7 Edible Anxiety Therapies: To Support COVID Stress

How are you going as we head into Level 3 of NZ lock-down?

Any old nutrition habits starting to creep in? Or perhaps you have used the time to really nail down a new way of eating, or refresh your menu?

Regardless, it is an interesting time for all of us, and we are all different, and therefore cope with things differently.

Something I have noticed coming up a few times in conversation is anxiety and for many different reasons. Some people find they have a lot of anxiety around the COVID-19 pandemic, and staying healthy, particularly as we head into Level 3 and start to go back out into society, albeit in a controlled way. Others find anxiety around the economy, and how this is hitting them financially. Also, there are those of you that have been struggling with simply being confined to one or two spaces, and how to deal with the lack of freedom they feel, or dealing with being around family a lot more than normal!

Whatever it is, anxiety is no fun for anyone, and its effects can range from psychosomatic paralysis, through to depression, to full-blown panic, anger and rage.

Since we are somewhat stuck in this situation for at least another fortnight, and then some, since we all know things are not going to simply go back to normal, it is absolutely essential that we address this issue, which affects our mental, physical and emotional health, as well as that of those around us. Now, I know anxiety well, and because of this, I have both researched and experimented with a range of things, in order to somehow allow my higher faculties to regain control, and even turn things around into a positive situation we can actually learn from.

Sound good?

Even better sounding, to me at least, is the fact that a lot of these things occur in an edible format!

So, what can we eat, and every single day, to help us calm feelings of anxiety, cope with the current situation, whatever that may be for you while achieving enough mental grounding to find the positive?

Here are my top 7 edible anxiety therapies 😊

1. High-quality protein

Ok, so this protein thing gets talked about a LOT, so much so that you may think it’s just an easy go-to for nutritionists who don’t really want to come up with something new…But the constant recommendation for high-quality protein is due to the fact that it is so super important for every single aspect of health, and thus mental health is absolutely no exception. In fact, it is so important that low protein consumption is directly related to risk for anxiety, as well as other mental and cognitive health issues.

Why is this?

High-quality protein sources (animal proteins such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish) contain an abundance of mood-enhancing minerals and vitamins, including iron, zinc, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and magnesium. However, the thing that protein sources give us that no other food can make up for are the amino acids, as many of these are precursors for neurotransmitters, molecules playing a major role in the signal transmission of feeling states throughout the brain and body. For example, the essential amino acid tryptophan is required for the production of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter when it comes to positive mood and coping with stress. The amino acid tyrosine is required for dopamine production, and glutamate and glycine function as neurotransmitters exactly as they are, although they perform opposite functions. Glutamate is required for excitation and action, and glycine for calming and relaxation. These must be in balance for optimal mental health.

Since protein is required for so many different functions throughout the body, and large amounts are used to build and maintain muscle mass and organ health, it is not uncommon for neurotransmitter synthesis to be less than optimal in a low quality/refined food diet. High-quality protein sources provide ALL the amino acids, at levels that support all the many roles of protein and the amino acids in the body. As mentioned in Part 1. of this two-part series, at least 1.2 g per kg body weight per day is necessary to support optimal health, and this requirement increases for active or older individuals. Soy protein also provides the amino acids at high levels but does not supply the minerals and vitamins that animal proteins do, particularly Vitamin B12.

 

Vitamin B12 has its own link to mental health, with deficiencies found in issues such as depression and dementia. If you are vegan, or a vegetarian who has a low intake of dairy and/or eggs, it is essential to supplement with Vitamin B12.

2. Collagen or glycine

Collagen is a type of protein that is high in the amino acid glycine, which, as a I mentioned above, is a neurotransmitter with roles in calming and relaxation – it is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and has shown promise in the treatment of mental health disorders such as OCD, and is also a sleep aid. Glycine can be taken as a powdered supplement (take around 3 g or 1 tsp per dose, with up to 3 doses per day), but this amount of glycine is also provided in around 10 g of collagen, and when you take it as collagen, you are getting all the other benefits of collagen, such as joint and skin health.

It is very important to keep in mind that neither glycine nor collagen, can count towards your daily protein intake, as collagen has a protein quality of zero (it lacks the amino acid tryptophan) and glycine is only one amino acid.

3. Essential fatty acids (the ‘omega-3s’)

The essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA and DHA are found in animal sources, such as fatty fish (salmon and trout), and ALA is found in vegetable sources, such as linseed/flaxseed, walnuts and some algae. All are exceptionally beneficial in their own right, and show significant anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant properties. However, EPA and DHA have benefits for the brain in particular. While the body converts ALA to EPA, and then to DHA, this is done in a very limited manner, and, rather, ALA has its own benefits in the body, including the lowering of blood sugar and improved skin health.

The brain is an organ with one of the highest compositions of lipids (fats), and the fatty acid make-up of the brain’s grey matter is around 50% polyunsaturated fatty acids, of which around 33% are Omega-3s. Although DHA has been suggested to be the primary omega-3 fatty acid in the brain, recent research has suggested that EPA shows significant promise for the treatment of mood disorders, while DHA has greater benefit for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s. 

What does all this mean?

Fish oil (with high concentrations of both EPA and DHA), is extremely important for brain health, ESPECIALLY if you are someone who is prone to anxiety or comes from a family with a history of neurodegenerative conditions. If you do not eat a lot of fatty fish, taking a supplement is important, even if you consume significant amounts of nuts and seeds. However, there are some tricks to selecting a good fish oil supplement, as quality will affect the actual levels of EPA and DHA in each capsule, as well as the degree of lipid oxidation, and thus rancidity.

Recommended high-quality fish oil supplements include Be Pure Three and Thorne Research Super EPA. Be Pure Three is also an NZ product and contains Vitamin E to assist in the prevention of lipid oxidation during storage.

4. Minimally processed complex carbohydrates

There is a reason we crave carbohydrates when we are feeling low, and a very good one, that has its foundations in biochemistry.

Above I mentioned that the amino acid tryptophan is essential for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Well, in order for serotonin to actually do its job transmitting messages throughout the nervous system, it must first be released, and this release is controlled by food intake, primarily carbohydrates. To make a complex story simple, carbohydrate consumption increases serotonin release, but, while protein helps make serotonin in the first place, simply eating more protein (or fat for that matter) will not promote its release.

Complex carbohydrates, although looked down upon in some circles, are digested and absorbed at a slower rate than simple carbohydrates, and therefore promote prolonged serotonin release, rather than a simple short burst, meaning they are a much better go-to for anxiety.

Of course, the major point to note here is that healthy, whole-food, minimally processed carbohydrates are very different to their refined counterparts, so go for beans, legumes, unprocessed whole-grains and root vegetables, especially those packed full of colour.

A breakfast high in both protein and complex carbohydrates, such as porridge and Greek yoghurt, or even protein powder (my go-to), is the best way to tackle this and will set up serotonin production and release for the entire day.

What if you are following a keto diet?

You can still consume some carbohydrates, as long as they have a minimal impact on blood sugar, so pick wisely. For these diets, orange and purple kumara are extremely good options; 100 g of orange kumara, for example, contains under 20 g of net carbs.

Also, if you are following a keto diet and feeling a lot of anxiety with it, it may be a signal from your body and mind that you need more carbohydrates in the mix. Recent research has shown that dietary ketosis can still be achieved in a diet containing 15% carbohydrate as energy, which, for most people, is around 75-100 g carbohydrate per day. So listen in and be sure to follow the approach that is best for your holistic health.

5. Coconut oil or MCT oil

This little gem of an oil contains a large proportion of medium-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to possess anti-depressant properties. Of course, MCT oil is purified medium-chain triglycerides (which carry fatty acids), so will have a similar effect. The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not fully understood, however, medium-chain fatty acids are remarkably anti-inflammatory, and this property is likely to be involved.

You can add MCT oil to your coffee (start with 1 tsp only as it can cause digestive distress at high doses in some people), and coconut oil to your cooking, baking or even smoothies.

Even a coconut cream is an option for these benefits, and chilled coconut cream makes a lovely treat if you want something a bit special after dinner.

6. Spinach and other leafy and/or dark greens

Spinach (and other dark greens such as rocket, kale and broccoli), is another nutritionist old fave go-to, but that’s because it is another food absolutely packed full of nutrients. For mental health, a key vitamin in spinach and other dark greens is folate (Vitamin B9). Folate deficiency is extremely common in both depression and anxiety, as well as a number of clinically defined mental illnesses.

Folate plays a very important role in a pathway called the MTHFR pathway. This is the pathway responsible for methylation in the body, and methylation is absolutely critical for both physical and mental health. Actually, it is more correct to point out that it is a BALANCED methylation that is critical for physical and mental health – both too little and too much are a bad thing. Without going into extraneous detail (which I would LOVE to do but maybe in another blog post all of its own because that would be geeky and cool), folate is the molecule that actually allows the methylation pathway to run, which means it is an essential vitamin for us.

Why is methylation important for mental health? Well, methylation is needed to make creatine, which is great for athletes but also has a role in reducing depression. The neurotransmitter dopamine, that’s the one that makes us feel amazing or ‘on a high’, gets methylated and this methylation is associated with a reduction in rumination (those thoughts going around…and around….and around….and around…). Methylation is also important for the production of choline, which, among many other things, assists in mental focus.

 In addition to methylation, folate performs other roles that are important for optimal mental health, such as helping to conserve glycine, which you will remember above is a key inhibitory neurotransmitter and calms us down (which is SUPER for anxiety). Folate is also a star player in the prevention of anaemia, and since anaemia is a lack of red blood cells and therefore the ability to carry oxygen around the body, having enough folate means our brain will get enough oxygen, which again, is critical for optimal mental health.

 How much spinach do you need to eat per day? 300 g would give you your recommended intake, which is pretty much one of those small pre-packed bags from the supermarket.  However, remember that broccoli, rocket and kale are also high in folate, and so are leeks, so if you are eating a good serving of leafy green and/or cruciferous veggies every day, you are onto a good start. You also get a really good amount of folate from legumes such as chickpeas and liver (if you are keen to go that route! but don’t overdo the liver – keep it to once or twice per week only as it is very high in Vitamin A, which is toxic in high doses).

7. Herbs

Last but by no means least, are herbs.

Most people think of herbs as a way to add flavour, but these little plants are an absolute goldmine of phytonutrients, including some that can modulate brain function. In particular, a compound called rosmarinic acid has been shown to produce anti-depressant like effects, via a number of mechanisms that include upregulation of a super important molecule in the brain called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. You may have heard of BDNF if you have read up on the positive effects of fasting, as BDNF plays many roles in the brain (that fasting helps to activate) such as the growth and differentiation of new brain cells, and synaptic connectivity, which basically refers to how well signals are transmitted between nerve cells.

Herbs which are particularly high in rosmarinic acid are spearmint (which is your traditional garden mint), basil and sage, but oregano, thyme and rosemary also contain rosmarinic acid at lower levels.

Before you think you would need to eat a plateful of herbs to get any kind of decent benefit, simply 3 tbsp of fresh, raw spearmint will give you over 200 mg of rosmarinic acid, which is comparable to amounts used in scientific studies to produce significant health benefits.

 

Summary

If we take a good hard look at the list above, it isn’t hard to see, with the way that diets have become low in fresh whole-food produce and meats, and high in refined, processed carbohydrates and sandwich ham, why mental health has also taken a downwards turn. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

You can totally eat your way to feeling amazing – calm, motivated, focused and stress-free all at the same time! And you can do this healthily, and yummily, with no added sugar 😉.

 

-Dr. Carlene Starck

COVID-19: Everything thing you need to know

Now deemed a Global Pandemic we are learning more day by day about COVID-19. With all the hysteria across the media, it has become difficult to determine what is hype and what is true. From people panic shopping and fighting over toilet paper, the world is going a little bit crazy.

In this post, we will aim to provide you with an overview of accurate up to date information. Following this post, we will discuss strategies on how to combat this issue.

Hysteria:

First of all, I need to address the panic, we all need to calm down……… There is no need to prepare for the end of the world and stock up on supplies like toilet paper and food. Well not in New Zealand at least as we produce all essential supplies (food, toilet paper etc) in New Zealand, we are not reliant on global markets. Even the supermarkets are requesting for everyone to calm down and to shop as normal, there is plenty to go around. 

From a hysteria standpoint, the timing couldn’t be worse for NZ/ southern hemisphere with the changing of seasons and drop in temperature and as we head into flu season. As a result of lack of education and understanding of COVID-19, people that are suffering from common flu are unnecessarily concerned for the worst and stressing our health system which is going to need every spare bed atm. What is the difference between common flu and COVID-19? Stay tuned as we will highlight this below so you can stay informed and rest easy.

Important: COVID-19 is treatable.

 

Stop stressing! 

Don’t forget stress is one of the leading causes of disease (something I have written extensively around) so you are not doing yourself any favours worrying about things you cannot control. Our hope in this article is by sharing the facts we can help in easing any anxiety or stress you may have. Our next post will begin to address what you can do to mitigate this and the anxiety around it.

What is it COVID-19?

Similar to SARS, research points out that the virus also originates from bats. COVID-19 causes respiratory and intestinal infections in animals and humans. 

What happens in the respiratory system and immune system in response to the virus?

  1. Your body will produce mucus in an attempt to contain or trap the virus. 
  2. The infection involves overstimulation of the body’s defences against viral infections. Cytokines, proteins secreted by certain immune cells, signal for more immune cells to enter the picture and try to engulf the virus, resulting in cell death and increased inflammation.
  3. Due to the high replication rate of the coronavirus, it often overwhelms the immune responses leading to local tissue destruction and depletion of infection-fighting cells. Cytokines also can travel via the circulatory system to other organs such as the kidneys, liver, and small intestine. Dramatic increases in cytokines are referred to as a cytokine storm and this appears to be a distinguishing feature of severe respiratory viruses vs lesser viruses like the common cold.

Not all people with the virus will experience all three stages and also in some cases, you may be a carrier of a virus but have no symptoms (meaning you can unsuspectingly pass it on).

How COVID-19  spreads

As a new disease, we are still learning how it spreads but below as of 19th of March the CDC believe these are major methods: 

 

  • Human interaction

 

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Passed through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

 

  • Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

 

    • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (have symptoms)
    • Potentially it is possible before people show symptoms. However, it is not thought to be the main method in which the virus spreads.

 

  • Contaminated surfaces or objects

 

The virus could potentially spread through cross-contamination of surfaces or objects that have the virus on it and a person touching it and then touching the mouth, nose or possibly eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main method for the virus spreading.

 

What happens if you feel sick?

Remember that symptoms of the common cold or seasonal flu can be similar to symptoms of coronavirus, which can make it difficult to determine what might be going on. Especially with New Zealand heading towards flu season. Here is a great chart to review symptoms and determine next steps.

Determine what you are dealing with

We encourage anyone with signs of a respiratory infection or COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath) to contact their primary care physician for guidance. Ideally where possible connect with your doctor online or by phone to reduce the risk of transmission. 

If you develop severe symptoms or are in the high-risk groups outlined below and develop shortness of breath, call 111 or go to the nearest emergency room after calling ahead for safe arrival instructions. 0800 358 5453

 COVID-19 risk factors:

If you are high- or medium-risk and fall within any of these risk factors below, it is recommended that you self-isolate and practice social distancing for a minimum of 14 days, even if you have no symptoms. 

 

  • Age: 

 

While the overall global mortality rate of COVID-19 is currently estimated to be around 3.4% by the WHO (as of March 3), early reports out of China and a similar pattern identified in Italy (the highest number of coronavirus deaths outside of China) show that the mortality rate increases with age. The mortality rate is highest (14.8%) for those over the age of 80. This most likely due to older individuals often suffer from at least one chronic health condition that stresses their immune system, increasing their risk. 

Children are rarely affected by the disease. 

 

  • Pre-existing conditions

Adults with preexisting conditions like heart disease and diabetes or chronic lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD have a greater risk of being affected by any virus, including COVID-19 because of decreased ability to fight off infections due to a less robust immune response. In China, coronavirus patients with heart disease had a 10 per cent mortality rate, while those with diabetes had around a 7 per cent mortality rate, far greater than the global average — which WHO estimated at 3.4% on March 3rd.

 

  • Immunocompromised adults 

Immunocompromised means the inability to normally respond to environmental exposures including viruses or bacteria due to a weakened immune system. People who are immunocompromised include those with diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis B, chronic kidney disease, autoimmune conditions, malnutrition, and cancer because those conditions do lessen one’s ability to mount an adequate immune response. 

 

  • Smoking

 

Adults who smoke on a regular basis (cigarettes, cigars, marijuana) are at an increased risk for more severe upper respiratory infections overall. Some Experts believe that this is one of the reasons that men in China died more often than women from coronavirus was because of their smoking habits. 

Social distancing: bell curve

Why should we consider social distancing? 

This is a manageable/treatable disease but if we don’t control the spread we will surpass the health systems capacity and will result in a higher mortality rate as health professionals won’t be able to keep up with demand. The primary goal is to slow the spread of disease, a concept which is being referred to as  “flattening the curve” which you will see depicted down below. Essentially it will provide us the time to manage the disease but more importantly and often forgotten it will also allow the health system the capacity to deal with other business as usual cases eg. trauma, surgeries, chronic diseases etc. If capacity is maxed out COVID-19 patients won’t be the only ones who will suffer the consequences! 

The new research also showed that 97.5% of people who are infected develop symptoms within 11.5 days. About 1% of patients, however, show symptoms after 14 days – outside the window of the CDC’s quarantine guidelines.

Cure

Once again no need to fear. The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions (Malaria and HIV) wipe out the virus in test tubes.

Prof Paterson said the medications given to some of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in Australia, had already resulted in “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery from the infection. 

Another reason for us to flatten the curve and provide scientists like Prof Paterson the time they need to design a cure which could be distributed worldwide.

Keeping safe in the meantime

It is simple, practice good hygiene and social distancing where possible. 

  • Most importantly due to the nature of how it spreads through bodily fluid, if coughing or sneezing do so into your left elbow as many people are now greeting using right elbow touch instead of a handshake (weird I know, but best to be safe than sorry).
  • Wash hands frequently (at minimum 20 sec, see image below) and carry a hand-sanitiser with you and use frequently (if you can find one…).
  •  
  • If you use tissues, do not reuse them, throw out after use.
  • Avoid highly populated areas, where possible.
  • Aim to keep a 1.5m distance between other individuals to prevent spread.
  • Clean and disinfect everything after use.
  • Avoid travel were possible. 

Sick or medium-high risk

  • Self-isolate a minimum of 14days.
  • Wear a mask around other people. You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). 

Future

The news is not all bad. I am one to always look on the bright side and there are plenty of learnings to take away from this outbreak. For example, it will greatly impact our lives in so many ways, some of which we probably haven’t thought about yet. I will touch on some of these in future posts, I will discuss things like the future of the workplace etc.

Next post

Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss the science and nutrition around prevention and management of COVID-19.

Hit the Reset Button: Tricks & Tips for the Holiday Season

The silly season is among us! With the extra time, it is the perfect opportunity to take the time to focus on your health and wellbeing.

Let’s not sweat the small stuff, indulge a little and relax – you all have earned it! Enjoy.

The holiday period also presents as a great opportunity capitalises on extra free time to develop key positive habits that can help set you up for an awesome 2019. In this post, you will find our top tips to focus on this holiday period to help reset yourself for a big 2019.

 

1. Hack your Sleep:

The holidays present a great to focus on establishing the habits and getting the restorative sleep you desire.

Top Sleep Hack:

  1. Design your own Sleep Sanctuary
  2. Ditch Technology
  3. Black it Out
  4. Airflow
  5. Plants
  6. Quality Mattress & Pillow
  7. Most of all, develop a routine and keep it consistent!

Learn More

2. Remove Toxins & Stimulants

The holiday season is a great opportunity to clear out all the unneeded toxins and stimulants from your life.

  • Plastic

Reduce your use of plastics as much as possible. The plastic leaches chemicals like pcb’s dioxins which are xeno-estrogenic and mimic estrogen in your body. This creates an estrogen dominance which develops an insulin resistance, making it extremely difficult to regulate and reduce fat.

Remove Plastic:

  • Ditch the plastic drink bottles: Replace with a metal bottle
  • Rethink Tupperware: The last thing you want to do is put hot food into a plastic container (or worse – to reheat it!). Replace with glass or bamboo.
  • Plastic Straws: Replace with metal or bamboo

 

Coffee is the greatest source of Polyphenols (Antioxidants) in the western diet! It is also well known that us Kiwis love our coffee per capita consumption ranks among the top 20 in the world, according to the statistics portal, Statista.com.

Can there be too much of a good thing? If you have become reliant on it and can’t survive a day without it. It is time for a detox! With no deadlines or time constraints with work, this is the perfect time for a detox! Remove caffeine from your life for 2 weeks to allow your body to reset.

Removing the stimulant for two weeks is extremely powerful as when reintroduced, you will once again notice the stimulant effects again, that have most likely been stunted due to overuse.

Quick note: If you currently exceed 3 coffees a day I wouldn’t suggest going cold turkey unless you are that way inclined. Gradually cut down!

Learn More

 

Light is a nutrient that plays a significant role in signalling your mitochondria (cellular powerhouses) to do things and when to do them. Different light frequencies trigger different signals in your cells. Blue light which mostly comes from LED lights places the body under a significant amount of stress.

Newer artificial light bulbs lack many of the sun’s frequencies that our bodies and brains need. Artificial lights, have eliminated most of the infrared, red, and violet light found in natural sunlight, and are amplifying the blue light beyond anything we have evolved to handle. Most LEDs and compact fluorescents emit about 5 times the blue light we’re used to.

Where to start:

Reduce blue light or what is now known as Junk light. Download a blue-light filter app like F.LUX for digital devices (Mobile & laptop) and switch all the lights in your house to halogen and incandescent. They aren’t perfect, but they’re better. Your white LEDs might be saving your power bill but they are sapping your personal energy levels!

Learn More

3. Hydrate

Too often we forget the simple things like hydration. Yet, hydration levels are one of the most important things to regulate.  Water contributes to the maintenance of normal physical functioning, cognitive functioning and thermoregulation. Our body is made up of 60% water, so it is important that you achieve optimal water levels as it is essential for feeling good with optimal health and energy. With 1% of dehydration affects performance by up to 10%!

How much water should I drink?

0.033 litres per kg of body weight, which roughly equates to the following amounts:

  • 60 kg = 2 litres
  • 75 kg = 2.5 litres
  • 90 kg= 3 litres

Hydration Tips:

  • Carry a metal drink bottle with you everywhere.
  • Download Hydration app, to remind you to drink

 

4. Mindfulness

Slow Down: Too often while on holiday I see people stuck in the busy mode unable to slow down. On a mission racing around from place to place and not taking the time to relax and enjoy the present moment. It is easy to get stuck in old patterns but we need to be able to detach ourselves from these habits. I have caught myself in this very situation myself many times. This where it is great to include a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness Definition: A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness is all about detaching yourself from the past and the future and focusing on the present moment, as it is only the present moment that you can impact. The holiday period presents as a great opportunity to increase or introduce a mindfulness practice.

Where to start?

  • Download an amazing app like Headspace, that will help guide your mindfulness practice. The great thing about Headspace is its flexible nature, that allows you to design a practice around your needs such a length of session and specific focus points.
  • Walk slowly, sounds simple but can be especially tough for busy people to do.
  • Sit down and enjoy scenery eg. beach, park.

Learn More

5. Look after your Gut!

Our gut is now known as our second brain so it makes sense to look after it! Did you no 90% of your serotonin (feel-good hormone) is created in your gut. That means poor gut health can lead to depression.

A great way to start your day is with a lemon juice/apple cider vinegar to help stimulate digestion through stomach acid and bile production.

  • 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (it has to be raw, unfiltered, with the mother)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt (antioxidant/electrolyte)
  • 1 Cup of warm water (Make it as a tea)

Aim to drink 30mins prior to breakfast for best results.

Why not throw in some bitter and fermented foods to aid digestive support this summer too.

Popular recommendations include: 


 

Bitter:

  • Turmeric, (turmeric lattes)
  • Cacao
  • Ginger
  • Good quality Organic sourced dark chocolate
  • Leafy greens like Spinach and Kale.

 

 

Fermented:

  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Natto
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles

 

 

6. Gratitude

The benefits of practising gratitude are nearly endless. By taking the time to notice and reflect on what you are thankful for, you experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

A great way to cultivate this practice is a Gratitude Journaling. Journaling works as it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. Shifting our focus away from the negatives and onto the positives. Journaling can be as simple as writing 3 things you are grateful each day.

7. Fear Setting

With the new year brings new year’s resolutions. University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. Let’s not fall into this trap! This year instead of new year’s resolutions replace them with ‘Fear Setting’ (An exercise recently popularized by Tim Ferriss)

Fear setting is all about embracing your fears! A simple process in which you write down and quantify your fears. What is the worst-case scenario? (often it is not as bad as you think). Once identified work back from that scenario, how can you mitigate these consequences and then how could you recover from this scenario. You will be surprised how powerful this technique can be.

Follow these 3 steps to fear-setting:

Do an 80/20 analysis:

  • “Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?”
  • “Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”
  • “Which 20% of sources are consuming 80% of my time?”

Write a to-do and not-to-do list:

  • “Why haven’t I done my most important to-do?”
  • “Why haven’t I stopped doing my most important not-to-do?”

Define your fears clearly (Once identified ask yourself this series of questions):

  • What is the worst-case scenario if I did what I’m considering?
  • What are all the things I could do to minimize that from happening?
  • If the worst-case scenario happened, what steps could I take to minimise repair the damage

Learn More

Most of All:

Have an amazing break, take the time to relax, unwind and get some quality time outdoors in the sun! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Taylored team

Workplace Wellness: 3 Neglected Factors

Integrated Approach To Workplace Wellness

In our last post we discussed a number of case studies of successful businesses and their unique strategies to combat the ever changing workplace environment. So to build from the previous article we will now look into 3 key factors that can greatly impact the way employees perform. These factors have not been previously discussed and appear to be neglected by many workplaces.

The Health and Safety Workplace Act (HSWA) has changed the way we view health and safety in the workplace in New Zealand. It is not just about compliance; it’s about getting people home, healthy and safe. With this change in legislation we have seen a surge in the Workplace Wellness programmes, all of which emphasize physical exercise and nutrition, something that we can not criticise. However, there is a problem that is not getting addressed. This issue is how do we get businesses to actively engage in the wellness programme and not passively implement one so that they look good on paper. The proactive businesses will be those that are truly passionate about their employees health and put this as the focus for their wellness program. In doing so they will see great benefits in workplace culture, productivity, performance and financially.

So the next question would be; how do we get businesses to engage with employee health and actively buy into their wellness program. We will discuss 3 factors that are nothing new but are easily neglected as they can be challenging to monitor and make positive change. Regardless, these 3 factors are a vital part of the ‘big-picture’ that need to be addressed, especially if you want to achieve profound positive change in your workplace.

Commuter stress

We all accept commuting is wasted time and is extremely frustrating. There is no surprise that research has shown that it can be harmful to our well being and job satisfaction. A recent study in the UK concluded (26,000 employees in England over a five-year period), an additional 20 minutes of commuting per day has the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19% pay cut. In contrast a study done in the  US stated that less commuting time was not a perceived benefit and if given the choice 84% of people would take job 1, with a salary of $67,000 a year and a commuting time of 50 minutes compared to job 2, with a salary of $64,000 and a commuting time of 20 minutes. The researchers noted “Their responses simply reflected an inability to fully appreciate the psychological, emotional, and physical costs of longer travel times.”

It is clear regardless of whether it is perceived or not, the time we spend commuting to work places a significant amount of stress on an individual and this will greatly affect job satisfaction in the long term.

Strategy: Remote working

With this pivotal shift in the way we interact, businesses need to breakout from the old methods and and utilise technology to their advantage and future proof their businesses by growing with the times. With the development of technology we are now a touch of a button away from anyone in the world. In a previous blog post (5 unique Actionable Strategies to Increased ROI) we discussed remote working as one of our top 5 strategies to increasing your return on Investment. This was continued on our post Time for a Change! Rethink the Work Day where we presented a number of case studies that discuss various remote working strategies used by current multi-billion dollar  business. Good examples being Netflix and Virgin who don’t track work hours, instead focus on results. Thus, their employees time in the office is irrelevant and they can take time off when the please, as long as work is still being done.

The majority of business need to re-think their structure, there is no longer a need for big offices that produce excessive unneeded overheads that slow the growth of your business. This is not to say offices are not important, they are! Especially, when it comes to inter-employee collaboration.  We are merely suggesting that you think with the future in mind and put your business in a position where you are mobile and able to pivot and grow at a moments notice.

 

Sleep

Sleep is often the first thing to get sacrificed. Sadly it has become a badge of honour to state you get minimal sleep because you work such long hours. This to me says you are unequipped to effectively delegate, schedule work, work efficiently and productively achieve great focus (aka deep work).

“My business does not have resources, therefore my role is extremely diverse and time consuming”. This is the common response or complaint that we hear. Now I understand and relate to this more than anyone. As a founder of a small business starting from nothing, resources are everything! Time being your most valuable resource! You can’t do any work sleeping therefore makes sense for sleep to get sacrificed right?

No! Sleep is the last thing you should ever sacrifice. Sleep is the most powerful factor underpinning your success and health!! Sleep is where your body recovers and stores memories from the previous day. Skipping this process will just throw you down a vicious cycle.

“I function at a high level with 5 hrs sleep”

Science has proven time and time again for this statement to be untrue! You are in fact performing at a significantly impaired level. Yes, there is variation between individuals but this variations should be between whether you get 7 to 9 h of sleep a night. Anything less has been shown to be significantly impactful to performance and health. In fact, sleeping less than 6 hours a night is known to be one of the best predictors of on the job burnout and increased risk of sickness (cold/flu etc). In America sleep deprivation has been calculated to cost ~63.2 Billion dollars a year in lost productivity, this is ~$2,500 /employee!!

How to facilitate employees sleep  

Naps pods are now being included in many new and leading companies which is amazing. But you don’t have to go that extreme, there are plenty of cheaper and simpler ways that sleep can be addressed. Create a discussion around sleep and highlight the importance of sleep. Where possible analysis, either by questionnaire or even better activity trackers that track sleep quality (Highly recommend for tracking sleep and health: Oura Ring, this is new technology happy to talk you through it if you want to contact us). Put simply the discussion is to create a culture shift, focusing on quality vs quantity of work. Regardless of the hours you work it has been shown humans can only achieve a maximal capacity of 4 hours of quality deep work (we will discuss this further in future post), so make sure that your time counts! Some workplaces that track sleep actually reward employees for getting a good night’s sleep. Aetna, a US-based insurance group, has taken it even further with a sleep scheme to encourage employees to get a minimum of 7 hrs of sleep each night. They have even incentivised it with cash bonuses! Their employees are getting paid to sleep! If an employee sleeps seven or more hours for 20 nights Aetna rewards them with a $25 bonus, this is limited to $300 within a 12-month period. “Being present in the workplace and making better decisions has a lot to do with our business fundamentals,” said Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini. “You can’t be prepared if you’re half-asleep.”

Stress management

This goes without saying and something I have written extensively on already in previous posts. With the rise in technology a hazardous result is the continuous stimulation of our bodies natural stress (sympathetic) response, our “fight or flight” reflect. Therefore, success of any wellness program needs to address education and strategies around down regulation methods that can be implemented to regulate our bodies natural responses. Giving us the ability to detach ourselves from the past and the future and giving us the ability to be truly present and the ability to make a impact by working in the present moment.

“You cannot impact the past nor the future without being truly present”

What are down regulation methods?

Sleep is obviously the most important of all but besides sleep, methods such as; breathing, technology free time periods, floatation pods, mindfulness, meditation and grounding practices. These can all have a significant impact on regulating an individual’s stress response.

All of the above have been directly linked to the ability to greatly increase productivity as they promote the ability be present allowing you to achieve a deeper and more focused state of work.

Strategies will look different for everyone, it is important to find strategies that suit each individual to ensure a significant impact. Out of the practices a quick breathing technique is one of the quickest and easiest ways to induce a parasympathetic response or down regulate your system. As discussed in one of the articles below ‘Just Breath’ a simple method is the 4 : 7 : 8 Breathing Technique is perfect in de stressing you. Inhale for 4sec, Hold for 7sec & exhale for 8sec.

 

Previous posts you may find helpful around downregulation:

https://tayloredhealth.co.nz/the-science-behind-mindfulness/

https://tayloredhealth.co.nz/mindfulness-where-to-start/

https://tayloredhealth.co.nz/mindfulness-living-in-the-present-moment/

https://tayloredhealth.co.nz/stressed-out-what-is-adrenal-fatigue-how-is-it-effecting-you/

https://tayloredhealth.co.nz/just-breathe/

 

Future Proof Your Business

The future is up for the taking

The majority of my blog post are educational and actionable, like our previous post (Workplace Wellness 5 Unique Actionable Strategies to Increased ROI) aimed at providing you with all the information you need. But, this post I wanted to take a step back to express my thoughts around the current business landscape, reflecting on current, past and future trends and set the scene, before arming you with actionable strategies to implement within your businesses to ensure you are equipped and ready for the future.

 

You can not build a long term future on short term thinking

Now, I truly believe it is a pivotal time for businesses, it is a make or break time. With the ability for everyone’s voice to be heard, the big corporates who are used to have all the l

imelight, no longer have the control over the marketplace that they once had. Additionally, with all the access to outsource to third party companies, the entry into business is a lot cheaper, easier and safer. There is no need for extreme overheads and high set up costs. That being said, I strongly believe that a business that is built in line with future in mind and aims to actively stay ahead of the times will be the one who truly succeeds long term.

In this ever changing world, becoming comfortable or stagnant will determine your business success and longevity. With the rapid development in technology, businesses need to be adaptable with the ability to pivot and change when required. Traditional methods need to be re-thought. Yes, they have been successful previously, but are they the methods that will allow for continued success today? As times change so does the need for new strategies. Forget the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, this mentality may get you by short term but will cripple your business long term.

 

So, is your business Winning or Losing?

Workers now spend the majority of their brain power battling distraction and interruption, thanks to the continual pinging of devices, noisy open-plan offices or the difficulty for workers to determine what deserves their attention the most. The inability to achieve a level of deep work is costing your business a significant amount of money! With the rise of technology and distraction there has been a decline in employee health with the continual overloaded of additional stressors. There is nothing more costly to a workplace than a decline in workplace health.  A decrease in healthy energy levels leads to a lack of motivation which translates to less productivity, enjoyment, and increased sick days.

 

Why is change not happening?

The biggest barrier in my opinion is not the inability to think long term, majority of business are well aware that change is required they are just restricted by limited resources, overwhelmed by current stresses and deadlines. Leaving them to place the future proofing in the “too hard basket”. This is the sad truth for so many businesses, especially for big business as there are so many moving parts, making change extremely difficult.

In our next posts we will discuss key Taylored Health and Performance strategies that will shift you and your workplace from struggling to success. Building off our previous post Workplace Wellness 5 Unique Actionable Strategies to Increased ROI and diving deeper to highlight how to be more productive and achieve a deep level of work.