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I have written many blogs about the benefits of exercise for health.  But as we all know, exercise is only one of the cornerstones.  My missive a couple of weeks ago was about the importance of sleep.  This week I’ve asked Judy Gowenlock to contribute an article about nutrition.  Judy is one of our regular Nordic walkers and a registered Nutritional Therapist.  This is what she has to say:

“Exercise alone is not sufficient in promoting good health. We need good nutrition to support our wellbeing. Nutrition provides our bodies with the raw materials in order to function normally. Research has shown that the food we consume not only affects our health but also directly influences how our bodies respond to exercise. If we do not provide our bodies with adequate nourishment, then our bodies can fail to adapt to exercise and we will not gain the most benefits from it.

So, what should we eat to support our love of Nordic walking? Here are my top tips!

What to eat
I am a big fan of simple home cooking. Michael Pollan, a food journalist has written a lovely little book called ‘Food Rules- an eater’s manual’. Here are some of my favourite food rules: ‘eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature’ andavoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry’. So, avoid additives, preservatives and flavourings and instead focus on fruits and vegetables (aim for five different vegetables and two different fruits per day- challenge yourself to eat a rainbow of colours!), nuts and seeds, legumes e.g. beans and pulses and fish and meats.

Eat foods which will lead to a steady release of glucose into the blood stream eg sweet potatoes, porridge, pulses, quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal pasta.

Don’t be fat phobic! Incorporate omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, essential fatty acids which we have to obtain from our food as our bodies can’t make them. Good sources are oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds (ground), and omega 3 enriched eggs. Oily fish can support reduction of muscle stiffness, joint swelling, joint pain and fatigue, modulate hormones and reduce inflammation. Aim for two to three portions a week.

When to eat
Avoid eating a large meal two hours before exercising. Your body needs time to digest food; eating too close to exercise can cause stomach cramps, food can ferment and this can cause a build-up of gas causing bloating.

If you are rushing out to a 7am Nordic walk and have no time for breakfast, ensure you eat some carbohydrate and protein after the walk eg oatcakes and hummus, plain yoghurt with fruit and handful of nuts, a boiled egg and oat cakes, a smoothie with some ground almonds. This will give you energy and also support your muscles to repair and renew.

What to drink
Avoid having urine which would mark a wolf’s territory!!  Listen to your thirst-start drinking water before you feel thirsty. Exercise will feel harder if you are dehydrated and even 2% dehydration leads to impaired concentration. Monitor your urine colour and output- you want it to be a pale-yellow colour. Drinking little and often is the best approach.

Magnesium, is important (amongst other things) for energy production and muscle relaxation. Magnesium rich foods include almonds, cashews, cocoa, cod, eggs, leafy greens, figs, legumes, parsnips, seeds and whole grains. A National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that the average magnesium intake for women in particular is below the Reference Nutrient Intake. One way to soothe your aching limbs after a Nordic walk and up your magnesium intake, is to have a twenty minute soak in an Epsom Salt bath or use a magnesium oil spray. If you are taking any medication, check with your GP.”

Judy’s article contains generalised advice and is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are interested in taking your nutrition further, Judy provides nutrition courses and offers individualised nutrition appointments.  She can be contacted via email or through her website JG Nutritional Therapy.

Continuing with the nutritional theme, this weekend’s Times* lists the top 50 foods for brain, heart and joints. I’ve popped it in a table in case you’re interested.


Broccoli – cancer fighting
Beetroot – for healthy blood pressure
Kale – keeps your cells young
Onions – great for your gut
Sweet potatoes – boost your immunity
Pak choi – great for your bones
Artichokes – for better sleep

Oranges – for heart and eye health
Avocados – ward off metabolic syndrome
Strawberries – improves cognitive function
Apples – lowers cholesterol and burns calories
Tomatoes – protects against skin cancer
Chilli peppers – boost longevity
Blueberries – great for memory

Spices and herbs
Turmeric – excellent anti-inflammatory
Cinnamon – the fat-fighting spice
Garlic – good for your blood
Ginger – eases muscle pain, fights nausea
Sage – great for your brain

Nuts and seeds
Almonds – helps lower blood fats
Brazil nuts – cuts prostate cancer risk
Chia seeds – for better digestion
Walnuts – improves colonic health
Sunflower seeds – helps fight stress

Beans and pulses
Lentils – lowers blood sugar
Kidney beans – helps with weight loss
Chickpeas – boosts cardiovascular health
Mung beans – muscle repair



 *Boost your health Top 50 food for brain, heart and joints by Peta Bee Saturday 1st September 2018