Freyja Hanstein: My Wellness Toolkit
Nutritional education is crucial. Our bodies are incredible – we just need to learn how some foods fuel us better than others. For me, it’s about balance, making sure I give my body enough of what it needs, to do what I ask of it. It’s not about denial, but rather understanding how to spoil yourself with all the natural good stuff. Every bite you take should enhance physical health and mental satisfaction. For example, something as simple as stuffed dates or homemade seed and apricot energy balls taste delicious and feel like a treat. Dates are so good for you – not only are they super sweet but they have a low glycaemic index, which means they release their sugars slowly, so your energy lasts longer.
The right supplements are worth their weight in gold. I lost my husband to cancer when he was just 26, and was diagnosed myself with a brain tumour a year later, which led me to do a fair amount of research into supplements. I really value the benefits of vitamin D, and take a higher than standard dosage daily to counter my body’s deficiency – a result of my cancer treatment. The NHS recommends that from the age of one, you need 10mg of vitamin D per day. It helps enhance bone strength, combats muscle weakness, fatigue, depression and research suggests it can also prevent some cancers. It’s a solid choice to support all-round health.
Iron can support optimum energy levels, too. I also take 50mg of iron daily to encourage healthy white and red blood cell production, which was particularly beneficial after my treatment. Vitamin B12 is also on my supplement shelf – it pushes the body to enhance cell creation through DNA construction to fight against tiredness. I always try to take my supplements regularly and ideally at a similar time of the day.
Food can be a fantastic source of energy. A good staple to keep in the fridge is my Immune Boosting Shot, which is made with ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and lime. A glass of this gives me plenty of zing to get me going in the morning – well, that and a good cup of coffee. I always start the day with a fresh fruit smoothie too, or a berry bowl made with seasonal fresh fruits, oats and coconut milk, topped with nuts and seeds.
A healthy gut is key. I’ve been interested in gut health for a while now, so it’s great to see more research being done. I try to weave fermented foods into my diet as much as I can – they support healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious bacteria and viruses. I have a soft spot for kimchi, active yoghurts and kefir.
CBD can positively affect everything from memory to movement. Awareness and perceptions around the health benefits of CBD products are shifting, and in recent years I’ve started to incorporate CBD oil into my lifestyle. My favourite brand to use is EthicaCBD, which is produced ethically and sustainably with robust testing.
Hemp also boasts an incredible nutritional profile. It contains high levels of protein and essential amino acids, which, weight for weight, puts it on a par protein wise with beef. It also outshines chia and flaxseed in terms of protein and is more easily digested than lots of other grains and seeds. I’d go so far as to say it’s a superfood, containing the perfect ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 – the combination of these essential fatty acids plus gammy linolenic acid (GLA) gives it a high anti-inflammatory profile, making it a natural projector of the brain, heart and hormone regulation.
What you eat has a huge impact on how you feel emotionally and physically. If I’m feeling low, stressed or in need of a boost I turn to fresh fish, which is rich in omega 3s, or dark chocolate, which contains unique triggers that stimulate the release of dopamine, our feel-good hormones. Bananas are also great – they’re rich in vitamin B6, which help synthesise feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Bananas are also a good source of prebiotic fibre, which when paired with their natural sugars help with mood control. If you’re looking to boost your omega intake and don’t eat oily fish, flaxseeds are a great source. They are naturally oily and also make the perfect egg substitute. The next time you’re baking, substitute one egg for one tablespoon of ground flaxseed soaked in three tablespoons of water for around ten minutes.
Herbal teas are a great alternative to coffee. I didn’t drink any caffeine during my cancer treatment, which has made me much more sensitive to it now. One of my favourite herbal teas is Pukka’s chamomile – it’s wonderfully comforting and has natural properties that help calm a busy mind.
Skincare should be free from chemicals and preservatives. During my cancer and recovery, I discovered Made For Life Organics (MFL), a Cornish company that makes 100% organic products designed to nourish the skin using dermatological science combined with the strength and purity of natural botanicals.
A toxin-free home is also important to me. I try to avoid using unnecessary chemicals around the home, which can pollute the environment as well as our homes and bodies. I love Ecover – their cleaning products are kind to sensitive skin, aren’t tested on animals and come in 100% recyclable bottles. I often make my own household products too, using ingredients like lemon, vinegar and salts.
Mental wellness is intrinsically linked to how we feel physically. I make an effort to incorporate meditation into my lifestyle and find the Headspace app a useful tool, especially when it comes to stress management. I also love reading and think escapism is a powerful way to allow yourself the freedom to step outside of your mind, even for a little while. Audiobooks have been a recent discovery – there’s just something wonderfully reassuring about being read to.
Being outdoors is vital for optimal wellbeing. I live on Cornwall’s north coast, so am lucky to have lots of beaches and beautiful stretches of countryside on my doorstep. Getting away from my laptop and heading out for a walk with my dog or jumping down to the beach for a surf is the best antidote to life’s stresses. I also exercise three times a week and always mix it up although the average week features yoga, Pilates, surfing and swimming. It helps me feel alive and refreshed.
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