Recovering from Injury in Professional Rugby

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Hi, I’m Aaron and I’m a professional rugby union player currently playing for Montpellier in France. I’m really excited to join the Nuzest team and discuss how I optimise my performance in such a physically challenging sport by using Nuzest products. This is my introduction blog but I’m excited to discuss things I feel passionate about over the course of the next few months.

Following a dream

Ever since a young age, I was inspired by my parents to always chase my dreams and try to make them my reality. I attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School in New Zealand and played rugby there throughout my junior years. My parents have always been so supportive and whilst they’ve never forced me into anything, they’ve always been there to provide feedback and support throughout my journey.

I made my provincial debut for Manawatu Turbos in 2008. However, just as I thought my career was starting, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer at the age of 19. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone and it was a harsh lesson to make me learn how precious life is at such a young age. Seven months after receiving the all clear I was fortunate enough to be part of the U20 world cup winning New Zealand team. Since then I’ve played for the Wellington Hurricaines, Waikato Chiefs and have been capped 50 times for the All Blacks. I’ve always wanted to play overseas and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to now do so in France.

Strength and recovery with added flavour

At the very start of my career, I learnt you can never take your health for granted. I’ve also suffered from injuries – including knee reconstruction surgery. I was off the field for much of 2015 but I feel like I’m only going from strength to strength now thanks to the help of Nuzest products. I’m currently using both Nuzest Clean Lean Protein and their Good Green Stuff. I absolutely love that Nuzest is naturally sourced and I’d find it very difficult to get the level of nutrients I need without it. Good Greens Stuff is an extremely effective way of getting my daily source of greens. The Protein is full of flavour and provides added recovery and strength to my daily nutrient intake and the fact that there are multiple flavours makes it great for my smoothies.

I look forward to keeping you up to date with what’s happening in my world and discussing how Nuzest helps me achieve my goals. As for my goals over the next year? They don’t often change, it’s all about having balance in every aspect of life which includes my nutrition. So that is why I like to use Nuzest products because I believe they fit with my goals and lifestyle perfectly.

ggs
clp

Travel & Jetlag – The Importance of Diet

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Hi, I’m Marcus.
I grew up on a farm in New Zealand but these days I play professional tennis on the ATP World Tour. Once a month I’ll write about the challenges I face trying to optimise performance in a high-stress environment while travelling the world. Frequent air travel, jetlag, sleep, nutrition, rest, meditation – these are all areas I continue to explore and improve in. I hope my mistakes and successes help you optimise yourself.

Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor an expert on anything other than chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. But in my chase for that extra 1% of performance and resilience I have had a bucketload of trial and error experience, and some of it just might make a difference to you too.

6 Tips and Tricks for Travel & Jetlag

As I write this I’m sitting on a plane, knees jammed into the knobbly bits of the seat in front. This is a disappointingly common position for me. As a professional tennis player I’m on tour ten months of the year – arguably the longest and most arduous season of any sport in the world. I compete in around 35 events, including the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon etc.) and Davis Cup. All of these week-long or fortnight-long events are held in different cities, and mostly in different countries. Needless to say, a gargantuan amount of air travel is involved. It is a constant battle to remain limber and fresh when crossing time zones is a weekly phenomenon. Today I’d like to share how I handle travel and the myriad annoyances that come along with it.

1) Airplane Seats

Airplane seats suck in general. However, if you’re over 185cm aeroplane seats are pure nightmare. Just ask my knees. Here’s how you can try to improve this situation:
• If you haven’t been able to select your seat previously, give the check-in agent a genuine smile and build a bit of rapport. Once your bags are tagged ask if there are any spare emergency exit or bulkhead seats. If not, ask if there are any seats with space next to them. It’s worth a shot!
• If that fails, go to the gate staff around an hour before your departure and enquire again about a seat change. By this stage most people will be checked in and if you’re friendly enough the gate staff may be willing to help you out.
• If both of those fail, try to temporarily shrink yourself.
• Neck pillows can be lifesavers on long flights. Nobody enjoys a cricked neck. Find a pillow that allows you to maintain a good, tall posture while you sleep or relax. I personally use a blow-up pillow because it packs down small.

2) Hydration & Nutrition

Hydration is HUGELY important when flying long distances. I had one enthusiastic nutritionist advise me to drink one litre of water with electrolytes per hour of flight time. I tried this and ended up going to the bathroom about seventeen times. Not ideal. I halved this advice and it works well for me – one litre of water with electrolytes for every two hours flown. If you don’t have electrolytes you can ask the flight attendant for some slices of lime and some salt. Ideally it would be coloured salt (which has a better mineral profile) but choices are limited on a plane. Hydrating well during a flight will also help your body stave off jetlag.

To put it gently, plane food leaves a lot to be desired. For this reason I tend to avoid plane meals and instead take a Nuzest shake on board. I take two and a half scoops of Clean Lean Protein and a full serving of Good Green Stuff in powder form in my shaker and then mix it with water on board. This has three big benefits: it’s much healthier than any plane food, it doesn’t leave you feeling bloated, and the Good Green Stuff is an optimal foundation so that your body can withstand whatever cooties or viruses are hanging around on armrests or toilet doors. Oh and four, it tastes a helluva lot better too!

3) Jetlag Tips

Jetlag also sucks. We’ve all experienced waking up starving at 3am or passing out at 5pm only to wake up a few hours later thinking it’s morning. Here are a couple of jetlag tips:

• Melatonin – your body has a natural circadian (daily) rhythm of asleep and awake. Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced by your body when it gets dark to tell you to go to sleep.* When you change time zones your body’s circadian rhythm gets confused by darkness arriving at a different point in the cycle. If I’m flying in to a time zone that’s more than three hours different I’ll try to pre-adjust my circadian rhythm. For example, I’ve finished playing a tournament in New York and need to play the next week in Barcelona. Bedtime in Barcelona is 4pm in New York, so two days before I fly to Barcelona I take 3-5g of melatonin at 4pm to ease my body’s hormone production into a new circadian rhythm.** Once in Barcelona I’ll take melatonin for a couple more days at bedtime to solidify the new rhythm. This technique does not eliminate jetlag but it definitely reduces its impact.
* This is why you’re not supposed to look at a bright screen before bedtime – it imitates daylight and tells your body not to produce melatonin.
** Research suggests that 3g is the minimum effective dose of melatonin and anything over 5g has no extra effect.
• Exercise – when I arrive at my hotel, regardless of the time, the first thing I do is move my body. Hotels often have basic gyms where I’ll spend fifteen minutes on a bike or a cross trainer, but failing that I do some stretching and rolling in my room and then perhaps some dynamic yoga or body weight exercises. This significantly accelerates the time zone adjustment process for me.

4) Headphones

This was a game changer. In 2015 I splashed out on a pair of Bose QC15 in-ear headphones. These have active noise-cancelling, which means that they monitor the frequency of the ambient noise around you, then produce an opposite frequency to cancel it out. This creates a deliciously quiet headspace for you to relax in. You can enjoy your music, podcasts, or movies at a normal volume rather than having to blast the noise into your earholes to drown out engines, babies, stag parties and snoring. Quality noise-cancelling headphones are expensive, but on balance this is one of the best value purchases I’ve made in my life. I wish I’d treated myself earlier.

5) Hygiene

Airplanes are dirty environments. Countless bacteria-laden hands have touched armrests, screens, tray tables and overhead lockers. Common illness accounts for up to two thirds of all training/competition days missed in professional sport, so to avoid unnecessary time out I use two products to counter the chance of getting sick while flying.
• Long-lasting hand sanitizer – alcohol gels clean your hands, but as soon as you touch another dirty surface your hands are contaminated again. Instead use a long-lasting sanitizer like Zoono, which stays on your skin for up to twenty four hours after application, killing any bacteria it comes in contact with. There are other brands that are equally effective and easier to find. Just remember to apply after every wash of your hands.
• Nasal spray – I use a product called First Guard. I spray this into each nostril at the beginning of a flight to protect against airborne germs. It creates a layer of protection in your sinuses and doesn’t allow them to dry out. A dry sinus or mouth provides an easier pathway for germs to invade your body.

6) Compression

I wear compression socks for every flight I take. They make my legs feel noticeably less swollen and tired when I arrive. For long haul trips I also wear full compression leggings. I recommend at least the socks for any flight over three hours, and by compression socks I don’t mean the dross they sell in airport convenience stores but rather proper compression gear from a company like Skins or 2XU. I personally wear Icebreaker compression socks, which seem to have slightly less compression but they make up for it by being ridiculously comfortable!

Bonus Round: Carbon Offsetting

A final note: over the years I’ve become more and more aware of the negative impacts of air travel on the environment. Travel is a necessity of my job, and I rack up some serious miles (around 120,000 last year). Carbon offsetting is a way to mitigate those negative impacts. I do believe it’s a valid argument to say that offsetting is a band-aid rather than a cure, or that it’s just a conscience pleaser for those who feel guilty about overusing the luxury of air travel. But if every air traveller offsets we can at least do our bit to slow the climate change process down. I use a German third party company called Atmosfair (https://www.atmosfair.de/en/) to calculate how much environmental damage I’ve personally caused (33 cubic tonnes last year…). Last year my carbon offsetting cost me a little over 800 euros. This is a small price to pay considering the potential downsides of climate change, and it works out to only a few extra bucks per flight.

A Day in the Life of an Elite Tennis Player

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Hi, I’m Marcus.
I grew up on a farm in New Zealand but these days I play professional tennis on the ATP World Tour. Once a month I’ll write about the challenges I face trying to optimise performance in a high-stress environment while travelling the world. Frequent air travel, jetlag, sleep, nutrition, travel hacks, rest, meditation – these are all areas I continue to explore and improve in. I hope my mistakes and successes help you optimise yourself.

Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor an expert on anything other than chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. But in my chase for that extra 1% performance and resilience, I have had a bucketload of trial and error experience and some of it just might make a difference to you too.

To Meat or Not to Meat
A few months ago I decided to become vegetarian. The decision was a bit of a shock for everyone, including me.

I was in a Tokyo sushi restaurant with some other doubles players during the Japan Open when one of the guys ordered a round of chopped whale for the table. Something inside me recoiled. I couldn’t even consider eating it. This ethical repulsion triggered some deep questioning of my own values and of why our society draws an arbitrary line around what is ‘ethical’ to kill and eat and what isn’t. After extensive reading and some horrifically graphic vegan propaganda documentaries I couldn’t justify eating a product of slaughter, both on ethical and environmental grounds. This is one reason why I have great admiration for Nuzest as a company – I’ll get to that soon.

I grew up on a sheep farm eating red meat a couple of times a day. Traditional rural wisdom was, ‘Eat good red meat and some potatoes and you’ll be right.’ As I got better at tennis a parallel refrain was touted by coaches and trainers, ‘You need protein, so you need meat.’ I can’t argue against the need for protein, especially in active humans, * Research suggests that active males require 1.6g-1.8g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. At 78kg, this means my protein requirements are around 133g per day (For active females the suggestion is between 1.2g-1.4g of protein per kilo of bodyweight). Research also suggests that the human body can only absorb around 35g of protein in one hit* so I went into the vegetarian diet highly conscious of how much protein my body required to function optimally. The nutrition model that has worked best for me is commonly called protein pulsing. This involves consuming a source of protein every three or so hours *The idea being that there is always an accessible protein source in the bloodstream so your body doesn’t have to recruit any protein from your muscles* Research suggests that this protein pulsing technique is beneficial for all people, and carbohydrate intake can be tailored depending on how active or sedentary you are.

As a virgin vegetarian this was my challenge: minus meat, how can I consume ~135g of protein per day?

It has turned out to be much easier and tastier than I expected. I usually eat five or six times per day. Three or four decent sized meals with snacks in between to keep me going. Prior to my vegemania I’d typically consume one protein shake per day. Over the years I tried tens of different whey protein supplements but never found a product that sat well in my stomach if I had to train or compete soon after consumption. I started using Nuzest products at the end of 2016 – well before becoming vegetarian – and Clean Lean Protein ticked that box immediately. Now I have two or three Nuzest shakes per day and they alone count for around two thirds of my daily protein requirements. Due to the purity of the protein, plus the fact that it’s made from golden peas rather than animal products, Clean Lean Protein is highly digestible and I have no issues drinking a shake just before working out or even during a session.

For interest’s sake, here is a typical training day for me in the off-season including food intake:

A Day in the Life of Marcus

7am : Wake up

Hydrate – ~250ml warm water with a squeezed lemon and a dollop of apple cider vinegar 

Shake – Mix two and a bit scoops of Nuzest Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Nuzest Good Green Stuff with water. Pound it. Eat 2 pieces of fruit, I’m a kiwifruit and apple man.

7.45am : Meditate – 9-12mins. I use an app called Calm. *I hope to do a post on meditation in the future*

8-9am : Yoga

9.15am : Breakfast! – Eat a big bowl of porridge with soy or almond milk, topped with trail mix and honey. I prefer Manuka honey. A (delicious) coffee.

10-10.30am : Gym Warmup – Rolling, stretching, mobilizing, activating core, glutes, rotator cuff, various rehab exercises.

10.30am-12.45pm : Tennis training – This can have a wide variety of focuses depending on what I’m working on at the time and who I’m training with. High level tennis training is exceedingly dehydrating so I try to consume at least 1.2L of water mixed with electrolytes per hour. *I also hope to do a post on hydration in the future* Finish with 15 mins warm down and stretching.

1pm : Lunch! – Lots of brown rice or sweet potato, lots of salad and veggies of all colours, a source of protein: quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, seitan, haloumi etc. Another (strong) coffee.

2-2.30pm : Gym Warmup – Back in the gym limbering up. More of the same rehab exercises. You can never do enough of this stuff.

2.30-4pm : Tennis training – Depending on the focus of my training block this session is sometimes replaced by a longer and more demanding heavy gym session.

4pm : Shake – 2 scoops Nuzest Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Nuzest Good Green Stuff, usually accompanied by a banana.

4-5pm : Gym – A hard session. usually either upper body or lower body focused, always with some core training.

5-6pm : Pool recovery and stretching – This will include dynamic and static stretching, hot and cold treatment, and often a blissful finish in the lukewarm hydrotherapy pool.

7pm : Dinner! – The same components as lunch but in a different combination to keep it exciting.

10 or 10.30pm : ‘Midnight’ snack – Another Nuzest shake with 2 scoops Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Good Green Stuff, this time often accompanied by my biggest vice – popcorn. Having this just before bed gives my body some much-needed macro and micro nutrients to feast on while it’s doing important repair work overnight.

11pm : Shut down and sleep.

As you can see this is an incredibly demanding day for a body. Without an easily digestible protein like Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein I would struggle to get enough each day. Their Good Green Stuff also helps my body to repair all of its systems, especially overnight when the body does most of its repair work. The more I learn about Nuzest as a company the more I like it. As a sponsored athlete I’ve got good access to the key people behind the company, however I was the one who asked how I could help spread the name because I believe Nuzest represents the very best in both nutrition and ethics. Clean Lean Protein is extracted from sustainably grown European golden peas from northern France. Peas are among the most sustainable crops in the world; they add nitrogen to the soil in the growing process rather than stripping the fields of nutrients. Peas use less than 20% of the land required to produce the same amount of protein from whey or beef. The protein is naturally extracted from the peas in a unique facility in Belgium using a water process rather than chemical solvents, which makes it better for the environment and better for you. It’s vegan, gluten free, dairy free, GMO free, lectin free, soy free. It’s hypoallergenic and has an alkaline pH of 7.8.

I’m raving on, but there’s a lot to rave about.

This is a company I have a huge amount of respect for and want to help promote.

I haven’t lost any weight or muscle mass since the change to vegetarianism and my energy levels are equal. The one pleasant difference I’ve noticed is that my stomach feels lighter. What has also been particularly gratifying is the number of athletes and strangers who have contacted me via social media to ask questions about a vegetarian diet or say that I gave them the confidence to make the switch to vegetarianism themselves. I’m just one of many living proofs that athletes don’t need meat to be elite, and if athletes can be physical paragons on a vegetarian diet then anyone can optimise their lives eating the same.

I urge those of you who are interested to give vegetarianism a go for a month or so and see how good it feels to have energy without the heaviness of meat in your guts. Just remember to get enough protein!

Please note that Marcus is sharing the perspective of an Elite Athlete with heavy physical and mental demands. His nutritional requirements may be more than Nuzest recommends for the every day person. Always read the label and use as directed.

See more from Marcus and some of our other Tennis Supporters.
Shop Online for Nuzest.

ggs
clp

12 Body Systems – Part 1: The Immune System

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Transform your stress with lifestyle choices

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Recognising and acknowledging that you are stressed is the first step in the transformation process. What you don’t know, you can’t change. In most instances, the mere fact that you have taken stock and accepted that you’re stressed also allows you to see reasons why. You may not have that magic wand to sprinkle fairy dust and make it all go away, but you can certainly use a range of lifestyle choices to ease some pressure and give yourself some breathing space. Here is a selection of powerful stress-busting techniques to choose from:

Getting your beauty sleep

Whether you’re a lark or a night owl, sleep is not a luxury, nor is it something to be caught up at weekends, or saved for holidays. Sleep is probably the most powerful, but natural, stress transformer we have – and it’s free!

Without banking sufficient sleep hours into your ‘account’, not only is your body unable to regenerate but, more importantly, your brain winds down, hindering your ability to think clearly and keep your emotions balanced. We are meant to spend around one third of our lives asleep and yet it’s the first activity we sacrifice when the pressure is on. Why? Healthy sleep is one of the sure-fire ways of maintaining youthful, resilient, vitality of both body and mind and allowing us to cope better with stress.

But how much sleep is enough? If you’ve been scrimping on your sleep for whatever reason, it’s time for a re-think. Adults, regardless of gender, typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for optimal brain and body function. Under-sleeping by even one hour every weeknight amounts to a monumental 5 hours of sleep debt by the time the weekend arrives – impossible to recoup. But, just like your bank overdraft, sleep debt has to be repaid. All too often the price is your health and spiralling stress levels as you increasingly lack the resilience to adapt to the pressures of life.

Positive self-talk

You are what you think. The orientation of your self-talk can mean the difference between super hero or super zero. Our thoughts underpin our beliefs and beliefs quickly become self-fulfilling prophecies. What we believe determines what we do, so if we believe we can’t do something, or clog up our mind with negative thoughts, we will remain stuck in our unhappy stressed-out state. Negative thoughts can seriously limit our experiences and quality of life.

Conversely, if our self-talk is positive, even if that means consciously reframing a negative thought, our behaviour and life experience follows suit. As part of the re-framing process, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What else could ‘this’ mean?
  • Is there a positive flip side I can reach for?
  • How else can I think about this?

Use a notebook if you need to in the beginning, but note your negative self-talk and change it. Negative thinking is a luxury we can ill afford.

Grounding in green spaces

Do you feel better when you’re outside in nature, barefoot on the green grass, under a sunny blue sky? Doesn’t everyone? Well it’s not all about the sunshine. It’s a lot to do with electrons. The Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. So when you’re in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, which synchronises us to the same electrical potential. Living in direct contact with the Earth grounds your body, inducing favourable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health eg. proper functioning of the immune system, circulation and synchronisation of biorhythms to name just a few. This electron exchange during grounding is also deeply relaxing and stress-relieving.

These positive effects from ‘grounding’ aren’t surprising because throughout our evolutionary history humans have been in constant contact with the Earth. It’s so simple — next time you’re on the grass, a beach or the earth, take your shoes off and synchronise a little.

Releasing your inner recreational ‘drug’

Cannabis isn’t the only source of ‘feel-good’ cannabinoids out there. Your brain can make them too! Cannabinoids may be responsible for cannabis’ classification as an illicit drug in many countries, but you can become your own legal dealer just by working out a bit more. For many years endorphins were thought to be behind the post work-out euphoria or ‘runner’s high’, but actually we now know it’s down to cannabinoids – endocannabinoids, because we make them in our bodies. It’s fascinating to find that there are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are receptors for other well-known brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and ten times more than the opioid receptors. We also have cannabinoid receptors in our digestive systems and reproductive organs. Getting physically active on a regular basis not only brings you a lean, fit, healthy body, but also a serene antidote to stress. Not only that, endocannabinoids also protect your brain’s neurons from early death, which is hugely important in maintaining cognitive function as we age.

Committing to the present moment

Easier said than done. When we’re stressed, part of the reason for the stress is not knowing what to do to get out of where we find ourselves. It seems like a mountain of steps have to be taken all at once if we are to stop ourselves from drowning. Life feels out of control and it’s a natural impulse to keep looking outwards at all those steps in front of us that feel so overwhelming. But it’s actually the step right in front of us, in the here and now, that holds the key to release. All we need to do is stop looking into the stressful future, take a breath and connect fully to the present moment.

Change always begins with one step. Only one. So, try doing what our ancestors did: look to the sky and find your guiding star. Go out into the night sky. Sit in peace. Look up at the stars. Relax a little and take a moment to get away from the stress of your life and all those overwhelming steps in front of you. In the space and the quiet, in the relief and the stillness, you will regain focus. And you will feel the one step that’s in front of you. Have the courage to take that first step and commit to a daily practice of immersing yourself in the present moment – even if it’s just a fleeting 30 secs in your busy day.

You have time now to practice some of these lifestyle transformers before the next blog in this ‘Quit Stressing’ series. Next time, Rob will outline what a stress-busting nutritional toolbox should look like and why you definitely want Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff and Clean Lean Protein in it.

Quit stressing! But why?

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Most of us know stress is bad for us. But turning it off isn’t always easy – it’s not just a simple switch you can turn on and off at will. What’s more, stress isn’t always bad for us – in fact, some of you will be pleased to learn (if you didn’t know it already) that we’re actually designed to function with some level of stress. Importantly, there is good stress and bad stress, or positive and negative stress. If we’re interested in being the best, most vital and healthy beings we possibly can be, we need to ensure we’ve got the right amount of positive stress, combined with as little negative stress as we can muster.

What kind of stress are you under?

Dr Hans Selye, the widely acknowledged ‘father’ of stress research, devoted an entire book to the subject of ‘stress without distress’ . What’s clear from more than half a century of research on the subject is that we all have different levels of stress tolerance. Some people are able to cope with much higher levels of negative stress than others, and one person’s positive stress might be another person’s negative stress.

Stress is a reaction caused by a stressor of some sort. It might be excessive hours of work, a series of seemingly unrealistic deadlines, or a tyrant of a boss. It could be exams or a bully at school, a poor diet, or an under-par immune system that’s struggling to ward off infection. It might also be pushing yourself to the limit in a given sport or overdoing it in the gym. As Dr Selye said, “a painful blow or a passionate kiss can be equally stressful” — at different times, or to different people. He also reminded us that “complete freedom from stress is death”.

The nature, duration, severity and, in particular, our response to stress, are what determine whether stress is ultimately going to do us good or harm. And don’t forget, you can suffer negative stress that also does you good. An example of this is being caught in traffic on the way to the airport and then running late for a plane. The psychological and physiological stress response that causes you to run to the check-in juggling all your bags, and then through the terminal feeling as if you want to bowl over any slow-moving passengers or over-zealous security officers isn’t good for you. Your nervous system is on red alert, your heart has nearly punched its way out of your chest, and your adrenals are spent. But, although severe, it’s short-lived. Once you are seated in the aircraft, the relaxation that comes over you allows you to recover quickly. Ultimately it was your stress response that got you on the plane and, as unpleasant as it was, it might well have put you in a better and healthier position than facing the consequences of missing your flight. In evolutionary terms, you’ve successfully escaped a sabre-tooth tiger and that’s why the ‘flight-or-fight’ response remains with us today.

The stress response

Psychologists have come to define the stress response as the biological and psychological response to a threat that we don’t feel we have the resources to cope with adequately. That of course relates specifically to negative stress. Multiple systems in the body come into play, from the endocrine (hormonal) system, the nervous system, the immune system and the digestive system.

When confronted with a threat or potential stressor, the first thing we do is evaluate it with our senses. Our ability to do this very quickly helps us to survive as a species. If we decide the threat is real, and that we need to act quickly to reduce its impact, we trigger a cascade of events affecting multiple systems in our body, including three key endocrine organs – the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in our brain, and the adrenal glands that sit atop our kidneys. This is known as the ‘HPA axis’ and is a key part of what is sometimes called the psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) or—wait for it— psychoendoneuroimmunological system, owing to the multiple systems affected. More recent work suggests the gut and the gonads are also involved in the stress response; as a result, some functional medicine practitioners find themselves referring to the system as the HPAGG axis.

The key ‘stress hormones’ released from our adrenal glands belong to a group of steroid hormones called the glucocorticoids, the most important actor of which is cortisol which is synthesized from cholesterol. Cortisol and the HPA axis operate a complicated negative feedback system to control the stress response with hormones like adrenaline, and also to bring it quickly back into balance once the stress or threat has subsided.

What happens if you over-stress your body?

Typical stress responses include elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, elevated blood sugar levels (caused by cortisol triggering glucose production in the liver), decreased digestive activity, loss of appetite and a suppressed immune system. It’s not hard to see how this system that was designed primarily to help us survive more severe and short-lived threats and stresses, starts to create havoc with our bodies in our modern world where chronic stress, even though less severe, is so common. If our bodies are not given the chance to get back to our unstressed balance point things often go awry.

Gaining weight, developing ‘cortisol tyres’ around the mid-section, suffering gastrointestinal problems or regular infections, a failing memory, and losing our capacity to tolerate ‘normal’ levels of stress, are all examples of symptoms of chronic, inadequately managed stress.

The good news is there’s lots we can do to transform negative stress into something more positive, as well as supporting the body nutritionally so it can cope better with stress. And that’s going to be the subject of the next three articles in this series.

 

Healthy Weight Management Lean Protein

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If you’ve read the preceding 3 blogs in this series you’ll now know the ‘What’ and the ‘Why’ regarding healthy weight management. This final blog is all about the ‘How’ – in 10 easy steps, because it’s really, honestly, not complicated. And I can say that because I’ve done it. After 25 years of trying to find a solution to my own health and weight management issues, these are the steps I took which led to both my professional aha-moment and my personal weight management salvation. What’s more, it didn’t take long to make huge changes that have now become permanent.

Here you go…

  1. Start by working out a weekly menu plan that incorporates three meals per day, with no snacks or drinks in between, other than water. Prepare to be on this for 8-10 weeks. Leave at least five hours in between meals to let your digestive and immune systems rest and recover. Some scientists uphold that our digestive tract typically receives more immune challenges in a single day than our whole body does in a lifetime. That’s because food, which comes from outside our body, generates an immune reaction because it needs to be screened and responded to accordingly to make sure it won’t harm us. This is why resting your digestion for extended periods between food or drink is so important.  Grazing through the day puts your immune system on continuous red alert, saps your body of energy and leaves it in a permanent state of low-grade inflammation, all of which predisposes you to a significantly higher risk of chronic disease, let alone upping the number of calories you’re eating that aren’t offset by your activity level.
  1. Include good quality protein at every meal and make sure you get at least a gram of actual protein (not simply protein-containing food) for every kilogram of body weight (that about 2 oz for every 10 lbs of body weight). For instance, 100 g of chicken breast contains about 20 g of protein, 100 g of beef, typically about 25 g of protein and 100 g of legumes averages between 7-9 g of protein. Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein is a perfect choice for meals on the go or for a cost effective way to increase your daily intake of protein. It’s particularly useful for vegans and vegetarians who may well be getting insufficient protein. Make sure you’re mixing it with Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff if you’re using it as a meal replacement to feed all 12-body systems with targeted nutrition.
  1. Drop your fears about fat, including saturated fat, and make sure you’re getting enough of the right kind, but avoid trans fats, hydrogenated fats and fats damaged by high temperature cooking. That means including some good quality, organic butter (exclusively grass fed cows where possible – as long as you’re not sensitive to dairy. If you are, use coconut, avocado, olive oil or another healthy fat instead), extra virgin coconut oil, avocadoes, tree nut oils (e.g. macadamia nut oil), olives and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Clear your cupboards of common vegetable oils e.g. rapeseed (canola), sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn etc. It’s the protein and higher level of fat that keep you fuller for longer and give you better fuel for making energy so that you won’t crave sugar and refined carbs.
  1. Keep your portions sizes modest and if necessary eat off a breakfast rather than a dinner plate. Eat mostly whole, real and unprocessed food.  Minimal processing of some foods is OK, but always avoid ultra-processed and highly refined foods. Check out the Alliance for Natural Health’s Food4Health plate to get some guidance about how to balance your protein, carbs and fats, along with key pointers on food preparation and eating habits.
  1. Make sure you’re eating all the six main colour groups of vegetables and fruit on a daily basis (green, orange, red, yellow, blue/purple/black and white/tan/brown). We call this eating a rainbow every day. Plates of colourful food every day help you ensure you’re getting the full phytonutrient spectrum into your diet. Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff is loaded with phytonutrients to bump up what you’re getting from your food because they are Nature’s best (and safest) medicine. Try to introduce a new vegetable that you may not have had before every week.
  1. Remember that not all carbs are created equal. For the ominovores among you, in order to optimise your fat-burning metabolic pathway, try and remove all refined, starchy carbohydrates (e.g. refined grains, pizza, pasta, pulses/legumes, quinoa, amaranth, bread, cakes, biscuits, sugar and bagels etc) from your diet. Instead of starchy carbs, use a diverse colour range of vegetables as the carbohydrate base of your meals. These not only provide complex carbs, but also all-important phytonutrients. For vegetarians and vegans, keep the pulses/legumes and quinoa in your diet (as these are important protein sources), but do cut out other grains and all refined, starchy, sugary carbs as above. Vegetables and fruit are great sources of complex carbs and, eaten in sufficient quantity, they provide an ample intake of carbs for most people’s energy requirements. For those who have particularly high energy requirements, such as athletes, rice, especially brown rice, and coarse oats, in small to moderate quantities according to need, alongside other protein and vegetable sources, are the grains least likely to cause adverse inflammatory or immune reactions in most people.  Always try to source certified gluten-free oats if available.
  1. Fruit, whilst full of good stuff (phytonutrients), is also full of sugar, so limit yourself to no more than three fruits (or a handful of berries instead of one fruit) a day – eaten with or immediately after a meal, where possible. Remember, no snacking!
  1. By increasing your vegetable content, with some fruits, you will naturally increase your fibre levels, both soluble and insoluble. Fibre is essential for the healthy functioning of your digestive tract and isn’t something you can scrimp on.
  1. Recover the lost art of chewing! The slow, methodical, mechanical chewing along with the release of associated salivary enzymes is actually the first stage of digestion and is really important for gut function and general health. Try chewing each mouthful of solid food 30 times before swallowing.
  1. Where possible and when available, buy certified organic, biodynamic or sustainably produced meat, poultry, dairy, vegetables and fruit. Where you can’t, check out the US’ Dirty Dozen list of the foods most likely to be pesticide-contaminated, and the Clean Fifteen that are likely to contain no or harmless levels of pesticide residues if sourced from ‘conventional’ production.

If you’re a meat eater and once you’ve established this eating pattern for 8 – 10 weeks, you’ll probably find that you’re ready to drop one meal of the day to naturally create a longer fast. Whilst each of us is different, many people find that they want to drop breakfast and fast through from dinner the night before till lunch the next day. But you may also want to keep breakfast and drop one of the other meals. This is a perfectly natural progression – or I should say regression – back to a more evolutionary norm given that we’re built for famine and not for feast. Intermittent fasting also has the benefit of calorie restriction because you eat less in a day, so trust your body and go with flow. If you’re vegan or vegetarian this will likely be more difficult to achieve without using a protein shake like Clean Lean Protein, as you’ll have to eat more carbs in order to get sufficient daily protein.

Lastly, if you feel like you’d benefit from starting this journey with a more personalised, tailored program, supported by others and able to ask questions of myself and other experts, then check out www.bitethesun.org. It’s a member’s club with a wealth of information, an interactive personal dashboard and an integral social hub.

How Your Body Uses Energy and How good Nutrition Helps

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Energy is the stuff we generate from burning fuel. It runs all the processes in our body, effectively keeping us alive. We sometimes think of food as energy, but it’s really an energy source rather than energy itself. We can get energy from any of the three groups of macronutrients, namely fats, carbs and protein. As you’ll be reminded when you read the Nutrition Facts on the back of food labels, fats yield over twice as much energy as the other two groups. A molecule called ATP (which stands for adenosine triphosphate), is actually the body’s key fuel and we have microscopic energy-producing factories in our cells, especially muscle cells, that exist specially to provide us with all-important ATP that can be generated from fats, carbs or proteins. These are called mitochondria (Fig 1).

While we need to eat food to give us energy so that we can go about our lives, it’s important to realise that food is so much more than an energy source. Food is actually better thought of as information for the body. In it are a gamut of other compounds and molecules that help a bunch of different pathways in the body to work properly. For example, if you don’t have sufficient levels of particular micronutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, iodine and biotin, your body finds it difficult to create energy from food. More than that, we need compounds from colourful pigments in plants so that our immune systems can work effectively, our gut bacteria have the resources they need to work on our behalf and to scavenge and neutralise free radicals produced through the body’s normal activity.

Unless you are paralysed or severely ill, nearly every one of us has the capacity to move very quickly, at least for very short periods of time, be this for a few seconds rather than minutes. (Yes, even the world’s number one couch potato has this capacity!) This ability is gifted to us through evolution and it’s what made us capable of the ‘flight and fight’ response that’s been essential to our survival. This response requires healthy lashings of adrenaline combined with readily available ATP from a compound we all have in our bodies in small amounts called creatine phosphate. This ATP, delivered through what is known as our creatine phosphate (CP or phosphagen) system, gives us enough energy for immediate but very short bursts of activity lasting just a few seconds.

If the couch potato were to find his house on fire, the chances are he’d run out the door pretty quickly rather than face being toast because he didn’t feel up to moving. The CP system would rip him off the couch and get him flying in the direction of the exit and then when that immediate energy source was burned, some five or six seconds later, he’d have to rely on one or other of his other two energy systems; this is exactly the same process used by our ancestors when confronted head-on by a sabre-toothed tiger.

If we need to keep going for more than a few seconds, we need to rely on a different energy system. As alluded to above, we have two main options: we either burn fats, carbs or proteins without oxygen in a series of reactions called anaerobic glycolysis. Or we burn our fuels in the presence of oxygen in a process we refer to as aerobic respiration. The former is effectively our short-term energy system, as distinct from the CP or immediate energy system we spoke of above. The latter is our long-term energy system. If you want to run a marathon, long-distance cycle, mow the lawn or vacuum your house, you’ll be using your aerobic system. Having good aerobic fitness is about burning fuel efficiently at moderate levels of intensity, and still being able to put down reasonable power but not incurring an oxygen debt that pushes you above your aerobic threshold. Your anaerobic system is different in that its purpose if for shortish bursts of high intensity activity. You can only use it for a few minutes at a time because you can’t sustain the oxygen debt for too long – and lactic acid build-up in your muscles, a side effect of this energy system, tells you to back off.

The anaerobic system yields a bit of energy as ATP and requires adequate amounts of readily accessible fuel, especially as glucose, a simple unit of carbohydrate. By contrast, your long-range endurance system, aerobic respiration, is there for you to keep going, as long as your overall fitness can manage. If you’re well trained, you can literally function in aerobic mode all day long. While you’re at it you can still deliver occasional bursts of energy in anaerobic or even CP mode, but you’ll soon want to back it off to a more moderate pace if you’re planning on walking, running, rowing or cycling for most of the day. The aerobic system relies on ATP being produced in your mitochondria, which hang out especially in muscle tissue. Bigger, stronger, leaner muscles have more mitochondria and mitochondria of greater volume. People who are frail have fewer mitochondria and weaker muscles. Aerobic respiration produces creates around 17 times more energy as ATP through reactions within the mitochondria called the Krebs or citric acid cycle and the Electron Transport Chain than the aerobic glycolysis that takes place in the muscle tissues outside the mitochondria (Fig. 1).

The body’s fuel of choice for the aerobic system is fat. It delivers, as I said above, over twice as much energy as compared with burning carbs or protein. The reason we all have a tendency to put on fat around our middle and under our skin (adipose fat) is precisely so we can use it as a fuel when we need it. The trouble is, many of us have lost the ability to burn fats efficiently and this is increasingly thought to be one of the reasons why overweight and obesity have become such a problem in so many societies. More on that in our next article.

Why Do Most Diets Fail and Would Protein and Nutrition Shakes Help Them?

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Are you of fuller body but wish you were leaner? Try as you might are you constantly tempted by foods that you know aren’t helping you? Do you feel as if you’re fighting a losing battle? If you answered yes to those questions — relax — you’re perfectly normal. It’s a natural part of our evolutionary hardwiring to want to feast on today’s high calorie foods. Foods made from grains, bread, pasta, chips, pizzas and sugary confectionary can seem tantalisingly seductive.

In hunter-gatherer days we didn’t come across sweet foods very often, so when we did, we needed to gorge ourselves and store the excess calories to get us through leaner times. Most of us still have those same urges today. It’s one of the reasons why we crave sugary, starchy and fatty foods and why it can be so hard to stop eating once we start. Unfortunately, these days we rarely face times of famine and the majority of us are nowhere near as active as our hunter-gatherer predecessors. The effects of which are mirrored in our bulging waistlines and spiralling rates of chronic disease.

This genetic evolutionary survival mechanism is one of the reasons why sugar is like a drug to us and becomes so addictive. If you’ve ever gone told turkey and stopped eating sugar for any length of time you’ll know how your palate changes and your body finally stops being tempted by it. But like an alcoholic that takes a drink after a period of abstinence, give in to sugar again and it’s doesn’t take long before the regular need for it overwhelms your will power once more.

Being genetically coded to survive times of famine rather than feast, it’s hard for many of us to maintain a lean physique when we’re faced with overstocked kitchens and high calorie foods tempting us on every street corner. Diets today are often full of refined carbohydrates that force the body into an over-production of insulin, also known as our ‘fat storage hormone’. Insulin’s responsible for maintaining a balanced blood sugar level, which in turn maintains our energy levels and acts as one of our main metabolic hormones. When insulin is imbalanced, the result can have negative consequences for our health, and our waistline. One of the main ones being that it switches the body over to burning sugar predominantly for energy instead of fat. More on this in the next two articles though…

For now, let’s stay with insulin for a bit longer.

Insulin allows blood sugar to enter the cells to supply the body with energy, but continually choosing foods – and drinks – high in sugar, combined with being overweight, has a strong effect on the delicate balance between blood sugar and insulin levels. This is why insulin balance is at the root of so many common illnesses and disorders. Given that our bodies are built to deal with sugary foods as a rarity rather than the norm, a condition called insulin resistance develops when we consistently eat foods high in glucose.

Under such circumstances, the pancreas is forced to pump out more and more insulin to try and regulate the excess sugar (glucose). Unfortunately, the body can only sustain a limited number of insulin receptors on each cell. Consequently, insulin receptors are continually activated and over worked and can’t successfully bind to the overwhelming amount of insulin. Working under such pressure insulin receptors, over time, lose their sensitivity and become ‘resistant’ to insulin, creating a danger zone when blood glucose is starts to rage out of control.

The knock on effect is that the body is literally unable to extract the glucose from the blood to power the muscles and they become starved of energy. Despite the excess of glucose in the blood – with more being consumed daily – the brain kills the desire to be active because the muscles have no energy. High glucose in the body is also toxic. If it rises too high, the liver is the only organ in the body that can get rid of it because the liver doesn’t require insulin to process glucose. But this comes at a high price in terms of weight management.

The liver converts excess glucose to triglycerides (fatty acids) and packages them up in fat cells for safe storage in adipose tissue (a community of fat cells, more commonly experienced as a bulging waistline or extra unwanted pounds in hard to shift places). Here the fat cells are rendered harmless to the body and left in storage until they may be needed as a future fuel source – not an easy source to access if you continue to flood the body with sugary or fatty refined carb foods on a daily basis. The higher the glucose levels, the more fat cells we need to create, generating a vicious, perpetual cycle.

The good news is that the cycle can be broken. Shifting your fuel sources and re-establishing some evolutionary norms allows the body to return to balance once more. One of the first steps being to start burning fat instead of sugar for energy, which in turn allows the desire to be active to flourish once more.

And there’s a clue for article number 2 in this series…!

Avoiding Being Tired and How to Boost Your Energy

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Now that you’ve read the previous blogs on being ‘tired all the time’ (TATT), hopefully they’ve shed some light on the how and the why. In this blog we look at what YOU can do about it to make sure you’re not left stranded in the cul-de-sac of TATT and low-grade inflammation (LGI). This is where you make your U-turn and get back on the road to resilience and health!

Review the following and see which may be missing from your life. Try incorporating one or two to begin with and then build up to bringing in the rest:

  • Ensure you get 6-8 hours quality sleep every night. Men need a bit less sleep than women do, but still, 6 hours is on the low side. Too much sleep, i.e. over 9 hours, can be just as bad as too little sleep, so aim for the right amount. You can’t scrimp all week and then expect one lie-in at the weekend to compensate.
  • Remember that we’re built for famine and not for feast — our protective mechanisms in the body turn on with fasting and off if we stuff ourselves continuously through the day. We just don’t need as much food as we’ve been led to believe we need. Streamline your eating to 3 good, quality, meals a day and cut out the snacks. You can balance your blood sugar much more effectively by cutting out the starchy refined carbs and upping your protein and healthy fat levels. Our cell walls are made up of protein and good fats, so if they’re not in our diet in sufficient quantity, then every cell in the body suffers. A no-carb protein like Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein can be very useful as an on-the-go shake. Mix it with half coconut milk and half water to make you feel fuller for longer. Take a look at this food plate by the Alliance for Natural Health International, it’s been designed to address LGI and bring a return to metabolic resilience.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil on your salads and veggies. It contains an active ingredient called hydroxytyrosol, which is not only one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man, but it also helps create new mitrochondria – the energy powerhouses in your cells. If you’re suffering from TATT, your mitochondria need a lot of TLC and as many new buddies as you can make!
  • Guess what? Exercise also helps make new mitochondria, but don’t overdo it if you’re TATT. When you feel like it, get out and do what you can. Being in nature is way better for your body than being indoors so swap the treadmill for the forest and get your bare feet on the ground as much as you can, for as long as you can.
  • Take honest and truthful stock of your emotional life. If you’re carrying a ‘backpack’ full of sorrows, regrets or fears you need to lighten the load so that your immune system knows the sabre-toothed tiger has been vanquished and it can stand down. Emotional pain, stress and anxiety have the same effect on our immune systems as an infection. It’s a wound of a different kind, but it still needs healing so that our ‘engine’ doesn’t have to idle so high. Look into relaxation and mindfulness techniques or you may want to see a practitioner for some more focussed support.
  • The same can be said for having a head full of toxic, negative, thoughts and being surrounded by people that don’t feed you with the right positive energy. If this resonates with you then it’s time to clean house, in more ways than one.
  • As a rule it’s always food first. Get your nutrition right and you body will reward you. If you’re suffering with TATT you can be sure that you’ll have a level of low-grade inflammation running in the background, so it’s best not to fuel the fire anymore. Make a pact with yourself that you’re going to cut out the two main food allergens that can drive inflammation and autoimmune conditions — gluten and dairy — for at least 8 weeks, 12 or more is better. You’re meant to be off starchy, refined carbs anyway so the gluten shouldn’t be such a problem!
  • Last, but absolutely not least, add in a targeted body-ready, food matrix supplement like Good Green Stuff to your daily regime. Did you know that Good Green Stuff has been formulated to feed into our energy cascade and support all 12-body systems, as well as being chock-full of powerful antioxidants?

How To Tell If Your Body isn’t Producing Enough Energy

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There are a multitude of reasons why so many people suffer from TATT – or feel ‘tired all the time’. If you’re struggling to find enough time to sleep because you’re flat out with work, or if your sleep is disrupted by ‘litluns’, for example, the causes will be obvious. Looking on the bright side, improving your life-work balance or waiting till your kids’ sleep patterns have settled will sort you out.

But if you suffer insomnia, or sleep a full 7 or more hours and continue to feel exhausted, there’s something else going on. How’s your immune system? Finding you have difficulty shaking off bugs, or do you suffer their consequences more than others you know who seem to have boundless energy? All of these (and other) symptoms can point back to under-performance from the tiny energy-producing units (organelles) with which are cells are endowed, known as mitochondria. If we don’t have sufficient numbers of mitochondria, or they are small in volume, our capacity to produce energy is reduced – sometimes severely.

Mitochondria can get their energy from any of the three fuels we consume: carbohydrates, fats or protein. These all get converted into our body’s key fuel, ATP – which stands for adenosine triphosphate. Fat yields by far the most energy, that’s why you’ll see in the energy calculations on food labels that each gram of fat converts to 9 calories (kcal) or energy, as against 4 kcal for carbs and protein. But to make our millions of little energy factories work properly, we also need a bunch of nutrient cofactors that we can only get from our diets. That includes most of the B vitamins, vitamin C, the minerals magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, manganese, copper, calcium and iron — and coenzyme Q10.

Having enough of these nutrients in your body is a bit like putting fuel in the tank of your car. But you still need to make sure the motor works and that it’s serviced properly for the car to run properly. This is where things so often go awry in today’s world, where daily living — and working — involves so much less in the way of regular physical activity compared with the environment in which we evolved. Putting this into perspective, our genome has changed little over the last 20,000 years – and during most of this time our ancestors were physically very active for a much of the time. Hunter-gatherer lifestyles that are the predominant ones that have shaped our genome actually revolved around cycles of intense physical activity linked to hunting and gathering, followed by periods of feeding and resting. It couldn’t be more of a contrast from our modern much more sedentary lifestyles, with refrigerators, supermarkets, corner stores and garages bursting with food, often very rich in simple carbs (refined grains, sugar) and processed fats.

Over the last decade or so we’ve learned a lot about what makes our mitochondria snap back into action, developing in both density and volume.

Here’s a few pointers:

  • Don’t stay seated for more than an hour at a time. Regularly counteracting gravity, be it through going to make a cuppa for your colleagues or friends, bouncing on a rebounder, running up some stairs, or doing some press-ups, sit-ups or other bodyweight exercises, should be built into your daily routine. This is particularly important if your job is sedentary. Set a timer to remind yourself that your hour’s up and it’s time to stand up! You might also want to consider a standing desk.
  • Incorporate some high intensity interval training (HITT) into your week’s activity, ideally around 3 times a week. How hard you push yourself during your intense phase that might last between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, is going to depend on your level of fitness and underlying health. If you’re unsure what’s right for you, consult a personal trainer. Try your HIIT sessions in a fasted state, ideally after an overnight fast that’s run for over 12 hours (yes, that might mean doing your HIIT before breakfast, or even skipping breakfast). Within 30 minutes or so of completing the session, you should indulge in 20 grams of high quality, highly digestible, hypoallergenic protein — and Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein is as good as it gets.
  • Have you tried intermittent fasting? If you haven’t, now’s maybe the time – knowing it’s what your mitochondria love! That could mean not eating more frequently that every 5 hours, giving up snacks between meals, eating just two meals rather than three meals a day – or doing the 5-2 diet, where two days a week you drastically restrict your food intake to around 500-600 kcal a day.
  • Include some longer bouts of endurance training into your weekly activity. That can be anything from longer walks, cycle rides, swimming, kayaking – take your pick. These activities should ideally be 2 hours or more as during the first 90 minutes or so you’ll just be burning stored carbohydrate in the form of glycogen in your muscles and liver. After this you start burning fat – your mitochondria’s favourite and cleanest endurance fuel. Your fat fuel can come both from your own body fat, and fats your consumed in your diet. These should all be healthy fats like hydroxytyrosol-rich, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, MCTs from coconut oil and Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils or algal sources. Take it easy on Omega-6 rich polyunsaturated acids that are the predominant fats in most cheaper vegetable oils, over-consumption of which prevent our anti-inflammatory responses from working properly.
  • Make sure your body has all the cofactors your mitochondria need for making energy. The easiest way to do this is by taking a serve of Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff each day – or even two half serves twice daily if you prefer. We’ve formulated this product especially for all 12 of your body systems – with your energy-yielding metabolism and protection from oxidative stress being key to helping your mitochondria work to their full potential – just as nature intended.

How Your Immune System is Using Too Much Energy and How to Stop It

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Imagine how much fuel you’d burn if you never turned your car off and left the engine to idle continuously? Well, it’s the same with your body when your immune system is constantly revved up in the background fighting a battle that never seems to end. You burn a lot of extra energy to keep it — and your body’s daily processes — running. It would be a tug of war as to which bit of your body gets the most energy if the immune system wasn’t king in the hierarchy and very ‘selfish’. The result being that the ‘selfish immune system’ wins out and the rest of you ends up underpowered and ‘tired all the time’ (TATT).

As we know from the last blog, TATT is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors. In this blog we want to take you back a step to understand how you can be so tired when you’re not ill with symptoms that can be explained by a disease label.

Owing to their fundamental nature, the metabolic and immune systems were among the first systems to evolve in living creatures. This has made them completely symbiotic and inseparable when responding to challenge.  Now keep in mind that challenges can be emotional or physical. Our immune systems, and in fact our brains, don’t differentiate between an infection, the loss of a loved one, financial stress, lack of sleep or too much exercise. All of them register as stressors on the body and all of them trigger the immune system to act in defence. The important thing is not so much turning on the immune system, but turning it off.

Our regulatory mechanisms (neuroendocrine and immune systems) evolved to cope with short life-threatening challenges such as sepsis or wound healing, and short non-life-threatening episodes.  But not to deal with the persistent chronic activation we see today.  The use of old survival mechanisms to deal with modern challenges results in inflammatory symptoms that are ‘borrowed’ from the way we have always dealt with immune challenges throughout our evolution.  This means that our survival reaction to financial and emotional stress, sickness and obesity, for instance, is the same now as it was when we were running from or fighting off a sabre-toothed tiger.  It’s just that when we survived the tiger, it was over, and the immune and neuroendocrine systems stood down allowing normal homeostasis (balance) to return.

In today’s world, the stress is persistent, leading to chronic activation of the immune system, which diverts a huge amount of resources to assuage the heavy energy demand.  It also creates low-grade inflammation (LGI), which disrupts your whole metabolism. Having moved from normal daily function where the ‘selfish brain’ is king with first dibs on energy resources, the selfish immune system now takes over.  Organs and tissues not involved in direct survival are downgraded to only the most basic of functions and all available energy is diverted to the energy-expensive immune system.  Creating what we recognise as sickness behaviour, of which TATT is a prime factor.  This is all perfectly normal and healthy when it occurs for a very short period of time, but extended over weeks, months or years, creates an unhealthy situation as there just isn’t enough energy to go round.

Tired All The Time? – Good Green Stuff Helps You Feel Awake and Full of Energy

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Are You Tired All The Time?

If you are tired all the time, you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. It’s one of the common most reasons people go and see their doctor. The trouble is, most doctors can’t do much to help. That’s hardly surprising given they don’t learn much about non-specific conditions like fatigue during their medical training.

When someone suffers from persistent fatigue, many aspects of their life suffer. The quality of their work, the nature of their relationships or family life, their ability to go out, have fun, holiday, exercise – or even party – are often affected dramatically. Depression and anxiety may be triggers for being tired all the time, or they may be causes. The bottom line is that all kinds of events in life – ones that any healthy person would find manageable or even enjoyable – become a matter of trepidation. A doctor confronted with someone who exhibits symptoms of depression or anxiety often prescribes SSRI drugs (antidepressants). In the US, up to 10% of the population is taking an antidepressant at any one time. Things aren’t much different in most other industrialised countries.

You may also experience fatigue at certain times, and not others. OK, if you haven’t managed to get enough sleep, you’ve got a good reason. But if you’re sleeping, or trying to sleep, and you just can’t seem to recover and feel energised, or you lose all your energy at particular times of day, such as after you’ve eaten, or when you’ve taken a limited amount of exercise, you’re starting to feel your fatigue and malaise a real problem.

There are always underlying reasons for fatigue-related conditions, but these can’t always be identified. In some cases, fatigue can be related to serious underlying diseases, which yet have been diagnosed, such as heart disease, thyroid diseases, type 2 diabetes, kidney or liver disease, or various infectious diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, gastric or duodenal ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia or periodontal disease. That’s why it’s always important to see a doctor or other qualified or experienced health professional to check for any possible, serious underlying causes.

While any of these conditions may be a cause of being tired all the time, they may not be the sole cause and they may not have been the trigger that led to the disease in the first place. It may also be that the body struggles to resume normal, healthy function because of on-going mediators or perpetuators such as stressful life events (e.g. relationship or work-related challenges, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one), a poor diet or a particular nutrient deficiency, insufficient physical activity or relaxation, poor sleep quality, smoking, too much drink or other unhealthy habits.

Oftentimes however, the reasons for someone’s fatigue are complex, unclear and non-specific. Doctors and health professionals increasingly refer to this as ‘tired all the time’ syndrome, or TATT. Not for a lack of trying, the fatigue simply can’t be traced to a particular underlying disease. This is the case for over half the people who present to their doctors with fatigue — and the millions who don’t. Knowing there are some key things we can all do to help our bodies can be a lifesaver. We’ll give you more detail in upcoming blogs, but three key processes stand out as among the most important.

The first involves supporting the energy-producing ‘factories’ in our cells, the mitochondria. The second is about managing the amount of oxidative stress within the body. Both of these are strongly dependent on eating pattern and the quality of the nutrients you eat and absorb. It’s also about how you move, rest and sleep. The third key process is about providing the best possible environment for your body, one that nurtures it and allows it to function optimally. This means learning to be good to yourself, including eating as well as you can, taking particular supplementary nutrients, resting right and sleeping well, through to finding appropriate ways of being physically active and finding the best ways of transforming stress. Find out more in our forthcoming blogs…

Why Do We Need Protein? And How Much Protein Do You Need?

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I think by this stage almost everyone knows that they ‘need’ protein, but in my lectures and workshops I still get questions like, “why do we need protein?”, “but won’t protein make me bulky?”, or, “won’t eating too much protein give me big muscles?”. While most of us know that we do need to be eating ‘enough’ protein, less know how much ‘enough’ is and why it’s important!

What is Protein?

Protein quite simply is the building block of most of the structures in the body and is consequently the name given to groupings of amino acids. Amino acids are used to create enzymes, muscle tissue, bone matrix and many other structural components of the body. All cells require protein. Quick Fact: Over 98% of ALL the cells in your body are replaced every year!

Why do we need Protein?

It helps us to remain lean! Protein has a higher ‘thermic effect of feeding’ (TEF) rating than either carbohydrates or fat. This means that when a higher proportion of your diet is protein your metabolic rate (and consequently fat loss) is going to be higher. This helps to give us the lean, fit-looking physique that many desire (but not ‘bulky’!) whilst also improving metabolic rate.

Improved Alertness and Focus

Amino acids supply the raw material for the excitatory neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. When we do not have enough of these amino acids we are more likely to suffer mental fatigue and physical fatigue.

Bone Structure and Health

Protein provides the matrix for bone and connective tissue. Ample protein helps to provide the structure for healthy bones!

How Much do we Need?

Individuals should measure their activity level when calculating their recommend daily allowance (RDA) of protein. The amount varies by looking at the protein taken in, compared with the amount excreted. It is approximately 0.8 grams per kilo of body-weight.

What the RDA Doesn’t Take into Account

RDA and DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) are ‘necessary’ amounts for baseline health. In other words – survival. But the optimal amounts we need in order to thrive may be much different!

In general, up to 3 grams per kg body-weight per day (over 3 x the RDA) demonstrated to increase lean body mass, reduce fat mass and improve performance.

Most people will do well to get at least the RDA level with additional protein if and when able but overall quantity should be less important though, than eating good quality protein consistently.

The key ‘take home’ point is to eat quality protein at every meal.

Examples of Good, Clean Green Plant-Based Sources:

  • Sprouted lentils, chickpeas or mung beans
  • Nuts or seeds (almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds)
  • Tempeh or other fermented protein foods.

One 25g serving of Clean Lean Protein provides 22g of high-quality protein.

How Your Body Needs Additional Nutrition Due to Stress

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Good nutrition is the key to vitality, longevity and defence against illness. Although drugs may help keep us living longer, it is a lifetime habit of good nutrition that will help make it enjoyable. Just because you do not show any symptoms of illness now does not necessarily mean that you are healthy. These things manifest over a period of time – years. They creep up and take you by surprise. By taking care of yourself now, you are insuring yourself for the future.

Today’s lifestyle and environment mean that we need to do a little extra to cover the nutritional gaps caused by missed meals, fast food, soil depletion and modern harvesting methods.Did you know…..???
– Studies have shown that the average loss of Calcium and Iron in some fruits and vegetables due to soil depletion is 30%.
– That for storage and transport reasons, many commercial farms harvest produce green; before the real nutrition can naturally form in the plant?
– A cooked carrot loses nearly all of its vitamin A and vitamin E activity?
– That when cooking spinach you lose nearly all the zinc, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and folate?
– That in processing of many foods there is a significant loss of saccharides and sterols?This does not mean that you cannot get all the nutrition you need from your food; it simply means you need a lot more of it; that in turn means accepting the additional calories ….and financial cost!!

Then there is the problem of stress.

Psychological Stress
We live in a fast paced world with unprecedented levels of social and work-related pressures. Scientific studies have clearly shown that psychological stress lowers immune function. The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Physical Stress
As the body creates energy to move our muscles we release free radicals which require antioxidants to prevent them doing damage. People who exercise intensely are going to require more antioxidants than average. However, even the exercise from standing and walking generates free radicals. If your diet is deficient you may be accumulating oxidative damage that may adversely affect your immune system and ultimately may contribute significantly to serious disease. At best you may experience fatigue, or lethargy.The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Dietary Stress
We have already mentioned the nutritional gaps caused by soil depletion, poor eating habits, modern harvesting methods and processed food. Nor was the human body designed to function with white bread, biscuits, french fries and overcooked food; it was designed to eat fresh, raw, natural food. Heated food loses nutritional value and some become nothing but empty calories. However, there are very few of us who will not indulge in the modern way of life but how many of us will compensate for it. And even if we try, do the extra fruits and vegetables we eat really contain the nutrients they should, or that are needed? The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Environmental Stress
We believe that the most serious threat to human health is the oxidative stress caused by toxins in the environment. In the last 70 years over 75,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into our environment and only a fraction of them have been tested for safety in humans. They are in our water supplies, in our soil, in the air we breathe, the products we use and the materials we build, furnish and decorate our homes with. There is no getting away from it. Pesticides have been found in the snow at the North Pole and in the tissue of Penguins at the South Pole. Just because a food is certified organic does not mean that it is toxin free. The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

You can try to compensate for this extra demand by simply eating more and eating extremely well; grazing all day on raw broccoli, freshly juiced raw vegetables, more broccoli and more raw vegetables…….you get the picture! And even then you cannot be sure. That’s why we advocate supplementation and it is also why we advocate that supplementation be largely superfood based like NuZest’s Good Green Stuff; raw, concentrated, nutrient-rich greens, fruits vegetables and berries …..with an added dose of extra vitamins and minerals …. just in case!

Is Gluten Bad for You?

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Is Gluten Bad for You and How Does it Affect You?

Is Gluten bad for you? Gluten is a protein that is contained within many grains that we eat (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, triticale, kamut, semolina and a few oats). There is a question over oats actually containing gluten or is it cross-contaminated in the packaging process by other grains. Oats are an amazing food but as a practitioner with over 15 years’ experience, I have found that it is better to take people off of oats as well when there is a gluten intolerance suspected.

True gluten allergy is called Coeliac Disease (CD) and is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the intestinal wall and flattening of the microvilli. This leads to decreased absorption of nutrients and symptoms such as abdominal bloating, pain, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, heartburn and nausea. Other symptoms that are associated with CD but are not within the digestive system are as follows; sinusitis, asthma, skin disorders, fatigue, bone and muscle pain, behavioural and mood problems, poor growth in children, weight loss, hair loss, menstrual issues and anaemia.

Gluten sensitivity is a condition where a person is reactive to gluten but they don’t have the autoimmune markers that are associated with CD. Many people these days find they react to gluten to a certain level and feel much better without it in their diet. Many of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are the same as for CD.

Western society has moved to a diet heavily dependent on grains with many individuals eating upwards of 60% of their diet based on these foods. Many packaged foods contain gluten even if they don’t appear to contain wheat as the food industry also uses the glucose from wheat as a sweetener in foods and is labelled as maltodextrin or dextrins. Foods these days should clarify if the maltodextrin is from wheat or a corn source if it doesn’t state either just put the food back!

Going gluten-free is not as hard as it used to be in Australia, health food stores have always stocked many gluten-free foods and supermarkets now have a whole section in their ‘healthy food isle’ that are gluten free too. Be aware that just because a product is gluten-free does not mean it is healthy for you, it just doesn’t contain gluten.

If you think you may be coeliac ask for a blood test from your doctor if you think you may be gluten sensitive just give gluten-free a try for 2 or 3 weeks and see how you feel. You need to be very careful about not eating little amounts of hidden gluten in the food or you won’t feel the difference. There are a plethora of gluten-free bread these days just note you need to really toast the bread well and they are best kept in the fridge or freezer. Focus on rice, potato, sweet potato, corn and quinoa as your grain or starchy sources.

Wheatgrass and barley grass do not contain gluten as they are only the ‘grass’ portion and do not contain the endosperm of the grain where the gluten resides. There are many websites to help with CD or gluten intolerance with lists of the foods, numbers and additives that need to be avoided. Recipes can also be found on many websites and there are a plethora of great gluten-free cookbooks to be found. These days there are whole expo’s for gluten-free foods and products to make the switch to gluten free all the more simple. I have now been gluten-free for over a decade and would never go back. Occasionally I have to eat gluten as I haven’t warned someone that I am gluten free but most of the time it’s easy to find an alternative food or option. I have taken to carrying snacks with me all the time and in my car so that I don’t eat the wrong things. I do get mild bloating with eating gluten but for the most noticeable thing is my mood and energy levels. It’s interesting to ‘really’ listen to your body and see what works for it and doesn’t. I get many of my clients to try gluten free for a few weeks, just to give them the challenge and to enable them to tune into their bodies and see what they are really asking for.

Below is a list of a few websites that I have found useful over the years for both coeliacs and people just trying to be gluten-free.

www.coeliac.org.au / www.coeliac.org.nz
www.shepherdworks.com.au
www.glutenfreeeatingdirectory.com.au