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Believe it or not, its hard to be healthy these days. Our fast paced lifestyles, pressure to be superhuman, plus the fact that every corporation out there is jumping on the ‘health and wellness’ trend often with products that do the very reverse. None of us are perfect, but awareness is key – in this article, we look at some of the common pitfalls that we all can and probably have fallen into. These are all things the modern research suggest really matter for a healthy conception and development of a small person. Most crucially we also discuss how to make smarter and healthier choices based on the research here:
Being a superhuman: We all want to be an amazing partner, parent, business person but it’s really, really hard. Despite this, society seems to expect us to do it all. The trouble is that our kids are now paying the price. Without realising we are often transferring our understandably high levels of stress to our kids. Unfortunately anxiety now seems to be growing in very young children. Click here for a surprisingly easy way you can try and stop this transmission mechanism and take matters into your own hands in a positive manner.
Exercise: On the ‘superhuman’ note, the reality is that many of us feel the pressure these days to be a size zero and look like a Victoria Secret model (thanks Instagram). This has led to a proliferation of high intensity (HIIT) work out classes springing up everywhere. That is no bad thing, however when we do too much of it too often it causes real issues for our bodies in terms of hormonal imbalance (cortisol in particular) and can contribute to chronic inflammation and lead to fertility issues – boys too. Click here for much more. In a nutshell though its all about staying away from the extremes. 20-30 minutes per day of moderate exercise with resistance makes a big difference.
Against this, modern life makes it very easy to be sedentary – which is just as bad. Bad for our hormones and can contribute to chronic inflammation also (yep – you cant win). Uber and desk jobs are a perfect storm for this. Not good. Not good for your mood and stress levels either. It has been proved that moving your body every day can be positive for your stress levels (you cant beat that endorphin rush) – even if its just walking more. It genuinely makes a difference. Particularly during pregnancy. There is still an inherent fear of exercise during pregnancy (and a lot of misinformation – click here for more). However doing nothing at all and putting on too much weight during pregnancy can actually be potentially damaging. Click here for much more on exercise in pregnancy.
Not prioritising sleep: Often in the early days of a little one we dont get a lot (!) however, the good news is that seems to settle down after some time. The trouble is that research has clearly shown that too little sleep for too long a time period messes with our hormones, not good for conceiving and growing a healthy small person and can cause chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many things but specifically to the development of a whole range of issues from autoimmune to neurological in children. For some reason the modern world seems to wear lack of sleep as a badge of honour. It’s not. Your body needs it so make it the priority it deserves to be. Your hormones/body and baby will thank you for it. Getting our children into a good sleep routine is usually a priority for most parents but click here to find out how modern life is making this more challenging and most importantly why it matters for long term health. For boys it is arguably even more important as research has shown evidence of a direct impact on sperm as a result of lack of sleep. Click here for more.
Medications: always a touchy subject. Of course no one wants to feel unwell, but similarly these days there are lots of pills that promise easy fixes that simply paper over the cracks and dont actually correct what could well be an underlying imbalance of some sorts. We all of course want a quick fix and to feel better and many medications have transformed people’s lives so this is not to do them down when they are required. The only point is that often it is a good idea if there is a problem to ask why, and if there anything that can be done to tackle the root cause. When it comes to children however it is even more precarious as often a very young system isnt cut out to process chemicals in the way an adult can. The main culprit is Paracetamol/Acetaminophen for kids. Found in Calpol and Children’s Tylenol. Click here for much more and please read. Of course if your child is in pain they may need a painkiller – go for something like Ibuprofen (if your child is over three months old) instead but use sparingly whenever you can. It is not (like most medications) entirely consequence free.
Carb and fat dodging: Nowadays most people are aware that fat isnt the evil it was perceived to be in the 80s and 90’s – that mantle has really been picked up by carbs. They are generally speaking now dodged like the plague. However, firstly: not all carbs are created equally. Secondly: no carbs is a recipe for hormonal trouble – particularly with our old friend Cortisol. Not what you want if you are trying to get pregnant. If you are pregnant cutting out major food groups is obviously a major no-no however it’s all about quality. Low Glycemic Index (ie. how quickly it breaks down in to sugar in to our blood stream) and whole grains avoiding anything processed is the key.
Eating lots of protein: great to do, but, the trouble is if you dont source it carefully. The sad reality is that most of the protein we get is laced with articifical hormones, steroids, antibiotics all as a result of mass production/farming etc. When it comes to fish we have the added issue of heavy metal risk. So, how do you balance it all out? Well obviously going organic and wild whenever you possibly can is the ideal. Unfortunately that is more expensive but it is worth eating less of better quality than more of worse when it comes to animal protein in particular. There are plant alternatives however and if you cant stretch to organic you have our old friend Activated Charcol to take away some of the nasties.
Health food: the ‘free-from’ trends have been a marketers dream. Slap ‘gluten free’ or ‘vegan’ on a packet and everyone wants it. The trouble is it is often the opposite of healthy as you may find lots of strange alternative ingredients in there which can play havoc with the balance in your body. Think added sweetners, vegetable margarines instead of butter, synthetic ingredients etc. Avoid at all cost. Even nut milks are often packed with sugar and additives that you dont want – click here for more. Golden rule: if it has more than three ingredients on a packet put it back. If its in a packet and its going overboard about being ‘free from’ and ‘healthy’ you likely want to give it a miss or at the very least look closely at the ingredients.
Drinking loads of water: Really? Yeah…it’s obviously good to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Bad to do it if you’re drinking (like I was) from plastic bottles that may contain BPA. The sad reality is that a huge amount of processed food and also drink containers are made from BPA which is a known endocrine (hormone) disruptor which has been shown to mimic Estrogen. The sad reality is that it is one of the biggest produced checmicals globally! It is everywhere but what you really want to watch is its exposure on anything you eat and drink (includes cans) and especially when it is exposed to heat. So: that includes ‘non-stick pans’ and for goodness sake dont heat up anything in a plastic container. It’s better for everyone (and the environment) to avoid. Especially if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding. Steer well clear. Click here for much more of the science behind it and click here for easy ways to spot BPA in plastic.
Buying ‘natural’ products: Another marketers dream. If you care about what goes in to your body you should care about what goes on your skin as 60-70% of what you put on gets absorbed. Sadly the beauty and personal care markets are totally unregulated and these terms mean almost nothing. Think of it like food – the less ingredients you use the better. Click here for much more.
Ok a couple more than ten!
Dont just ‘do it’ around your fertile window: whilst its super important to know your body and your own cycle (no point shooting in the dark) it is also important to have sex regularly through your cycle if you’re trying to get pregnant? Why? Well not only is it important as it will increase your chances statistically but more than that from the perspective of sperm quality you dont want sperm that is 20 days old fertilising an egg as that sperm may well have been exposed to more oxidative stress and potential cell/DNA/protein damage than ‘fresh’ sperm that is a day or two old.
Supplements: these can be of great benefit (click here for two of my favourites backed by science), but, there are a lot that at best do nothing and at worst can lull you in to a false sense of security and take the drive to be conscious about what you’re eating away. Personally at this stage of development research generally suggests that store bought OTC probiotics are generally not worth spending the money on. Instead what you eat is much more powerful, shown to alter the microbiome in as little as 24hrs. Click here for much more – save your bullets for where they are most powerful.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.
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