Healthy habits for 2019
Try exercise & restoration
Get more sleep. This precious essential to our wellbeing is totally underrated. Studies indicate lack of it leads to serious health issues; disruptions to blood sugar levels, anxiety and depression, lowered fertility, increasing likelihood of strokes and heart attacks, poor immunity.
We require around 7 to 8 hours each night – yet many of us fall short. Never compromise your sleep.
Meditation. Studies show benefits such as stress reduction, lower blood pressure, improved sleep. There are many simple techniques available that will take you beyond the constant chatter of the of the ‘monkey mind’. A couple worth checking out are thebrightpath.com, Deepak Chopra, Ekhart Tolle.
Stay active. But strive for balance here. Too often we push ourselves at the gym 5 days per week, when what we really need is a mix of aerobic activity with gentle movement that promotes relaxation. Yoga, tai-chi, Qigong, meditation, rest, reading, laughter, time out. Before going to bed try ten minutes of gentle stretching exercises – help promote better sleep, relieve muscle tension and prevent sleep disrupting cramps. Lack of magnesium is worth consideration when cramps persist, a temperate Epsom Salts bath or oral supplementation is worth trying.
Adopt healthy diet habits
Start the day with a large glass of lemon water. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into pure water, switching this for coffee or tea first thing. ‘Break-fast’ means just that, breaking the fast of overnight and lemon water with a slice of fresh Aloe Vera clear gel blended (see my December Aloe Vera article on Waipu Natural Health website) is a superb way to support healthy digestion and morning elimination of waste.
Go easy on alcohol. A really toxic substance for the liver and body to process. Studies indicate even moderate consumption directly compromises health. Make a note of how many drinks you have over a week, you might be surprised how quickly it gets out of hand. Choose four consecutive alcohol-free days to give your liver a break and drink a large glass of water between every glass of alcohol, this may help you cut back.
Go meat-free one day a week. Give digestion a break and switch meat for nutrient and fibre rich vegetables adding a little healthy fat like coconut of olive oil, fresh avocado to keep you fuller. Ideas for main meals might be quinoa or brown rice as a base; stir fried seasonal vegetables and tofu, lentil curry/daal (add loads of veges), bean and lentil burgers. Add a small serve of fermented foods with probiotics to aid gut health; kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha (only small quantities are required, if they make you gassy, best avoid.)
The internet is loaded with great recipes for healthy vegetable-based meal alternatives, or an appointment with your local nutritionist will assist with ideas.
Remove refined cane sugar from the diet. Too many reasons to list but sugar is sky high on the Glycemic Index (GI) meaning it quickly spikes blood sugar levels, requiring more of the hormone insulin to be produced by the pancreas. Over time these spikes may cause the pancreas to tire out, leading to risks of diabetes. When you consume foods with a lower GI it helps to avoid glucose spikes, managing weight and overall health. Switch ‘cane sugar ’for coconut sugar/nectar, which is much lower on the GI. If you crave something sweet choose a piece of fruit. Avoid bottled fruit juices.
Jan van der Lee is a Clinical Nutritionist based at Waipu Natural Health, phone 09 432 1325, or visit waipunaturalhealth.co.nz
Jan van der Lee