September is usually a time when everyone gets back into their routines, whether work, school or home. This a great time to think about setting a good foundation for the winter months ahead. Let’s start at the base of health- sleep.
It’s extremely important that everyone has at least 7-8 hours/night of non-interrupted sleep. It’s important to have children get back in the habit of going to bed early enough to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep/night.
If your children or yourselves have insomnia or wake at night, you need to seek ways to remedy this. The adrenal gland is responsible for handling stressors and needs to recover at night, so, it cannot repair itself when sleep is broken. This may result in irritability, poor coping ability, tiredness, lack of drive/motivation, mood swings or hyper-activity.
Some ways to minimize insomnia is minimizing any stimulant, such as coffee, black/green or white tea, herba mate, honey bush or riboos and drinking a calming tea instead. Meditation/yoga or listening to stress tapes can also help.
Secondly is water. Many of us have a shower/bath everyday, so we should be cleaning the inside of our bodies as regularly by drinking ½ your weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 140pds, you should be drinking 70 oz/day. One of the easiest ways to make sure you get enough water is to carry a water bottle with you or have one you can fill, on your desk. I find if you have to get up to fill your cup it doesn’t happen and most drink only 1-3c/d. Water helps flush by-products, toxins, hormones and waste materials from the system regularly, helps prevent constipation and maintains all the fluid levels in your body. For example, did you know water helps keep the vertebral discs full to minimize back pain from rubbing vertebrae? A great water carrier is a “Nalgene BPH free” water bottle. It is a stable plastic that doesn’t leach into the water, like most do, and can be bought at any outdoor store. Always drink water and other fluids away from meals, otherwise, the salivary enzymes are diluted, reducing the proper breakdown of food in the mouth.
So, now we have laid a foundation, the next article will discuss basic nutrient requirements and foods.
When I ask what people eat during the day, one of the common problems is lack of consistent protein at each meal. Three meals are extremely important, even if you are trying to lose weight, because it is the first meal that “starts the engines” in the body to burn the fuel. Therefore, by having breakfast, you increase your metabolic rate and start using up those calories. If you have a hard time with breakfast, a good start is a fruit smoothie made with soy or almond milk. You could also add an egg or almond/sunflower seed/cashew/macadamia butter or soy/hemp protein powder for protein. This makes a light breakfast that you can take with you if necessary. Another possibility is a handful of raw nuts/seeds (excluding peanuts).
For those that like to have a more substantial breakfast, eggs, cereal with some nuts/seeds sprinkled on, pancakes/waffles with ground nuts/seeds, burritos all make great breakfasts. Note all these have some carbohydrate and some protein.
Grabbing a bagel, muffin, or a piece of toast for breakfast is primarily carbs, which break down quickly and therefore raise your blood sugar too high. This results in getting that 11 o’clock fade, due to the blood sugar drop.
These blood sugar fluctuations put too much load on the pancreas, which tends to lead to weight gain, irritability, mood swings, fatigue and diabetes.
Note, I have suggested mostly vegetable proteins. There are many reasons the body needs at least 3-5 tbsp. of raw nuts and seeds/d. They lubricate your joints, decrease inflammation, keep the veins/arteries from being clogged and are an excellent source of Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Boron, Selenium and many other trace minerals. Unfortunately, peanuts are a legume and do not have any of these qualities. Many of you will say, “but what about all that fat?” As stated before 3-5 tbsp. are used up, therefore not stored as weight gain.
So, what to have for lunch? This is a great spot to fit in a serving of veggies with carrots, celery, peppers, yams, jicama or any other vegetable you like raw. Salads are another great way to include grated zucchini, beets, arugula, beans, pea pods etc. The more colour they have the higher the bioflavinoid content.
These help keep veins and arteries strong to prevent varicosities, hemorrhoids, bruising, as well as strengthen the immune system.
Soups can also contain lots of veggies and some protein, such as beans, lentils, chicken, fish, or seafood. Sandwiches/wraps are other spots for veggies and a protein such as tahini (sesame seed butter) or any of the other butters mentioned last week. Burritos are a great lunch, as is fish.
Tuna or salmon provide a protein that decreases inflammation and prevents heart disease. Turkey or chicken is fine, but do not have these advantages.
Dr. Brenda Gill is a naturopath in Rossland For an appointment call 250-362-5035