For some time now we have been amazed at the decadent-looking slices, cakes, and snacks by Julia Michelle (@juliamichelle.health). Every recipe looks so delicious, and the best thing is they are organic and so healthy. We love learning from our ambassadors; in this interview, naturopath and personal trainer Julia Michelle shares some tips for optimising our health and wellbeing.
1) Julia you have developed a very in-depth knowledge of health and nutrition through your naturopathy and personal training study. As we are all so different, are there a couple of key tips that we all can benefit from?
When it comes to key tips to optimise one’s health, I first focus on the basics. So many people want to use the latest supplements and the fancy ‘health boosting’ technologies but these things won’t make any difference at all unless you have the basics covered. The basics are where you get the most bang for your buck. They are the pillars of health and the things our bodies need to thrive.
My top tips for optimising one’s health:
- Eat real, whole foods and minimise your intake of processed and packaged foods.
- Drink ample filtered water (the amount of water one needs varies from person to person so the test I like to use is the urine test: your urine should be pale yellow).
- Get 7-8 hours of QUALITY sleep each night (if you’re in bed for a good amount of time but still waking tired, you likely need to work on improving your sleep quality).
- Include some form of movement every day.
- Manage your stress with some form of daily stress management ritual (e.g., journaling, meditation, breath-work, gentle movement, etc).
- Spend time every day with people you love (social connection is a basic human need so never discount its importance).
2 - One of your key offerings is your Corporate Wellness partnerships. How do advise people to improve their wellness in the workplace and throughout their workweek?
It can be really hard for those in the corporate sector to maintain their health once they get into the workforce. Let’s be honest, our bodies weren’t designed to be sitting at a desk and/or staring at a screen for hours on end. For this reason, so many of my patients recall a vast downfall in their health after they started working in the corporate sector.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of easily implementable tips you can use to counteract the consequences that can come from a predominantly sedentary corporate sector job. Here’s my top five:
- Stand more. Standing desks are becoming more popular and much easier to access. They are a great alternative to a traditional sitting desk with regards to the effects they have on your health. Whilst not everyone has access to or the ability to use a standing desk, you can easily get around that by simply standing up every hour to give your body a break from being stuck in a seated position.
Move every hour. Following on from the last point, avoiding long periods of sitting is essential to maintain and optimise your health. Some researchers even refer to sitting as being the new smoking due to the detrimental effects it can have on your health. I recommend that people get up and move every hour on the hour. This can simply be a walk to the water cooler or standing up and stretching at your desk. If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can walk around the block or do some bodyweight exercises. All I ask is that you move for 1-2 mins every hour of your workday. If you think you might get too absorbed in your work and forget, there are plenty of apps you can download to your phone or computer that will remind you to get up and move (e.g., Break Time, Stand Up!, StandApp, etc).
- Get outside. Another huge transition that occurs when people start working in an office is a lack of exposure to natural light. Our bodies thrive off and require natural light, particularly in the first half of the day. The artificial lighting found in offices, in contrast, acts as a stressor to the body which can have short and long-term consequences for your stress levels, sleep, sense of well-being, and overall health. To counter this, I recommend getting exposure to as much natural light as possible before work, and ensuring you have at least 1-2 breaks outside during the day. If you can’t get outside, the next best thing is sitting near an open window so your eyes are exposed to as much natural light as possible.
- Blue light blocking glasses for screens. We all know that eye strain and headachy feeling we get when we’ve been looking at a screen for too long. That’s because the light emitted from all screens is damaging to both our eyes and our overall health. The blue light emitted from screens is another type of artificial light that acts as a stressor to our body. When you’re looking at a screen all day, your body’s stress response is constantly being activated. Given the negative impact that chronic stress can have on all aspects of health, eliminating the screen stressor is going to be hugely beneficial for your health. Fortunately, you can now buy daytime blue-light-blocking glasses to wear when you’re looking at a screen. You can get both prescription and non-prescription glasses so there’s an option for everyone.
- Stretch. I haven’t met one person who works in the corporate sector who doesn’t have some sort of muscle tightness or imbalance. The most common areas of tightness and/or soreness are the hip flexors, lower back, shoulders and neck. To counter this, incorporating a daily stretching protocol is essential. You can either do a few stretches dotted throughout your workday or you can do 5-10 minutes of stretching each evening after work - or both!
3 - We love contributing to a healthier world by providing activated nuts, seeds, and snacks. What are the top three reasons you incorporate these ingredients into your food?
I am a big lover of activated products and I use and consume them daily- for so many reasons.
1. Firstly, unfortunately, because of over-farming practices since industrialisation, our soils no longer contain the number of nutrients that they used to. Given that the nutrient density of our soil directly dictates the nutrient density of the foods grown in that soil, our food today is relatively less nutrient-dense than it used to be. Because of this, we need to be doing everything we can to absorb the maximal amount of nutrients in our foods. Whilst nuts and seeds are a healthy addition to the diet, they do contain compounds called phytates and lectins that bind to the minerals in the foods we eat and prevent us from absorbing them. One way of getting around this is by activating the nuts and seeds because the activation process vastly reduces the number of phytates and lectins in the nuts and seeds. This means we can enjoy nuts and seeds and still absorb all the healthful nutrients they contain.
- The second reason I include activated nuts and seeds on a daily basis is because I find they are much better for my digestion. Nuts and seeds also contain digestive inhibitors that can disrupt your own digestive enzymes and cause digestive issues. Activating the nuts and seeds also eliminates the digestive inhibitors which means the nuts and seeds are much easier to digest.
- The final reason I include activated nuts and seeds is that they are a delicious source of vital nutrients. They are rich in vitamins E, B6, B3, folate, and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, and potassium.
The perfect nutrient-dense addition to your diet!
4 - We love all the amazing recipes you have created using 2die4 Live Foods activated nuts and organic groceries. How do you make time to create healthy meals and snacks during a busy week?
I wish I could say that I have time to prepare delicious snacks and meals every week but that’s not true. I’m only human so sometimes life gets in the way and I have weeks where there’s barely any time to eat, let alone cook.
In this case, preparation is key.
Every month I go through my calendar to determine which weeks are going to be one of those weeks that I am going to have little time to cook. When I see one of those weeks coming up, I make sure I am well prepared by stocking up the freezer with homemade freezer-friendly meals and snacks. Soups, stews, and slow cooks are all wonderful meal options to stock in the freezer, and raw slices are the perfect freezer-friendly snack. My freezer is rarely empty, so I always know I have a delicious and nutrient-dense meal on hand to save me in those weeks where time seems to disappear into thin air.
It was so fun choosing a recipe of Julia's to share with you all. Her amazing talent extends right through to the gorgeous presentation of her amazing cakes and desserts. Try one of our favourite recipes Julia has created with 2die4 Live Foods ingredients - Raw Choc Raspberry Tarts 😋 in our Recipe Section.