7 ways to make a difference your healthPosted on: 16 October 2015 by 50connect editorial
Be proactive about your health and make sure you are in tiptop shape as you age.
We’re all looking for quick fixes today to boost our health or the latest superfoods but sometimes but sometimes it’s about getting those core foundations right that can make a big difference.
Look after your gut
A happy tum makes for a happy (and healthy!) you. While the best way to sustain a healthy gut is to maintain a balanced diet, many people swear by probiotics. More commonly referred to as ‘good bacteria’, studies show that probiotics may reduce gastrointestinal problems, including IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), as well as protect your immune system; “large doses of good bacteria will help to reduce the number of inflammatory ‘bad’ bacteria within your gut” says Healthspan’s Head of Nutrition, Rob Hobson. Lactobacillus, the most common strain of good bacteria can be found in yoghurts and other dairy products; however an alternative, lactose-free supplements such as Super20 Pro®, containing 20 billion live bacteria.
Boost your immunity
Unfortunately there is no ‘one ingredient cures all’ when it comes to preventing viruses like the common cold. Your susceptibility to illness is associated with your general health; put shortly, the better care you take of yourself, the stronger your immune system. Ensure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (especially those high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables) on a regular basis. Additionally, if you do succumb to any sniffles as the weather gets cooler, you could try a traditional herbal remedy such as Echinacea, which has been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms.
Get a good night’s sleep
A shortage of sleep increases your chance of catching a cold, new research has shown. A new study, conducted by the University of California, has found that those who sleep for six hours or less are four times more susceptible to catch a cold than those who sleep for seven hours or more. “It goes beyond feeling groggy or irritable”, says psychologist Aric Prather in the journal Sleep, “not getting enough sleep affects your physical health.” Maintaining a regular sleep pattern is essential for maintaining your wellbeing; try to stay within a 30-minute variation window each night. Similarly, if you drink caffeine keep in mind that it can have up to a nine hour half-life so stop drinking by 2pm.
It’s no surprise that your weight has a direct effect on your health; obesity has been linked to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as less common issues such as gout and depression. In addition to a healthy, balanced diet, the NHS recommends the average person should participate in 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain a healthy weight. Try finding a way to incorporate an extra walk into your day; whether it be parking a little further from where you work each day, or walking to the shops at lunch-time. If you struggle with motivation, try getting a friend involved and have a giggle while working out. Laughter is known to reduce stress which has been linked to weight gain.
Build your strength
Past studies have revealed that once we reach our 40s our aerobic capacity begins to decline, (dropping around ten per cent per each decade that follows), while our stride and speed will drop around 20 per cent. “Keep aerobic activity in your daily routine,” says personal trainer Oliver Dudley - and women in particular need to maintain strength training, two to three times weekly to build muscle mass and preserve bone density. “Try some free weights in the gym or even at home. If you're a new gym user then fixed weight machines are great for building confidence, but move on to free weights when you can. If you have any joint issues such as arthritis then non-impact sports such as aqua aerobics and swimming are recommended. Those with back pain can usually safely use recumbent bicycles in the gym, and the cross-trainer and rowing machine are still great whole body activities.”
Love Your Bones
We often don’t give our bones a lot of thought until we get a little older but they are the very essence or our structure, allowing us to enjoy the uninterrupted movement and strength that our daily lives demand. Dr Max Tuck, author of ‘Love Your Bones’ says rule one of thumb is, “Never to lose bone and it’s never too late to build a healthy skeleton. Get your bone building minerals where possible from leafy green vegetables, rather than dairy products. There are many nutrients, vital for bone health in green leafy vegetables.” Stress, smoking, fizzy drinks, caffeine, certain prescription medicines, processed foods are all harmful and Max advises in a plant-based diet and an active lifestyle will actually improve not just bone health and strength but in every aspect of our lives.
Look after your brain health
Now even more vital as the figures continue to shock us. The key to ‘Healthy Eating to Reduce the Risk of Dementia’ written with the help of Patsy Westcott says, “There is evidence that eating well can significantly help our brain health, giving us the best chance of preventing dementia as well as heart disease, cancer and other diseases of ageing. The overall message is that a Mediterranean diet is a ‘healthy and delicious way to combine all the different vitamins, minerals and all-important plant components.”
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