Skip links

January Wellbeing With Emer Walsh – Part 1 : Feed Your Body To Replenish After a ‘Hectic’ December’

TIPS FOR NOURISHING YOUR BODY DURING WINTER

Looking out the window as we head into January, thoughts move to the year ahead and I know for me, I want to do everything I can to keep myself healthy and feeling good.

January is often a demanding month for many. The come-down from Christmas can be a bittersweet time: the return to school runs, increased sick days creating more work for others in the work-place…and the general daily tasks of life showing no signs of slowing down – regardless of our energy levels or capacity.

It’s at this time that our bodies can need a little help to keep running efficiently: to keep us warm, to keep circulation pumping, and of course, to ward off the upsurge in winter colds, bugs and flus. There are lots of things we can do to build our resilience and immunity, but in my experience, our most powerful line of defence is to feed our bodies well!

Let’s start this week with 4 simple and gentle steps we can take to bolster our energy and wellbeing this January, as well as some delicious and warming meal ideas. You’ll also find some really useful information about the importance of our gut bacteria, with a synopsis of what the term ‘Gut Microbiome’ means –  a phrase that we are starting to hear more and more when it comes to health.

Let’s jump right into it with my four tips to ease yourself into a healthy January!

1. WARM DRINKS TO START & END YOUR DAY:

In ancient Eastern medicine, a key part to keeping your body running smoothly is to incorporate warm drinks. In winter, it is a good idea to start your day with a warming cup of something that will gently wake up your systems and aid digestion.

I always start & end my day with a warm drink in January and the Winter months. Kicking off the day, why not try:

  • Ginger/Lemon: Grating some ginger into hot water or adding hot water to freshly squeezed lemons will gently awaken the system and aid the body’s natural detox process.
  • Antioxidant brews: Green or herbal tea are great for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • A warm cup of FIBRE89: If you love a naturally sweet drink to begin your day this is an excellent choice! One of the main reasons I love to recommend this prebiotic fibre Inulin to support digestion and help keep bowel movements regular. (Note: Circle of Light’s Green Coffee is also fortified with Inulin, so you can rotate your beverage of choice for variety)

2. HEALTHY FATS/PROTEIN DURING THE DAY:

For those of you who eat meat, chicken is a source of tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin. This is the ‘feel good hormone‘ that can enhance your mood and give you the feeling of ‘comfort’!  Almonds and sunflower seeds also make great healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar stable and curb junk-food cravings that will lead to energy and cognitive fluctuations/crashes.

📌  I always recommend Organic & local or at least free range when it comes to chicken for a variety of reasons which I’ll go in to in a later blog.

3. INCORPORATE VARIETY INTO MEALS & PLAN AHEAD TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY MICROBIOME:

More and more evidence is showing us the vital role our Gut microbiome play in both physical and mental health. But…what on Earth is the Gut Microbiome?

The Gut microbiome consists of trillions of living things within our gut that are too small to be seen with the naked eye (we usually use a microscope to view them). These ‘microscopic’ living things are called microorganisms, microbiota or microbes! Examples are bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. When we are healthy and our bodies are in balance, this collection of bugs (and their genes! Yes just like us, these bugs have genes!)  coexist peacefully.

If there is a disturbance in this balance – from, for example, an infectious illness, prolonged use of antibiotics/certain other medication or certain diets – dysbiosis can occur, interfering with these health-promoting normal interactions. As a result, our physical and mental health  may become more susceptible to disease.

Each of us has a unique network of microbiota that is determined by many factors. I always encourage clients to focus on those factors within their control. Both the environment around us and our diet effect the health of our microbiome; therefore effecting our health in general. So, what we eat and our lifestyle – these are 2 factors that are relatively in our own control can really impact our health status one way or the other!

The best way to help your gut microbiome to flourish is to add as wide a variety of vegetables as you can to your weekly meal plans. Even if you are pressed for time, winter is an excellent and convenient time to bulk up your favourite meals with vegetables, as you can batch cook in one big pot & create a whole week’s worth of meals. Have them ready in your fridge or freezer each evening, so you always have quick healthy options at the end of the day, when the short evenings and cold weather may have brought your energy levels down.

Try these ideas…

  • Wholesome stews with an array of filling root veg, herbs and spices for extra nourishment and support for your immune system.
  • Delicious plant based home-made soups to take to work in your lunch flask.
  • Curries come in vast guises – play around with different recipes and add extra veg for not only texture, but to add more fibre to your diet. I always add Turmeric to my curries for its anti-inflammatory effects – a potent modulator of the immune system – a spice worth adding to meals every day!

📌 For more information on Fibre & Feeding our microbiome with prebiotic foods, check out this YouTube series with Prof Brendan Egan. You can also find information and peer reviewed research papers on the Circle of Light Science page, under the ‘Prebiotic Fibre & Gut Microbiota” section.

4. INCORPORATE MORE PLANT (VEGETABLE) BASED MEALS INTO YOUR LIFE:

More and more people are experimenting with plant based foods. I love to hear this! I have yet to meet a health professional who doesn’t agree that the addition of more plants into our diet is beneficial for health. While lean meat has a multitude of health benefits and is well known as a nutritious source of protein, taking even one day where you commit to trying out new meat-free dishes can be a great way to practice adding more vegetables and plant based protein to your diet.

You’ll realise that a veggie day is no sacrifice in the taste stakes! Start with small changes. I always tell people to look forward to ADDING these new healthy foods to their diet.

For starters, why not try the following savoury* snack/dinner/breakfast ideas:

A Winter Twist On A Summer Spanish Snack:
Take a handful of fresh tomatoes, add fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of seasalt and serve on sourdough toast with hummus. Use ½ an avocado instead of butter for a delicious and nutritious morning treat.

A Veggie Take On A Traditional Casserole:
Add pulses (e.g lentils, beans, chickpeas) for protein in place of meat, with plenty of veg and serve with a side of fibre and phytonutrient rich cruciferous veg/salad with a portion of wholegrain rice as an option also.

Egg Based Comfort Dishes:
Veggie filled omelettes – choose an array of mushrooms, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, scallions. Alternate with poached eggs on sourdough/wholegrain/spelt bread with a side of avocado and home-made tomato salsa.

Stuffed Peppers:
Fill with veggies and quinoa and drizzle with balsamic vinegar/olive oil/pinch of sea salt. If you are a fan of sweet peppers, slice down the middle, creating a gentle curved shape and fill with your favourites. A crumbling of warmed high quality easily digestible cheese such as feta/goat or sheep cheese adds a lovely tangy bite!

*Sweet dishes will be coming up soon in the series!

📌 Don’t forget to add your spices – try Turmeric as your go to with a little black pepper for the recipes above! In PART 3, I will talk more about the nourishing benefits of weaving spices into your regular meals when it comes to increasing immunity and health.

***

That’s all for Part 1. Drop by next week for Part 2, where I will be sharing tips and some sweet ideas to help you fight the winter blues and sniffles!

FOLLOW EMER ON SOCIAL:

Note: This blog is for Educational purposes only – please contact your GP with any health concerns you may have questions about.