With all of the changes the past few months, our schedules and day-to-day lives are almost unrecognizable. All day pajamas? Happening. Fifteen trips to the fridge before noon? Happening. Emotional exhaustion from the roller coaster news? Oh yes, definitely happening.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into unhealthy habits during this time, and if you have found this to be true for you, that’s okay! Beating yourself up over it doesn’t help anything. But maybe now that the novelty of this at-home life has begun to lessen, perhaps we can all use the time from this point forward to really get back to basics of good health, so that when life does return to a little bit more of a normal pattern, we have healthy habits ingrained in us that we can carry forward!
So with that, there are four pillars of health that we’ve outlined over the course of the month on our Instagram Page. (Do you follow us yet? If not, feel free to now!) They are: diet, exercise, sleep and supplements. They really get all the basics covered, and lay the groundwork for a healthy, solid foundation. And with a healthy foundation, you can feel more like you and thrive!
So let’s dive into the Four Pillars, and the strategies you can apply within each!
Before discussing specific foods, it’s important to ensure you are doing everything you can to support a healthy digestive process regardless of the food you are putting in your body. Take time to savour your meal before you eat it: smell it, look forward to it . . . this tells your brain food is coming and it can signal the rest of your system, and digestive juices, to get ready! When food does enter your mouth, make sure you chew each bite until it has a smoothie-like consistency. This is an essential step we often miss and can lead to more bloating as a result. Finally, ensure adequate water so things move along in an orderly fashion.
Now onto food! A healthy diet goes hand in hand with supporting your gut microbiome (the bacterial universe that lives within you). When you remove the foods that harm your microbiome, and include foods that allow it to flourish, you’re well on your way to feeling your best. So when you think about your diet, ask yourself: is this helping my microbiome or hurting it?
Foods that have a negative effect on our gut microbiome (limit these!!): processed sugars, refined flours, refined vegetable oils, fried foods, excess alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.
Foods that nourish our gut microbiome (include these often!): dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, onions, garlic, asparagus, fresh fruit (with an emphasis on berries), herbs and spices (a great source of polyphenols which help feed the good bacteria), fermented foods like sauerkraut, healthy fats found in nuts, seeds and olive oil, and adequate amounts of protein found in wild caught fish, eggs, poultry, grass fed meats, legumes, tempeh, sprouted tofu, collagen, or approved protein powders!
Finally, when it comes to supporting our microbiome, a probiotic is an essential upgrade to any diet, helping improve digestion, and support your microbiome and overall well being. The Perfect Probiotic line has a range of potencies that fits everyone's needs.
This can be the pillar that many of us find challenging, especially when we are spending most of our time in our homes. So with exercise - start small! A daily walk around the block goes a long way. Or try something like the 10-10-10 every morning: 10 pushups, 10 sit ups/10 second plank and 10 squats. By the end of one month you will have done 300+ of each! This can also be something done as a family routine, since everyone is around anyways.
If you don't like that idea, there are so many different apps now that have quick HIIT workouts, which are proving to be one of the best forms of exercise around. I personally use the 7-minute workout app and love it.
And, when it comes to ANY form of movement at all, it is essential to be proud of yourself. I call it “micropriding,” and it’s a game changer. Say “I am SO PROUD of myself for walking today!” (or whatever movement you did). It feels great, and it really builds on itself. It’ll feel silly at first, but it will eventually be something you love doing, promise.
When finishing your workout, getting a source of protein in is an essential step to ensure proper muscle recovery and tissue repair. My top picks would be the Harmonized Fermented Vegan Protein, or our Complete Collagen (which has added Tryptophan to round out the amino acid profile!).
I cannot overstate how essential this pillar of health is, for so many reasons. Your brain actually detoxifies when you sleep, and clears the gunk out that can slow you down (1). You also don’t have as much control over your appetite if you sleep poorly. (2) And, of course, you just don’t feel great when you’re sleep deprived. So perhaps use this time to really solidify a healthy sleep schedule.
Here are some ideas to sleep better: limit screen time before bed, install blue-blocker filters in your devices or wear blue-blocking glasses at night, include drinks and foods that promote relaxation (see below), sleep in a cool room and in complete darkness (wear a sleep mask if necessary).
Helpful ingredients to promote sleep: chamomile tea, passionflower tea, lemon balm tea, oats, bananas, kiwis, tart cherry juice, almonds or walnuts.
And when it comes to a great sleep hack, my favourite is Progressive’s Melatonin Spray. Taken 30-60 minutes before bed, it can be the missing link to help ensure a restful sleep, especially if you’re going through a stressful time.
The idea of supplements can be overwhelming for a lot of us. And with so many options and categories of supplements, this is completely understandable. But the right supplements can be the missing link between feeling okay, and feeling optimal. So although I wove in some supplement suggestions above, if you don’t know what’s right for you, or where to start to lay the groundwork for a healthy foundation, I’d recommend starting with Progressive’s Core Four.
The Core Four are four Product categories that, in addition to a good diet, help solidify a solid foundation of health. They are:
Perfect Probiotic: to help support your microbiome and digestive health
OmegEssentials: to help reduce inflammation and support heart health
Multi: to get all of the nutrients (at the right dosage!) your diet may be lacking
VegeGreens: to get a plethora of antioxidants that support longevity and optimal health (many Canadians don’t get nearly enough veggies and fruits in the diet!)
We’re in extraordinary times, and have been thrown completely out of our old patterns. Although new habits can take time, implementing these four pillars now, when you can structure your own routine more than ever, can be a truly bold and strategic move that allows you to feel your best, so that when the time does come to resume your standard routine, you’re more than ready.
Here’s to you!
Kyle Buchanan is a registered nutritionist, speaker, actor and the Resident Wellness Expert on Global TV's "The Morning Show". He's passionate about spreading holistic wellness and health upgrades to as many as possible; from television audiences and conference attendees to online readers and video watchers. He also has his own private practice, working with clients all over the world to improve their health and well being. In addition to morning television, he can be found weekly on our Instagram, sharing health and wellness advice to our wonderful community! For more information on Kyle, check out www.kylebuchanan.ca