So there are the rules that pretty much EVERYONE thinks are healthy. Drink heaps of water, get plenty of exercise, eat low salt foods, avoid fatty foods, get 8 hours between the sheets, slip slop slapping…
But these things can actually make you more sore, more tired, and less healthy.
So let’s dive into the not-so-healthy side…
• Dose Up On Heaps of H2O •
Water is super important, everyone knows that, but drinking too much when you’re not being active, breastfeeding or in the Sahara Desert can make you feel drained.
See too much water can dilute your electrolytes, which are needed to contract and relax your muscles, keep just the right amount of water in your body instead of filtering it straight out, and transmit the right messages through your nerves. Which – you guessed it – leave you to feel like becoming one with the couch
Everyone’s H20 needs are different – a good guideline is around 2-2.5L/day – a little more if you exercise intensely or are taller and larger, a little less if you are shorter and smaller.
• Treat Salt Like A Leper •
So, we established that electrolytes are super important. But did you know that poor little-misrepresented sodium is one of those essential electrolytes?
Sodium is needed for survival – if you have zero of it, you will die. Your heart will stop beating. So an ultra-low salt diet is obviously not going to make you feel crash-hot.
Then there are some people who actually need higher amounts of salt – particularly people with low blood pressure. If they don’t have regular amounts of salt, they can get dizzy spells, palpitations, and even lose consciousness.
So how do you find the right balance?
Firstly, you make sure you get a good quality source of salt. Iodized, overly processed stuff will probably make you feel pretty average, and honestly, it doesn’t taste that great either! Instead, try a Himalayan, Celtic, or even Australian Lake salt – they’re readily available at supermarkets now.
Secondly, salt your food to taste. In my experience, the majority of salt cravers will have low blood pressure when I check them. Your body knows best.
Lastly, make sure you load up on your other electrolytes. It’s all a balancing act, so getting plenty of veg, nuts and seeds will cover you for your calcium and potassium. You might also want to add in some Epsom salt baths as a bonus source of your magnesium.
• Avoid Delicious High Fat Foods •
So, most people are starting to understand that low fat is SO last season. But just in case, I’ll give you a rundown on why low fat = low energy you.
So, a heap of your energy relies on the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. If you have a nice middling amount, your body can fuel its processes without any struggle. Too low, and you’ll get fuzzy and feel weak. Too high, and your body will be forced to protect itself by storing the excess, which leads right back to too low.
Fat has the sweet effect of keeping your blood glucose nice and steady. Like a log on a fire, it keeps burning for hours, and your body doesn’t have to drag energy out of its stores to keep you going.
Does this mean you can go crazy and eat donuts every day? Probably not the best idea. Stick to your happy fats – the less processed the better – and avoid trans-fats or heated vegetable oils. Avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds, grass fed meat and pasture raised eggs (if you swing that way) are all great sources of fats that will keep your energy sailing smooth all day.
• Slip Slop Slap! •
Ahhh, the mantra of the 80s and 90s – slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat. Between 11 and 3 stay under a tree. Sure, we might’ve dropped melanoma death rates – but it’s still not clear if that’s because of less melanoma, or because of improvement in treatment and detection.
Oh, and in the meantime, we all significantly increased our risk of every other cancer out there. Oops!
So, vitamin D is the ‘it’ nutrient right now, and for good reason. You need it for strong bones, a resilient immune system, and now research even shows it can be implicated in pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. Osteoporosis Australia states that over 30% of Australians are deficient – but honestly, we don’t know the real stats, because Medicare has stopped covering the cost of vitamin D blood tests.
Not only that but the delicious UV rays we need to convert to vitamin D? They’re the highest in the middle of the day, right when you’re covered up the most. And those nasty UV rays that cause melanoma? They’re highest at either end of the day!
So what’s a person to do?
Get your sunshine hit around midday, in the shade if it’s a hot one. Expose as much skin as you feel comfortable with – or as much as is legal! Burning your skin will reduce your ability to produce vitamin D though, so don’t fry yourself – 10 mins will do on a sunny summer day.
•Hit That Treadmill •
Exercise. So good for you. Pound that pavement… right? Well yes… and no.
See, moderate exercise is great for you. Evidence also suggests that HIIT and weight lifting have fantastic benefits. But working out to the point of exhaustion every time for months at a time? Running marathons daily? That’s where you start to tip over into unhealthy.
See when you do steady state cardio for long periods of time, or push your body too far past its limits, you put your body under stress. This activates your adrenal glands, which over a longer time period can lead to high cholesterol, increased central adiposity and high blood pressure, leading to increased cardiovascular risk. It can also lead to adrenal insufficiency, which can take many years to recover from.
There’s nothing wrong with a nice sweaty gym session – but if you feel excessively fatigued more than 24 hours post exercise, you’re probably overdoing it – take the weekend off and have some quality Netflix time.
•Get Your 8 Hours •
Experts will tell you that 8 hours is the optimal amount of sleep… but is it really? Do you feel refreshed if you get bang-on 8 hours sleep… or do you feel like you’ve been dragged out of a deep sleep?
That might be because you have.
See, the human body generally doesn’t count in hour blocks like we do. In fact, the standard sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes. So if you sleep for 8 hours, you’re already 30 minutes into your next sleep cycle, leaving you down in the deepest sleep when your alarm goes off.
Is there a simple solution? There sure is! Try to set your alarm for either 7.5 or 9 hours from sleep time, or 8/9.5 hours if it takes you a little bit longer to fall asleep. I bet you’ll feel more refreshed and alert when you wake up the next morning.
Still feeling a little dopey, and thinking about an afternoon nap? You can either stick to 20 minutes, so that you don’t hit that deep sleep stage, or you can go for a full sleep cycle and have a 90 min nap. It’s up to you!
•Take Every Supplement Your Mum/Best Friend/Personal Trainer/MLM Rep Has Ever Recommended •
Now BEFORE we get ahead of ourselves here… yes, I am a nutritionist, and yes, I recommend supplements. But when supplements are taken willy nilly without clinical evidence or blood tests, they can actually make you feel worse, not better.
A commonly recommended supplement for fatigue is iron. Sure, low iron can cause fatigue, and is quite a common deficiency, especially amongst vegetarian/vegans and young females. But did you know that the symptoms of excess iron are basically the same as low iron? So you could actually be worsening your symptoms without even knowing it!
Another is a B complex. But if you take a standard, over the counter B complex, and you have the MTHFR mutation, you could make your symptoms much worse, including – you guessed it – your fatigue.
There are heaps of examples like this. This is why seeing a qualified practitioner is so important when it comes to taking supplements – they will ensure that you should be taking a supplement and that it’s practitioner grade.
So Everything Is Evil??
Not at all. These are just a few examples of how what is good for one person could be bad for another. It’s about awareness of your own body and well-being.
Overwhelmed? That’s why you go and see a qualified practitioner who is aware of the concept of bioindividuality and applies it to their treatment plan for every single client.