herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Spring clean your health

The days are getting longer, with the promise of fine weather, so Emma Buckley looks at five simple ways to shake off Winter and get your body ready for Spring

IT'S TIME to start thinking about getting ready to reveal our selves for the better weather to come.

But some of us will need to spring clean our bodies. You can tell if someone looks after themselves, just like you can tell if someone has been burning the candle at both ends.

Our skin is the largest organ in the body with a surface area of two square metres. Its main functions are to protect the body, control temperature and to eliminate waste. Because of that, it's a very good indicator of health. The great thing is, our skin renews itself every 30 days so you can see results very quickly.

So with the days getting longer and the new season of fresh produce available, it's a great time to start a new exercise and food regime. These are my five tips for looking great this spring:

1 Water

Hydration is key to optimum health. Most of us are generally in a state of slight dehydration, which slows down normal bodily processes; waste material doesn't get eliminated from the cells and nutrients don't get absorbed as quickly.

Water is vital to our health and our skin reflects our vitality. If you are hydrated you will show less signs of fatigue on your face, you will feel better and have more energy. We need to drink at least two litres a day, and no, the water in your tea or coffee doesn't count!

2 Fruits and Vegetables

We all know fruits and vegetables are essential for good health and that we should be eating our five-a-day, but statistics show only about a third of us do.

If you're serious about wanting to increase your health and look great this spring/summer season, upping your intake of fruit and vegetables is something that is very easy for you to do. Researchers at the University of Witten-Herdecke in Germany have shown that fruits and vegetables have a significant impact on the skin's health. They looked at how encapsulated vegetable and fruit juice powder in the form of the supplement Juice Plus affects the markers of ‘beauty' on skin.

They looked at hydration and water loss in the skin cells, which is how your skin glows and skin thickness and density, which regulates your pore size. Fifty-two women from the ages of 45 to 62 took Juice Plus for 12 weeks and another group took a placebo.

The women on Juice Plus showed a significant improvement in hydration with a decrease in water loss, improved microcirculation and skin thickness, and density was also improved. The placebo group showed no significant changes. For more information www.juice plus.ie.

3 Good fats

You've probably heard about the good fat: omega 3. These fatty acids have been shown to maintain elasticity in the skin and reduce inflammation, showing a positive effect on skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and dandruff.

Good sources of omega 3 fatty acids are oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout or fish oil supplements) walnuts and flax seeds. These fats are also shown to have a significant impact on burning stored body fat. A recent study showed that those taking eight capsules of fish oil supplements a day had a 50pc lower level of insulin, which allowed more stored body fat to be used as energy. Other body-friendly fats are monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil and avocados (my personal favourite!)

4 Exercise

A top sports coach told me years ago, the best kind of exercise is the one you will do! If you love dancing, find a dancing class that you can go to, or arrange for a group of friends to walk at lunch. Just find something that you will enjoy doing, and then you will do it consistently. Aim for at least 30 minutes, five times a week – more if you want to lose weight.

5 Reduce Toxins

Our skin shows whether we're healthy or not. Whatever is in our systems will come to the surface, whether it’s nutrient- rich cells or waste-laden cells.

Smoking is a huge no-no for our health and skin. It damages internal and external cells, promotes early ageing and wrinkles.

Alcohol dehydrates and causes fatigue as well as water retention. Coffee and tea are fine in limited quantities. Try to have only two cups a day. Herbal teas are great.

Stress has a toxic effect on our bodies. We need to manage stress effectively and use it to propel us, not to fell us. Rest is essential for repair and renewal, so catch up on sleep.

Emma Buckley BSc is a consultant nutritionist and TV presenter. She runs the website www.nutrition.ie

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