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One More Sleep til Winter


Tip: Sleep tight


Good quality sleep is essential to maintain good health and strengthen the immune system. While we sleep our bodies produce and organise the immune cells and proteins that initiate the immune response, fight infection and facilitate healing. Inadequate sleep causes an imbalance in the immune function which leaves us vulnerable to infection by harmful pathogens. Over time, in addition to immune dysfunction, sleep deprivation produces a stress response which triggers the release of inflammation-causing proteins leading to chronic low-grade inflammation and increased risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Getting a good night's sleep:

  1. Sunshine: exposure to sunlight (even winter sunlight) provides us with a healthy dose of serotonin, the "happy hormone". When the sun goes down serotonin is converted to the sleep hormone melatonin.

  2. Switch off: exposure to blue light from mobile phones, tv and computer screens disrupts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Switching off all these devices an hour before going to bed will allow the body to produce melatonin.

  3. Keep your bedroom cool: when you go to bed, your body temperature decreases in order to initiate sleep. So keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.

  4. Quieten your mind: taking time to stop, focus your mind and slow down thought processes leaves your mind calm and ready for sleep. Breathing exercises, guided meditation or soft music may help to ground your thoughts and drift off to sleep.

  5. Allow enough time to sleep: Adults need a minimum of 7 hours sleep per night, teenagers require 9-10 hours and school aged children 10+ hours per night.


Essential Fatty Acids- Omega 3:

Essential fatty acids play an important role in sleep regulation and reducing inflammation. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are both polyunsaturated fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and are found in foods. The ratio of omega -6 to omega-3 fatty acids is important for inflammation control. Higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils including sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soybean and canola oil) can cause harmful inflammation if the intake of omega-3 fatty acids is low.

Omega- 3 fatty acids form part of the cell membranes and play an important role in reducing inflammation as well as having benefits for your heart, brain and metabolism.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies), chia seeds, flaxseeds (linseeds)/flaxseed oil, hemp seeds/hempseed oil, walnuts.


Recipe of the day: Spiced Chia Pudding

Chia Pudding is a versatile and satisfying meal to begin your day. It can be eaten hot or cold and is easily packed up to be eaten on the go.

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and soluble fibre, but must be ground or soaked (for at least one hour) before eating in order to absorb these beneficial nutrients.

I add ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds and crushed walnuts for an extra dose of omega-3's, a handful of berries for an antioxidant boost, and some warming spices to help beat carb cravings.


Ingredients:

3 tbsp whole chia seeds

1 cup milk of your choice ( cow's, coconut, almond, soy etc)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 sprinkle ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds

1 teaspoon hempseeds

1 tbsp crushed walnuts

1tsp goji berries

1 handful berries of your choice (fresh or frozen)


Method:

1. Combine chia seeds, milk and spices in a bowl, stir and leave to soak.

2. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, stir to break up any clumps and then refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

3. When you are ready to eat, top with nuts, seeds and fresh berries and enjoy OR heat through with frozen berries allowing them to break down and combine with mixture and then top with nuts and seeds.


Extras:

  • If you like things a bit sweeter, mash 1/2 a banana and mix it through right before you eat.

  • Make with coconut cream instead of milk for a richer, creamier pudding.

  • Serve with a dollop of your favorite dairy or coconut yogurt.

  • Prepare chia pudding in a mason jar for a great, grab and go meal!

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