7 Simple Habits that could add 20 years to your life

20 extra years of life, who wouldn’t want that! Every day there are new life-extending products being launched on the market. From extreme fad diets claiming to reverse ageing to new pills that promise to keep you young forever.

All of that is pretty understandable. Longevity is a hot topic at the moment and rightly so! Never before have we as humans thought about our own mortality so earnestly. As life seems to keep accelerating, one cannot be blamed for wanting a few extra years to enjoy.

The issue with most “new” longevity products and services out at the moment is in their title. They’re new. And as with many new things, they probably haven’t been tested. It’s ridiculous to claim that something can make a person live until 100 years of age when the product itself has been around for hardly a year.

This post is not a new product

Just saying.

The 7 habits that I’m about to share with you are time-proven. They’ve been gathered from years and years of research on health and longevity. And just as the title of this post suggests, they’re simple. Too simple if you ask me! But as with many other things in life, the key is in simplicity and consistency.

Now before you get so excited and rush off to read what these habits are all about, let me just warn you. Just because they’re super simple doesn’t mean that if you incorporate them into your life for a week your job is done. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. But if you begin incorporating as many of them as possible into your daily life, that’s when the magic happens!

The 7 Habits

  1. Sleeping seven or eight hours a night
  2. Eating regular meals at regular times
  3. Not eating between meals
  4. Maintaining normal weight – i.e. not more than 5 percent underweight, and no more than 10 to 20 percent overweight (the lower number is for women and the higher for men)
  5. Regular physical activity – i.e. engaging often in active sports, long walks, gardening or any other exercise
  6. Moderate drinking – i.e. taking no more than two alcoholic drinks a day
  7. Never smoking cigarettes

This is a super brief list of simple habits, the kind that you would learn as a child and yet many of us tend to overlook them.

If you already consistently engage in 5 or more of those habits, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, do not get disheartened, it’s never too late to make positive changes to your life! Just start today!

I would be happy to answer any questions regarding the habits in the comment section below!

Sweet Summer Superfood Salad

Salad… What pops up in your mind when you think of salad?

Most people would probably say boring, restrictive diet food. And they would be 100% correct if all they know is salads made only with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

I absolutely love salads! I could even go as far and say that salads are my favourite meals. But not simple salads. I love rich and wholesome ones. The kind that have everything inside from dried fruits, seeds and nuts to leafy greens, organic cheeses and even crackers.

So, to help ignite your perhaps dormant passion for salads, I’d like to share one of my favourite superfood salad recipes (and yes, there are many! :))

Ingredients

Salad base

  • Lettuce and salad leaves
  • Baby Spinach leaves
  • Cucumber
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Apple cut into cubes
  • Avocado
  • Dried fruits; Raisins, Cranberries, Goji berries (you can put a little of each)
  • Figs (fresh is best but dried will also do)
  • Pomegranate
  • Organic goat’s cheese
  • Mixed seeds
  • Walnuts

Salad dressing

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic honey

Method

  1. Firstly, take out your favourite bowl.
  2. Cook the quinoa.
  3. Wash all the fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  4. Put the lettuce, salad leaves and spinach at the bottom of the bowl as a base.
  5. Then add the cooked quinoa.
  6. Cut up all the fruits and veg and start layering them on top.
  7. Add the nuts and sprinkle the seeds on top.
  8. Finish off by pouring the simple dressing over the whole salad.
  9. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, look at your creation, admire it, marvel at it, be grateful for it and Enjoy every single bite!

Tips on how to get started with Intermittent Fasting

Hello my beautiful darlings,

I am absolutely thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response that I received from my previous post about intermittent fasting. So many of you have expressed interest in trying the 16/8 method that I recommended. So, in an effort to help you get started, I’ve put together a brief post on little tips and tricks that you can try in order to give you the best chance of succeeding with intermittent fasting. Hope you enjoy!

Start here

The first thing I’d like to say to anyone new to fasting is to take it easy. We’ve grown up predominantly in a society which encourages the consumption of three main meals, the first being shortly after we wake up in the morning. Only recently have we began questioning the reasoning and logic behind this. So don’t pressure yourself to master this “new” way of eating. Just like any habit change it will take some time and patience. To make things easier you can try;

  1. Start gradually: Try fasting for 12 hours and gradually increase your fasting time to 16 hours. So for example, say you finish your evening meal at 9pm, try not having anything (except water, herbal tea or black coffee) until 9am the next day. Then gradually begin delaying the breaking of the fast to 10am then 11am etc.
  2. Drink water: It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Start your day with a large glass or two of plain water. Not only does this kick start your metabolism, hydrate you after the many hours of not consuming liquids but it also gives you a feeling of fullness due to the stretching of the stomach which then suppresses the hunger hormone.
  3. Drink black coffee: Black coffee is an excellent appetite suppressant. Studies have shown that people who drink black coffee on average eat less food, have lower blood sugar levels and are at less risk of developing diabetes. Don’t go overboard with the coffee though, I’d recommend no more than 2 cups per day.
  4. Drink your coffee slowly: I can drink one americano for 4-5 hours! Just keep the cup at your desk and whenever you remember just take a sip of coffee followed by 2-3 sips of water. Call me crazy but this ratio works wonders! The bitter taste of the coffee kills off any appetite for food and the water after that tastes almost sweet.
  5. Do not have absolutely anything that contains calories during the fasting period (not even a bite): This is extremely important. Ever heard of the saying “Appetite comes with the food” ? Well this applies 100% here. For example, say that at around 11 am I ate 2 strawberries. I guarantee that by 11:30 am I will be ravenously hungry. While if I didn’t eat the two strawberries I could go until 4/5pm without even being hungry. So unless you’re having a meal do not eat anything because it will just make you hungry. This means no snacks. Who even invented snacks?
  6. Keep your mind focused (on something other than food):The beauty of fasting is that it frees up so much of your time so that you can focus on your work, studies or hobbies. For those with too much free time it may be a little more difficult. Especially in the beginning, you may find yourself thinking about food which is completely normal, and trying to block out those thoughts is just plain exhausting so the easier way is to just focus on something else, and focus on that something else fully.
  7. Be flexible: What I love about the 16/8 method is that it’s so flexible! As long as you make sure that there 16 hours of fasting every single day you can play around with the exact timings of your meals. For example, say that I have brunch at 11 am on Sunday, in order to make sure I still fast for 16 hours I will finish my evening meal by 7 pm on Saturday night.

 

Hope this has been helpful and feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below!

 

Happy fasting!

 

The miracle of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, prolonged fasting, religious fasting … chances are you’ve heard of fasting before. The topic tends to spark a lot of confusion and perhaps may trigger images of emaciated individuals or yogis meditating on a mountain top in your mind when you think of it. So the aim of this post is to somewhat clear the confusion surrounding the topic, give you the top 5 health benefits of intermittent fasting and provide some solid reasons as to why I think you should try it!

What is intermittent fasting?

In very basic terms, fasting allows you to burn your own excess body fat. Intermittent fasting therefore refers to doing this at set recurring intervals. It is important to know that this is completely natural and that your body does this even without you being aware of it. When you sleep at night you are essentially fasting that’s why the first meal you have when you wake up is called breakfast, you are breaking your fast.

Body fat is merely stored energy from previously eaten food. So when you’re not eating, your body is “eating” its own fat for energy. You can probably already guess some health benefits associated with that! But more on the health benefits a little later, let’s first look at some different fasting styles.

Different intermittent fasting styles

Intermittent fasting is essentially a pattern of eating. The specifics of the pattern vary with each of the different forms however they all have one thing in common and that is a cycle of eating followed by a cycle of not eating. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting but here are a few of the most common ones.

The 16/8 Method: This is by far the most common fasting style. Essentially you have an 8-hour eating window followed by 16 hours of not eating anything (sleeping is included in the fasting hours). This is the method that I use most commonly although I alternate between the warrior diet and this method quite frequently. So, for example, what I do when I follow the 16/8 method is I stop eating at 9pm and have absolutely nothing (except water and black coffee) until 1pm the next day. So basically skipping breakfast. You can play this out however you want, you can skip dinner if you prefer. The key is to have 16 hours of eating absolutely nothing and eating all your meals within an 8-hour period.

For women, this is the preferred method of fasting as it has been shown that women do better on it when compared to the others. This is mainly due to women being more sensitive to ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

For people who are hungry in the morning, this may take some time to get used to while on the other hand, many breakfast skippers will find that this way of eating comes instinctively to them.

The Warrior Diet: This is my next favourite form of intermittent fasting. The warrior diet is basically eating one large meal a day within a 4-hour window. You can eat a small amount of fruit or vegetables during the day and you have one large meal in the evening.

The arrangement is essentially 20 hours fasting and 4 hours feasting.

What I love most about this style of fasting is the mental focus I achieve when I do it. You see, when you eat your body goes into “Rest and digest” mode which means that it’s expending a large amount of your total energy on digesting your food while only a small amount is left to perform other tasks. This is usually why many people feel less productive during the afternoon. So not eating anything, or just having one or two small fruits during the day means that you have the majority of your body’s total energy available to use in productive ways.

The 5:2 Diet: This is when you eat normally for 5 days of the week and fast for 2 days. In the 2 days of fasting, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, while men 600 calories. This form of fasting was popularised by Michael Mosley, a British journalist and doctor. For example, this can mean that you eat normally on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday while on Tuesday and Thursday you have only two very small meals of 250 calories each.

Alternate-day Fasting: This is where you fast every other day. Some people either fast completely (i.e. eat nothing at all the whole day) while others choose to consume up to 500 calories on fasting days.

Eating nothing at all every other day is rather extreme so I would not recommend this form of fasting for beginners or for prolonged periods of time.

Eat-stop-Eat method: This method involves doing a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. The way you can play this out is for example by finishing your dinner at 7 pm on Tuesday night and eating nothing again until 7 pm on Wednesday night.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  1. Weight-loss and improved fat burning – When you don’t eat your serum insulin levels drop and when this happens your body can tap into your fat storages for energy. This means that you are using your own body fat for energy rather than the food that you eat. As you can imagine, this results in fat loss.
  2. Improved mental clarity and concentration – As mentioned previously, when your body isn’t using its energy to digest food you have access to a large amount of your body’s total energy to use for productive purposes. This for me is one of the most important reasons to fast as I love the feeling of mental clarity.
  3. Reversal of type-2 diabetes – This is major! Science is just beginning to recognise how important fasting can be in preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes.
  4. Increased growth hormone – Many people believe that if you fast you may lose your muscle mass and therefore think they need to eat every 2-3 hours. Research however, says otherwise. Scientific studies suggest that periods of fasting are followed by a surge of increased growth hormone.
  5. Lowered blood sugar and cholesterol levels – When you are in a fasted state your blood sugar levels are maintained at a low level and your cholesterol levels are also lowered.

 

 

 

Recommendation

If you’re new to fasting and want to give it a go I would recommend by starting with the 16/8 method listed above. Alternatively, you can start with a 12 hour fasting period and gradually increase it to 16 hours. This is the most gentle form of intermittent fasting which can be safely maintained over a long period of time.

Also, remember that this isn’t unnatural and you’re not starving yourself. Humans have evolved to thrive on periods of fasting. What’s unnatural is eating every 2 or so hours. Not only is it not good for your health but it also takes so much time of your day just thinking about food, preparing food and eating food that could be used for other purposes.

Give your digestive system and body a break to experience the healing effect of intermittent fasting.

Why having a fast metabolism isn’t as good as you may think!

When I think of fast metabolism I automatically think of those people out there that are able to eat almost anything without gaining a single pound. How lucky they are, I used to think. I can’t complain about having a slow metabolism myself, but I certainly cannot eat anything and remain slim! For years I used to think that my average speed metabolism had me at a disadvantage when compared to those lucky few out there who operate at the speed of light. Recently, however, as my understanding of the functioning of the body and metabolism has grown I’ve come to new conclusions. Positive ones, I must say!

This post will, hopefully, bring a huge breath of relief for those with slowish/average metabolisms.

So, let’s begin at the very beginning.

What is metabolism?

The metabolism is essentially the rate at which all chemical processes occur in the body. Usually however, when we talk about metabolism in this context we are referring to resting metabolic rate. This is the number of calories that our bodies burn just to keep us alive.

The faster the metabolism the better?

Most people believe that it is desirable to have a very fast metabolism. We see it everywhere, new posts come up almost every day with the heading:

  • 5 foods to speed up your metabolism
  • Eat 8 meals a day to have a fast metabolism
  • Eat 30g of protein upon waking to rev up your metabolism

I don’t think I’d be lying if I said I’ve heard it all! Now I’m not at all trying to say that these methods do not work. They probably work too well! But, apart from burning more calories at rest, is there any other benefit of having a fast metabolism? Absolutely not! Nothing! How surprising, right!

In fact, there are actually disadvantages of a fast metabolism. Research suggests that the faster your metabolism, the shorter your lifespan. This isn’t even new research or new theory! Max Rubner came up with the rate of living theory in 1908! Buuuuut, sadly there is no money in slow metabolisms. Nothing to sell. Haha, so before we get carried away with conspiracy conversations, let’s leave this topic right where it is!

Slower metabolism, longer life?

So why is it that a slower metabolism is associated with longer life and faster metabolism with a shorter one, I hear you asking. Well, cellular energy production results in the creation of byproducts, some of which are toxic. This basically means that every time you eat and your body turns that food into energy there are some toxic byproducts that are produced. Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to help combat those reactive oxygen species however, when everything is happening too fast, our bodies may not be able to produce enough antioxidants to keep up with the demand. That’s when oxidative damage occurs. Our DNA, our proteins and lipids get damaged. And we know one thing for sure. Oxidative damage accelerates ageing! So you can see how the story goes from here on. The faster your body ages, the shorter your life.

On the plus side, the opposite is also true. When you have a slower metabolism and enough supply of antioxidants it is expected that your lifespan will be longer.

Now before you start thinking that I am trying to basically tell you to crash your metabolism and become fat so that you live longer, let me clarify.

Eating less may be the way forward

I know! This sounds so counter-everything you’ve probably read or heard, but hear me out. In order to be slim and lean AND have a slow metabolism (you can most definitely have both!) you need to consume less food than “normal”. Because, if you have a slow metabolism and eat what you usually eat you will gain weight. So the key here is to eat less and burn less. And anyway, in modern days we are eating way too much! Think sustainability. If you slow down your metabolism slightly, your body wouldn’t need so much food. You’ll be helping the environment and you’ll also be saving money.

What about exercise? Exercise is fantastic obviously and it is probably the safest way to increase your metabolism. Now before you get totally confused, what I mean by safest way, is that exercise will not give you those toxic byproducts of cellular energy production and thus no oxidative damage. So exercise is good, don’t stop exercising. But, I think we can agree that most of us are consuming more food than our bodies require. What’s more is that usually that food isn’t overly healthy either!

Suggestion

The whole point behind this post is to provide an alternative view of things or a little food for thought if you like. Forget the fitness industry or the whatever industry, I’m not in the business of anything. I am solely interested in my own health and the health of others. With that in mind, here’s are a few suggestions derived from this topic:

  • Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Consume less calories. You will notice that once you quit the junk/processed food, cutting calories will occur naturally because natural food isn’t usually calorically dense.
  • Use exercise to maintain healthy weight.

Give it a thought and do your own research.

Personally, the more I research the topic the more I see how much sense this makes. This is what those 120 year old yogis do! They live SLOWLY! They breathe slowly and deeply, they eat slowly, they move their bodies slowly and gently (yoga) and in this way they preserve themselves for longer.

There’s a saying that goes, “live fast, die young” and I think I kind of agree. Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear what you guys think on the topic!