Improving your metabolic health
As we start to transition out of lockdown (hurrah!), we’re turning our attention to how we can proactively support our immune system to protect us from infection simply by boosting our metabolic health!
Don’t worry – I’m going to break down exactly what I mean by this, and why focusing on good metabolic health is important now more than ever before.
Let’s start by looking at what metabolic health actually is.
What is metabolic health?
Simply put, metabolic health is the state of balance the body maintains between storing fat and burning it for energy. When this balance is disrupted, your health is adversely affected.
It’s measured using 5 markers:
- Blood glucose levels
- Blood pressure
- Waist circumference
- Your cholesterol profile; made up of your body’s level of triglycerides (a type of harmful fat found in the blood) and a high density lipoprotein (a beneficial cholesterol carrying molecule).
You are considered to have metabolic syndrome when you fail to meet three of the five markers.
Poor metabolic health is directly linked to the development of:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes (strongly linked to obesity)
- Alzheimer’s and dementia.
If you have metabolic syndrome, you are also more susceptable to complications from infections.
This became hugely apparent during the coronavirus pandemic, when researchers were able to link those who were overweight and suffering from conditions associated with (but not exclusively to) obesity, with a significant increased risk of complications and death, from covid-19 AND other infections.
Let’s dig deeper here…
In March 2020 data from Italy revealed that 99% of those that had died from coronavirus had been suffering from at least one chronic condition, whilst in Wuhan, China research published in leading science journal Lancet, showed that 60% of those that died had high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
All markers of poor metabolic health.
Causes of poor metabolic health
One of the most significant causes of poor metabolic health in both adults AND children is sugar.
Glucose is necessary to provide energy for all the cells in your body and can even make it all by itself!
Insulin is the hormone used to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, when we flood our body with excessive amounts of sugar we block the effects of this hormone which leads to insulin resistance. This means the sugar in our body goes unregulated and leads directly to type 2 diabetes.
What’s so bad about sugar?
Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever and optimum consumption for health is zero. Translation – your diet should be refined sugar free as much as humanly possible.
Sugar is the number one dietary factor driving tooth decay, chronic pain and hospital admissions in young children.
When it comes to poor metabolic health, it’s one of the main dietary culprits when consumed in excess. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends a ideal maximum limit per day of no more that 6 teaspoons in total, which includes all added sugar in foods, sugar in fruit juice, smoothies, honey and syrups. The average UK citizen is still consuming at least two or three times the maximum recommended limit.
As we’ve learned, too much sugar in your blood can lead to insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and type 2 diabetes, aka metabolic syndrome, which puts you in a high risk population when it comes to fighting infections.
The role of a healthy lifestyle in preventing metabolic syndrome
The good news is, metabolic health is optimised by a healthy lifestyle and The Lifetonic Club is specifically designed to help you achieve this in simple and achievable ways, so you’re in the right place!
Even better news, is that poor metabolic health is completely preventable if you follow a few simple steps, like the ones I’ve rounded up below for you:
- Eat real food
- Audit what you eat over the course of a week or two and notice how much of it is processed or packaged? If it has 5 or more ingredients or contains additive and preservatives, avoid it
- Consider cooking a couple of dishes from scratch that you can use during the week and get your kids involved so as they are learning with you
- Load your diet with fibrous veg like broccoli, spinach, aubergine, cauliflower, asparagus; low / medium sugar fruit like berries, avocado, apples, pears, oranges
- Aim for carbohydrates that are low on the glycaemic index (avoiding white rice, pasta, bread and fruit juice)
- There is much evidence to support the Mediterranean diet as being a diet that ticks all the boxes when it comes to promoting good metabolic health
- Remove refined sugar from your diet
- Cut down on sugar as much as you can and replace it with anti-inflammatory foods. I’ve made this handy list of anti-inflammatory foods for you. Pick two or three things from each time you go shopping and think about how you can add them into your diet. A cup of berries in your breakfast, a handful of nuts as a snack, salmon for dinner once or twice a week. And don’t forget to try this salmon recipe from your May recipe bundle!
- Remember that all of the recipes in The Lifetonic Club are anti-inflammatory so if you’re new to this, then this is a good place to start. Just pick one recipe and see how you get on incorporating it into your daily routine.
- If you are used to sugar in your diet, cutting it out can be a challenge so instead of going cold turkey, try reducing it slowly and see how you get on. Once you’ve transitioned you won’t notice it missing.
- I you want to explore the wonderful world of anti-inflammatory foods, then I’d highly recommend you try this book. We’ll also cover anti inflammatory food in a future Lifetonic!
- Make sure you diet includes good sources of Vitamin C and Vitamin D – if you’re eating the right diet, this should take care of itself. For Vitamin D, get outside, and into natural light, as much as you can.
- Move your body daily
- When it comes to boosting your immunity, regular exercise in moderation is key! This is a really important point to note if you’ve been one of those on the wagon / off the wagon people. There is evidence in the sport science field that’s revealed that, although moderate exercise naturally optimises immune function and should be actively encourage, over doing it – especially without adequate recovery – actually has the reverse effect. This is one of the main reasons why TLC advocates for a less is more approach to health and wellbeing – we’ll look at the importance of rest further down.
- The Chief Medical Officer Guidelines state that we should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week as well as some form of strength building at least 2 days per week. This month’s Strengthen & Tone is a good place to start!
- A brisk walk is classed as moderate activity and is one of the single best things you can do to get on top of back pain.
- Building strength keeps your muscles, bones and joins strong which will help protect your body from aches, pains and injury proactively. Pilates is THE perfect antidote here! You’ll work your body smarter to improve your strength, flexibility and mobility for the long haul.
- Continually audit your life for stress
- Chronic stress plays a significant role in the development of most, if not all, chronic metabolic diseases including hearth disease; type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia.
- It increases markers of inflammation in the blood which studies have shown to be predictive of the development of heart disease.
- Incorporating rest and relaxation into your routine is essential to mitigate the negative effects of stress. Your Bodytonic Libraries, the Mindtonic Library and journalling, connecting in our TLC community will all help you stay on top of your stress levels.
- I have this blog post for you too, where I cover a selection of breathing exercises designed to help you calm your body and relax your mind.
- Need more? Try my blog post 5 Quick & Easy ways to relax and reduce stress.
- Prioritse sleep
- There is extensive research pointing to poor sleep being a risk factor for many diseases and conditions that include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.
- Poor sleep usually means poor food and lifestyle choices too – counter this by aiming for at least 7 hours uninterrupted sleep a night
Take a step back and look at small ways you can start to adopt healthy changes into your life and to intentionally care for your body and mind.
Pick ONE thing from the above list and work with this for a month or two. Then look to add on, finding things that are going to work for you and your lifestyle long term; remember, it’s the small things that add up and you are much more likely to adopt habits longer term if you work them in slowly and get used to them.
I’m so excited to work on this Lifetonic with you this month! Please share in our TLC Facebook Group what one thing you are going to focus on and some recipes you plan to try to help reduce inflammation from your bundles.
Have a great month!
Love Julie x
P.S. If you want to follow a 21 day day plan to boost your immunity, then you can get this book by Dr. Aseem Malhotra called The 21 Day Immunity Plan.
Don’t forget to download your May Mindtonic for added inspiration:
Start to cultivate your fresh habits with your Weekly Planner Download