly higher dosages than those administered to omnivores in clinical studies, and supplement with 7-10 g four times daily for 5-7 days (loading phase) and 5-7 g/day for maintenance.

The ingestion of creatine with carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein has been shown to be more effective in consistently promoting greater creatine retention. Once creatine muscle stores are elevated, it typically takes 4-6 weeks for them to return to baseline.

Finally, there is no evidence to suggest that muscle creatine levels fall below baseline following cessation of creatine supplementation, indicating that long-term suppression of endogenous creatine synthesis does not occur.

Bioavailability

The process of creatine uptake involves the absorption of creatine into the blood followed by uptake by the destined tissue. Blood plasma levels of creatine generally peak at around 60 minutes after orally ingesting creatine monohydrate.

The major reason that creatine is sold in solid form is due to the degradation of creatine into creatinine over time. However, the conversion of creatine into creatinine in our gastrointestinal tract is minimal regardless of transit time; its absorption into the blood is almost 100%.

The most widely studied form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. Various claims have been made by manufacturers regarding the reduced degradation or greater uptake to the muscle of different forms of creatine such as creatine citrate, creatine serum, creatine ethyl ester, buffered versions of creatine, and creatine nitrate. However, there is no clinical evidence to support these claims.

Is Creatine Vegan?

A common question that is asked with regards to creatine supplementation for vegans is, “Is creatine Vegan?”. Yes, certain types of creatine are vegan; powdered versions of synthetic creatine are vegan-friendly, while capsulated products may contain bovine gelatine.

Therefore, the most beneficial form of creatine supplementation for vegans in creatine monohydrate.

Ergogenic Value

The results of several studies have shown that creatine supplementation increases muscle availability of creatine and PCr, and improves acute exercise capacity and subsequent training adaptations in a range of populations such as adolescents, younger adults and older individuals. These training adaptations allow us to perform more work during a sequence of sets or sprints which leads to greater increases in strength, muscle mass and/or performance due to enhance training quality.

Following a creatine loading protocol, high intensity training or repetitive exercise performance is typically increased by 10-20% depending on the increase in muscle PCr that has been achieved. Although benefits of creatine supplementation have been reported in both men and women, some studies indicate that women do not gain as much strength or muscle mass during training. However, several other benefits of creatine supplementation for vegans will be described below.

In terms of physical performance measures, the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that creatine monohydrate is the most beneficial ergogenic supplement for athletes who want to increase their high intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass.

Potential Ergogenic Benefits of Creatine Supplementation
  • Increased single and repetitive sprint performance
  • Increased work performed during sets of maximal effort muscle contractions
  • Increased muscle mass & strength adaptations
  • Enhanced glycogen synthesis
  • Increased anaerobic threshold
  • Possible enhancement of aerobic capacity
  • Increased work capacity
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Greater training tolerance

(International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand)

Enhanced Recovery

As well as providing an ergogenic effect, creatine supplementation can help us recover from intense training. For example, research has shown that the addition of creatine loading in a glycogen loading protocol prior to performing exhaustive training promotes greater glycogen replenishment than glycogen loading alone. This is an important finding for athletes and exercisers who deplete large quantities of muscle glycogen during training and/or competition since glycogen restoration is an important factor in promoting recovery and preventing overtraining.

The benefits of creatine supplementation have also been noted in experienced marathon runners who loaded with creatine prior to completing a 30km race. The study showed that participants who supplemented with creatine experienced a decrease in inflammatory markers and a reduction in muscle soreness compared to controls.

In addition, muscle force recovery and muscle damage have been improved following creatine supplementation. Participants in this study noticed significantly greater concentric and isometric knee extension strength during recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage compared to controls.

Therefore, creatine supplementation for vegans may help optimise glycogen loading, accumulate less inflammation, and tolerate high volumes of training to a greater extent thereby aiding recovery.

Injury Prevention

Studies that have focused on the effects of creatine supplementation on injury prevention during training and/or competition either report no effect at all, or a reduction in the incidence of musculoskeletal injury, dehydration and/or muscle cramping.

For example, a study involving American Collegiate football players who ingested 16 g/day of creatine for 5 days (loading protocol) and 5-10 g/day for the following 21 months experienced no significant differences in markers of catabolism, electrolytes, and urine volume compared with those who did not use creatine. Conversely, other studies have shown that the incidence of muscle cramping, dehydration/heat illness, muscle tightness, muscle strains, and total injuries can all be reduced with creatine supplementation.

Importantly, there is no evidence that creatine supplementation increases the incidence of musculoskeletal injury, dehydration or muscle cramps, or that the supplementation of creatine promotes any clinically significant side effects in participants who supplement for up to 3 years. In fact, the literature suggests that those who supplement with creatine may see a reduction in injuries compared to those who do not.

Therefore, creatine supplementation for vegans may be effective in preventing a range of injuries, with no adverse health risks.

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The popularity of vegan diets has increased in recent years, perhaps due to the growth of campaigns like Veganuary and the increased use of social media as a channel to share knowledge, experiences and to engage in debates. 

In addition, a number of elite athletes have reportedly adopted a vegan diet such as former England striker Jermain Defoe, former world heavyweight boxer David Haye, and tennis champion Venus Williams who have all publicised their vegan lifestyles.

The decision to follow a vegan diet is often accompanied by strong ethical beliefs pertaining to animal welfare. Veganism is a type of vegetarianism which rules out the consumption of animal products and is advocated by some for the supposed health benefits associated with it such as reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease. 

However, poorly designed vegan diets may predispose individuals to macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies which should be of particular concern if care is not taken to replace certain nutrients that have been eliminated from the diet due to the exclusion of animal products.

Although a limited number of studies have concluded that the vegan diet may offer physical performance benefits due to the antioxidant, micronutrient and carbohydrate-rich foods that are commonplace in plant-based diets, there is generally a lack of research on the topic of veganism in sport and exercise.

However, with Veganuary 2019 fast approaching, we thought we’d write an extensive review of the current research relating to the vegan diet for sports and exercise, and provide recommendations for vegan athletes and coaches, with an emphasis on meeting micronutrient and macronutrient requirements.

Veganuary and Energy Intake

Veganuary is a campaign which encourages people to adopt a vegan diet for the month of January – the month most commonly associated with resolution and change – to experience life as a vegan for a short period and examine the effects on their physical and mental health and performance.

For some, this journey is an extremely positive one which results in permanent lifestyle changes, while others decide that this diet does not suit them.

An important point to understand, though, is that there are several different ways of approaching veganism. The key to maximising your potential on this journey is to ensure basic dietary requirements are achieved in order to meet both health and performance needs and to achieve your sport-specific and exercise-related goals.

For the majority of athletes or exercisers, a well-constructed diet of any kind should provide adequate energy in order to bring about energy balance. However, research shows that a negative energy balance exists among athletes competing in endurance events and in sports that require the athlete to make weight such as combat sports, gymnastics, skating and dancing. In addition, high-intensity training may be followed by a reduction in appetite.

The impact of insufficient energy can be detrimental to our health and performance as our immune system may become compromised, resulting in illness and unwanted time off from training and competition. Weight loss can also occur as a result of insufficient energy which may cause muscle loss, poor training adaptations and a reduction in muscular strength.

Research suggests that vegans generally have a lower total energy intake than omnivores, as well as a lower consumption of protein, fat, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium, Therefore, managing your energy balance is important for both health and performance during Veganuary; especially since the vegan diet has been shown to induce early satiation (fullness) and reduced appetite.

First, let’s take a look at the macronutrients that provide us with energy – protein, carbohydrate and fat.

Macronutrients Protein

Although there has been much debate over how much protein athletes require for optimal adaptation, it is generally accepted that athletes and those who exercise regularly need higher quantities of protein than non-athletic populations. It should also be noted that individual protein requirements should reflect your performance targets and training goals.

Protein in our diet plays a number of different roles. Firstly, it is an energy substrate for performance and a catalyst for exercise adaptation; this means that as well as using protein as an energy source to perform muscular work, it also facilitates exercise adaptation needed to reach our training goals. Secondly, it helps us achieve a net protein balance (the balance between muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis) which is required for adequate exercise recovery, adaptation and anabolism (constructive metabolism).

Vegan athletes generally consume less protein than omnivores and vegetarians. Accordingly, we should pay close attention to the food sources we consume in terms of the quality and quantity of their protein since plant-based protein sources are often incomplete, lacking essential amino acids and typically including less branched chain amino acids (BCAA) than animal-based sources. This means that, in most cases, animal-based protein sources have a greater biological value (a measure of protein quality) due to their complete amino acid profile.

Some of the amino acids that are most commonly absent in plant-based protein sources include lysine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine and tryptophan, of which lysine is most frequently lacking – especially in cereal grains. Beans and legumes are vegan-friendly protein sources that are rich in lysine.

When looking at studies on protein, exercise performance and subsequent recovery specifically, it is apparent that leucine is a main driver in the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, and plays a crucial role in facilitating recovery and adaptation from exercise. Dairy milk is thought to promote muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than other protein sources due to its rich BCAA profile, which is why it is often consumed post-exercise. Vegan-friendly leucine sources include soy beans and lentils, and additional BCAAs can be obtained from seeds, tree nuts and chickpeas, indicating that these amino acids can, in fact, be obtained via the consumption of an assortment of protein-rich plant-based foods.

Plant-based protein supplements made from sources such as soy, hemp, pea, rice and various blends are widely available and may be of particular interest to vegan athletes and exercisers who find consuming adequate amounts of protein through whole foods challenging. Research on plant-based protein powders shows that they can effectively promote exercise recovery and support muscle hypertrophy throughout a resistance training protocol.

Related: The One & Only Best Protein Powder For You | Nutrifix Guide

In summary, we need to consume a wide variety of plant-based proteins in order to meet our protein and amino acid requirements when following a vegan diet. We can achieve this by consuming foods such as grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, ensuring that all essential amino acids are included and that sufficient BCAAs are obtained to facilitate recovery and exercise adaptation.

Protein recommendations for athletes;

  • Strength/power athletes – 1.6-1.7 g/kg per day
  • Endurance sports athletes – 1.2-1.4 g/kg per day
  • Non-active adults – 0.8 g/kg per day

(see Nutrition Guidelines for Strength Sports, and Nutrition for power sports)

Vegan-friendly high protein foods (protein per 100g)

  • Pumpkin seeds (dried, uncooked) 30.2
  • Lentils (red, split, uncooked) 24.6
  • Black beans (uncooked) 21.6
  • Almonds (raw) 21.2
  • Tempeh 20.3
  • Tofu (calcium set) 17.3
  • Oats (rolled) 16.9
  • Quinoa (uncooked) 14.1

(see Composition of Foods)

Carbohydrates

Individuals who follow a vegan diet typically consume higher amounts of carbohydrates, fibre, fruits, vegetables, antioxidants and phytochemicals than those who follow an omnivorous diet. The greater consumption of phytochemical-rich foods associated with any type of plant-based diet is an important benefit since this practice may aid in reducing the effects of excess inflammation, and facilitate exercise recovery.

In fact, some endurance athletes have reportedly switched to a vegan diet to meet their carbohydrate needs and to support their weight management targets.

Consuming sufficient amounts of carbohydrates through a vegan diet during Veganuary is fairly uncomplicated since grains, legumes, beans, tubers, fruits, and a range of root vegetables can be included to effectively meet carbohydrate requirements for athletes and exercisers, which has been reported to be 4-12 g/kg depending on gender, exercise mode and dietary aims.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that these foods are high in fibre which means they stimulate early satiation, so consuming these foods to obtain adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrate may be challenging for some individuals. Additionally, a fibre-rich diet has the potential to cause gastric distress due to the lectins in carbohydrate sources such as beans, grains, nuts and potatoes, as well as the indigestible carbohydrates that exist in oats, peas, beans, fruits and certain varieties of lentils.

Therefore, if you plan on participating in high-volume training during Veganuary, it may be more suitable to select foods with low fibre content in order to obtain adequate amounts of carbohydrate, providing satisfactory micronutrient status is achieved. Carbohydrate sources such as pasta, rice, noodles and buckwheat contain lower amounts of fibre than foods such as lentils, oats, beans and wholegrain bread. In addition, tubers and root vegetables can be reduced in fibre content by removing their skins.

Fat

ALA, EPA and DHA

Due to the elimination of fats from marine sources in the vegan diet, vegans generally consume fewer omega 3 fatty acids than omnivores and various other vegetarian diets. Both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential, but the long chain omega 3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are generally not consumed in adequate amounts in the western diet, and in the vegan diet, in particular.

Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in cardiovascular health, inflammatory and chronic disease, and normal growth and development, as well as potentially promoting the improvement of heart rate variability and an increase in nitric oxide production. Therefore, the absence of these fats in the vegan diet may have important implications on your health and performance during Veganuary.

Although there is no consensus on the quantities and/or ratios of omega 3 to 6 required to positively impact health and performance, the research suggests that individuals following vegetarian diets of various types should limit their consumption of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids found in sunflower, corn and safflower oils to reduce any negative effects associated with their intake. Indeed, the Department of Health in the United Kingdom recommends an upper limit of 10% of total energy intake from omega 6 fatty acids.

Omega 3 alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is a vital component of cellular membrane and is converted to EPA with approximately an 8% efficiency, while only 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA. Although we have the ability to convert small quantities of ALA to DHA, the main source of DHA is cold water fish and seafood. Vegan-friendly food sources of ALA include linseed (flax seed), walnut and chia seed (chia seed is also a complete protein).

While research shows that supplementary ALA  increases blood EPA levels, it fails to influence DHA status. Therefore, supplementing with microalgae oil which is rich in DHA and EPA may be of interest to you should you decide to take part in Veganuary as this study indicates that microalgae oil supplements raise both blood DHA and EPA levels.

In summary, consuming a combination of whole-food ALA as we’ve discussed here with supplemental DHA in the form of microalgae is a sensible approach to optimising omega 3 fatty acid intake for Veganuary. We recommend consuming 1-2 g per day of combined EPA and DHA at a ratio of 2:1. To obtain 500-1000 mg of DHA per day, 1-2 g of microalgae oil (2-4 capsules in most commercially available products) is required.

Micronutrients

Although consuming adequate quantities of micronutrients should be an important consideration for all athletes and exercisers, you may want to pay close attention to your intake of vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D when designing a vegan diet for Veganuary. A poorly constructed vegan diet may lead to deficiencies in certain micronutrients which could have negative effects on health and performance, so strategies to prevent the under-consumption of these nutrients must be understood if you are considering adopting a vegan diet in January.

Vitamin B12

Since the vegan diet is absent of animal and dairy products, living the vegan lifestyle for Veganuary may leave you susceptible to developing vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is crucial for normal nervous system function, and a deficiency can result in morphological changes to blood cells and the development of megaloblastic anaemia and neuropathy. A long-term deficiency in vitamin B12 may cause irreversible neurological damage.

The research indicates that adopting a vegan diet may lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency if it is not supplemented. In fact, data from a cohort study in the UK showed that approximately 50% of vegan subjects were deficient in vitamin B12 and a further 21% were considered to have very low levels. Moreover, although 20% of the subjects in this study supplemented vitamin B12, the levels of the vitamin in the blood between those who did vs those who did not were not different, indicating that supplementation among these individuals was largely ineffective.

The human body has a small capacity to absorb vitamin B12 supplements when they are ingested orally. For example, approximately 10 μg is absorbed following oral ingestion of 500 μg. For this reason, a range of products have been developed that supposedly provide better absorption such as vitamin lozenges, sublingual, and transdermal supplements, but the claims made by the manufacturers of these products are not supported by any published literature.

Although the Dietary Reference Intake for vitamin B12 is 2.4 μg per day for both male and female adults, Dr Joel Fuhrman and Deana Ferreri’s recommendations state that vegans should consume up to 6 μg of supplemental vitamin B12 per day. Serum levels of vitamin B12 may need to be monitored by a medical practitioner if a deficiency is suspected despite oral supplementation. In a small number of cases, subcutaneous or intramuscular injections may be necessary.

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin that is produced in the skin, vitamin D is instrumental in several physiological processes and is important for calcium absorption and bone health. Although we synthesize vitamin D via sunlight exposure, it can also be obtained from animal products and certain fortified foods, so dietary intakes of this vitamin tend to be low in vegans who do not achieve adequate exposure to sunlight.

Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is a type of vitamin D that is derived from animals and is commercially available as a supplement. However, vegan-friendly versions of vitamin D3 derived from a type of composite fungal organism are now widely available, presenting vegans with a more bioavailable vitamin D supplement than Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) which has a limited bioavailability. These vegan-friendly vitamin D3 supplements are generally dosed in similar amounts to the animal-derived versions, with 200-1000 IU dosages per serving being commonplace.

Although the UK Department of Health recommend 400 IU of vitamin D per day for those who do not achieve sufficient levels of sunlight exposure, Dalquist and colleagues propose that athletes and exercisers supplement with..

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(And How to Fix Them)

It’s cold, dark and we are in the depths of winter, but yet it doesn’t feel like the Winter Wonderland we were hoping for. More like Winter Whiner-land with a runny nose!

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. This time of year can take its toll on all of us, both physically and psychologically.

Here are 4 major reasons you could be feeling tired all the time and how to fix them.

But before we start…

Make sure to check out the “Bonus Boosters” at end of the post where you’ll find some super simple tips on how to boost your mood and instantly feel energized.

OK, let’s get cracking…

Within each section, we’ll also help you with some exciting, energy boosting ideas to get you out of that rut and firing on all cylinders for your 6 am yoga class…

Ok, maybe not the 6 am part…I got a little carried away!

#1 Vitamin D Deficiency

It’s natural to feel a little lower on energy during the winter months. But not too low.

For starters, our bodies are getting less natural light, which means less Vitamin D. And one study proved that Vit D is an energy booster.

It’s also believed that around 60% of the UK population are deficient in Vit D, which could go some way to explaining your lacklustre winter mood.

How to Fix it…

Percentage-wise, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re one of those with a Vit D deficiency, so make sure top up on it whenever you can.

You could use a supplement. If you do, make sure it’s a high-quality one with as few artificial ingredients as possible.

Another option is to increase your intake of foods that are high in Vit D, such as fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon or beef liver and egg yolks.

An added benefit of having more Vit D is that you will absorb more calcium, as Vit D helps with its absorption. That should lead to stronger bones.

Just don’t think about soaking your tuna in a glass of milk overnight. It’s nasty.

And if you’re in any doubt, ask your doctor for a blood test to test your Vitamin D levels. Explain how you’re feeling and it should be easy to get a test done.

Related: 5 essential supplements for winter survival

#2 Your Choice of Diet

If you’re following a specific kind of diet, like the ketogenic diet, vegan or vegetarian, this could mean you’re not getting enough of a particular food group or vitamin.

For example, vegans often don’t consume enough vitamin B which is directly related to low energy levels.

If you’re going Keto, the low levels of carbohydrates could be the cause of your slump.

It’s not that any of these diets are bad, it just might not be suitable for you at this time of year or you may need to make some more adjustments to it.

With all the added stresses and strains of Christmas, perhaps your body needs some extra energy from carbs or foods that you’re removing from your normal eating habits.

How to fix it…

Supplementing with a high-quality Vitamin B is one option because it’s an easy way to boost your Vit B levels.

Having said that, fresh is best when it comes to food. So try to top-up naturally with foods such as poultry, eggs, vegetables and fresh fruit.

If your food intake looks the same every day and consists of white rice, salt, pepper, olive oil and a packet of crisps it could be time to widen your culinary horizons.

Variety is the spice of life as they say. It’s also the key to a healthy, energy-filled one.

#3 Not Enough Recovery

As ironic as it sounds, your lack of energy might be because you’re not resting enough.

Usually at this time of year your sleep can start to take a hit because of office parties, meeting up with friends and last minute late night Amazon shopping sprees finding presents you forget to get.

All of that takes its toll on your mind and body. If you’re continuing to train hard, with a lack of sleep and possible vitamin D and B deficiency, you’re going to be feeling it.

One sign is that your Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) lasts longer from your usual kind of intensity workouts, which leaves you feeling tired all the time.

And don’t forget that one night’s good sleep is not going to mean you’re fully recovered.

Think of your sleep like a bank balance. You have to pay into it regularly to keep it topped up and out of the red.

How to fix it…

Have a think about your current routine and sleeping patterns. Are you sleeping less than normal? 7-8 hours is required for most people.

Maybe you could book out a little extra time to relax and unwind in the spa after a training session and then head straight home for an early night.

#4 Your Cortisol Levels are High

Cortisol is often seen in a negative light, but it’s a really important hormone for many functions within the body and is incredibly complex.

One use of cortisol is when we’re in danger. It is released and helps make us alert and ready for action.

That’s great when the threat is short lived and our body can return to normal shortly after.

Unfortunately, though, for most of us we live in times where we experience low levels of stress continuously.

This chronic stress can lead to sustained higher than normal levels of cortisol and many negative consequences, such as weight gain, anxiety and depression.

Caffeine has also been shown to cause cortisol release. So if you’re knocking back several double shots a day and have a stressful job, your levels might be higher than ideal.

Remember, it’s the sum of all the parts which contribute to how stressed you are feeling.

Think about alcohol consumption, work stress, home life stresses, caffeine intake, lack of sleep and amount of exercise.

Consider how well you are doing in each of those to get an overall idea of how likely it is your cortisol levels are too high.

You can also judge it by mood. If you’re feeling down and a little glum about life, this could be the cause.

How to fix it…

The first thing is to see what needs fixing, from diet to caffeine to work stress.

In general, a diet of fresh food, with a low alcohol intake, 7-8 hours sleep per night, 2-3 hours of exercise a week and a maximum of 1-2 cups of coffee a day should be ok for most.

If you’re very stressed and are thinking about exercising, HIIT might NOT be your best option.

HIIT is a stressful kind of workout for your body. Adding more stress is probably not ideal, so perhaps a lower intensity exercise session would be more beneficial. At least to start with anyway.

You could go for a long walk, a slow jog or a swim. Swimming is very rhythmic and ensures you are breathing deeply. It’s like a form of meditation.

Bonus Boosters

Here’s where we look at some energy boosting hacks to manipulate your mood.

#1 Water – Simple but effective. Our bodies are up to 60% water, with the heart and brain being 73%. If you don’t drink enough, you’re going to feel low on energy and unable to concentrate.

Top Tip: Drink 500ml of water within the first hour of waking. You’ve been 8+ hours without any, so your mind and body need it.

#2 Phone Usage – The light that our phone screens emit stimulates our minds and suppresses melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycles). That’s not good if you’re trying to get to sleep.

Top Tip: Leave your phone outside your bedroom or turn it onto aeroplane mode 1 hour before you want to go to sleep.

#3 Warm Lemon Water – Not only does this contribute to your water intake, it also boosts your metabolism and aids your digestive system.

Top Tip: Buy a pack of fresh lemons and keep them in the fridge, they will last ages.

#4 Morning Energiser – Getting your body moving first thing helps it stay alert all day long. You don’t have to hit the gym, just a simple 8 min home workout will do the trick.

Top Tip: Start off doing 10 press-ups, 10 squats, 10 sit-ups and 10 star jumps each morning and build up from there.

#5 Cold Shower – A cold shower might not seem appealing, but just a few mins under the cold water in the morning will boost your metabolism, increase blood circulation and definitely wake you up!

Top Tip: Start by standing directly under warm water and gradually turn the temp down. Kind of like boiling a frog but in reverse.

Coming to a sleepy end…

Hopefully this post didn’t put you to sleep, but then again maybe that’s a good thing if you need the extra Zzzs!

Which one of the tips will you be looking to start using? Share with a friend who you think could benefit from these ideas.

Oh, and we’ll see you at winter wonderland then? No whining, promise?

Written by Robert Jackson of Minimal FiT, whose network of personal trainers includes Canary Wharf and South East London.

The post 4 Reasons You’re Feeling Tired All The Time appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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All the taste without feeling like a pig in a blanket.

Here at Nutrifix, we’re all about the balance – and no-one should ever feel guilty about eating their favourite meal or think they need to do extra burpees on Boxing Day to ‘burn off’ the roasties. Yet at the same time, there’s no reason why a Christmas Dinner can’t also be a great time to pack a nutritional punch.

Our nutritionist shares her tips for pimping your Christmas Day lunch.

Related: 10 Hot Tips To Beat The Christmas Binge | The Nutrifix party season survival guide

The starter

Christmas Day starters are an easy course to make light and healthy – with smoked salmon, a prawn cocktail or retro parma ham and melon all great choices. You could also try figs with goats cheese, a walnut and blue cheese salad or soup – in fact, studies have shown that people who eat soup as a starter go on to eat fewer calories at their main meal.

Why not try this Butternut And Sage Soup for the perfect seasonal starter (and it’s vegan too!)

The veggies

Here is where you can fill yer boots. A traditional roast dinner is a great way to hit your five a day with minimal effort. To get an extra superfood boost you could try the following:

Roasted parsnips with turmeric – toss sliced parsnips in a small bowl with olive oil. Add some crushed garlic and a teaspoon of turmeric. Bake with a little sea salt (and an optional sprinkling of parmesan cheese).

No more soggy sprouts – stir-fry shredded brussels in a little oil and then sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

Perfect vegan roasties – however you like your roast potatoes, most of us will agree that crispy wins. However, if you’re not going for the goose fat then heat olive oil in a roasting pan before you add the potatoes to ensure yours have that delish crispy coating. Adding some rosemary to the pan will give them that perfect taste of Christmas.

The main event

Turkey isn’t just for bodybuilders – we can all benefit from the nutritional superpower of this lean meat. Not only is it fairly low in calories (a typical 150g serving contains around 200 calories) but it’s also a source of vitamins B6, B12, niacin, selenium and zinc. If you choose an organic turkey it’ll also be higher in omega 3s as it’s been allowed to feed on a wider range of foods rather than simply fed corn.

If you’re aiming to be more plant based in 2019, kick off early and go for a veggie or vegan main dish. You could try making a pumpkin a beautiful centrepiece and stuffing it with rice, onions, nuts and berries, as well as some optional halloumi.

Try this recipe (pictured below)

The sweet stuff

No need to hold back – it’s Christmas after all. In fact, Christmas desserts can be naturally full of goodness. Christmas pudding, for example, is full of antioxidant-rich, immunity-boosting dried fruit and nuts and as it’s so rich it’s difficult to have more than a small slice.

For a healthy Christmas pudding recipe with a slightly strange mystery ingredient give this one a go http://www.hemsleyandhemsley.com/recipe/christmas-pudding/.

But if that’s not your thing, why not try a winter Eton mess using seasonal berries, clementines and winter fruit?

Related: The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake Recipe | Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Protein Packed

What.. still room for cheese??

Of course there is, in our third belly (the second being the dessert belly). As a nutritionist, one of the most common questions I get is ‘can I eat cheese?’. Like everything cheese is fine in a balanced diet and can actually be a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin A and B12. It’s also a great way to finish a meal as it’s been shown that it can reduce the acidity in the mouth, so can help protect teeth against decay. Just remember that moderation means a slice, rather than a whole slab ;-). If you’re conscious of adding yet more calories, go for the softer cheeses as they’ll be lower in calories and also lower in saturated fats.

The post THE Nutritionally Optimised Christmas Dinner appeared first on Nutrifix | Find Your Healthy | Nutrition App.

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The Nutrifix party season survival guide

Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy the company of family and friends while reflecting on the closing year. Every family has their own Christmas traditions, but it would be a safe guess that most traditions involve large amounts of food and alcohol and not a lot of physical activity. It is these traits of the festive season that lead to a weight increase of almost 0.5kg for the average adult in the UK over the holiday period.

So, with that in mind, whether you’re a vegan or a turkey lover, a gym junkie or a couch potato. Here are a few ways to ensure that you won’t be a part of that 0.5kg weight gain statistic, and still be able to indulge during the festivities.

Use the key to skip to parts of this mega article to get the tips and advice you need:

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Christmas Nutrition 101: Turkey Dinner, Office Snacks, Christmas Cocktail Hacks and Healthy Christmas Recipes

Christmas staples such as mince pies, pigs in blankets and Christmas puddings are delicious, but they’re not what you’d describe as ‘health foods’. But neither are they year-round indulgences. Imagine…

The combination of delicious food in abundance and the fact that Christmas only comes around once a year can be a recipe for a monstrous binge – if you let it!

With the 0.5kg in mind, we need a solid strategy to navigate the treacherous sea of treats and social drinking to come. So, from the outset, we need to focus on at least two of these aspects. 

  1. Replacing unhealthy food with delicious, healthy substitutes.
  2. Monitoring the quantity that you eat and implementing some ‘rules of engagement’ with regards to the accepting treats.

Both of these strategies will take some discipline, but they’re well worth it. Successfully stopping the Christmas binge could act as a great confidence springboard for you to take on that New Years’ resolution!

Also, who says that self-discipline has to be boring!?

Remember, it’s not really about losing weight at this time of the year. The aim is also to keep it off!

Get a notepad and feast your eyes on the following tips, tricks, rules and healthy alternatives.

#1 Healthy Christmas Snack Hacks

Sweet, sugary snacks are generally energy dense and contain high amounts of carbohydrates, meaning that they won’t fill you up for long and you’ll constantly be going back for more.

Now it just wouldn’t be Christmas without relatives and friendly neighbours piling you high with chocolate covered biscuits. And let’s not forget those Christmas chocolate classics either – box after box of Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street being passed around the office (which are currently retailing at an all-time low of £3.99 for your information). That’s not a prompt to run down to the local supermarket and pick up 20 boxes either! We have a better idea.

Here are the rules:

  • Substituting these unhealthy treats for healthy alternatives is a great way to cut caloric excess. And just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it has to compromise on flavour!
  • Don’t say “no” to every treat, this time of year, that’s just plain cruel! Instead, make a rule to say “no” to every second treat offered to you. Do this, and you’re taking major steps in the right direction.

Related: HOW much sugar?! The Best & Worst Christmas Drinks 2018

#2 Healthy Christmas Treats

For those of you with an adventurous streak, take a look at some of these healthy Christmas treats and have a crack at making some yourself. You can follow the recipes or put your own spin on things, it’s up to you. Just keep them healthy!

o  https://www.healthymummy.com/healthy-christmas-snacks/ – You don’t have to be a mum to enjoy these easy Christmas treats! From protein packed Christmas bliss balls to healthy strawberry Santas, these recipes are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

o  https://pinchofyum.com/9-healthy-holiday-treats – Peanut butter and dark chocolate are a recurring theme in this blog – and let’s face it, it’s a dreamy combo – but there are a load more tasty variations well worth a try!

o  https://www.hellowonderful.co/post/10-festive-christmas-shaped-treats-and-snacks-for-your-next-holiday-party/ – The blog to turn to for everything Christmas tree shaped treat! From veggie pizza trees to Christmas tree cupcake toppers, it’s all about the trees for these easy Christmas treats!

Related: 6 Best Christmas Sandwiches (that won’t ruin your waistline)

#3 Christmas Dinner Delights

Enjoying Christmas dinner with family has to be one of the highlight meals of the year. Even if the conversation is as dry as the Iceland roast, there’s always some of that Christmas magic in the air. Maybe it pops out of the Christmas crackers? More likely something to do with the all those Mulled Wines…

But one thing we can all agree is that the Christmas magic may result in one major surge of appetite and in turn, plateful after plateful, piled high with trimmings galore.

The thing worth noting about a traditional Christmas dinner is that it tends to be loaded with fats and carbohydrates, meaning that eating too much can result in a major caloric hit.

So to oversimplify perhaps the greatest challenge you can confront this Christmas – try to regulate your portion size and be conscious of how full you feel! It’s far too easy to be swept up by the Christmas dinner magic and binge till you pop.

This Christmas dinner, try to eat slowly and remain conscious of how full you’re feeling – you may find you enjoy the meal even more as you’re chewing it for longer and giving yourself time to appreciate the food!

Related: The Ultimate Christmas Cake Recipe | Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan and Protein Packed

Check out the healthy alternatives

There’s lots of healthy Christmas food available as well as plenty of guidance to help you achieve a happy medium between flavour and healthiness. There are hundreds of blogs out there filled with healthy Christmas recipes, but these are some of our favourites:

o  https://pureella.com/healthy-christmas-menu/ – A blog that has recipes for every meal of the day, there’s a great variety of Christmas recipes here to ensure there’s something for everyone!

o https://nadiashealthykitchen.com/healthy-christmas-day-recipes-breakfast-lunch-dinner/ – Despite only having one recipe for each meal of the day, these healthy Christmas recipes are vegan and gluten-free!

o  https://thehealthychef.com/blogs/wellbeing/my-favourite-christmas-recipes – With a good selection of mains, sides and desserts, this Australian based blog talks about enjoying a summer Christmas, but that doesn’t make these healthy Christmas recipes any less delicious!

#4 Unhealthy Booze Blunders? Don’t Make Them!

According to the Office for National Statistics, 57% of British residents over the age of 16 drink alcohol. And Christmas is a holiday with a notoriously boozy rep.

No alcohol is objectively healthy, if you want a healthy drink then grab a glass of water! But if you feel like getting a little sozzled this Christmas, then here are some of the healthier options:

o Beer –  The healthiest beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized, which leaves the nutrient-rich yeast in the beer. Filtering the yeast out also filters out most, if not all, of the b-vitamins and probiotics that were present. Not many of the most popular beers fall into this category, so maybe it’s time to expand your beer palette!

Some popular unfiltered, unpasteurized beers are:

o   Table wine – Just as different types of beer contain different calorie and alcohol content, so does wine!

  • Sparkling wine that has no extra sugar added will say “brut nature” or “brut zero” on the label. A flute of brut nature champagne has around 120 calories.
  • White wine is usually lower in both alcohol and calories than red wine. Light whites such as Riesling and Pinot Grigio are great options for low calories, with about 110 calories per glass.
  • Red wine can have up to 200 calories per glass depending on alcohol content. Pinot Noir is a great option for those who don’t want to lose out on taste while limiting calories.

o Christmas Cocktails – Most families have at least one person who rates themselves as a bit of a bartender who’ll jump at any chance to show off some Christmas cocktails, so some after dinner drinks are almost inevitable. Not all cocktails have to be absolutely loaded up with sugary mixers though, and not all the best ones are! Some popular cocktails contain less than 200 calories include:

  • Martini – The choice of James Bond, a classic dry martini contains 176 calories. Using 70mL of London dry gin, 15mL of vermouth and a green olive to garnish.
  • Paloma – containing kosher salt, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar, tequila and club soda, this cocktail sounds like it has calories galore! However, it comes in at just 166 calories.
  •  A list of ten cocktails under 200 calories is available here, these aren’t just Christmas cocktails, they’re suitable all year: https://www.self.com/story/low-calorie-cocktails
  • You can turn these into Christmas cocktail recipes by adding a Christmas themed garnish, or by adding your choice of Christmas spices!
  • If you skipped wine with dinner, try out one of these Christmas cocktail recipes including our favourite, a festive Christmas martini recipe: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/food/recipes/g551407/best-christmas-cocktail-recipes/

o Tequila – one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks around, tequila is low in calories, doesn’t affect blood sugar and is gluten-free. On top of this, clear tequila made from 100% blue agave has fewer congeners than other alcohols, meaning that your hangover the next morning will be reduced, but don’t take that as an invitation to drink too much of the stuff!

Related: Hangover Food: 4 Nutritionalists Reveal Their Miracle Cure

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Staying Active Throughout the Christmas chill!

Now that you’ve made some healthy changes to your Christmas diet, it’s time to get active. All that work sculpting abs and butts through the year just to throw it all away over a couple of weeks indulgence? Well, it doesn’t happen like that exactly, but there are some very manageable ways to ensure you don’t upset your progress too much.

All the food, family activities and potential travel make it harder to maintain a gym routine over Christmas, but it isn’t impossible. Even making the tough compromise to work out less over Christmas is better than cutting yourself off from the gym completely.

There are ways that you can keep as fit and active over the holidays as you are during the rest of the year, but it might need a little bit of effort, sacrifice and lateral thinking.

Related: 8 Best Fitness Gifts Guide

#5 Christmas Gym Junkie

Telling your family that you’re going to the gym in the lead up to Christmas can often lead to some moaning and groaning that you should take a break over Christmas. Mostly because you’re making them feel guilty for being inactive themselves, but it’s certainly a good practice, if you are a real gym bunny, to wind down your workout routine to make time for loved ones.

A good way to get the best of both worlds is to wake up a little bit earlier in the morning and hit the gym while everyone else is snoozing in. We know that it’s a cold and wet time of year, but the sacrifice certainly pays dividend AND it justifies indulging in a couple more of the Christmas treats being passed around.

Alternatively, if the thought of the dark and chilly morning workout is too much of a deterrent, fire up Youtube for some short workout inspiration you can complete in your room. This is a great way to implement a small manageable exercise routine throughout the Christmas break. There are some great videos running through a variety of full body routines that only take around 15 mins. Complete these at a high enough intensity and you can burn some serious kcals.

Best of all, all you need is a bit of floor space. So if you’re stuck at grans and it’s snowing outside – not to worry! Just find a peaceful room, roll out your yoga matt and power out a 15-minute burner! You’ll be earning those mince pies back in no time. 

#6 Keep Away, Common Cold

Staying active is a good way to boost your immune system, but you may need a little more than to ensure you don’t catch the dreaded common cold this Christmas break. 

There is no doubt that whether you’re at work, on the tube, or at your local Tesco, you’re going to see sniffling, sneezing and germs being spread all over the place.

Being sick is never fun, but being sick over Christmas? It doesn’t get much worse than that. You can’t take advantage of all the brilliant food and drink that is available, or, more importantly, make the most of the extra time with your family. So here are a few ways to keep that cold at bay so that you can make the most of Christmas.

Get in front of it

Don’t just sit around hoping that you won’t get sick. If you’re proactive about stopping cold and flu, then you can massively increase your chances of staying healthy over the holiday period. 14 million people received the flu vaccine in the UK over 2017-18 holiday period, leaving over 50 million who didn’t get the shot.

Making sure that you are vaccinated against the flu leading into the holiday period is a great way to stop yourself getting quarantined from the rest of the family.

Getting a flu shot won’t do much against the dreaded common cold. To stop this, implement good hygiene habits like keeping yourself clean and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.

Another good practice to boost your immune system and guard your body against germs is to make sure you’re consuming lots of Vitamin C. Studies suggest that ingesting 2000mg of Vitamin C per day massively reduces your chances of catching a cold (by around 60%). An easy way to ensure you’re hitting these targets is chomping down on a chewable tablet in the morning and the evening.

Also, make sure you’re eating colourful foods such as citrus fruits and cruciferous veggies. These are very high in Vitamin C and nice healthy additions to a Christmas dinner. For a little Christmas dinner table arrangement – lay out some satsumas along with some Christmas nuts (and perhaps some holly). It’s an interesting and colourful feature that people can nibble on (not the holly) and top up with nutrients throughout the day.

Another popular and health hack to ensure you’re hitting your Vitamin C targets is drinking a glass warm lemon water in the morning. This is a great immune booster and helps maintain your nature PH balance.

#7 Catch Some Z’s

Adults between the ages of 18-60 require a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night to promote optimal health, but sometimes that doesn’t even feel like enough. Factors, such as what you do for work and how often you exercise determine how much sleep you should be getting, but you should aim for seven hours as an absolute minimum.

One simple change you can make to ensure you’re getting better quality sleep is turning off devices such as phones and laptops an hour before bed. Switching off your phone before bed gives you a better chance of reaching REM sleep and properly recharging for Christmas activities with the family.

#8 Make Probiotics a Priority

Probiotics primarily help to promote gut health, but research is also suggesting that they can improve your immune system. This means that you won’t only be reducing your chance of picking up a cold or flu, but balancing your gut with friendly bacteria and promoting the production of natural antibodies that fight the bad bacteria.

Related: Can We Really Improve Our Gut Health?

#9 Home Remedy Help

Here are some great winter home remedies to keep you nice and healthy through Christmas.

  •       Ginger tea..
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