There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep, that feeling of satisfaction when you wake in the morning feeling refreshed, body and mind alert, ready to take on the day.
Realistically, how often do you wake up feeling like you’ve had a great night’s sleep? Apparently as many as 16 million UK adults* are suffering from sleepless nights.
Many studies are being done to understand the connection between our gut and our brain health. Our gut microbiome is the complex community of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. Gut microbes are key to many aspects of human health including our immune system, digestion, hormones, mood, neurotransmitters, skin health, weight, pain perception, and energy levels.
So if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, embracing a gut-friendly diet and lifestyle will put you on the right path to protecting your overall health.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Cut out processed foods, preservatives, and refined sugar from your diet, Most highly processed foods are loaded with artificial chemicals, including artificial flavours, textures, colours, and preservatives which are harmful to the digestive tract and bad bacteria will feed on the sugar.
Eat whole foods, preferably organic if you can. My rule is to be strict on some items such as berries and soft fruits without hard skin as they will be more likely to absorb more pesticides. Try eating more fermented foods too such as kimchi, kefir and raw apple cider vinegar which are natural probiotics.
Exercise also improves gut health so take up some regular activities such as walking, swimming, tennis or barre to get your body moving.
Supplement with a combination of probiotics and prebiotics which can improve the friendly flora in your microbiome. Probiotics are healthy bacteria and Prebiotics are the food that feeds the healthy bacteria. It’s quite difficult to get enough prebiotics through diet alone so try adding a prebiotic powder to your smoothies.
Once you have nurtured your gut health and you start sleeping soundly through the night, you will find that your whole body feels more balanced and supported.
This blog post I wrote for Myza.co.uk, A marketplace dedicated to all things sleep related.
Collagen is a protein fibre naturally found in our body and a major component of connective tissue. As we naturally age our body’s production of collagen declines even from as early as 21 our collagen production starts decreasing which causes our skin to have less tone creating more visible facial lines and loose skin.
Collagen is essential not just for our skin health but also for our bones, ligaments, tendons and muscle strength. Therefore if you want to maintain your collagen health and stay looking younger and feeling more agile its important to make sure that you are getting the vital nutrients to keep your body producing enough.
Studies show that the Camu berry provides 30-60 times more natural vitamin C than an orange or lemon, and vitamin C plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen and cell renewal.
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde which is the organic compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and colour which increases collagen levels. Cinnamon is said to improve fine lines by plumping the skin and stimulating blood vessels to bring a healthy glow to the surface of the skin.
Acai berries are also high in vitamin c which is a powerful antioxidant in supporting and maintaining our natural production of collagen and fights cell-damaging free radicals. Acai berries also contain copper which activates an enzyme called lysyl oxidase. This cross-links collagen fibres with other supportive fibres and helps to form the scaffold that supports your tissues keeping your bones, heart and blood vessels healthy.
Barley Grass, Barley grass can stimulate the regeneration of cells with the help of B vitamins, iron, and chlorophyll. It also contains phycocyanin, a blue pigment that supports the creation of white and red blood cells and when these cells are rejuvenated it helps to keep your skin looking more youthful. This ingredient also has Quercetin, a flavonoid and anti-inflammatory agent that helps to maintain your skin’s elasticity thereby improving your skin’s overall texture and appearance.
At We+People the ‘Renew’ supplements are specially formulated for skin and collagen health and this powerhouse of skin-friendly nutrients from Acai, Cinnamon, Camu Camu, and Barley Grass, means you will be arming your skin with plenty of natural defenses against ageing.
Most people just assume that our bodies just figure it all out for themselves and as long as we are eating a varied healthy diet and have a good life-work balance with no stress it pretty much does….. most of the time.
But sometimes just sometimes it gets thrown out of whack, maybe you are working too hard, maybe you have been through a traumatic episode in your life or maybe you have had an injury, a serious illness or you’ve been eating a poor diet.
Men and women can suffer from hormonal imbalances however women are more likely to pick up on an imbalance in their hormones due to our monthly cycles and if somethings not feeling right we tend to get strong signals each month such as PMT, PMS, Endometriosis, PCOS and lots more. But it doesn’t end with our menstrual cycle as our hormones also control our sleep patterns, digestion, and overall health.
Balancing hormones requires lifestyle and diet changes and here are our 5 steps to help you get back your happy hormones.
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers which control most major bodily functions so if our hormones aren’t balanced it will have a direct impact on how our bodies perform. Start by eating less processed foods and refined sugars which cause our hormones to behave erratically and eat a healthy diet rich in good fats and protein. Did you know Hemp contains a whole spectrum of all the amino acids our bodies need and includes omega 3 and 6 which is directly linked to hormone health? Hemp also contains heaps of healthy protein too.
It’s really important to exercise our bodies every day even if just for 30 minutes, exercise creates harmony in our hormones and breaking a sweat will also get rid of any excess toxins in our bodies through our sweat glands, so drink lots of water and get exercising. Try adding Maca to your daily routine. It’s the champion superfood for hormonal balancing and it has also been claimed to help increase strength, boost energy and improve exercise performance. Maca oxidises quite quickly so it can lose 50% of its powerful health benefits within 3 months so for best results we recommend to take it in supplement form which is protected by the plant based capsule.
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins which means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress. Have you tried cacao, cacao is chocolate in its purest form without all the added sugars, the mood-boosting effects of cacao really can lift our mood. Researchers have discovered that cacao can help stimulate the brain into releasing neurotransmitters, which can in turn release feel-good hormones.
4. Eat Your Greens
Making sure you eat lots of greens such as kale and spinach will assist your liver which is vital for hormone health. We are exposed to toxins every day and some of these toxins such as those found in plastics can even mimic the hormone oestrogen and cause serious hormone imbalances. It’s the liver’s job to cleanse these out of our system. So to support liver health try taking wheatgrass which contains many nutrients such as chlorophyll, folic acid, and B12 which can help detoxify an overburdened liver and help to cleanse the blood.
5. Keep Your Gut Healthy
Our overall health starts in our digestive system and if you consistently eat processed food and high sugar foods, the chances are pretty high that your digestive system will be toxic and sluggish and this will have a direct impact on your hormones. Eat plenty of foods which will restore your gut health, such as fermented foods and bone broth. We include Inulin in our supplements as this is a natural plant fibre which acts as a prebiotic and our gut bacteria converts that into fatty acids which nourishes our colon cells and provide a healthy environment in the gut and therefore happy hormones too.
Have you ever woken up with butterflies in your tummy and thought, why? I have nothing to worry about so why am I feeling so nervous?
I have suffered for many years with this very problem and I didn’t know why. I was basically stuck in these anxious feelings which were worse in the mornings when I woke up, apparently, this is because a stress hormone called cortisol is highest in the morning. Cortisol helps your body respond to stress and regulates blood sugar levels.
I had a period in my life where I went through a lot of turmoil and it all seemed to happen within a few years. My mother had not one, but two serious illnesses that nearly killed her, I then went through a really traumatic break up with my partner and by this time I was emotional, mentally and physically wrecked.
My body was on the brink and my adrenal glands were exhausted, I had brain fog, tingling in my legs, I thought I had MS, one side of my body felt numb, I was sure that I had a serious disease in my body.
My doctor said ” I believe all your symptoms are from anxiety”
As I tried to move on from all the stress, I got recurring cystitis, my body was so inflamed, I was given antibiotic after antibiotic and I just thought to myself, I can’t keep living like this.
I started to try to heal myself, I went to see naturopaths and acupuncturists, homeopaths and herbalists. I was quite dizzy and confused by it all, I studied my conditions on the internet, I couldn’t shake the anxiety, no matter what I tried.
It was a slow process but I followed diets to improve my adrenal function and support my liver and I took herbs such as Ashwagandha which really worked. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen which supports the adrenal glands by promoting homeostasis in the body. Not only does it calm down the body and our mental processes, it helps promote better sleep, which in turn supports the adrenals and promotes better thyroid health which is also closely linked to stress.
I found Yoga with Adrienne helped a lot and I meditated for at least 5 minutes every evening before bed just to calm my mind. I also drank relaxing herbal teas such as Tulsi tea or Camomile and tried supplementing with Ashwagandha. I also supported my health with reflexology and did regular exercise as this helped me to sweat out any toxins that were accumulating in my body. I also found the steam room and sauna great for this.
Eventually, you will start to see an improvement in your mental health and your stress levels will alleviate. You will still get days when you are anxious but you will learn how to let it go, its all about letting it go and not getting stuck in that anxious mindset.
What caused it in the first place?
We naturally have a stress hormone called adrenalin which kicks in to warn us of danger, from the days when we had to run from our predators. Nowadays it is more from our modern life stresses such as our boss or relationships and other triggers. The fight or flight response gets stuck and this is when our body finds it hard to cope. Its literally taken me 2 years to actually feel better and I still have bad days, the slightest stressful thing can throw me into an anxious state. The time it takes will be different for everyone but I am proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
There’s something about escaping the British winter that feels like a life saving experience during January. We seeked out some warmer climes in Cape Town to save our souls and discovered some real treats.
Here are 5 places not to miss if your priority is visiting hidden gems with an emphasis on healthy eats and botanical themes.
HEMELHUIJS means ” heavens house” in Dutch. On entering this contemporary cafe on Waterkant street, you can’t help but notice the stunning floral ceiling. The atmosphere was relaxed and the food was great, we ordered breakfast with a homemade potato rosti and eggs. Hemelhuijs also boasts its own home range so you have a chance to buy into the whole experience.
BOTANICAL BAR – There are cocktails and there are botanical cocktails and since I’ve tried the drinks at Botanical Bar, cocktails anywhere else haven’t been the same for me ever since. Each drink was a true experience and we did try a few. Each drink was named by a region in the Cape using the local flora mixed with alchoholic infusions which were creative and really refreshing. They also do food but we were too busy drinking to try any on this occassion.
MARROW is a small broth bar where you can find veggie broths and meat broths, not really what I expected to find in a hot summer in the city. Bone broth is becoming popular and widely known for its highly nutritious health benefits. The simple modern decor was pleasant and felt like I was in Japan rather than Cape Town. There were lots of different flavours available. I had the veggie broth which came with vegetables and broth on the side so you can pour it in yourself. It was really fresh and light. A perfect lunch spot even on a hot summers day.
BABYLONSTOREN is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms. It has a diverse botanical garden and vinyard which supplies the two restaurants Babel, the Greenhouse eatery, farm shop and the hotel. If I was told that I had to choose one place on earth where I would be trapped forever and could never leave it would be this place. There was an emphasis on farm to fork food freshness, everything is well kept and the staff are friendly. I am keen to try out the restaurant, spa and unique hotel the next time we visit
THE GIN BAR If you are looking for a remedy for your heart, head or the soul, this is the place for you. The Gin Bar offers a selection of international and local Gins with botanical elixirs, tinctures and potions to cure all manner of ills. Inside the bar feels very much like going back in time, its dark, theres wood cladding, antique blue velvet chairs and cabinets, but the outside has a mediteranean style secret courtyard.
We already can’t wait to revisit creative Cape Town, with all its botanical treats and hidden gems and gorgeously hot weather. We discovered the best time to travel is January and February, it can get quite windy in the afternoons.
If you’ve recently been hearing the words, ‘seed cycling’, Its nothing to do with bicycles. It’s a new brilliant way to make sure we are getting the right nutrients throughout our menstrual cycle.
Seed cycling is an old naturopathic therapy that uses nutrition, to support the body’s production, metabolism and detoxification of hormones in order to bring hormones back into balance, naturally.
Our female bodies are so complex, that we often find ourselves a little bit bemused by them, for years I suffered from heavy periods that I thought was normal, turns out I had endometriosis and I only found out 10 years later. So if you suffer from painful heavy periods and you have signs that something feels wrong, then get it checked, chances are it could prevent problems later on.
Our cycles are divided into phases.
The follicular phase, day 1 to 14 of your cycle. when your estrogen is increasing and an egg is maturing in preparation for ovulation.
Ovulation typically occurs on day 14 for women with a ‘normal’ 28-day cycle which is characterized by the release of an egg,
Luteal phase. This usually happens on day 15 of your cycle, the follicle turns into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and helps thicken your uterine lining to prepare for a pregnancy.
Menstruation: If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of your uterus, also known as the endometrium, will shed and this becomes your period.
Do I need to seed cyle?
Our bodies are usually naturally very good at keeping our hormones in balance, but with the number of hormone disruptors in our everyday environment, its easier than ever for our bodies to get confused. For example, drinking from plastic bottles exposes you to estrogen-mimicking compounds called xenoestrogens and not only is it in plastics, but it’s also in the chemicals we are exposed to every day such as detergents, cosmetics, receipts, even the clothing on our backs, which can cause a lot of us to suffer from estrogen dominant conditions such as Endometriosis, PMT, PCOS, and Infertility.
Seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and nutrients, like zinc and selenium, which are the building blocks needed to create happy healthy hormones. So this is why seed cycling could just be what we need, to keep things in balance.
Flaxseeds in-particular are rich in lignans, which have been shown to be beneficial in improving estrogen and progesterone ratios. There have also been studies showing that breast tenderness related to our cycles is improved by including flaxseeds in your diet too. Sesame and sunflower seeds also contain lignans and essential fatty acids which support the hormones. So by choosing the right seeds needed for each cycle phase, it could vastly improve your menstrual health, less pain, regular periods, less breast tenderness etc.
Where To Start?
I made some seed balls as they are really easy to snack on, rather than having to make a smoothie or carry lots of packets of seeds around. I prepared 14 and took 1 a day or you could take 2 a day and make more. So far my menstrual pain has eased, and my breasts don’t seem so tender before my period, its supposed to be 3-6 months before you see any improved results, so give it time.
Heres a really simple guide to which seeds would be good to start with, simply put the chosen seeds which preferably are organic and high quality, into a food blender with some cacao powder, and a little raw honey to make them stick, you could also try adding dates which give a good source of fibre, a good digestive system is vital, which can aid your body in expelling those pesky excesses estrogens.
Flax seeds and pumpkin seeds work well for this phase as they work to detox any excess estrogen whilst preparing the body for adequate progesterone production in the second half of the cycle. pumpkin seeds are also high in iron which is beneficial in this half, if you have heavy periods.
Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds work well for this phase as sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E to support progesterone levels and sesame seeds are high in zinc and selenium which block excess estrogen.
So if you want happy hormones, or if you just like the sound of these as a tasty healthy snack, and they are tasty especially when you add a little coconut oil, honey, dates and raw cacao. I prefer to use raw cacao than dark chocolate as this is the purest form of chocolate, which contains magnesium and zinc, also known minerals to be lacking in people with endometriosis and other estrogen dominant conditions. So maybe worth giving a try.
The first time I had reflexology I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, yeah it was nice. I spent an hour with some lady just stroking my feet covering them in baby oil but I did feel a bit ripped off as it wasn’t cheap.
A few years later a friend suggested I should try reflexology for my hormone imbalance as I was still suffering from endometrial polyps and ovarian cysts. I was reluctant to spend £40 on what I could essentially do myself, I did consider just buying a bottle of baby oil and massaging my feet while watching Netflix but my friend persisted.
Reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt and China. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of “zone therapy” in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed the zone theory in the 1930s into what is known today as modern reflexology.
According to reflexologists, pressure on the reflex points can help to balance the nervous system and stimulate the release of endorphins that help to reduce pain and stress. Just some of the conditions that respond well to reflexology are,
Stress related conditions
Second Time Lucky
So I booked my next reflexology treatment with a reflexologist that actually did real reflexology. It started with a warm relaxing foot bath in relaxing dried herbs such as rose and chamomile and then after patting down my feet gently with a towel the work began.
While I was waiting for a foot tickle it was actually nothing like my first experience. At times it actually felt a bit painful. I nearly decided that this obviously wasn’t going to be something I do very often as It was bordering on uncomfortable at times. But then I started to enjoy the fact that this was doing something. I lay listening to the relaxing music in a lovely treatment room with smells of burning relaxing oils and even though I was a little relieved when it ended I was fascinated by the things that the therapist picked up on.
The first things she said were that my adrenals were tender, this is the area which takes all the burden and deals with your stress hormones and too rightly I had been through a stressful time with a failed IVF treatment just a few months back. She also felt tender areas in my lower intestines, sinuses and ovaries and I have to say it was all pretty spot on.
Since then I have regular treatments and it just gets better over time. My feet don’t feel so tender and I genuinely feel like I am getting somewhere. I sleep much better and I don’t feel as overwhelmed with anxiety. I feel more balanced and after treatment, it releases some feel-good endorphins which are pretty hard to beat.
I highly recommend trying it and if your first experience wasn’t up to much try somewhere else. I recommend Alex at Moksha Therapies in Margate.