Massage is a wonderful holistic method to help improve your overall wellbeing but eating healthily is also a key component in looking after yourself…
Eat happy foods
Massage is well-known for its ability to reduce anxiety and depression – but did you know particular foods can also help you on the road to boosting mental health and wellbeing? Protein is vital for feeling happy as the amino acids are the precursors to the chemicals that boost your mood. Serotonin – the bonafide ‘happy’ chemical – comes from the amino acid tryptophan which can be found in low-fat dairy products, eggs, bananas, chicken and turkey.
Vitamin D and B are also both important for making serotonin so fill up on oily fish, coconut and almond milk, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach and avocado.
Drink lots of water
Around 60% of the human body is made up of water so it’s essential to keep our bodily fluids topped up! Not drinking enough water can reduce the effectiveness of many of our body functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption and maintenance of body temperature. Water is also important for preventing muscle fatigue which can occur after a workout or massage – so ensure you stay hydrated pre and post the gym or a session. You don’t even have to always drink pure water – tea, juice and coconut water will also keep you well hydrated.
Regular massages are great at detoxifying your body through stimulation of the lymphatic system but a yearly food detox is also great for helping with the body’s natural cleansing process. A detox doesn’t have to last long – most plans run for seven days as the body needs time to clean the blood but even a three day juice fast will be effective at releasing toxins. Most detoxes will see you eliminating alcohol, coffee, refined sugars and saturated fats as well as eating lots of fibre, foods enriched with vitamin C and drinking herbal teas, such as dandelion root and green tea.
Eat well, sleep well
The reduced muscle tension and stress after a massage is sure to give you a good night’s sleep but eating the right foods can too. A carbohydrate-rich snack such as a bowl of cereal an hour before bed stimulates the release of insulin which helps the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan enter the bloodstream quicker. Herbal teas, such as camomile and valerian, or a glass of warm milk also have a sedative like effect. Foods rich in calcium and magnesium are also great as these minerals work together to calm the body and relax muscles.
Foods to boost immune system
Massage can help your production of illness-fighting white blood cells and so can eating particular foods regularly. Yoghurt is filled with probiotics – the healthy bacteria that keeps your gut and intestinal tract free from disease-causing germs – and garlic also helps fight infection and bacteria with its active compound allicin. Chicken soup, the go-to food for colds – and with good reason – is filled with amino acids that block the migration of inflammatory white blood cells. Mushrooms, oats and barley, sweet potatoes, beef and fish are all filled with immune boosting properties.
Workout hard, eat better
Massage is extremely beneficial in helping your muscles recover after a workout and eating the correct foods before and after can also speed along our muscle recovery. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is essential both pre- and post-workout. For example, a pre-snack of whole wheat toast with banana and cinnamon will provide a slow release of energy – ideal if you’re hitting the treadmill – followed by a post-meal of grilled chicken and mixed vegetables which will fill you up and provide your body with all the essential nutrients.