‘The greatest wealth is health.’
Virgil

Overview

It is interesting that so many people can be very focused on saving money for the future and not even think about the investment that they make in their health and bodies on a daily basis. You need to think of your body as a pension fund and make healthy investments sooner rather than later.
World health statistics are currently very disturbing, with the World Health Organization reporting that one in three adults worldwide have raised blood pressure – a condition that causes half of all deaths from strokes and heart disease – one in ten people have diabetes, and in the last 30 years obesity has doubled!

With so much pressure on health services, it is becoming more and more important that you take more responsibility for your own wellbeing.

What are your energy levels like? Do you refuse the snooze button on your alarm clock and wake up full of beans with a ‘ready to get up and get going’ attitude? Are you able to maintain high levels of energy throughout the day? Or perhaps like so many people, you rely heavily on caffeine or sugar to keep you going? Do you have any energy left at the end of the day? Or do you crash in front of the television feeling exhausted?

During the day you are bound to go through stages of feeling up or down due to changing energy levels. Your body goes through a repeating energy cycle (an ultradian rhythm) every 90 to 120 minutes. The implications of this are that we can only do solid work for up to about 90 minutes at a time and then we need a break or to at least switch off and do something a bit easier or lighter. So the real skill in managing your health and daily energy is to work on the more difficult things when you are alert and focused and to work on the easier things when you’re feeling lower in energy. To maximise your energy, take that short break every 90 minutes; if you are desk-bound get up and have a good stretch.

Regular exercise also improves mental and emotional health. The chemicals and hormones that are released in the brain through exercise can help deal with stress, promote wellbeing and provide you with more sustainable energy. If you are challenged with depression, research has shown that 30 minutes of exercise a day can be as effective as a mild anti-depressant. So get up and get going!

Learning to relax and let go of worry and stress at the end of the day is key. By keeping a clear conscience so that you can relax in the knowledge that you have stuck to your values and principles is one way of being able to clear your mind of anything.

‘And what is a man without energy? Nothing – nothing at all.’
Mark Twain

Healthy Living – Steps to Success

  • Refuse the snooze on your alarm
  • Take a break every 90 minutes
  • Exercise for 30 minutes every day
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Reduce caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar intake
  • Drink two litres of water a day.

A Well Balanced Diet

How many times have you followed a diet without really understanding the difference between a protein and a complex carbohydrate, what their function is, or in which foods they are found? No dietary plan is ever going to be truly successful if you don’t have a little background knowledge. So here is a basic low-down on which nutrients are found in what foods.

Proteins

Carbohydrates

Fats

Fibre

Vitamins

Minerals

Caffeine

Artificial Sweeteners

Alcohol

Water

Refined Sugar

Exercise at Work

This basic work workout offers stretches for your arms, wrists and back – the body parts that suffer most from sitting at a computer all day. Equipment required: A chair and a water bottle or light to medium weight dumbbell

In Summary

Stretching at your desk and standing up when you answer the phone is also positive practice. Any kind of exercise and movement you can do throughout the day will be instrumental in keeping you active and energised.

Giving Up Smoking

There are actually NO benefits to smoking – if you think it relieves stress, think again. When carbon monoxide and nicotine enter your body, they reduce the supply of oxygen to your brain. Without this oxygen (the brain’s fuel), your brain struggles to function properly, think clearly and concentrate. That, in itself, is extremely stressful!

Good reasons to give up smoking. . .

 

• You will reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

• You reduce your chances of getting lung cancer and emphysema

• You will smell a whole lot nicer and fresher.

• You will be able to climb stairs and walk without getting out of breath.

• You will have fewer wrinkles.

• You will be free of those horrible hacking morning coughs.

• You will have more energy to pursue physical activities.

• You will be able to treat yourself to things with the money you save.

• You will have more control over your life and potentially live longer.

• You will be making your contribution to supporting a healthier environment.

How to Give Up Smoking

  • Start with some preparation by ensuring that you really do want to stop and understanding your reasons for stopping. Are these reasons powerful enough to motivate you when you are faced with those tricky situations? Write down your reasons for stopping.
  • Ask your doctor for advice. This is especially important if you have health problems or are concerned about issues such as weight gain.
  • Consider finding yourself a stop-smoking buddy – relatives, work colleagues and friends are a good place to start. Set a date together and give each other support.
  • Tell your family and friends about your intentions. Ask them for their support before you stop and explain that you may not be yourself while experiencing withdrawal. When you reach your quitting date, rely on those that have been most encouraging for support.
  • Think about starting an exercise programme and a sensible eating plan. Again, speak to your doctor or dietician. Exercise will give you more energy and help you to relax and relieve stress.
  • You should know what triggers your desire for a cigarette, such as stress, the end of a meal, drinking in a bar, etc. Avoid these triggers while you are trying to quit, or if that’s not possible, decide how you will deal with the triggers.
  • Decide what you will do when you experience cravings. Deep breathing, a short walk and keeping yourself busy will help to take your mind off the cravings. Perhaps you can think of other ways. Write them down. Remember: these cravings will only last for three to five minutes at a time.
  • If you have tried stopping smoking before, you may have come across a stumbling block, such as finding something to do with your hands. If so, you need to arm yourself with a solution to these foreseeable problems. Get yourself a pen or stress relief aid to fiddle with if occupying your hands is a problem.
  • Be positive and confident that you can stop. You have spent time and energy planning how you will deal with the task ahead. You can and will do it if you persevere. Thousands of people around the world stop smoking every day. You can be one of them!

Ten Superfoods

There are ten foods that are so exceptionally good for your health and energy levels that they have been dubbed ‘superfoods’, and it would be greatly beneficial to your well being to include them in your diet on a regular basis.

1. Berries

Berries are extremely rich in antioxidants which help protect the cells in your body from damage and therefore from diseases such as cancer. Among other things, they are also an excellent source of vitamin C and soluble fibre. Blueberries can also help reverse the short-term memory loss that often comes with aging.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage) contains antioxidants and a substance called sulforaphane, which research has shown to be powerful in fighting and preventing cancer. Broccoli is thought to be especially beneficial in fighting cancer of the breast, colon and lung. It also boosts the immune system.

3. Citrus Fruits

The citrus bioflavonoids found in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Many of these citrus bioflavonoids have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and blood clot inhibiting abilities.

4. Garlic

Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of garlic can lower blood pressure. It also prevents the blood from being overly sticky and decreases LDL cholesterol.

5. Nuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, a special type of fat that is essential for our bodies, but that the body cannot produce. Omega-3 essential fatty acids protect us against heart disease. Almonds are also known for their ability to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

6. Oats

Oats help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that one bowl of oatmeal per day can reduce cholesterol by up to 23 per cent. Oats are also considered an excellent grain for diabetics as they have less impact on blood sugar levels than some other grains.

7. Salmon

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish may help prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the body’s rate of blood clotting.

8. Spinach

Spinach’s secret weapon, lutein, makes it one of the most powerful foods in the prevention of both cataracts and age related macular degeneration, the leading causes of preventable blindness in the elderly.

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the cells in our bodies from damage.

10. Turkey

Turkey is one of the leanest protein foods and is low in calories, making it an excellent healthy food choice. Turkey also contains selenium, which has been shown to inhibit cancer development, improve the immune system, and aid in the metabolism of the thyroid hormone.

Winter Wellness

Winter is that time of year when, if we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of moaning about the weather and not getting enough fresh air and exercise because it’s cold. Two hundred years ago 75 per cent of Europe’s population worked outdoors, whereas now only 10 per cent work in natural outdoor light. Across Northern Europe, 12 million people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We are also more prone to comfort eat during the winter, consuming more sugary foods and refined carbohydrates than in warmer months. So making a conscious effort to really look after yourself in the winter will help you to feel healthier and happier. Here are some tips to help you to feel better, protect your immune system and stay healthy during the winter months:

1. Manage your personal stress

Stress is often cited as a nasty precursor to a weakened immune system, thus leaving you more vulnerable to sneaky viruses. If you are feeling run down and over stretched, it is time to slow down, sharpen your stress management skills and strengthen your immunity.

2. Exercise and energise

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Wrap up warm and go for a lovely long walk. This is even better than going to the gym because you will also benefit from lots of fresh air and natural daylight. The cooler weather is great for invigorating and stimulating the senses. Buy a pedometer to motivate yourself and aim to walk 10,000 steps a day.

3. Drink lots of water

Water may not be the drink of choice in the winter, yet it is essential for remaining healthy as it is vital for all bodily functions. Water plays an important part in physically flushing out bacteria, so keep a bottle with you at all times and sip it throughout the day. Warming herbal teas will also contribute to your recommended quota of two litres of water per day.

4. Boost your vitamin C levels

Vitamin C is the top natural immune system booster, as proven by extensive research. So taking a vitamin C supplement during the winter is a good idea, as is eating plenty of seasonal satsumas. Hot water with lemon is a great way to start the day as it will increase your vitamin C intake, contribute to your daily water quota, and is a much healthier alternative to caffeine-filled coffee.

5. Eat yourself healthy

You can really protect your immune system by eating healthily. Garlic, ginger, tomatoes and onions are all great for warding off colds, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide you with antioxidants and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. So let healthy food be your medicine of choice.

6. Take echinacea

Taking the herbal supplement echinacea can more than halve the risk of catching a common cold, according to research. It is extracted from herbaceous plants in the Asteraceae family, (commonly known as purple coneflower) and is available as herbal tea, and in liquid and tablet form. Visit your local health shop for further information.

7. Reduce your sugar intake

Eating or drinking 100 grams (eight teaspoons) of refined sugar – the equivalent of a 330 millilitre can of sugary fizzy soda – can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 per cent. The immune-suppressing effect of refined sugar starts less than 30 minutes after ingestion and may last for up to five hours! Although it is very tempting to reach out for those comfort foods to get a quick sugar fix, stop before you do so and think about what it is doing to your immune system, which really needs all the help it can get!

8. Drink alcohol in moderation

Despite the fact that it is the season to be jolly, it doesn’t mean the jollity has to be artificially induced! Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving the body of valuable immune boosting nutrients. Secondly, alcohol, like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs and depletes the body of vitamin B, which can leave you depressed. Alcohol, despite the association with celebration, is best enjoyed in moderation with a maximum of three units per day for men and two units per day for women.

9. Wash your hands

With more bugs around, it is important to wash your hands often and well – especially before eating – as this is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of infections. Also, if you have a cold and you use a paper tissue, throw it away after each use rather than reusing it, as the germs will continue to transfer from the tissue to your hands.

10. Sleep well

A good night’s rest is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. The quality of your sleep is very important too – good quality sleep will ensure that you feel energised at the start of the day. Cutting out caffeine and alcohol will help. Try a warm bath with lavender oil and a cup of camomile tea – it will work wonders.

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