3 healthy habits that will leave you feeling better physically and mentally, according to a dietitian
Brought to you by Yakult Ireland
These three simple steps could leave you feeling better in no time.
At times, life stresses can get the better of all of us, making it so important to look after yourself, both physically and mentally.
But when work or personal life is particularly hectic, it's easy to let these good habits slip by the wayside, often to the detriment of our overall well-being. The good news is looking after our well-being doesn’t always require big changes to our lifestyle. Sometimes, the smallest of lifestyle tweaks, like making a conscious effort to look after our gut, can have a huge positive impact on our overall health.
That's why Yakult is encouraging people to find the small, things they can do to improve their well-being every day. To mark the launch of Yakult Plus, the latest addition to Yakult's range, they've teamed up with Registered Dietitian Jennifer Low to share some top tips for improving well-being, from simple but effective diet changes to small lifestyle choices.
With that in mind, here are 3 small but powerful changes you can make today, to improve your overall well-being...
1. Cut out bad sleep habits
It probably comes as no surprise that your sleep quality plays a big role in how you're feeling on any given day, but many of us still struggle to adopt good habits when it comes to getting some shut-eye.
"In a society that talks frequently about being busy and stressed, we spend a lot of our time fighting our body’s natural circadian rhythms, which is the 24-hour 'clock', that we’re designed to work on," Jennifer says, citing screens, caffeine and alcohol as factors that keep us awake outside of the times we would naturally sleep.
It's important to note that sleep can affect our gut health too. The gut microbiome promotes the release of dopamine and serotonin which help regulate mood and promote sleep. Similarly, disruptions to sleep and the circadian rhythm can impact the balance of bacteria in the gut. So the bottom line is, a healthy gut equals healthy sleep.
If you're someone who struggles to reach the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, or you find the sleep you're getting doesn't leave you feeling well-rested, Jennifer recommends a few simple changes that can improve the quality of your sleep including staying off screens for at least 2 hours before going to sleep and exposing yourself to 5 minutes of natural sunlight within 60 minutes of waking up.
2. Look after your gut health
Similarly, it's no secret that the foods we're eating (or not eating!) can link back to how we're feeling, both physically and mentally. But let's take a closer look at some of the science behind that...
The microbiota in the gut consists of trillions of microbes (the likes of bacteria, fungi and viruses), and Jennifer says these bacteria can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health. "The gut microbiota supports the defence against bad bacteria, a balanced microbiota can prevent bad bacteria from overgrowing, is an important part of our immune system and can have an effect on mental health through the gut-brain axis."
Because of this, Jennifer says the amount and type of fibre, fermented foods and the variety of foods we consume can help to determine the diversity of our gut bacteria. A better diversity of beneficial bacteria is associated with better overall health. Some small changes that can help include switching to wholegrain options for cereals, pasta, rice and bread to increase fibre and upping the variety of fruit and veg you eat, aiming for at least 5 portions every day.
A simple way of upping your intake of fermented foods is by incorporating Yakult Plus into your diet. Like all Yakult products, Yakult Plus is bursting with 20 billion friendly bacteria, scientifically proven to reach the gut alive. But it also contains fibre that can feed the bacteria in the gut and is rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system and helps lower fatigue. Combine this with the fruity citrus flavour, it’s a tasty way to include some all-important nutrients in your diet.
3. Give 'nature-connectedness' a go
We all know that getting outdoors has many benefits, whether it's for a bit of sunshine and Vitamin D or some exercise in the fresh air. But Jennifer says some studies have shown that nature-connectedness - the way we experience nature, as opposed to just being in nature - can also have some pretty significant well-being benefits.
Nature-connectedness involves actively engaging the sense while outdoors among nature, to truly connect with what's going on around us: "We can walk through the park and not notice a thing, or we can walk through the park and connect with how the birds sound, or how the trees are outlined against the sky, how the ground feels under our feet. This is nature connection," Jennifer explains.
Studies indicate that if we have high levels of nature-connectedness, we are happier in life and have lower levels of depression and anxiety. According to Jennifer, two hours a week has been found to be a dosage that significantly boosts health and well-being.
Remember, spending time in nature can increase your microbial diversity through exposure to different microbes and by lowering stress levels.
It's worth trying, anyway!
This April, Yakult is expanding its range and making it easier than ever to look after your well-being with the launch of Yakult Plus, which is rich in Vitamin C to support immunity & lower fatigue and contains fibre that feeds the gut bacteria. For further information, click here.
Brought to you by Yakult Ireland