4 key principles to improve Health and Well Being

As a facility, our objective is to help educate members to understand how they can optimise their mental and physical health through Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management and Connections.


As in most areas of life, more often than not, it’s the simplest things that are the most effective and when it comes to our long-term health this is no different. In this day and age, sadly simplicity doesn’t sell hence the need for fancy fad diets and expensive supplements that litter social media.


At ION, we place huge value on the Pareto Principle, that states roughly 80% of the consequences are a result of 20% of the causes.


Recently we had the pleasure of hosting Nutrition Expert Phil Richards that went deep into the importance of focusing on 4 key principles on a daily basis that helps us to achieve optimal mental and physical health.


  1. Focus on building Lean Muscle.
  2. Eat a more Nutrient Dense Diet
  3. Reduce Chronic Stress on the body
  4. Reduce the Toxic load placed on the body.


1. Focus on building Lean Muscle


As we age there is a natural decline in lean muscle mass that leads to an endless list of health-related issues. Valuing the importance of maintaining and increasing lean muscle mass is essential to our short- and long-term health.


The more muscle mass we have, the more robust, resilient and healthy we are as human beings. There will be an improvement in balance that will reduce the risk of falling and injuring ourselves providing us with longevity and quality of life as we are able to remain more independent.


Muscle is also responsible for 70% of glucose uptake (carbs) after eating, so the more muscle you have the better your blood sugar level control will be and the less prone to Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s you. 


There is also a direct relationship with muscle mass and immune function. The higher your muscle mass the better the reservoir of proteins for the immune system to use at times of need.


If losing body fat is a focus, that is often the case for some many, then shifting your mindset to building lean muscle will get you to your goals so much quicker as the more muscle you have the higher your resting metabolic rate is, increasing your ability to burn more energy at rest resulting in more body fat burnt.


So how do you build muscle.


2 main ways. Incorporate regular resistance training (bodyweight exercises, bands, kettlebells, barbells) and eating a higher protein diet. Both methods trigger metabolic pathways known as mTOR that stimulates protein synthesis and repairs and rebuilds lean muscle tissue.


2. Eat a more Nutrient Dense Diet


Plenty of good quality Fruit, Veg, Fish, Meat – these foods are full of essential macro and micro nutrients that the body needs to function as optimally as possible. These days we are so nutrient deficient due to the lack of these foods in our day to day diet. These foods are full of essential vitamins, mineral, fibre, quality protein that are absolutely key to so many of our bodily functions. 


3. Reduce Chronic Stress


Chronic stress comes in many forms and is one of the biggest killers in society today. The constant drip of Adrenaline and Cortisol into our bodies can be devastating over time. This constant exposure causes chronic inflammation within the body that leads to so many of today’s illnesses – heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s etc


How can we reduce the impact of chronic stress? 


  • The key one, get a good night’s sleep, as this is when we are in our most rested stated (parasympathetic state) and our bodies can recover the best from the stressors of everyday life. Sleep is when the body increases production of growth hormone, oestrogen, testosterone etc that helps reduce inflammation and repair and rebuilds damaged cells.


  • Mindfulness Practices – Focused Breathing, Mediation, going for a Walk without tech. Disconnecting from the rat race of day to day life, even if for very short periods of time on a regular bases can be hugely beneficial. This helps quieten our minds and put us, again in a parasympathetic state (rest and digest), fantastic for both our mental and physical well being.


  • Expose ourselves to acute (short term) stressors frequently to enable our bodies to handle chronic stress that much better. What could be an acute stress? The best example would be – Exercise, other ways could be Cold Showers, Sauna, Tough Conversations – anything that puts you in uncomfortable situations. Get comfortable, being uncomfortable.


4. Reduce the Toxic Load


This one is really an extension of the previous as it is another way to reduce Chronic Stress on the body.


Reducing the chemicals, we are exposed to, daily, will help improve overall health and well being, these 3 areas would be a very good starting point and ones I’d recommend looking at and considering.


  • Cutting back on Ultra Processed foods – the foods that are full of chemicals, additives, sugars that play havoc on our bodies. Did you know that on average over 50% of the foods bought by UK households are classified as Ultra Processed foods. That’s an alarming stat and one that can’t be ignored certainly with the poor health of the society being one of the root causes of the devasting impact COVID has had globally. I’m not saying we can’t eat them altogether but being aware of how much we do consume on a daily basis is important. It’s not just the sweets, biscuits, cakes etc but also the microwavable meals that are full of chemicals, additives, sugars.


  • Consider more Organic Food options to reduce the chemicals you’re exposed to through GMO foods, pesticides etc. Again, I’m not saying we need to eat only organic foods but understanding the benefits of increasing the intake of these foods will help.


  • Try and avoid storing and eating/drinking from plastic Tupperware/Bottles, opt for Glass/Stainless Steel options. This helps reduce exposure of chemicals to the foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis.


These areas are what I personally focus on day to day and what I encourage our members at ION to also, as I believe it has a very positive effect and hopefully will be of benefit to me further down the line as I age.


Try and understand these principles without overcomplicating it and understand that what ever small adjustments you make now, can have huge positive effects on you further down the line. Longevity and quality of life is essential to us all.


It’s not about perfection, it’s simply about looking to improve from yesterday. The theory of marginal gains, small improvements over time will provide lasting long term results. Be process driven.


Robin Sowden-Taylor, ASCC

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