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Maintaining Gut Health On The Road in South America

Hello, I’m Sarah Jayne, an enthusiastic member of the V+A family! I’m taking over Vitality+Awesomeness temporarily to share some insights on gut health that Daen helped me with during my travels in South America. Read more


Why Swimming Got Me Back To The Gym And Exercising Again!

Vitality+Awesomeness Swimming B&W 1

The days are long gone when the gym was my enemy. Thinking that you have to look fit to go to the gym is passed me. Yet I used to think that I had nothing to do in there for that simple reason. Too skinny, lack of fitness knowledge, inexperienced, uncoordinated, all these reasons really put me off going to the gym and potentially exercising. And aren’t you a bit reluctant to go to the change rooms? Do you find them impractical and not making you feel great about yourself? All that led me to exercise less, on and off and miss out on great and long term health benefits.

Once you realise why you need the gym and fitness in your life and what exercising brings to your health in general, you start thinking of ways you could make it work for you. Although I would love to be bigger with wide shoulders and great muscly legs, I probably won’t get to that. However, by exercising I get to feel much better physically and mentally. And I can still see great results in my overall body and mental health.

Finding your fitness go-to

Summer 2016 really helped me get back to exercising, starting with morning runs. However, I knew I had to exercise more. Both my parents had been professional swimmers when they were in their early twenties. Raised in the south of France, we would spend most of our summer days in the water at the beach. In winter, my mum would take us swimming in the evening, where we would try all the possible swimming styles.
When visiting my dad during school holidays, we would go swimming at least 3 times a week and he would always make a point of correcting our swimming techniques, whether we were swimming breaststroke or freestyle or giving butterfly a go.

What’s your style

In my early years I first got to love breaststroke as it looked easy and didn’t require to have my head under the water. Wanting to learn something else and push the boundaries a bit, my dad taught me the insides and tricks of freestyle. Freestyle does require some knowledge on how your legs should kick, how your hands and arms must go in the water and how you should breathe, which to me is the most important part of this exercise.

Don’t make excuses

So here I am, 33 years old, back in cold London and trying to keep active and healthy. The dilemma for me is that I have to wear contact lenses in order to swim properly, which distracted me from going for a while. As Daen is a PT and Nutritionist at Nuffield Health in Shoreditch, I saw a great opportunity to give that pool a try. There are many great gyms and health centres in London where you can go for a great swim. From Nuffield Health centres to Outdoor London Fields Lido or Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, offering you four different pools in south London, you really are spoilt for choice in London.

My swimming routine

Firstly I tryied to remember what I had been taught as a youngster. I love breaststroke, as it’s a great warm up! I tend to do about 4 laps of breaststroke before I move on to freestyle. Once I start freestyling, I try and swim as many laps of the 25 metre pool as I can. Backstroke is a great alternative, when I start slowing down or need to mix it up a bit. It works well for your back. It’s also a great option if you’re out of breath but don’t want to stop. After swimming frequently, you can really start seeing your endurance build, your muscle strength increase, and your cardiovascular fitness improve.

Swimming will impact on your fitness

The best thing about swimming is that I got to use the actual gym facilities and exercise again. Between fitness programs, circuits and trying other things like squats I feel like swimming reconnected me with exercising, yet gives me that healthy and full alternative workout! A swimming workout will help you clear your head and prepare for the day.


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Porridge: A Healthy & Tasty Breakfast Option

Vitality+Awesomeness Healthy & tasty Porridge

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Marseille: The Perfect City For Your European Weekend Break

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From Travels, Yoga, To A Healthy Rewarding Job, Alex Wanderer Inspires Us #girlpower

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Peanut Butter, Banana, Kale: Your Protein Green Smoothie this winter!


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Women, Abs, Body Fat: The Instagram Dilemma

Do the barrage of gym selfies of girls in crop tops with flat midsections and exceptionally low body fat really give the full story? Read more


The Lowdown: Day 1 at Food Matters Live 2016 in London

Food Matters Live 2016 Event London

Food Matters Live 2016 – The Lowdown

Food Matters Live bring experts, researchers, companies and technology together. Its aim is simple: giving you the most up to date regarding nutrition, foods and health.
Did you know: one in five kids in the UK are overweight or obese by the time they start school? Did you know by the time they reach year 6 the number increases to
one in three? That’s a third! Crazy, right? And the stats are similar across the Western world. These were some of the topics discussed today at Food Matters Live 2016.

Event’s Focus

Tackling the obesity epidemic; The rise and rise of FreeFrom foods; The sugar tax; The role of advertising and marketing on food choices, especially relating to our kids. Food matters live addresses these topics and that was just the beginning. The post-truth age; Health, nutrition and associated decisions/food choices. The role of bloggers and celebrities and their influence.

You may say we’ve come a long a way from the “cholesterol mafia“, as quoted by professor Tim Spector (Director of the British Gut Microbiome Project), or the gluten free = weight loss bandwagon, however, there are still serious, pressing issues we need to attack. At this rate it won’t be long before half of our kids are overweight or obese, which will make overweight and obesity look “normal” to our kids. Worrying.
The main room panel discussions were led by TV and radio presenter Anita Anand and the panels included guest speakers from various backgrounds like Shadow Health Minister Sharon Hodgson MP, Craig Sargeant, General Manager at Mars Food UK or Ian Barber, Director of Communications, Advertising Association.

The Information Available Out There

First of all, the information that is now available is overwhelming for most people. Consumers are time poor and due to the lack or overload of information they find it hard to make sense of it all. From what’s on the packaging to what the retail industry is trying to sell us to the innumerable diets and misleading information that are online. The traffic light system, once understood, is a helpful tool, yet many consumers are either unaware of or don’t understand the information provided. Helpful as it may be, there seems to be a considerable amount of research for consumers to do. However, from a recent study, as pointed out by guests speakers including Jenny Hearne from watchmethink, it seems that health claims by celebrities and unqualified bloggers is damaging the industry and are on the edge of unpopularity. They are a bit like sugar and are becoming the bad guys!

Second of all, the basics are still being worked on. From a government perspective, although school meals have been improved, with a particular focus on the food being prepped on premises with fresher ingredients, there is still a lot to do. Promotions and ads on unhealthy products are still out there and should worry us more than they do, particularly when they target our kids.


Last but certainly not least, research into the importance of a health microbiome is exploding. Your microbiome is what really matters. The 3 rules to gut health given to us by prof Tim Spector were:
-Feed them, with fibre;
-Eat mainly a plant based diet. We’re not talking vegan here, just eat more plants; and
-Incorporate fermented foods;
Nothing too tricky there, refine what you’re doing and adjust a little bit to increase the above points.

The key to success isn’t necessarily sticking to a “diet” but believing that a bit of everything is what your body needs. We have been abusing anything and everything, which is why now we find ourselves avoiding more and more, like gluten, dairy and sugars!

With two full days still to go, we’re excited to see what else Food Matters Live 2016 has in store for us. Stay tuned for more updates!

Daen and Thomas

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Cracking the Cholesterol Caper: The Truth about Eggs

Sherlock Chicken

Have you fallen victim to the terrible “trend” of making egg white omelettes, throwing away the yolks because of their cholesterol levels? Or, worse yet, stopped eating eggs altogether? Read more

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Not Getting A Good Night Sleep? What To Do And Avoid!

by Daen Heuston | 22nd August 2016


There are various possible reasons for not getting a good night sleep. From a bad pillow, noise outside your window to anxiety, stress and the list goes on. However, what you may have eaten or had to drink the night before can affect your sleep deeply too.

The main reason we care so much about a good sleep is that lack of sleep can cause damage to you and your body, as well as what it could lead to long term. Studies have shown sleep deprivation can reduce insulin sensitivity and raise levels of CRP in the blood, an indicator of inflammation and stress. These two things alone point towards an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Now that you know a bit more and are probably eager to improve your sleep, here are my recommendations as a nutritionist to get a good night sleep, and what to avoid and improve to get back to your sweet dreams:

The obvious first

1. Get into a sleep routine

Go to bed at the same time each night. Try and get into that routine to go to bed and get up at the same time in the morning, too. This applies on weekends as well! Whilst a little extra sleep on Sunday morning won’t hurt, sleeping way past your normal waking time can throw out your body clock for Monday morning. This means you won’t be starting your week at your freshest.

2. Your surroundings matter

A dark, quiet and tidy bedroom will make a huge difference. It may seem obvious but preparing for a good night sleep is important.

3. Consider putting your gadgets away

No screen time at least 1hr before bed. This includes TV, mobile phones, iPads/tablets and computers. Meditation helps a lot of people to calm down so this could be something for you to look into.
Also, get some sunlight, or at least daylight, in the morning (without sunglasses) before 10:30am. This helps tell your body it’s daytime and keeps your circadian rhythm and melatonin production in check.

Nutrition & Fitness: The “I told you so”

4. Coffee. There is a time limit, I’m afraid

Avoid caffeine after midday if you can. A herbal tea, like camomile, may help you wind down after work rather than adding that extra caffeine to your body.

5. Fitness has an impact on your sleep

Regular exercise actually helps you in getting a good night sleep. However, it is recommended not to exercise later than 1hr before bedtime.

6. Your late heavy meal lets you down

The Spanish do it, yet it’s an easy and helpful one to avoid! A big, heavy meal too close to bedtime. Let’s just say that lasagna may not be your best option!

7. It’s getting serious now

Increase tryptophan-rich foods in your diet. Have a banana after dinner. Turkey is full of it and you can also find some in dairy (if you tolerate it) and walnuts.


Voila! I hope the above tips help and please get in touch if you have any questions. We would love to hear what has helped you and what you’re working on.


Daen x
Daen Heuston | Co-founder Vitality+Awesomeness and  Holistic Nutritionist & Wellbeing Personal Trainer at Nuffield Health Shoreditch, London.


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