Top tips for staying healthy this year

A simple and very effective way to improve your health is to change your diet and not overeat. Studies have shown that people who generally consume fewer calories live longer. The way we eat also affects our health. Eating in a hurry or “on the go” can cause indigestion and heartburn. The following 5 tips can be used as a good basic start to your health.

1. Regular training: this has so many health benefits both physically and emotionally. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing depression. If you are new to training then start walking. Even a 20min walk makes you feel healthier. Exercising has the added benefits of keeping your heart muscles strong, helping you lose weight, keeping your cholesterol levels down and making you feel more energetic. Incorporating some type of weight-bearing exercise, such as weight training, will help you burn more calories and keep your bones and joints healthy. If you have not trained with weights before, train under the supervision of a qualified personal trainer.

2. De-stress: Stress is one of the main culprits for ill health in the Western world. With everything we talk about recessions and job insecurity, it’s no wonder we’re now more stressed than ever. Stress has been linked to several diseases such as heart disease, insomnia, migraine, gastric ulcer and depression. Stress can be controlled in many ways. Some people find exercising a good relief from stress. Others may find yoga, meditation or just taking some time to help them de-stress. There are also certain herbs that can help in the short term Passiflora and Avena Sativa are two such herbs that can be taken twice a day for up to a month.

3. Diet: Eating the right foods in the right amounts is crucial in your quest for a healthy start. First, let’s look at the foods to cut or at least cut down on. Red meat, fried food, junk food, ready meals, take-away and processed foods will keep you back from your health goals. In general, unwanted foods, ready meals and take-away are always high in salt and saturated fat. Red meat and fried foods are related to heart disease and high cholesterol levels.

You should also aim to stay away from hydrogenated fat. These are found in deep-fried foods, margarines, biscuits and cakes. These fats are dangerous as they increase your risk of heart disease. Cutting down on coffee and alcohol can have a huge impact on your energy levels. Excessive alcohol consumption is related to a number of health conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight-related conditions.

Foods that can energize and help your circulation include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and commodity oils such as olive oil, flax seeds, fish oils and coconut oil. Incorporating more vegetables and lentils into your diet will also help you lose some extra weight and benefit your immune system.

Red meat and fat from fried and junk foods also produce free radicals in our body. These free radicals have been linked to causing a variety of diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Cutting down on fizzy drinks is also a must in your new health plan. These drinks are full of sugar and regular intake can be detrimental to your overall health. The sugar-free versions of these drinks are actually more harmful as the artificial sweeteners have been linked to a number of diseases such as osteoporosis and digestive problems. Water has many health benefits. You should aim for 8 glasses a day (1-1.5 liters). It is important to remember that there is also water in fruit juices, salads and certain fruits.

4. Health grants. You can easily include some health supplements as part of your daily routine to improve your immunity and overall health. The first supplement that I would recommend is good quality probiotic. This will give you essential good bacteria needed for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics also help support and strengthen the immune system. You can take probiotics through the winter months to help digestion as well as help fight winter bugs. Essential fatty acids from either fish oils or flaxseed oil are another supplement that helps your overall health. These essential oils are needed for a healthy cardiovascular system, brain function, and are excellent for reducing inflammation in the body. These fatty acids also help maintain healthy joints. Antioxidants are required to “dry” the free radicals that we are exposed to from diet, our environment and pollution. There are antioxidants in many different forms. Examples are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, Acai Berry, Beta carotene, alpha-lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10. This is by no means a complete list. Antioxidants are also available in certain foods such as berries and colored fruits and vegetables. These supplements must be taken in combination to obtain maximum benefit. You can change the combinations from month to month.

5. Sleep Good quality sleep is essential to your health. Inadequate sleep is linked to many conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, headaches and weight gain. Many people who have trouble sleeping have a hard time turning off. This can be addressed by including some kind of workout in your daily routine or finding some “time out” before going to bed. Yoga and breathing exercises can also help you relax before bed. There are also some good herbal and homeopathic remedies that can be taken to help you get a natural healthy sleep. These remedies do not work in the same way as conventional sleeping pills. Homeopathic and herbal remedies work in harmony with the body to provide a natural sleep. The following homeopathic remedies are often prescribed for insomnia: Coffea, Nux Vomica, Passiflora and Cocculus. Herbal remedies that used to sleep problems are: Valerian, Avena Sativa, Passiflora and Skullcap. Please contact a qualified homeopath, herbalist or specialized homeopathic pharmacist for specific medications you may need. Other simple precautions to help you sleep are to leave at least 2 hours between eating and sleeping and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon.