10 steps to better health, memory and less fat? Sounds pretty good to us. We all know THOSE types. The ones who never get the cold going around the office, the ones that eat a bacon and egg burger every morning and don’t gain a centimetre and the ones that have an immaculate memory that would make a miracle proud.
While we mentally note the need to start being more like them (beginning tomorrow), could emulating these wonder-beings be as simple as applying a 10-rule regime to our lifestyle? To be super-healthy is as simple as abiding by some simple lifestyle guidelines. Make these top 10 rules your key to a happier, healthier lifestyle!
1. Take time to digest
It seems trivial, but taking the time out to properly digest your food can improve your state of mind, your energy levels and even extend your life!
Having healthy digestion means eating the right foods and breaking them down properly. This means a diet that includes fresh fruit, seeds, nuts, fish and vegetables. Fresh fruit and veg contain enzymes to aid digestion, but food should be eaten raw or only lightly cooked to benefit form this, while enzymes in saliva help to break down carbohydrates. Protein is digested in the stomach over an hour or two, whereas carbs are digested lower down in the small intestine. So, if you eat a high-protein steak dinner and chase it with a fruit salad, the fruit may get trapped in the stomach and start to ferment. Try to snack on fruit and keep your squares for meal time. Lastly, take a load off your digestive by chewing your food until it’s well broken down.
2. Sugar tips
It’s a simple matter of body chemistry: when your blood sugar is low, you feel tired and hungry. If you combat this dip with a quick-fix like refined foods, carbs, caffeine or sweets, you’ll get a rush as your blood sugar skyrockets but you’ll plummet once the high disappears. This is also a nasty weight gain cycle, whereby your body dumps the excess sugar into storage as fat. To get some balance for your blood sugar, refuel with slow-release foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates. Graze, don’t binge, and eat three square meals interspersed with mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks for an even supply of fuel.
3. Get sharp
Your brain and body chemistry are finely tuned to stay in sync with each other by balancing thousands of vital ‘communication’ chemicals – such as making insulin when your blood sugar is high, or adrenalin when you’re stressed. Behind the scenes, there’s a process called methylation that keeps you feeling connected, happy, alert and motivated. This is indicated by the level of a substance called homocysteine in your blood. Keeping this low means you are able to rapidly adapt and respond to life’s stresses, so you’re a lower risk for strokes, heart attacks, pregnancy problems, memory decline, depression, mental illness, osteoporosis and other health issues. Keeping a lid on this can be done by cutting out stress, smoking and drinking coffee. Boost your B vitamin intake, especially folic acid, and get exercising.
4. Be phat
Fat has been demonised for the last few decades, being called bad for everything from your heart to your hips. We now know that putting all those fats under one umbrella was doing them a disservice. Omega-3 fats are essential for good health, acting as natural painkillers and can be more potent as antidepressants than conventional drugs. They are your skin’s best friend, keeping it soft and nourished. These nice fats are found in nut or seed oils – such as flaxseeds and walnut – and in oily fish such as salmon or tuna. Holford found that a person’s chances of being in optimal health go up by nearly two-thirds for those consuming three or more servings of oily fish a week, compared to two a week.
5. Get radicals
We get to thank the process of oxidisation for ageing, from our wrinkles down to our eyesight. Put simply, we make energy by combusting carbohydrate with oxygen, which results is our own form of exhaust fumes called oxidants. This is ultimately the human rust! An optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients is the key to living a long and healthy life.hocolate is good for you. It’s very rich in two anti-ageing, antioxidant flavonoids. However, it must be dark chocolate, preferably the pure organic stuff. And keep it as a special treat, not a daily ritual.
Look for colour and flavour in your fruit and vegetables, which indicates high antioxidant levels. Aim for five to ten servings daily of a range of fruit and vegetables to keep your intake high. And yes, collective sigh of relief, chocolate is good for you. It’s very rich in two anti-ageing antioxidant flavonoids called gallic acid and epicatechin, keep it for treats and stick to dark, organic chocolate.
6. Drink up
Water is your most vital nutrient and it’s freely available, so drink up people. The bare minimum is eight glasses a day – but we live in a hot climate so think more like two-plus lites. Your body retains more water if you drink little and often. If you only drink when you’re thirsty, your body is already in a state of dehydration. This makes you tired, constipated, dries out your skin and joints, causes headaches and reduces mental ability. Hunger is often confused with thirst, so when you’re hungry, drink a glass of water. Soft drink, cordial, tea or coffee are not substitutes. Start the day by drinking a glass of fresh water when you get up to kickstart your morning!
7. Good Chi
Chi – or energy flow – has been recognised for years in the East, but it is rarely included in the health agenda in the West. Ancient systems of exercise such as t’ai chi, qigong or yoga have been designed to balance the emotions, still the mind and rejuvenate the body, by removing the blockages caused by accumulated tension. Treat your mind and body with some classes, or even mediation for the stressed individual can work wonders for refocussing your Chi.
8. Fighting fit
One of the myths about exercise is that you have to put in a lot of effort to reap any benefit. Simply by increasing your energy expenditure by adding in 15 minutes of jogging, cycling or swimming, or 30 minutes of walking a day, stats suggest you could cut your risk of premature death by about 20 per cent.
Incorporate exercise into your daily schedule, even if it’s turning household chores into an aerobic workout. Get a pedometer and monitor your daily steps, your goal is 10,000 steps a day. It will be difficult to log this unless you have an active job, such as waitressing or nursing, so you may have to include a longer walk or run in your routine – try doing cardio for at least three hours a week.
9. Past presence
We only develop as human beings through relationships, and developing emotional intelligence is what allows us to interact healthily with others.
State of mind is extremely important for health, with extreme emotions affecting heart function, depressing the immune system and inhibiting digestion. It is normal to accumulate emotional tension, but it’s how you consciously experience your emotions that makes all the difference. Express your emotion, breath and allow yourself to be without judgment.
10. Walk with purpose
Having a sense of purpose is a defining quality, one that changes throughout your life. While some of us find purpose through work, other find it through family, supporting causes that we feel passionate about or simply helping people we meet. And don’t forget your own self-development – the purpose of becoming the best you can be.