Taking care of your health and nutrition can seem a bit overwhelming. There are gazillion foods to choose from and everyone has their own “expert” opinion on it all. This can make the choice of what is right for you more difficult than it should be. Listed below are health, nutrition and overall wellness tips that are backed by research and scientific evidence to make your life choices a bit easier.
Stay hydrated- there is no better drink than water —
60% of our bodies are made up of water. Water is used to transport minerals, nutrients, and oxygen throughout our bodies as well as carry out other functions like creating saliva, excrete waste and boost our energy levels. Our bodies lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, making the continious replenishing of fluid for the body vital. Staying hydrated ensures that our body temperature is stable. Make sure you consume the optimum amount of fluids every day, which is a minimum of half your body weight, in ounces/milligrams, the norm is eight glasses or two to three liters per twenty four hours. Listen to your body and drink more when you have signs of thirst in hotter weather, but be consious to have your standard amount in cooler weather too. A tip to make sure that you drink enough water: Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and keep sipping, its a good way to track your water intake. Water is the best hydrator for the human body, other liquids pale in comparasion. Drink water.
Limit your sugar intake —
Research has prooved that sugar addiction is worse than smoking and alcohol for the human body. Hidden sugar or added sugar are the main culprits of empty calorie intake and increase your risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease or heart disease. Make sure you read the lable on all packaged food, added sugar in processed or outside food is a very common practice to make edibles more delicious but unhealthy. From a young age train your children and its never too late to train yourself too, curb your sugar intake, avoid sugary drinks, make choices that promote longivity and health. The other extreme of completely cutting out sugar isn’t the answer either. Remember, moderation is key!
Eat the rainbow —
Eating the rainbow basically means to incorporate different colours of fruits and vegetables in your meals, everyday. Each colour of fruits and vegetables come with different vitamins, minerals, nutrients, antioxidants, and prebiotic properties. People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to live longer, have a lower risk for heart disease, lower chance of obesity, they support eye health, they are anti inflammatory in nature, and even lower risk of cancer. Also know that many fruits and vegetables are also used in making medicines, so the more variety you eat, its like eating your medicine naturally. So focus on eating a variety of colours so you increase your intake of different nutrients and benefit from all the colours.
Control your carbs —
Not all carbs are created equal —There are good carbohydrates in its whole form and refined carbohydrates, that have been highly processed to remove their fibre and are very low in nutritional value. They do more harm than good and should definitely not be eaten in excess. Most processed foods are made from refined carbs, like processed corn, white flour or maida. Research shows that a refined carb-heavy diet can be the cause of overeating, weight gain, and chronic diseases like diabetes(type 2) and heart diseases. Whole grains are the way to go!
Avoid refined or processed foods —
Refined or processed foods are foods that have been modified from their original form, usually to enhance their taste. They often have additives like sugar, salt, refined oil, preservatives, artificial flavours, sweeteners and colours, one of the main causes of obesity, weight gain and binge eating leading to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions. Refined and processed foods are low in nutritional value, its safe to say theyre just empty calories. Eating freshly cooked food, food which is low in sugar, grease and salt is the first choice to live a healthier life.
Say no to artificial trans fats —
Artificial trans fats are unsaturated fats also called industrial trans fats and that tells you all you need to know about its hazardous effects. They are commonly associated with health issues like inflammation, cancer and cardiac diseases. Its adverse effects have led many countries to ban products that have artificial trans fats. To avoid trans fats, it is very important to read the labels on products and not mistake products that do contain natural trans fats, they are not linked to artificial trans fats and its side effects.
Coffee can be good for you —
The right amount of coffee can be very good for you. Not only is coffee loaded with health benefits but rich in antioxidants and other active substances that can help reduce internal inflammation and protect against diseases, it’s also a great pick me up. Studies indicate that coffee drinkers tend to live longer and their bodies process glucose better. Liver disease, lowering your risk of heart disease, developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases have also been proven to be low amongst coffee consumers. Like I’ve said before, everything should be done in moderation even coffee, there’s something incredibly soothing about sipping a steaming cup of joe.
Eat fatty or oily fish —
Fish is one of the best sources of protein and healthy fat. Fatty or oily fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies and cod to name a few are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients.
Research shows that eating fish regularly is very beneficial when it comes to lowering your blood pressure, blood clotting, reducing irregular heartbeat, lowering your risk of dementia, decreasing your risk of strokes and heart failure.
Eat enough protein —
Protein is super important for a host of reasons, it is considered the building block of life and is found in every cell of the body, make eating enough protein all important for your overall health. It provides the raw materials your body needs to create new cells and tissues and up’s you metabolism. Load up on protein.
Eat the whole egg —
Eggs are one of mother nature’s superfoods, a great source of protein and nutrients. Studies have busted the myth that the egg yolk causes bad cholestrol (LDL) levels to rise, they have minimal effect on blood cholesterol. Eggs lower your risk of heart disease, support mental health, they have great anti ageing properties, beneficial for eyesight and overall bodily health. Including eggs in your diet, will make your life Eggcelent!
Don’t eat heavily charred meats —
Meat is a high source of protein, nutrients and a great addition to your diet. However, eating very charred or burnt meat comes with its own risks. Charring increases your risk for certain cancers so remember when you cook meat, try not to char or burn it.
Probiotics and prebiotics are very important —
We have all heard of probiotics- the live microorganisms that aid in gut health. Probiotics are extremely important to support our digestive systems. Prebiotics are food for these microorganisms and extremely important as well. Stock up on your prebiotics and probiotics by eating foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, probiotic supplements or drinks like Yakult, eating tons of fibre which are natural prebiotics. Ultimately, prebiotics and probiotics work together so make sure you include both in your diet. It’s always a good idea to improve your gut health.
Opt for extra virgin olive oil —
One of the healthiest oils out there, extra virgin olive oil is infused with antioxidants, antiinflammatory properties, fats that aid heart health and strokes. Also known for its rich flavour and culinary versatility, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent ingredient to keep in your kitchen.
Go nuts on nuts and seeds —
Nuts and seeds though high in fat are incredibly nutritious and beneficial and should not be avoided from your diet. Loaded with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, they aid weight loss, reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease. Go nuts when it comes to nuts!
Load up on herbs and spices —
Potent with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, herbs and spices have medicinal superpowers, and are flavour enhancers, there’s a multitude of herbs and spices out there it’s time to make the most of them. Every household is famous for their grandmother’s concoction of herbs and spices that are said to work like magic for minor ailments. Trust me, our grandmothers knew what was up!
Keep track of your food intake —
It’s important to know what you’ve eaten and when you’ve eaten your meals. A great way to do this is using a nutrition tracker. This can help you count your calories, portion sizes, protein, fibre and nutrient intake as well. However, don’t be too rigid and hard on yourself as that can lead to eating disorders. Tracking your food intake should serve as a guide to help you be as healthy as possible.
Avoid restrictive diets —
Strict and restrictive diets rarely work long term. Over time, they tend to do more harm than good and can often result in weight gain versus weight loss. Restrictive diets tend to lower your metabolic rate, alter your hormones, affect the optimum amount of nutrients your body needs, and lead to hunger pangs and food cravings. Studies show that 90% of people regain all the weight lost and more when they go off a diet. So instead of yo-yo dieting focus on building a healthy relationship with food and incorporating all the important food groups into your diet.
Say no no to the yo-yo!
Address your Vitamin D deficiency —
Vitamin deficiencies are very harmful as they are responsible for bone strength, optimum mental health, strengthening your immune system, lowering your risk of cancer and other serious diseases. If you are not the biggest fan of the sun, chances of your vitamin D levels being low are very high. Get your levels tested and get supplemented by your general physician. I promise you, you will “D”efinitely feel better.
Avoid bright lights before sleep —
Blue light contains wavelengths which can disrupt the production of your sleep hormone, melatonin and cause sleep issues. Wearing blue light blocking glasses, turning down the brightness on your electronics, switching to night mode on your screens or avoiding long periods of screen time is an easy but effective way to help your body produce enough melatonin and sleep better.
Get enough sleep —
Sleep is your body’s version of getting recharged. When your cell phone’s battery is low, you immediately charge it, otherwise it doesn’t function well. SImilarly, your body needs to be recharged every night when you’re tired and running on low battery and energy. Poor sleep can cause a lot of health issues like mental and physical fatigue, insulin resistance, imbalance in your hormones, weight gain and obesity. Sleep isnt for the weak, sleep prevents you from being weak.
A healthy physical lifestyle leads to a healthy lifestyle —
Staying physically healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, both mentally and physically. Strength and resistance training strengthen and build your muscles, cardio exercise keeps the heart young and yoga-pilates stretch the muscles, help your breathing patterns and keep you mentally alert. Staying physically active is extremely beneficial in managing your blood sugar levels improves your metabolic health and insulin sensitivity, and maintaining your weight. Studies have shown that an average adult should be physically active of moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes each week. The most important thing to do is to just keep moving!
Meditation, yoga and therapy —
It is very important to take care of your mental health just like you pay attention to your physical health Mental fatigue and stress can have physical effects on your health, it can affect your blood sugar levels, lead to unhealthy food choices and habits like binge eating, increase your susceptibility to sickness and reduce your immunity levels and lead to uneven weight and fat distribution. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress.
Meditation is a great way to manage stress and improve your health.
Practising yoga is a great way to reconnect with yourself and stay grounded. Talking to a therapist or counsellor can help you filter out the unwanted and negative thoughts in your mind, provide you with direction and act as a neutral sounding board.
Say no to substance abuse —
Smoking and using harmful drugs, excessive alcohol can seriously affect your health. Long term use and abuse of these substances increases your risk of developing heart diseases, diabetes, liver issues, lung disease. Dialling back or quitting substance abuse is the way to go!
Nurture your social relationships —
Having healthy relationships with the people in your life is very important for your mental wellbeing, stability and health. Relationships with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, loved ones and people you care about help you live life to the fullest. Live longer and larger.
With all these tips, you can be asking yourself, “where do I begin?’
Its best to start small and few and gradually build it up to make these tips part of your everyday life.
Its time to take charge of your life, improve your overall health and wellbeing, and be the healthiest version of you!