Beauty begins on the inside
Read any celebrity magazine these days and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world may have gone a tiny bit bonkers. ‘Beauty’, sadly, has become a bit of a cliché, characterised by nips and tucks galore, and layer upon layer of makeup – and that’s just women in their 20s. Actually, beauty begins on the inside, and we’re not just talking about gut health here either, we’re talking mind, body and soul; nourish each part of what makes up ‘you’ and you’ll look and feel so much better in no time at all.
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” The words of Mahatma Ghandi, an extraordinary man and a true exception to the limitations that seem to hold back most of the human race. Thankfully for the rest of us, it’s never too late to make some positive changes, so, in the spirit of Ghandi himself…
Value your food, not your savings
Without naming names, did you know that a particularly popular fizzy drink contains at least six potentially very harmful chemical additives? Researching what you eat will highlight things like whether it contains toxic GMOs (genetically modified organisms); whether the eggs you eat are laid by hens cruelly kept in tiny cages; whether the meat you’re buying is factory farmed and treated with hormones or antibiotics; and whether the vegetables you’re eating have been picked by someone paid a pittance – all of which should be avoided to clear your conscience and set your mind free of unnecessary guilt. We’re not suggesting you splurge and be frivolous; buying big name brands or suddenly developing a penchant for white truffles, but while buying whole, local food will likely dent your wallet a little more, the overall benefits you’ll receive from it will far outweigh how much you paid for it and you’ll be supporting local, hardworking farmers in the process.
Volunteering isn’t all about soup kitchens and helping the homeless these days, and although they’re fantastic ways to reach out to people who are less fortunate, working that closely with vulnerable people doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re handy with knitting and crochet, make warm clothing for mother and baby shelters; if you’re a professional, find a school that needs motivational speakers, or mentor a young person interested in your industry; if you’re an animal lover, donate a few hours of your time to a shelter… Seek and you will find lots of opportunities to make a really significant difference to someone else’s life, which, in turn, will give you wonderful peace of mind.
Keep your mineral levels up
If health were a rock band, showy old vitamins might be the lead singer, but the songwriter? Minerals. Who are finally getting their moment in the spotlight. Particularly magnesium, the queen of all minerals it seems, and one that’s been singled out by doctors and health professionals as the key to improving muscle and bone strength, helping keep our blood pressure in check, and supporting a strong immune system. Around 80 percent of us are deficient in magnesium alone and the stresses, sleepless nights and bad habits (too much coffee; processed foods) of modern life are all depleting our precious mineral levels. Grab a supplement, or try a topical mineral spray to keep yours topped up.
Our bodies are composed of about 60 per cent water, which aids digestion, cell absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, the transportation of nutrients, and the maintenance of body temperature, so it’s crucially important, but, like a victim of its own obvious success, is often overlooked. Our brains are 90 per cent water and the majority of our blood and every cell in our bodies is composed of water, so it’s massively beneficial and we need it to function properly – guidelines suggest we guzzle eight glasses a day, so get drinking.
New for 2018? Probiotic water. Probiotic yoghurts and probiotic supplements have been around for ages – even probiotic chocolate has found a niche in the market, but the newest kid on the gut-health block is probiotic water. Functional food and drinks are favoured by many over tablets and probiotic water is a wellness powerhouse combining the goodness of water with the added health benefits of lots of lovely life-giving microorganisms.
Equi London’s ‘Beautiful’ is a collagen-infused drink that promises to promote glowing skin from the inside out. Ideal for those with time-conscious schedules, but who want to keep a firm eye on their health, the revolutionary supplement delivers a potent boost of nutrients in one tonic. The ‘Beautiful’ powder combines GlowCutis® technology – a powerful complex of marine collagens and all sorts of other natural goodies to fight ageing and promote skin regeneration – with your daily dose of multivitamins, antioxidants, omegas, probiotics and adaptogenic herbs, which work to support every body system needed to keep your skin clear, glowing and more resistant to the signs of ageing. Adaptogenic herbs? No, me neither, but unusually named ingredients aside, they’re all natural and this product is making waves on the skincare scene, so it’s definitely worth a try (https://equilondon.com).
A healthy gut can be linked to our mood, digestive health, inflammation problems and more, so it’s no surprise that the trend of showing your gut some love is going nowhere in 2018. “Your gut flora is incredibly important to your overall well-being,” says nutritionist Pippa Campbell (www.pippacampbellhealth.com). “When looking at a client’s health, I will always look at the gut first as sometimes symptoms can be resolved just by improving gastro-intestinal health. Foods to eat for gut health include oily fish, probiotic foods like kefir and sauerkraut; soluble fibre including prebiotic foods like asparagus, leeks, onion and garlic; oats; linseeds; chia seeds; and vegetables – be sure to include bitter leaves such as watercress and rocket to stimulate digestion too. It’s encouraging to see that more and more people are paying attention to their gut health and how to look after it as it’s so important to our overall wellbeing.” Try Quest Nutra Pharma’s Enzyme Digest, £7.60, www.qnutrapharma.com.
Regular exercise isn’t just a brilliant way for you personally to get a free hit of happy hormone, endorphin, it’s also undeniably good for your health, which in turn means less trips to the doctor and less strain on our already stretched NHS. Plus, we live in a society where (whether consciously or not) we are constantly comparing ourselves to others – with fitness, your only competition is yourself, so you’ll start to feel more confident and less concerned with the ins and outs of other people’s lives too.
Start small if you’re a beginner though. A great way to build your fitness confidence – and your capability – slowly and safely is to train for a 5K run; the NHS’s ‘Couch to 5K’ plan is a really comprehensive online guide to achieving that goal and you can view and download the training schedule at: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx. If you’re not a runner, set a target to do a 30-minute exercise class two to three times a week, either at the gym, or online – www.fitnessblender.com is brilliant.
Move over quinoa, there’s another gluten-free grain in town and it scores massively on the superfood scale. A type of millet, teff is an Ethiopian staple and is a tiny grain that looks a bit like watercress when it first starts to sprout. High in resistant starch, which helps to keep blood sugar under control, it’s also a good source of magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc, as well as being super high in protein. Unlike a lot of grains, teff packs a welcome flavour punch too with grains in white, brown and red that range from mild and nutty to sweet.
Just when we were all getting our heads around coconut oil, along comes avocado oil – the celebrated oil du jour that teems with monounsaturated oleic acid, which is hugely important for keeping hearts healthy and is the same omega-9 essential fatty acid that won olive oil its superfood crown many moons ago. Avocado oil may well be the key to keeping the years at bay too as it’s among the top five foods rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin known or strengthening immunity, defending against skin cell damage from free radicals, and improving skin and eye health.
Go a day without complaining
What with thoughtless memes and outright trolling, there’s a lot of ugliness that’s thrown at people by people that don’t even know said people these days. It’s not good, for anyone, so flip it and start upping your positivity quotient. OK, there might not be any tomatoes left in Tesco, the weather might be grey and dreary, or Monday morning might fast be approaching, but every time you complain, you’re heaping a big dollop of negative energy not just into your life, but into the world overall. Complaining breeds complaining, so before you start waxing lyrical about your peeves, stop and try to think of a way to solve the problem – there will be other tomatoes; you’re lucky to have a warm, dry home; and, Monday marks a fresh week full of fresh opportunities. If you can’t solve it, move on, it’ll free you of the stress.
Head out into the forest
Not your run of the mill walking route, forests are enchanting – where else are you likely to encounter more squirrels and horses than people? – and the Forestry Commission are encouraging us all to get out and explore the abundance of forest right on our doorsteps with a constantly evolving ‘Active Forests’ programme. Besides off-road cycling courses available at various sites and accessible to everyone from toddlers on stabilisers to hardy mountain bikers, #RunForestRun running routes cater for beginner runners with 3km, 2km and 1km trails marked out at various forests across the UK, and last year ‘Wild Running’ was established allowing more experienced runners to download routes across off-piste, non-waymarked trails – head to the website to find out about forest activities near you then get out and be at one with nature for a while: www.forestry.gov.uk.
It’s all very well being appalled at how badly the trains are running, or shocked that you’ve found out your favourite cosmetics are tested on animals, but in order to make change happen, you need to take positive action. When petitions that you support pop up on your social media feed, sign them; if you really feel the road outside your child’s school needs a lower speed limit, write to the council and your local MP; if you’re outraged by the government’s treatment of the refugee crisis, stage a march or mass meeting and call them out on it. Turn your mental complaints into tweets, Facebook posts, forums, letters and meetings in a measured and pro-active manner and you’ll find your voice and actions have the capacity to make a profound impact on the topics that niggle you.
Sounds simple. Is simple. You might think karma’s a load of airy-fairy nonsense, but thousands of years of philosophical thinking would disagree: what you put out into the world is what you get back. If someone irks you and you lose your rag, you’ll irk them and likely irk the person who they go on to tell; it’s a whole chain of unnecessary irking that can be stopped short if you take a step back and assess if the situation is really worth all the aggravation. Smiling at a stranger, carrying someone’s bags who’s clearly struggling, or being patient with the shopper in front of you who’s taking an age to pack their shopping are all small, simple acts of kindness; practice them whenever you can and you’ll think, feel and look better.