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Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, is a hormone-like, fat-soluble vitamin that your body produces when it is in direct contact with sunlight. Sunscreen however, important for protection from melanoma and rapid aging of the skin, blocks these rays. So while we do make it naturally, it is recommended to take supplements.

Vitamin D is vital to the intestinal absorption of many minerals and vitamins that we need to stay healthy and a lack of vitamin D can have dire consequences on our bones, immune system and heart health.

Approximately 10 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient, however vitamin D deficiencies affect all ages at all stages of life. A vitamin D deficiency is characterized by the following symptoms;

  • Weak muscles
  • Bone pain
  • The inability to think clearly
  • Fatigue
  • A frequency of bone injuries such as breaks and fractures
  • Excess sweating
  • Soft bones

Every single cell in your body relies on vitamin D in order to function normally.

1. Vitamin D Fights Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD or also known as winter blues) is when your mood and temperament is affected by the weather or the lack of sunlight during the winter months in colder countries (1). Colder and darker weather affects your mood as the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that maintains mood balance) is linked to the amount of sunlight you get. Symptoms of SAD include;

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Anxiety
  • Becoming quickly irritated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • A decreased libido
  • An increased intake of food

A randomized medical trial has found a relationship between a lack of vitamin D and SAD (2). Brain tissues contain vitamin D receptors and when these receptors are activated they stimulate and increase the growth of nerves within your brain. This process is important to mental health and brain function .

2. Vitamin D Can Ensure A Healthy Pregnancy

An expectant mother with a vitamin D deficiency in her first trimester is at risk of having a baby with extremely low birth weight. A study funded by the University of Pittsburgh found that low levels of vitamin D in the early stages of pregnancy put a baby at risk of stunted growth while in utero (3).

Babies that are born smaller are ultimately born with a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and hypertension later on in life as well as a high risk of mortality within the first month after birth.

Vitamin D is so important for pregnancies because of the vitamin D receptors present in gestational tissues (4). Vitamin D2 and 3 are the most important compounds for human development (5).

10 micrograms per day is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers (6).

3. Vitamin D Supports Healthy Lung Function

Obstructive pulmonary disease (including emphysema and bronchitis, various diseases that have been grouped as they are all characterized by obstruction in the lungs resulting in poor airflow) and asthma are two chronic lung diseases that are worsened by a lack of vitamin D (7).

These diseases are chronic which means that they are permanent.

Studies show a link between a strengthened reaction by the immune system against infection of the airways caused by manufacturing of antimicrobial peptides and vitamin D, especially when combined with the use of an air purifier.

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A flare up of any of these lung diseases are characterised by uncontrollable coughing, chest tightness, excess mucus buildup in the lungs and difficulty breathing. These flare ups could result in hospitalization, or in extreme cases, even death. Studies show the patients suffering from these conditions could decrease their instances of flare ups by nearly 40 percent by taking vitamin D supplements (8).

Vitamin D deficiencies have a physical effect on the shape of the lungs. A study found that vitamin D deficiencies can change the volume of the lungs and the lung development (9).

4. Vitamin D Aids Calcium Absorption

The most important nutrient needed for the correct absorption of calcium in the body is Vitamin D. Without vitamin D our bodies would struggle to absorb calcium at all. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to stave off or reduce the effects of osteoporosis (10).

Calcium is also important for proper heart, muscle and nerve function as well as blood clotting.

As we age our bodies ability to create vitamin D from sunlight exposure and to properly absorb calcium begin to decrease. When our body does not have enough vitamin D it cannot produce a hormone called calcitriol which regulates calcium levels in the body. The body then takes calcium stored within the skeleton. This weakens the existing bones and prevents new bone formation (11).

A serious vitamin D deficiency is likely to result in the development of rickets in young children and can also be responsible for osteomalacia (when bones soften due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D) in adults. (12)

5. Vitamin D Supports The Brain And Nervous System

Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the health of the brain and nervous system both during its development and throughout the rest of our lives.

Studies carried out on rodents observing the effect of vitamin D on the brain found that pregnant mice that were vitamin D deficient gave birth to babies with thinner and longer brains which had larger than usual ventricles. This unusual brain shape is caused by excess brain cells not dying off when they should. This process of getting rid of unnecessary brain cells is needed for important cell connections to develop within the brain (13).

Mice born to vitamin D deficient mothers also exhibited behaviours similar to behaviours seen in people with schizophrenia and autism.

Hypovitaminosis D is the decline of vitamin D in the system due to old age. Elderly with a lack of vitamin D in their systems are at a higher risk of developing dementia or having a stroke. As of now, five studies have reported a link between hypovitaminosis D and dementia.

6. Vitamin D Promotes Weight Loss

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is stored within the fat cells in our bodies.

Vitamin D receptors tell the body whether it should store or burn the fat we consume. When you provide these receptors with more vitamin D it promotes the burning of fats over storing it (a). If receptors in your brain do not get enough vitamin D you tend to feel hungrier which can lead to excess snacking.

Research shows that most people battling obesity have much lower vitamin D levels in their blood (14). When a study put 38 overweight adults on a specialised 11 week eating plan it was found that participants who started the diet with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were more successful in losing weight than participants with low starting levels of vitamin D.

The vitamin D levels in participants were also a precursor to the successful loss of belly or abdominal fat (abdominal fat most notable visceral abdominal fat is particularly harmful as it surrounds your organs and usually leads to health complications like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and insulin resistance).

Being unable to lose weight could be a sign of a vitamin d deficiency.

7. Vitamin D Fights Disease

Vitamin D is actually a prohormone which means that the body is able to convert it into a hormone. When the body is depleted of vitamin D you are at risk of developing heart disease, muscle weakness and some cancers.

Colorectal (cancer of the colon), breast and prostate cancer and the mortality caused by them have been linked to low levels of vitamin D in the blood. Studies have found that an uptake of vitamin D can help protect the body from these cancers (15).

Vitamin D receptors are also found in the nuclei (the nucleus) of the body’s immune cells. Further evidence links a vitamin D deficiency to diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (a disease where your immune system begins to attacks itself causing a rash on the face, severe fatigue and joint pain) and rheumatoid arthritis (16).

A study that hopes to explore the extent to which vitamin D is useful in protecting the body from cancer, diabetes, depression and hypertension is currently underway. The study will span five years and include 20 thousand participants (17).

8. Vitamin D For Healthy Infants And Toddlers

The development of rickets is the potential danger for babies and toddlers that are vitamin D deficient (18). Babies that are at highest risk of developing rickets are babies who have a darker skin tone, those born premature, who are being or have been breast fed and babies whose mothers have low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for normal body development and growth. When a baby is deficient it does not have the correct biological material to build healthy teeth and bones and will most likely have retarded bone growth. A few signs that your baby or young child has rickets are;

  • Weakened muscles
  • Projection of the breast bone
  • Pain and discomfort in the legs, pelvis and or spine
  • Thickened ankles and wrists
  • Abnormal leg shaped such as knocked knees or bowed legs
  • Slow growth (19)

If rickets is not addressed and treated it could lead to permanent skeletal damage, dental defects, seizures and a curved spine. Sunlight is not an option for increasing levels as prolonged direct contact with the sun holds too many risks for infants.

Babies who are breastfed are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D is added to infant formula. The recommended dose is 8 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily for breastfed infants under the age of one (20).

9. Vitamin D Can Ease Various Skin Issues

Vitamin D receptors in the cells are directly linked to cell differentiation (when a cell becomes specialized to performing a certain function) and cell proliferation (a process which increases cell numbers). These receptors are also linked to healthy immune function, this is important because a weak immune system cannot fight cell damaging free radicals, and free radicals can cause major damage to skin cells (21).

Nearly 40000 of your cells die within a minute. The system of cell renewal is heavily dependant on vitamin D. This process occurs in cell called keratinocytes and they make up over 90 percents of all cells in the epidermis (the skin). When they receive the right amount of vitamin d these cells are able to differentiate and multiply. Because of this these cells provide a constant flow of younger cells to replenish the epidermis and create a layer of moisture trapping tissue.

The actual rate at which cell multiply and differentiate is prompt by vitamin D. When your body does not get enough, this process slows down and skin can become thin and damaged.

Eczema, excess sweating, wrinkles and acne are all signs of vitamin D deficient cells. Vitamin D also acts as an antiinflammatory within the skin and that can prevent or lessen the severity of acne (22).

Contact with sunlight is one way to get vitamin D but it can also be damaging to skin cells so it is advisable to limit your direct contact with sunlight to less than 30 minutes a day and to use sunscreen. Foods high in vitamin D and supplements are less harsh on the skin.

10. Vitamin D Prevents Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or impotence is when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection for the purpose of intercourse. It can be a physiological problem or a physical one. ED has been found to have negative impacts on the self esteem of men suffering and their relationships as well as making it difficult for couples to conceive (23).

ED is a potential risk factor or precursor in developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

A study in America carried out on over 3000 men over the age of 20, all suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, found that 16 percent of them had ED (24). The same study stated that men lacking in vitamin D have a 32 percent higher risk of developing ED.

Men who have been diagnosed with ED are likely to also develop endothelial dysfunction (when the capacity of the inner blood vessel linings to control vascular relaxation and regulate immune function and blood clotting becomes compromised). Low vitamin D levels inhibit nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide secretion is key to smooth muscle relaxation in the corpora cavernosa (the bulk of the erectile tissue) (25).

11. Vitamin D Improves Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the respiratory system that can also have an impact on the brain, spine and kidneys. Although symptoms do not always occur they include;

  • Phlegm build up in the lungs
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A cough that has persisted for more than three weeks
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • A fever and or chills
  • Coughing up mucus and or blood
  • Persistent fatigue

TB can be active or dormant. Approximately 1 in 3 people worldwide have dormant TB while 1 in 10 will develop active TB. Drug or alcohol abuse, and having cancer, diabetes or HIV or AIDS can result in dormant TB becoming active as they weaken the immune system (26).

Vitamin D increases the increases the amount of proteins in your immune system that kill foreign and potentially harmful bacteria. Studies show that TB patients who have been given vitamin D doses had faster rates of recovery and experienced fewer TB symptoms.

A study in Pakistan determined that low vitamin D levels were partly responsible for the progression from dormant to active TB. Low vitamin D levels can be looked at as a sign of possible latent TB or a sign of the patient having been diagnosed with TB once before (27).

To treat TB with vitamin D it is recommended to take no more than 10,000 IU (international units) a day.

12. Vitamin D Influences Gene Expression

Vitamin D is involved in the process of gene expression, which is where certain functions of cells are turned off or turned on.

Gene expression is a process in which genes synthesize products (usually proteins that go on to become hormones, enzymes and receptors that carry out important functions) according to genetic instructions provided by our DNA.

An analysis carried out on 8 vitamin D deficient adults found positive changes to the actions of 291 different genes. These genes were directly involved in 160 pathways that are linked to infectious and autoimmune diseases, cancer, the way cells respond to stress, DNA regulation and heart function (28).

Vitamin D downregulates and upregulates proteins manufactured by gene regulation (29).

13. Vitamin D Can Ease Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system targets and damages the myelin sheath that protects your nerve fibers in your spinal cord and brain (the central nervous system) that causes a problem with the communication between the brain and body. MS could eventually cause permanent damage (30).

The symptoms of MS vary. The more damage done to the nerves, the more severe the signs are (loss of vision, feeling permanently fatigued, heavily impaired coordination and pain). At its severest, people with MS may lose the ability to walk.

MS has found to be more common in areas that are further away from the equator and thus get less sun year round (31). Research shows that babies born with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to develop MS later on in life.

Patients suffering from MS report less attacks during Summer months which correlates with more exposure to direct sunlight which results in the body creating more vitamin D (32).Studies hoping to determine the effects of vitamin D on myelin repair and its role in neuroprotection are currently underway (33).

14. Vitamin D Improves Your Eyesight

People with low vitamin D levels are at risk of developing wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is a chronic disease of the eye and causes a person to develop a blind spot in their field of sight or blurred vision. It is caused by unusual growth of blood vessels within the eyes that secrete excess fluid or blood.

Vitamin D prevents angiogenesis, the process by which blood vessels form. It is also an anti inflammatory which also helps to prevent wet macular degeneration as the disease is worsened by inflammation in the eye (34).

15. Vitamin D Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Elevated blood pressure, excess amounts of body fat in the stomach area, atypical cholesterol levels and high sugar levels are all a part of metabolic syndrome. The dangers of metabolic syndrome are high risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Metabolic syndrome affects up to 25 percent of the adult population worldwide. It is caused by a vitamin D deficiency coupled with a diet high in saturated fats and carbohydrates (35).

Vitamin D spurs on manufacturing of defensins, molecules which maintain and restore the health of gut flora (microorganisms in the digestive tract). Healthy bacteria in your gut reduces the fat in the liver and regulates blood sugar.

Vitamin D also boosts the diversity of bacteria in your gut which reduces risk from harmful pathogens (36).

15 Best Vitamin D Foods

1. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks have a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, and they are, but with High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol which is also known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered good because of it’s relationship with LDL cholesterol (low-density protein which is considered the “bad” cholesterol).

HDL searches for and finds LDL within the blood stream. It then takes the LDL to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDL is also constantly working to keep the endothelium (the inside of blood vessels) in good shape. When these inner walls become damaged a process called atherosclerosis begins and the artery walls start to thicken. This can have life threatening results such as strokes and heart attacks.

Eggs yolks are mucher higher in vitamins than egg whites.

Egg yolks contain the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein which together significantly lower the risk of macular degeneration (an age related incurable eye disease) and cataracts. These eye diseases are the result of damage caused by free radicals. The carotenoids are antioxidants which prevent and reverse the damage the free radicals cause.

Choline is an important macronutrient found in egg yolks that most people do not get enough of. Choline is important because it builds and strengthens cell membranes. Choline is also involved in several bodily functions such as brain, liver and muscle function.

Choline aids the development of DNA methylation and an American study found that women with diets that contained high levels of choline had a nearly 25 percent less chance of developing breast cancer.

2. Salmon

Salmon is an incredible source of protein. Protein is important as it aids the process of muscle healing caused by aging and physical activity.

Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a healthy fat (natural polyunsaturated fat) that our body cannot make by itself. Omega-3 is a popular supplement (fish oil) and offers a range of health benefits including;

  • Regulating menstruation and thus improving fertility in women
  • Reducing or healing skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis and eczema
  • Combatting dry eye syndrome
  • Soothing anxiety symptoms
  • Strengthening brain growth and development
  • Keeping your heart rate normal
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Reducing fatty liver
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reversing insulin resistance
  • Countering inflammation
  • Fighting autoimmune diseases

3. Cheese

The calcium content of cheese is very high. Calcium is needed to keep bone and teeth health from deteriorating. Another benefit for teeth is that cheese has a very low lactose content. In high amounts lactose can cause damage to the teeth.

Cheese is high in vitamin B. Vitamin B is an important one for pregnant or lactating women, children and the elderly as it is a vital component in first the formation and then the strengthening of cartilage and bones.

If weight gain is recommended for health, cheese is a good food to include in your diet.

4. Shrimp

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in shrimp. Astaxanthin is an effective antioxidant that reduces damage done to the skin by exposure to direct sunlight and UVA. UVA is responsible for the development of sunspots, premature aging and wrinkles in the skin.

A zinc deficiency within the body has been found responsible for accelerated hair loss. Zinc (found in shrimp) creates and maintain new cells, including the very cells responsible for the health of skin and hair. Other symptoms of a zinc deficiency include;

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Development of white spots in the fingernails
  • Onset of depression
  • Dulling of taste and smell senses
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual bone growth

Shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids which has exhibited soothing effects of cramping and pain associated with menstruation.

5. Oysters

One serving of oysters contain almost 90 percent of the recommended daily requirement of iron. Iron is vital to the process of generation of red blood cells. The increase of oxygenated blood in the body provides the bodies organs with fuel to keep the functioning at optimal levels.

Getting enough iron is essential to combating anemia, a condition that can result in chronic fatigue, stomach problems, weakening of muscles and cognitive malfunction.

Oysters contain zinc which is a key component in wound healing and accelerated recovery from injury.

Oysters also contain vitamin E which increases the flexibility and strength of the membranes of various cells.

6. Soy Milk

The isoflavones in soy beans have been shown by studies to be beneficial to menopausal women in that it can balance the amount of oestrogen being lost through the process of menopause. The isoflavones are a kind of phytoestrogens, these are plant based (fruits and vegetables) and mimic oestrogen effects within the body.

Soymilk helps to defend the liver from stress caused by oxidation because of its hepatoprotective properties.

Soymilk has added calcium and unlike a diet high in animal protein, a diet high in soymilk protein reduces the likelihood of losing calcium via urinary excretion. These factors make soymilk a good tool for fighting brittle bones and bone break down.

7. Pork

Pork contains vitamin B1 or thiamine. Thiamine has a few important functions within the body including allowing electrolytes to flow into and out of muscle and nerve cells, metabolising carbohydrates and aiding bodily enzymatic processes.

The body does not produce thiamine and can only retain it for about 18 days, thus it is important to keep up a healthy intake. A few symptoms of a thiamine deficiency (knows as beriberi) include;

  • Developing depression
  • Nausea
  • Pains in the abdomen
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Pork tenderloin is also leaner than chicken making it a healthier source of protein.

8. Tuna

Tuna has a very high omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-6 (the unhealthy fatty acid) and cholesterol tends to build up in the blood vessels and arteries, increasing the risks of developing heart disease. Omega-3 strips away the Omega-6 fatty acids.

A single can of tuna yields up to 80 percent of the recommended daily dose of protein. Having protein in your body is pivotal to muscle development and growth. Protein is also responsible for quickening the rate at which wounds on the body heals after an injury.

The anti-inflammatory properties of tuna helps to lower hypertension and keep your blood pressure regular.

Tuna is full of a range of B vitamins. B vitamins are linked to improving your overall organ function and boosting your metabolism.B vitamins are also known to increase the amount of energy your body produces daily.

Tuna is very high in iron. Iron increases the amount of red blood cells in your circulation system and the actual volume of blood.

The sodium and potassium levels in tuna helps when it comes to managing the balance of fluid in your body. When there is a fluid imbalance in your body stress is put onto the kidneys and they are not able to function properly.

Cooked tuna produces peptides which are important for protecting cell membranes including those in the brain.

9. Beef Liver

Beef liver is very high in many different minerals and vitamins. One of these vitamins is vitamin B12. B12 is crucial to DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells and healthy neurological functions.

A vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to multiple neurological disorders like dementia in older patients. Other B12 deficiency induced disorders include neuropathy (a disease that affects the nervous system), myelopathy (a disease that affects the spinal cord), disturbances to usual behaviour and overall weakening cognitive activity.

To get the most minerals and vitamins out of beef liver, be sure to buy hormone free.

10. Sardines

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the eyes. It is mostly prominent in the elderly. The more it progresses the higher the chance of permanent damage to the retina.

The fish oil in fatty fish increases the bodys immune cell count which builds up a stronger immune system.

Sardines are high in the mineral selenium. Selenium goes directly into the nucleus of DNA cells and repairs any damage present. If this damage is not fixed the cell could become cancerous. Selenium has shown signs of cancer prevention, most notably liver, prostate and lung cancer.

Studies have pointed to selenium having a direct affect on the activity of the thyroid and the continued production of thyroid hormones. Your thyroid affects your weight, temperature, sleep patterns, appetite and energy levels.

Selenium is present in sperm mitochondria and very high or very low levels can have a negative impact on sperm count.

Low levels of selenium are prevalent in those suffering from chronic asthma.

11. Fortified Cereals

Cereals are complex carbohydrates that are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Fortified cereals range from oats to rye to rice.

Cereals provide a uniquely high level of energy. As cereals are so high inexpensive and calorie rich, they make up nearly 30 percent of calorie intake in North America and this percentage only increases in poorer countries.

Cereals contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. High fiber has many health benefits, such as keeping blood sugars at healthy levels and preventing disorders of the colon and constipation. When you eat, glucose is secreted into the body. Fiber slows this process down. Cereals improve the process of peristalsis (when the muscles in the intestines contract in such a way as to assist the movement of food within the digestive tract) and also increases the bulk of stools which keeps your system clean.

It is best to avoid cereals if suffering from celiac disease.

12. Fish Roe

Fish roe are fish eggs also known as caviar. Fish roe is another high omega-3 fatty acid food. Omega-3 reduces inflammation that is associated with many autoimmune diseases.

Fish roe also contain vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium and iron. Including foods high in magnesium can;

  • Reduce anxiety and nervousness
  • Prevent migraines
  • Relieve muscles spasms and aches
  • Increase your energy
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate sodium levels

13. Mushrooms

The potassium in mushrooms works as a vasodilator (something that widens the blood vessels which allows more blood to pass through) and relaxes tension within blood vessels. This results in lowered blood pressure.

Potassium is also responsible for better cognitive function because when blood vessels are relaxed and more oxygenated blood is flowing to the brain, higher levels of neural activity are stimulated.

Mushrooms contain copper which is a trace mineral. Copper increases the rate at which our bodies absorb iron which in key in avoiding developing anemia. Copper also regulates your heartbeat and ensures that the body grows at a normal rate.

Copper can reduce the signs of aging because it stimulates the production of collagen.

Mushrooms are a form of natural antibiotic that is very effective in protecting people with diabetes from developing infections in their arms and legs. They also support proper function of the pancreas, certain endocrine glands and the liver. They promote insulin formation and regulation.

14. Orange Juice

Just one serving of orange juice has over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the immune system against free radicals making it stronger and less susceptible to infection. Another important function of this antioxidant is keeping DNA of cells that are healthy from mutating and becoming cancerous. Vitamin C and ts antioxidant properties are the first line of defense against colds, flus and more serious diseases.

Orange juice has a very high folate content. Folate is most notably responsible for the growth of young cells and creating DNA. Folate is also important for creating more red blood cells and for promoting blood flow to your extremities.

The antioxidant hesperidin, which is found in orange juice, impacts the function and activity of the smaller blood vessels. Hesperidin can lower high blood pressure and significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease.

Orange juice contains fiber which regulates bowel movements and can lower cholesterol levels.

The citrates and citric acid in orange juice can prevent the development of kidney stones. Kidney stones are solid mineral deposits that develop in your kidneys. They can cause debilitating abdominal and or side and back pain as well as urine in the blood.

15. Infant Formula

Infant formula is becoming the world’s most popular fortified food. While breast feeding is preferable some mothers are unable to (low milk supply, baby not latching etc) and are thus unable to pass on antibodies and nutrition to their babies. Infant formula is enriched with the minerals and vitamins babies need to grow and thrive.

Certain types of infant formula even have an added probiotic called bifidobacterium lactis which reduces the effects of colic (a condition where seemingly healthy babies cry for three or more hours per day), decreases the chance of developing food allergies and reduces diarrhea. Infant formula can also reduce allergies in babies.

This article was first published on Jen Reviews, check out her site if you liked this article.

Living a healthier lifestyle is the greatest gift you can give to yourself this New Year

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Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to our overall health and wellbeing. It’s usually only when we become ill we realise how important our health is.
With the new year comes a new frame of mind. January is the perfect month to make positive lifestyle changes towards a happier, healthier you.

While we all have good intentions, but it can be hard to make lasting changes with many people struggling a few weeks in to their new year’s resolutions.

According to new research conducted by LloydsPharmacy, more than half of Irish people plan on making a New Year’s resolutions, despite nearly a third breaking last year’s resolution within a month.

What I have learned as a heath coach is that small sustainable changes over time have the greatest effect. It’s about developing a relationship with yourself and working on it. Your relationship with yourself is not only the most important one you have but also it is the only relationship you are guaranteed to have from birth till death. All other relationships with parents, partners, children and friends will come and go so does it not make sense to work on yourself first?

As most of us struggle with self-motivation, LloydsPharmacy have developed an 8-week Change Your Health Direction programme. You will get a health check up with a health coach and discuss your goals. A personalised plan will be set out for you. Over the 8 weeks, you will be supported and each week you will check in with your health coach where they will track your progress and review your programme.

At the end of the eight weeks you will receive a full report on your progress and you will have a very clear picture of your true health and wellbeing giving you the knowledge to build and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

fHere are my top seven tips for making positive lasting changes in 2018:

 

  1. Take time for you – Taking time to go within and have quiet time each day is an essential ingredient for good health. If you feel you don’t have the time then you are the person who needs it the most. When you give to yourself you get your life back. You are less stressed, more creative; you sleep better, make better decisions and are better able to listen to your intuition. There are many ways to do this including mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, and journaling, taking a walk in nature or by simply having a quiet cup of tea alone. Carving out this time even for 10 minutes a day is a game changer for a happy home.

 

  1. Watch your thoughts – negative thinking can be a default mode for many of us unless we become aware of our thoughts and consciously try and change them. Starting your day with a positive intention and affirmation can help. I use my Stop- Catch – Change method to help which entails:
  2. Stopping the thought;
  3. Catching it;
  4. Changing it to a more positive one.

Over time you can and will break the habit of negative thinking after all what you think you become. Negative thinking is a bad habit however one that we are actually predisposed to as human beings. Rick Hanson coined the phrase- “Our brains are like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones” meaning that we lean towards the negative and have to work hard at making good experiences stick which brings me to number 3.

 

  1. Get a coach – as part of the LloydsPharmacy 8-week Change Your Health Direction programme you will get a free health coach who will work with you over the eight weeks to create a personalised plan to help you achieve your health and wellness goals for 2018. Your coach will track your progress each week to help you make a lasting change for 2018.

 

  1. Gratitude – Keeping a gratitude journal is a practice I have done daily for over 6 years now. Every morning I wake up I write down 3 things I am grateful for and why. This is brain training and it helps me to focus on what I have instead of obsessing about what I don’t have. Most of place out happiness in the future thinking that when we become… or when we have… then we will be happy. The truth is that if you are not happy with what you have right now you will never be happy with what you want.

 

  1. Eat real food – My ethos around food is simple- Keep it real! Try not to focus on how much you eat but rather on what you eat. If you eat less from a box and more from the earth, cook more and include lots of colour you are on the right road. Remember to keep hydrated also even in the winter!

 

  1. 6. Sleep – sleep is when the magic happens. It when our bodies get a chance to renew and repair. Good quality sleep is so important so keep your phone out of the bedroom. Reduce caffeine after lunch and dump your day. By this I mean let go of what happened during the day because the energy you go to sleep in is the energy you wake up in. Try some meditation, deep breathing and gratitude. Scan through your day and choose the one thing you are most grateful for that happened that day.

 

  1. Have fun- Last but not least: exercise your fun muscle. Connect with friends, dance, sing and travel. Enjoy the journey and not the destination.

Change Your Health Direction 001For more information on how to transform your health visit www.lloydspharmacy.ie/change-your-health-direction Get supported and get started at a Lloyds pharmacy near you.

Metabolic Syndrome

Having Metabolic Syndrome doubles the risk for heart disease and multiplies the risk of diabetes by five. It is not a disease itself, but describes a host of related risk factors (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, obesity and insulin resistance) all with a common cause originally coined 20 years ago with 47 million Americans affected.1

Notice Metabolic Syndrome closely mirrors the symptoms found in those suffering from NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). NAFLD can be thought of as the liver’s state of Metabolic Syndrome. Following the progression of Metabolic Syndrome and NAFLD, one has a hard time disputing the causal relationship.

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Cause & Effect

We need to begin with the typical diet, which has changed significantly over the past fifty plus years. People consume way more of the following; sugar, caffeine, harmful fats, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs and hormones. These are all considered toxins to your body, especially sugar.

In fact, the sugar is the major reason for the overgrowth of candida, which displaces the good bacteria. Why are we discussing the digestive tract? What does the digestive tract have to do with obesity? Let’s take a closer look.

liver media, liver problems, becomplete, metabolic syndrome, leaky gut, nutrition, sugar, wellness, fatty liver disease,

The digestive tract has a very complex function; it must simultaneously do at least two operations.

  1. Create specific enzymes to further breakdown digested food into smaller particles for absorption into the body.
  2. Selectively allow nutrients through without passing harmful invaders like; virus, bacteria and toxins present in the GI tract.

Our digestive tract is not alone in this work; it has between 3-5 lbs of bacteria in the gut to help. However, our new diet promotes rapid growth of harmful bacteria.

Leaky Gut

When the increase in harmful bacteria and yeast (candida) within the intestine reaches a tipping point, the intestinal wall is breached. This breach allows food particles to pass through the intestine wall and the immune system becomes overwhelmed. The liver, which receives 70% of its blood flow from the intestine, is charged with detoxifying the blood. If the necessary natural components required in the detox phase of liver metabolism are exhausted the liver simply shuttles toxins into fat cells to keep them from circulating in the body. These fat cells are stored in the liver and elsewhere depending on your genes. 2

Excess accumulation of fat cells in the liver begins a destructive cycle where the liver becomes less efficient, leading to a build-up of toxins including fatty acids and insulin. This spike in oxidative stress and unprocessed insulin leads to insulin resistance in type II diabetes. Tests will confirm the overload of fatty acids referred to as lipotoxicity. This cascade shows the typical risk factors relating to Metabolic Syndrome.

What Works

Fortunately nature provides us with the solution. Studies have shown Silybin (an active compound in milk thistle), medium chain triglycerides like Vitamin E (specifically highly concentrated tocotrienols), NAC, Phosphatidylcholine and Glutathione to work best complimented by a healthy diet and moderate exercise. The success of these natural ingredients relies on rapid replenishment of Glutathione, a critically important liver antioxidant. 3, 4

Extracts from milk thistle have a long history of being used for liver protection. We are just now starting to rediscover this through scientific discovery. One very effective combination of silymarin, Vitamin E and Phosphatidylcholine improved insulin sensitivity, while reversing damaged liver cells by reducing oxidative stress and improving Glutathione levels in the liver. 5, 6

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-rich compound used primarily to neutralize the damaging effects of aspirin on the liver. It rapidly restores Glutathione. A recent animal study showed it to prevent NAFLD in a liver disease diet 7. Similarly, SAMe had been found to increase Glutathione levels in humans with Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease. 8

One can think of supplements as putting a person on the highway to good health, but there is no substitute for eating well and getting regular exercise. No supplement is going to offset poor health habits. Successful diets for those suffering from liver problems include FODMAPs designed by researchers at Stanford University. If severe intestinal problems exist, elimination diets and anti-histamine diets should be considered with a physician’s supervision.

Good health to you.

#TherapyThursday #naturalawakenings

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/heart/metabolic-syndrome/metabolic-syndrome-what-is-it
  2. http://obesity.bodyecology.com/leaky-gut
  3. Kwon do Y, Jung YS, Kim SJ, Park HK, Park JH, Kim YC. Impaired sulfur-amino acid metabolism and oxidative stress in nonalcoholic fatty liver are alleviated by betaine supplementation in rats. Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Jan;139(1):63
  4. -Caballero F, Fernandez A, Matias N, et al. Specific contribution of methionine and choline in nutritional nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: impact on mitochondrial S-adenosyl-L-methionine and glutathione. J Biological Chemistry. 2010 Jun 11;285(24):18528-
  5. Loguercio C, Federico A, Trappoliere M, et al. The effect of a silybin-vitamin E-phospholipid complex on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study. Digestive Disease & Sciences. 2007 Sep;52(9):2387-95.
  6. Serviddio G, Bellanti F, Giudetti AM, et al. A silybin-phospholipid complex prevents mitochondrial dysfunction in a rodent model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2010 Mar;332(3):922-32.
  7. Baumgardner JN, Shankar K, Hennings L, Albano E, Badger TM, Ronis MJ. N-acetylcysteine attenuates progression of liver pathology in a rat model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Journal of Nutrition. 2008 Oct;138(10):1872-9
  8. .Vendemiale G, Altomare E, Trizio T, et al. Effects of oral S-adenosyl-L-methionine on hepatic glutathione in patients with liver disease. Scand Journal of Gastroenterology. 1989 May;24(4):407-15.

I’m so excited to have snapchat star James Kavanagh for my first Wellness Wednesday on my new revamped website! James has been hurled into the public eye over the past six months due to his over-active, humorous Snapchat account (jamesksnaps) which consist of scare Snaps of his boyfriend William, cooking demos and appearances from his alter-ego Veronica Sachs. His energy is contagious and if you need a boost just jump on and watch his day! More recently he came to my attention when he chatted to his nephew Sean about autism. Sean was refreshing, articulate and definitely took a little piece of my heart that day where he will stay.

Here they are hiding out in one of James favourite plants!!!

 

As James’ life can seem like a bit of a whirlwind sometimes I wanted to know if or how he finds any balance in his day and as you’re about to find out this posh granny just loves food, flowers and destressing with baking. I just wish I realized his top health tip at 26!!

How would you describe your lifestyle?

Eclectic. It sounds so stereotypical and eye-roll inducing to say, but no two days are the same for me. I work with lots of deadly brands because of my Snapchat profile, I have just launched a food brand with my boyfriend called  Currabinny , I do freelance consultancy and I co-run a club-night once a month. So, my weeks are always all over the place!

What’s your favorite food? Naughty or nice.

It changes ALL the time. Right now I am obsessed with halloumi. I’ve been trying it in all sorts of things, but I mainly just like frying it in olive oil and eating it straight out of the pan. It’s heaven.

Do you exercise and if so what do you do to keep fit?

I run a lot. I would mostly run first thing in the morning – mainly to wake up. It’s such a great mood-boosting start to the day. Now, I don’t do marathons; more like 15 min runs around Phibsboro, like a madman, and then I fling myself into the shower when I get back. I try do a gym session at least once a week.

How do you find balance in your day-to-day life?

I always ‘switch off’ (or try to) at about 6pm and watch Netflix. I’m also mad about flowers and plants, so you’ll often catch me watering/ pruning my plants in the evening, or flower arranging and dispersing flowers throughout the house in vases. I am a posh old lady at heart.

How do you manage stress in your life? Do you meditate? Have you ever tried it?

As above, I like to garden a bit and I tend to bake when I’m stressed. I am obsessed with Lyric FM, so I often put that on and bake a cake. It’s heavenly. See, I am totally a posh granny.

People often set goals or intentions as they go through life. Is this something you do?

 Yes, I’m all about the goals. My goal is to have a café within two years. With things, I’m either completely uninterested or totally obsessed. So if I set a goal I think I can do, I’ll obsess about it and go hell for leather.

How do you unwind after a busy day?

As above; Netflix or flower arranging. I’m not a reader, but I’m mad for audio books. I’m currently listening to ‘You Must Remember This’ – it’s all about old Hollywood. It’s fascinating.

It’s the weekend, what do you do for fun?

Food markets. Myself and William are always looking out for new ones. I could spend my entire life rambling around food markets.

What’s your top health tip for our readers?

Totally simple, but moderation. Everything in moderation. Don’t overdo anything; work, food or exercise. Find a routine that suits YOU and ignore fad diets.

Finish the sentence – Being complete for me means…

Always having access to delicious food.

CURRABINNY, james kavanagh, wellness wednesday, snapchat star, lifestylequiz, be complete, wellness, balance, AUTISM AWARENESSIf you are not on snapchat you can follow James on:

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James reaches and influences an audience of over 40,000 people daily. e has been a very welcome voice helping to raise awareness around mental health issues and often shares his feminist and anti-bullying views.

He’ll be selling food, alongside William, at various markets over the next year or so all with the goal of one day owning a cafe one day. I for one hope that’s sooner rather than later!!

CHECK OUT THEIR AWESOME NEW WEBSITE www.currabinny.ie

This week I’m chatting to Top Irish model Sarah McGovern. Sarah is a truly beautiful person inside and out and we have been working together for many years now. In our business no two days are the same so it can be a challenge trying to find a balance but what I love about Sarah is that she never gives up, as you’ll see in her interview. When something is not working she just tries something new. Her honesty is refreshing and I think most parents will relate to Sarah’s daily challenges.

Sarah Mc Govern, wellness wednesday, lifestyle quiz, health and wellness, top model, andrea roche agancy, health, inspiration, motivation, parenting, mummy, irish model, balance, life, be complete, alison canavanSarah is a model with the Andrea Roche Model Agency and a Wholesale agent with ‘The Showroom’ in Fashion City. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and also an Ambassador for the National Spring Clean Campaign. She is a very proud mom to Jude, 4, and Robyn, 2 and is very happily married to Kenny for over 7 years now.

Sarah Mc Govern, wellness wednesday, lifestyle quiz, health and wellness, top model, andrea roche agancy, health, inspiration, motivation, parenting, mummy, irish model, balance, life, be complete, alison canavan

Image by Sandals and Greenhouse

How would you describe your lifestyle? 

In one word.. ‘Hectic’!! With a 2 and a 4 year old and juggling two jobs, life is hectic! Because no two days, let alone weeks are the same, it’s hard to find some sort of balance in my life. I think it’s the same for most parents though, so I know I’m not alone! Being self-employed, you never want to turn down work so I just take it as it comes and work a day at a time. It does mean not being able to plan too much ahead and cancelling plans with family and friends quite often but it’s just the way it is for the moment!

What’s your favorite food? Naughty or nice.

I have a total sweet tooth unfortunately and chocolate is my vice! I try to eat a well balanced diet though but I always love something sweet after my lunch and dinner.

Do you exercise and if so what do you do to keep fit?

I have always exercised my whole life, until I got to baby number 2! I loved sport as a kid and then always went to the gym and had a personal trainer before and during my pregnancies (I decided to put the money into having a trainer than going private) I was as fit as a fiddle for both births but after number two came along I found it really hard to fit exercise and work all in to a day that was already busy with two kids!

At first I tried baby body fit classes where you could bring the baby but Robyn crawled at 6 months and so it was hard when you spend the time trying to bring her back to your mat! I took Pilates up again once a week and while I love it, work sometimes gets in the way of the classes. I tried Crossfit for a season but again work kept getting in the way and trying to make classes made me more stressed out!!

So I started running just last week again and I’m hoping to keep that and the Pilates up and id love to get into Form school to do some Ballet Barre classes soon. My friend Aoife owns it with her husband Gordon. The classes are brilliant. I just need to make more ‘me time’ to get there!

How do you find balance in your day-to-day life? 

Honestly I don’t feel I have any balance and if I find it, I’ll bottle it and sell it as I think so many parents feel like this!!

The kids are in crèche two days a week now, but neither started until they were nearly two so juggling work with finding babysitters was always a little challenging! However, since they are both in crèche, it’s giving me some stability to my week, where I can work without having to worry about them. I have the best crèche too! Also I find if I’m fully organised the night before for the next day, then I can start the day as stress free as possible and that adds a little bit of balance to my day too!!

How do you manage stress in your life? Do you meditate? 

No unfortunately I think I just take it out on my poor husband or at least he gets to hear about a stressful day even if he doesn’t want to! I’m a talker and so I just generally get it off my chest and it makes me feel better!!

Have you ever tried meditation? No but I like the idea of it.

People often set goals or intentions as they go through life. Is this something you do?

I always privately set goals or do a lot of planning in my head, but I should really write things down. I know they say that your goals are more likely come to fruition if they are written down. I’ve been very fortunate to have achieved so many goals and intentions so far with family, work, travelling etc but I need to start looking at the next chapter in my life now!

How do you unwind after a busy day? 

I generally like to tidy up after the kids go to bed and get ready for the next day. Weirdly it helps me unwind! Then a cup of peppermint tea and some chocolate while watching a little bit of TV before bed. Nothing fancy I’m afraid!!

It’s the weekend, what do you do for fun?  

Spend time with the kids and depending on the weather, we would go somewhere for a walk or go visit family and catch up with the cousins! The odd weekend we’d catch up with friends too.

What’s your top health tip for our readers? 

 My grandmother always drank hot water, especially with lemon in the morning. She had beautiful skin and so I have it in the mornings too! Breakfast is so important and I try have a healthy one every morning to start off my day well. Everything in moderation too!

Finish the sentence – Being complete for me means… Being happy and content!

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So only four more sleeps till Santa gets here and as this is also the time of year when we can lose our way a bit, this mindful monday i’ve decided to share my Top 5 Tips for staying on track this holiday season

  1. HYDRATE FIRST THING EVERY MORNING

Keeping hydrated is important every day but over Christmas you might need a bit extra if you have been out at your Christmas party. Your kidney’s and liver will thank you for the helping hand. Starting your day with warm lemon is a great idea and then try and remember to drink water throughout the day.

2. MOVE EVERY DAY AND GET FRESH AIR

It’s so important that we get out and get some fresh air over Christmas especially on Christmas day. Even a 10-minute walk will work wonders and help you digest or indeed prepare for your Christmas dinner. If you are prone to depression and feeling low its imperative that you get up and get out especially during Christmas and remember it’s only a short walk because small changes make a big difference.

3. USE THE 80/20 RULE WITH FOOD AND FUN

I use the 80/20 rule in my daily life and it has helped me to break negative patterns that I have been struggling with for years. It has finally enabled me to have some balance. So enjoy your Christmas dinner (80%) and have some dessert (20%) just try and find a balance so you don’t feel bad. Christmas is a time to rest, relax and be happy. It is certainly not the time to make yourself feel bad about the decisions you make.

4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE

Breathing is essential for survival but it can also come in handy to survive Christmas when someone pushes your buttons (family, in laws!) or when you feel stressed. Simply count to 5 on your in breath and do the same on your out breath. I do this 10 times and I find it helps enormously!

5. ENJOY YOURSELF

Yes enjoy yourself! Try and be present and enjoy the simple things like time with your loved ones and if you are a parent enjoy seeing the magic of Christmas come alive through your child’s eyes. The real spirit of Christmas comes from our hearts and not from what we give to each other so open your heart to both let love in and share the love you have in there too.

Ali xxx

I’m so excited to introduce Roxanne Parker as this weeks “Wellness Wednesday” guest. I’ve known Roxanne for years as she is ones of Ireland’s top fashion stylists and over the next 7 months she will be styling the celebrity judges Una Foden, Rachel Stevens and presenter Kathryn Thomas on RTE’s The Voice TV show over the next 7 months.

Roxanne is 36 has a background in journalism, runs her own styling business, regularly appears on TV shows like Xpose, and works both in Ireland and abroad for magazine and advertising clients. She is currently studying for a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition in CNM and will qualify as a nutritional therapist in 2017.

I find it incredibly inspirational how she has turned her life around as you will read below

ROXANNE_CROP

How would you describe your lifestyle?

Consciously health conscious! I suffered from adrenal fatigue a couple of years ago and was hospitalized with bladder problems after multiple courses of antibiotics and it absolutely knocked me out and forced me to reconsider the way I was living and working on every level. I changed my diet, cut out sugar, wheat, diary, caffeine and alcohol and I also went vegan for a year to try bring my body back to balance. I also started to meditate daily and I quit the job I was in as my stress levels were through the roof. I brought myself back to wellness with sleep, whole foods, water, and meditation. I avoided negativity focused on positivity and went for energy healing. My health is still quite fragile and I really have to be mindful and eat wholesome organic nutrient dense foods and make sure I get enough sleep and water. I’m not one of those girls who can drink, party and eat crap it affects me severely and immediately.

What’s your favorite food? Naughty or nice.

Black & Green Organic 80% Dark chocolate. Some people can take a square to quell their chocolate cravings but the intense flavor never stops me from reaching for more!

 Do you exercise and if so what do you do to keep fit?

Yes I work out with a personal trainer, Robin O’Sullivan, at No17 Personal Training on Merrion Square for 30 minutes three times a week. This was an essential component to my path to wellness as you have to ease you’re self back into exercise very gently after adrenal fatigue so as not to over stress the body so I really needed a professional to guide me through this transition. For me working out with a trainer is key to keeping in shape as I treat it like an important business meeting that I would never miss and I work much harder training with Robin then I ever would on my own. We do HIIT style workouts intragrating intervals of cardio with kettle bells, TRX style moves, weights, lunges and squats. I really look forward to me sessions and always leave with a smile on my face!

How do you find balance in your day-to-day life?

Healthy food, good meals, cooking and being prepared with my food really empowers me and makes me feel in control of my moods and my cognitive function. When I am well fed and nourished I have razor sharp concentration, physical stamina and my moods are even as my blood sugar levels and hormonal balance is in check. This really is my secret to feeling balanced.

How do you manage stress in your life? Do you meditate? Have you ever tried it?

Yes I started meditating on the advice of an acupuncturist I was seeing when I first became ill.

I also went to Abby Wynne a physiotherapist, shamanic healer and reiki master and she really got me into meditation. I downloaded her guided meditations from her website on to my phone and listened to them morning and night. She has free mini meditations on her Sound cloud account and if I ever feel over-whelmed I take 5 minutes out and listen to one to bring me back to centre. I also really like Doreen Virtues Angel Therapy meditations. I listen to one every night they help me sleep and make me feel safe and protected.

People often set goals or intentions as they go through life. Is this something you do?

Yes for the past couple of years I have made a list on the first of January of what I want to achieve throughout the year. Invariably by the end of the year everything is crossed off. If something is left it is usually something that with time I have come to realize wasn’t right for me or that I no longer desire. More recently I have discovered Louise Hay’s positive affirmations and I find them incredible! They leave you feeling so positive and full of joy and gratitude! For me regularly practicing positive affirmations has been a game changer in my outlook on life.

How do you unwind after a busy day?

I sit in the garden and potter around the plants, and pick some herbs or vegetables for dinner. It’s so soothing being in nature, seeing the changes of the seasons, If I’m feeling particularly wired I will take off my sock and and shoes and walk bare foot on the grass, this always soothes me instantly and makes me feel grounded.

It’s the weekend, what do you do for fun?

Hit the hills and go hiking with friends in Co Wicklow. I’m really blessed to have like minded friends who love the great out-doors just as much as I do and who are into chilling out and getting as much fresh air and exercise as possible over the weekend. Glendalough, The Devils Glen, the trails around Powerscourt Waterfalls are all favorite walks. We usually meet early at one of our houses and car pool so we are not all driving and we swing by Avoca on route for some delicious fresh salads and organic chicken to have for lunch out on the hills. I spend so much of my time in the city I literally crave the fresh air and the expanse of the countryside when the weekend roles around. Also my friends and I often get together to cook healthy meals over the weekend. We all do the prep, bring different ingredients, try new recipes and share and enjoy the food together- it’s a really pleasurable, social way of cooking, eating and enjoying food.

 What’s your top health tip for our readers?

Drink more water! Its so basic but this one small, simple, cheap change can have a massive effect on you’re over all health. Most of us are dehydrated and this can make us feel excessively tired, falsely hungry, constipated and can cause headaches, dry skin, fine lines and skin breakouts. I have a morning routine where I drink two pints of water first thing in the morning followed by a mug of hot water with either lemon slices or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. It’s a ritual that rehydrates me after a night’s sleep and wakes me up without the need for caffeine. As I exercise I aim to drink 3-4 litres of water throughout the day, it makes a massive difference to the clarity of my skin. For those who don’t like drinking water, try throwing mint leaves and cucumber or lemon and lime slices into a 2 litre bottle of water and sipping it throughout the day to hit you’re daily quota. This will gently flavor the water naturally without any chemicals, sugar or artificial sweetener so you get a delicious, refreshing, hydrating drink without the empty calories or tooth decaying effects of a sugary cordial.

 Finish the sentence – Being complete for me means… an alignment of the body, mind and spirit. If one of these elements is out of balance, unhappiness, un-rest, and dis-ease can set in. It is a constant balancing act to try keep all in balance. But the more you become aware of yourself the easier it is to check in and become in tune with which area of you’re being is off kilter and work at bringing it back to center through exercise, healthy eating, meditation and a loving attitude towards you’re self and others. My biggest learning curve over the past few years has been that happiness comes from inside you and no one person or external thing can make you happy. I have finally learnt to love myself- it only took me 36 years but hey! Better late then never!

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All young people especially during their teenage years go through periods of insecurity. Most of us carry a lot of these issues with us into our adult years affecting our relationships and even our parenting. Through media and our circle of friends it’s easy to become obsessed with our body image often creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others.

This can lead to taking shorts cuts (of which there are none in life) and either avoiding food, over exercising or taking extreme measures, which can potentially lead to serious illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia.

Having been a model for 21 years there is absolutely nothing I haven’t seen. During my time in Paris I witnessed horrific things going on between agencies and their models especially if they were big earners. Greed and exploitation play a big part in this. I have witnessed girls lose their lives in a bid to be a model and live their dream. These dreams can often turn to nightmares. Gisele once said that she is predisposed genetically to being a model. She has a naturally thin body type. If you are not she said you shouldn’t be doing the job as it will only make you miserable. She caused a lot of controversy with this statement but I agree with her because it’s not right to go to work miserable and have to starve yourself and suffer to do any job.

However I also had many friends at home struggling with eating disorders who were not in my industry but had a strong desire to be thin as thin=beautiful in most young peoples eyes. We are sold this image constantly and consistently even our subconscious is constantly absorbing images from the media which affects are way of thinking.

We should be educating our children from Pre School in an age appropriate manner about health and wellbeing. Encouraging them to exercise, eat fresh food and have fun. We need to start rearing our children with confidence. If there is a mum at home constantly dieting and talking about her weight in a negative fashion that will be overheard by her children and have an impact on their relationship with food.They could then take that opinion to school and share it with friends, so everyone needs to take responsibility. I have often heard very young kids talk about their mum having a different dinner from them or mums not eating as she’s on a diet.

We need to instill good habits early on.

No ones body is the same and no one can look exactly like someone else but by living healthy and eating well you can be the best you that there is. Living healthy will also increase your confidence and help you to feel better.

I am very lucky and have always been naturally thin. I never had to work at it for the first 12 -15 years of my career but I have lived through incredibly insecure times and when work dipped and I felt sad I used all sorts of escapisms including over eating, diet pills, no food and excessive exercise I WAS COMPLETELY MISERABLE THROUGHOUT THESE TIMES!!!! All I did when I began modeling was sit back stage and smoke and drink coffee (because I was supercool of course). Young people need to understand that happiness and contentment come from pursuing your life’s passion’s and treating both yourself and your body well because as I always say:

“WHAT YOU FEED YOURSELF AND HOW YOU TREAT YOURSELF WILL DIRECTLY REFLECT HOW YOU LOOK AND FEEL”

At 36 I now realise that keeping fit and healthy is hard work and I work hard at it now. Yes its a pain in the ass sometimes but when I go the extra mile, exercise and eat right my mental health improves which in turn improves quality of life both for me and those I love.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please comment below

Thanks Ali xxxx

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