5 Minutes with Ali Neilan…
What inspired you to create Health is Wealth Group?
From a young age I have always had a fascination with mental health disorders and neuro-degenerative disease as both run in my family. We have an astoundingly little amount of knowledge on the brain and conditions in the UK are managed very poorly in my opinion. Modern medicine seems to have this outdated view that the mind and the body are totally separate systems, specialists are trained in completely different ways - psychiatry vs general medicine. I have always instinctively believed in a more holistic approach to health, believing that the mind can create physical reactions in the body and more importantly vice versa.
I studied Biology at University with a focus on neuroscience and after completing my dissertation in the use of vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of Parkinson’s Disease, I became very interested in nutrition and naturopathy.
After graduating, I went straight to the college of naturopathic medicine. This is where I met Chloe. Although we had very different backgrounds and pretty much opposite views on everything, we both strongly believed in the bodies innate ability to heal itself when given the right nutrition and environment. We also both felt a strong need to share this knowledge with as many people as possible, and didn't feel seeing private clients 1 to 1 would be enough to satisfy this. When we graduated we also found we were losing certain clients because they either couldn't take the time off work or couldn't afford it. Nutrition appointments aren’t covered by insurance companies in the UK.
All this culminated in 2016 about a year with us setting up, Health is Wealth Group. It felt like the perfect solution as it has meant that we’ve not only been able to reach more people but also that the cost of our services would be covered (or at least subsidised) by the companies our clients work for.
What does wellness mean to you?
Not just the absence of illness but feeling the best we can feel, I think most people don't realise how good they can and should feel.
When it comes to balance, I don't believe in strict regimes and discipline if it makes you unhappy or obsessive.
How do you always start your day?
Normally I wake up and down a large glass of water, go and make a fresh cold pressed green juice, an organic coffee and straight to the gym for quite an intense work. However, I'm pregnant at the moment and I feel so sick I can barely exercise or hold down any liquid so I slowly make my way down to the kitchen for pancakes and a smoothie! I make the pancake mix with buckwheat flour, chia seeds and oat milk, and I also put some spinach and avocado in my smoothie.
What do you find most businesses need and want from Health is Wealth Group?
HR tend to want to improve office culture, and provide a service which makes their staff feel happier and valued. The employees themselves seem to want information, people are becoming more and more interested in Nutrition, the attendance of our seminars are normally over booked. There is so much misinformation on the internet and people are confused but hungry (excuse the pun) for the right information and eager to make changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Do you have any simple top tips to bring wellbeing into a very busy working day?
Hydration - most people are dehydrated and this has a massive impact on appetite, energy levels, concentration and skin. We advise you drink a litre of filtered water per every 20kg of body weight. It's also important not to drink while you're eating as it effects your digestion.
Movement - we are not meant to be sedentary, we should be doing gentle exercise everyday, with bouts of intense 3/4 times a week.
Increase your green vegetable intake - the benefits of green vegetables particularly cruciferous vegetables are endless. You can sneak 2/3 portions in first thing in the morning in a green juice or smoothie.
What tech rules do you have (if any)?
I don't think we know enough about the effects of Wi-Fi and electromagnetic frequency on our health, so I think we should limit tech use as much as we can. There are more and more studies coming out connecting screen time with anxiety, depression and lack of empathy. I think we should focus on trying to spend more time in nature as the benefits are very positive.
Favourite food tip you recommend for a busy day at work?
Balancing your blood sugar by eating a diet rich in fibre, protein and healthy fats - this prevents the afternoon dip and sustains energy levels and mood throughout the day.
What do you find most challenging about feeling well at work?
Keeping a positive attitude. It's easy to quickly forget our achievements and how far we've come and focus on our failures. That is why I consider meditation, self-reflection and positive psychology to be so important.
Favourite way to wind down at the weekend?
Dinner out on Friday night with my husband, having a lie in and going to the gym together in the morning. It used to be going to funky house raves and dancing until 6am in the morning but I value my sleep way too much nowadays!