Dr Lucy Williamson: Spring Clean your Lifestyle for a Healthy Gut, Better Sleep and Skin

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Spring is finally here and with it the promise of warmer days and lighter evenings.  It’s time to come out of that self-imposed hibernation, put away the jumpers and comfort food and look forward to dishes made with delicious fresh, seasonal produce instead.  That’s not just good news for your tastebuds but for your gut too. And since our gut health impacts our whole health, it sets us up for good quality sleep that’s essential for summer-ready glowing skin and a generally positive approach to the new season.

I’m Dr Lucy Williamson, an ex-vet and now Registered, award-winning, Nutritionist and I love to draw on nature’s lessons to help our health thrive.

Our soils, plants and animals are coming back to life with renewed energy after a long period of rest; a timely reminder that for our natural biology to thrive, we too need good quality sleep in order to glow!

I centre my work as a Nutritionist around the gut microbiome; the hidden link that connects all our body systems so nurturing the gut optimises both our physical and mental wellbeing.

These are my top tips to help spring clean your lifestyle to promote a healthy gut to ensure a refreshing night’s sleep, glowing skin and optimal health this Spring:

  • Nurture your Gut Brain Axis   The more stress we carry, the worse our gut health and because our gut and brain are linked by a superhighway of information, our Gut Brain Axis, the result can be poor sleep, lower mood and an array of other symptoms – digestive & skin health for example. So, try to introduce some good habits to release that tension! Regular exercise, short breathing meditations, regular breaks in a busy working day or simply stepping out into nature. These will all help to bring your vagus nerve into action; the counter to our stress response and one of our main gut-brain links.
  • Circadian rhythm   Inevitably we have to live by our alarms rather than be woken up the best way – by daylight! But there are things we can do to help our body settle into a more natural rhythm. Our good gut microbes are like our own mini pharmacy making thousands of beneficial chemicals for us every day. One of these is Vitamin B6 which we need to make the hormone melatonin, that triggers our sleep cycle. Our gut microbes also activate Tryptophan in our food which is needed for this sleep-inducing hormone too. Try to develop evening wind down routines – simply a warming mug of a calming herbal tea can really help.
  • Get a good overnight fast  Our gut microbes during the night are different to those during the day and for good reason – they clean up after the day’s digestion leaving the gut sparkly clean, empty and rested!  So, avoid eating late in the evening to ensure you get that crucial 12 – 14 hour fast overnight; your sleep will thank you for it!
  • Pre and probiotics  Making sure our food intake is at least two thirds plants, and a big variety too, feeds our gut microbes with vital prebiotics (fibre).  Fermented foods little and often like kefir and sauerkraut provide live probiotics.  Looking after our gut health has a profound impact on whole health; even to the point of healthy skin. And your improved sleep as a result will help skin health too!
  • Embrace your natural detox 24/7 our liver, kidneys and lungs are removing potentially harmful substances from our body by detoxification. Hydrating well really helps this process. Sleep becomes a bit ‘chicken and egg’ here – help your sleep and your detox will improve and vice versa. Hello happy skin too!
  • Bitter is better! The bitter taste in foods is largely due to antioxidants which give our natural detox a welcome boost. Watercress is a fabulous example – that bitter punch at first bite is its natural antioxidant being released and then activated by our gut microbes. The antioxidant in watercress (and other brassicas eg broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, spinach and kale) work with our natural biology to improve our detox.
  • Skin-loving foods – Increase your healthy Omega oils, especially 3 and 7. That means enjoying more fish, one of the very best sources of Omega 3, and of course plants like walnuts & flaxseed. There’s a new kid on the block called Sea Buckthorn – a bright orange super-berry packed with Omega 7, Vitamin C and E and fabulous for skin health! Zinc is another important nutrient for healthy skin – seafood, nuts & wholegrains are great sources.

 

This Spring dish up some self-love, nurture your gut, value your sleep, nourish your skin and feel ready for the energetic days ahead!

For further advice on how to maintain gut health and for some delicious recipes, visit my website:  www.lwnutrition.co.uk.

 

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