By Azoma Chikwe
More research is showing that the key to longevity is what experts call “lifestyle medicine” which simply means simple changes in diet, exercise, and stress management. To help people turn that knowledge into results, experts have assembled a manageable list of health and wellness suggestions.
Three experts , a naturopathic physician, Dr James Rouse, a dietitian, Christina Reiter and a Physical therapist, Rick Olderman, spoke on the simple but significant lifestyle-medicine changes they recommend.
Besides giving different takes on how to pick health battles, this list gives the choices one can make without buying a second freezer for preserving meals.
Think positive and focus on gratitude
Research shows a healthy positive attitude helps build a healthier immune system and boosts overall health. Your body believes what you think, so focus on the positive.
Shoot for five servings of vegetables a day , raw, steamed, or stir-fried. A diet high in vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of developing cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, oesophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and ovaries. And many of the most powerful phytonutrients are the ones with the boldest colours, such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, and leafy greens.
Set a “5-meal ideal”
What, when, and how much you eat can keep both your metabolism and your energy levels steadily elevated, so you’ll have more all-day energy. A “5 meal ideal” will help manage weight, keep cool, maintain focus, and avoid cravings.
Did you know that daily exercise can reduce all of the biomarkers of ageing? This includes improving eyesight, normalising blood pressure, improving lean muscle, lowering cholesterol, and improving bone density. If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference — so, do something! Crank the stereo and dance in your living room. Sign up for swing dancing or ballroom dancing lessons. Walk to the park with your kids or a neighbour you’d like to catch up with. Jump rope or play hopscotch. Spin a hula hoop. Play water volleyball. Bike to work. Jump on a trampoline. Go for a hike.
Get good night’s sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, try relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga. Or eat a small bedtime snack of foods shown to help shift the body and mind into sleep mode: whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal, cherries, or chamomile tea. Darken the room more and turn the clock away from you. Write down worries or stressful thoughts to get them out of the head and onto the page. This will help put them into perspective, so one can quit worrying about them.
What we eat and how we feel are linked in very complex ways. A healthy approach to eating is centered on savouring flavour, eating to satisfaction, and increasing energy, rather than focusing on weight. Check the balance of low-calorie foods, nutrient-dense foods (providing many nutrients per calorie), and foods that are calorie dense but nutrient poor. Most people need to eat more fresh whole foods in contrast to processed, highly refined foods. Try to add more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes into your meals. Pair these carbohydrate-rich foods with a healthy fat or lean protein to extend satisfaction.
Eat like a kid
If adding more fruits and vegetables sounds ominous, look to “finger food” versions that pre-school kids love – carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, grapes, berries, and dried fruits. All are nutritional powerhouses packed with antioxidants.
Be a picky eater
Limit saturated fats and trans fats, and aim to eat more foods rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to cut your risk of cardiovascular disease and maybe even improve depressed moods. The equivalent of just one gram of EPA/DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid) daily is recommended. Eating cold-water oily fish (wild salmon, herring, sardines, trout) two to three times per week will provide both EPA and DHA. Adding up to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed and eating meat, milk, and cheese from grass-fed animals will provide a healthy dose of omega-3s.
Take foods instead of supplements
Supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. Although many health experts recommend taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement that provides 100 to 200 per cent of your recommended daily value, each and every supplement should be carefully evaluated for purity and safety. Specific supplements have been associated with toxicity, reactions with medications, competition with other nutrients, and even increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Both eating and physical activity are fun, sensory experiences! In both, aim for pleasure – not pain. Pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods to eat, as well as the sense of satisfaction, relaxation, tension, exhilaration, and fatigue when eating. Check, while eating, rekindling the recognition of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction when considering when and how much to eat.
Give yourself a break
“I spend countless hours doing cardio and never seem to lose that last 10 pounds!” is a common complaint I hear from clients. Give yourself permission to shorten your workout. Believe it or not, overtraining could be the problem. Your body can plateau if not given adequate rest to restore itself, ultimately leading to a decline in performance. Fatigue, moodiness, lack of enthusiasm, depression, and increased cortisol (the “stress” hormone) are some hallmarks of overtraining syndrome. Creating a periodisation program – breaking up your routine into various training modes – can help prevent overtraining by building rest phases into your regimen. For example, you might weight train on Monday and Wednesday, cycle on Tuesday and Thursday, run on Friday and rest on Saturday and Sunday. You can also help balance your program by simply incorporating more variety.
Often the biggest deterrent to improving health is feeling overwhelmed by all the available advice and research. Try to focus first on one small, seemingly inconsequential, unhealthy habit and turn it into a healthy, positive habit. If you’re in the habit of eating as soon as you get home at night, instead, keep walking shoes in the garage or entryway and take a quick spin around the block before going inside. If you have a can of soda at lunchtime every day, have a glass of water two days a week instead. Starting with small, painless changes helps establish the mentality that healthy change is not necessarily painful change. It’s easy to build from here by adding more healthy substitutions.
Keep good company
You can do all the right things – but if you have personal relationships with people who have unhealthy habits, it is often an uphill battle. The healthiest people are those who have relationships with other healthy people. Get your family or friends involved with you when you walk or plan healthier meals. Making healthy changes with a loved one can bring you closer together as well as motivate you.
Make a list…and check it twice
Take a few minutes and write down all the reasons you can’t begin an exercise program. Then look at the basis of each reason. For instance, if you wrote, “No time” as one of your reasons, then perhaps that’s based on a belief that an exercise program takes a lot of time. Starting with even five minutes a day will have a positive effect because you will have created a healthy habit where one didn’t exist before, and that’s a powerful mental adjustment. A closer look at your list will expose those false beliefs hiding behind each excuse.
Sign up for an event
Let’s face it, exercising just for the sake of exercising or losing weight can get boring. Spice things up by signing up for an event like a run/walk race or a cycling ride where one can be part of a team. Doing so gives workouts a new purpose, and it’s fun to be around others who are exercising just like you – not to mention that most events benefit nonprofit organisations, which doubles your feel-good high.
Foods that quicken ageing (2)
By Chinenye Molokwu
Your own lifestyle can affect how your body ages to a great extent; from your diet and fitness regime to product-usage and general health levels, everything can affect how fast or slow signs of ageing begin to appear. It is thus recommended that anyone looking to preserve their youth and live a healthier, balanced life should avoid anything that quickens the ageing process. There are some particular foods that speed up ageing which you could easily avoid. Here’s what you can keep off of your diet if you want to be youthful and fit for as long as possible.
Chips and salty food
Not just sugar, you should also cut down on the salt intake as it is equally bad for your health. You might not add salt to your food, but you still can’t be sure about not consuming salt as most of the canned foods already come with preserved salt.
Excess of salt causes the skin to dehydrate completely, thereby drying out the skin and making it appear puffy. It is best to check the labels when buying canned food, to make
sure you aren’t getting too much salt in your diet.
Burgers and fries
While junk food won’t age you overnight, continuous indulgence in such diet can surely speed it up. Though some fat is required per day i.e. about 75 grams, but excess can result in clogged blood vessels.
Burgers and fries can cause sticky artery walls and this stops the oxygenated blood from reaching all the important body organs. No oxygen means damaged skin cells, and they won’t repair on their own. Also, junk food can cause bodily inflammation and release of free radicals.
All those addicted to sugar rush of soda and other sugary beverages are not just putting their health at risk (condition like Type 2 diabetes), but also causing their skin to dry out and become flaky. Again, soda contains excessive sugar content that can result in glycation (as discussed in point 1, above). This, in turn, causes inflammation in the body and many chronic diseases like diabetes and dementia. Even diet pop is bad for your skin. Artificial sweeteners must be avoided as they contain chemicals and artificial colours; they can make your skin appear thinner.
Spicy food and peppers are extremely good for metabolism, but they can also aggravate acne-prone skin, particularly during menopause. As the blood vessels in your body are most active during that phase, spicy food dilutes them and that is why your skin appears less youthful at that time. However, you should not worry that much about indulging in spicy curry once in a while as only over- indulgence is going to result in permanent redness and puffy skin.
White breads and pastas
Simple carbs such as pastas and white breads are known to have high- glycemic index – which is associated with premature aging. These compounds inflame the skin and raise insulin production. These carbs break down speedily and result in premature aging of skin. They put you at the risk of Type 2 diabetes, acne, and even skin inflammation.
Alternatively, brown breads and brown rice do not break down easily, and that is why one can skin the aging process.