The wonderful South Inch Osteopaths are launching a new Naturopathy practice, run by Lou Johnston. It got us thinking; what actually is Naturopathy? And it turns out it can help you get more out of your exercise regime by focusing on the vital role that sleep, digestion, hydration and eating the right foods all play. Over to Lou;
A Naturopath looks at the whole body, often from the inside out. We don’t just look and listen to symptoms but try to work out where they are coming from. For example, if you find that you feel fine after the first few weeks of a new exercise regime and then you start feeling like you don’t recover so well, energy levels have peaked and it feels more like an effort to go and do it; often this is not just a February will power issue but your body lacking some of the core ingredients to make, maintain or use energy.
We look at what you are eating, drinking, whether taking any additional supplements and how you may or may not be sleeping. We note when your energy is better and when it is worse; this can tell us a lot about the health of your adrenal glands which help you to adapt and manage stress on the body, both negative & positive stress.
The adrenals are little glands that sit above your kidneys. They work hard to find the energy boost you need and to help get your bloods into recovery and repair mode after exercise. Critical ingredients like Vitamin C, Magnesium and most of the B vitamins help this to happen in a healthy normal way. But if one of these is missing consistently from your diet you may end up feeling wired or tired or both.
Are you getting enough sleep? This can be such an easy thing to fix, we need sleep to rest and repair our bodies especially if you have just started to physically challenge it in a way that you have not before or for a long time.
A good 8 hours will go a long way to keep your fitness on the up and your recovery in line. If you don’t get enough you then start pulling on those adrenal glands to keep you going , you draw on nutrients that you need for recovery and repair which in the longer term leads to burn out or giving up on your new regime because you feel too tired.
A healthy digestion is the key to our ability to absorb the nutrients we need for our bodies to do what we are asking it to do be it swim, run, climb, jump or stretch. We need to be able to access fuel for muscles to transfer energy and take action and protein for repair.
If our digestion is compromised we end up not breaking down our foods into usable parts for the body to then kick into action. Symptoms of poor digestion can include IBS type symptoms, cramp while running, bloating, fatigue, skin rashes & nausea.
Such an important part of any exercise plan both before and after and the days after that too! In fact every day should be a water day. We should all be drinking at least 1 litre of water over and above any teas, coffees and soft drinks you may have that day.
Water helps the transfer and communication of essential nutrients in the body and has a direct effect on our energy levels. If we don’t get enough we may experience headaches, problems concentrating, can’t be bothered to exercise or fatigue. We often mistake dehydration for hunger, so, rather than reach for something sweet have a glass of water and wait as most of the time that sugar craving will pass! Promise!
So what foods are going to give us all that we need and more to keep us exercising and energy filled?!
Get your carbohydrates right with some usable protein and you are well on your way. Which carbohydrates? The complex ones: Baked potatoes, brown or basmati rice, wholemeal or rye breads & oats. Root vegetables are sweet nourishing and filled with natural sugars. Slow roast or baked with some fish or chicken
It is really important that you get enough usable protein; eggs, fish, nuts and seeds the best sources and naturally come with good doses of Essential Fatty Acids which we cannot make and have to get through our diets. These fatty acids or ‘good fats’ are important for hundreds of functions in our bodies from brain function, coordination to keeping our skin healthy. In fact so many that it’s best just to focus on all the foods with the ‘good fats ‘ - Avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, oily fish; mackerel, halibut, sardines, herring.
So, if you asked a Naturopath what you can do to turn your new regime into a long term life habit what would she say? Well, we service and MOT our cars but why not our body? We expect it to do so much and often don’t stop to ask whether it have all the ingredients it needs to perform. Of course fresh local foods in the right balance, plenty of water every day and enough sleep to rest and repair but don’t forget to think about how your digestion feels. Are you absorbing the nutrients you need?
Do you feel you get the energy you want or need from the foods you are using? Are you resting and relaxing your body enough to give it the recovery time it needs? Remember you get back what you put in.