A huge thank you to all our wonderful guests at last week's 'Thrive in the City' event at WeWork, Devonshire Square. And a special thank you to the lovely folks at Planet Organic, Devonshire Square for sponsoring the event. It was a fantastic evening and one with lots of interesting insights and take-aways. More photos are on our Facebook page.
- The health of our gut and our brain are inextricably linked due to the production of neurotransmitters in our gut and the huge concentration of nerve endings in our digestive system. If you've ever had butterflies when you're nervous, then you've experienced this link.
It works both ways, so if you regularly feel stressed and anxious, then your digestive system and balance of gut microflora will be negatively affected.
In turn, poor digestive function and an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, can lead you to produce lower levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, creating a negative cycle.
- 80% of all ill health is lifestyle related so how healthy we feel is a direct consequence of the diet and lifestyle choices we make.
- We can retrain our brains to improve our cognitive function (remember where your keys were, have quicker reflexes and be sharper at work) and to feel happier and more motivated.
- We can rebalance our gut both through retraining our brains and through eating whole unprocessed foods.
Top Nutrition & Lifestyle hacks to reclaim your brain and balance your gut:
1. Stay hydrated - Drink 500ml water on waking and before every meal to maintain your energy levels and control your appetite. Swap your coffee for green tea for higher polyphenols and a more balanced high.
2. Follow the 80/20 rule - Keep your diet 80% unprocessed foods and eat and cook foods as they appear in nature. Eat whole fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, wild fish, organic cuts of meat and then 20% of the time eat whatever you fancy, however naughty! Eating this way feeds your healthy gut bacteria and balances your blood sugar levels, minimizing stress on the body.
3. Include essential fats in every meal - They are 'essential' because you can't make them in your body so you need to get these from your diet. Your brain is also 60% fat so these fats are key to good brain function. Have nuts, seeds and nut butters daily and eat oily fish 2-3 times a week. If you're vegan walnuts, flax and chia seeds are particularly rich in omega 3s. Stock your desk with raw unsalted nuts and carry a pot of them in your bag to snack on between meals.
4. Get your heart pumping - Research shows that high intensity HIIT training helps improve brain function, lengthens life and helps keep your metabolism fired up. 7 minutes training a day is sufficient to make a difference, so do 7 to 30 minutes exercise a day that includes some HIIT training, 5-6 days a week. Always have a day off and avoid intense exercise late in the evening, as it disrupts sleep.
5. Get some sunlight early in the day - Let the sun hit your eyes early in the day to regulate your circadian (energy) rhythms. Do this before you look at your phone or computer.
6. Power down in the evening - Download flux for your devices and try and turn off your phone and laptop 45-60mins before bed time to help your brain switch off. Also avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime so your digestive process can happen properly.
7. Have a few mindful minutes everyday - Your commute is a great place to practice switching off at the start and end of your day. Put your headphones in and start to calm your mind. An easy way to do this is to count your breaths, breathe in to a count of five, hold for a count of six, breath out for a count of seven.
The secret is in making the exhalation longer than the inhalation, as this allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in to gear, which dampens the stress response.
Do this for a couple of minutes and you'll reduce your stress hormone (cortisol) levels and have a more relaxed and peaceful day.