I’ve been thinking about what I consider to be the key principals of health, turns out its not just one thing,
It’s not just nutrition or physical activity, relaxation, or reducing stress, it’s all of these factors and more.
As a Nutritional Therapist for 6 years, I do believe that proper nutrition is the foundation of health,
If you nourish your body, you can keep the most chronic conditions at bay.
Proper nutrition feeds not only the body but the mind by keeping all the chemical functions (which basically run everything) balanced.
Leading to good sleep, less stress, better mood, steady blood sugar, and increased energy.
For me the key principals of nutrition are
- A balanced diet of complex carbs, good protein (meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan), and good fats – poly and mono-unsaturated.
- Optimal Micro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
- Keeping blood sugar levels consistent you will have a better mood and hormone levels
- It will also control appetite, sleep and energy, and fewer cravings, fatigue, weight gain, disturbed sleep, and general grumpiness.
- Eating enough fibre has been shown to help control appetite and blood sugar levels
- Fibre lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and keep your intestines clean (think of fibre as a brush sweeping away debris)
- Fibre allows proper gut functions such as absorption of vitamins and minerals
- The gut makes specific vitamins (Vitamin K is produced in the gut)
- As a result, this reduces the risk of colon cancer and creating a perfect environment for good bacteria to flourish.
- More and more studies are showing the positive health impact of a healthy gut on the immune system
- scientists are starting to find links between good gut bacteria on diseases like Parkinson’s, although more studies and research needs to be done.
I am also a Personal Trainer so understand the physical and mental benefits of being active,
Not just in our younger years, but as we start to age
Maintaining our ability to be independent is hugely important.
The key principals of physical activity are –
- You don’t need to train for a marathon to get adequate daily activity and it doesn’t have to be an hour slog down the gym 5 times a week,
- The current thinking is that 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, 5 times a week that raises your heart rate, has significant health benefits.
- You can split that in 3 ten minute segments if that suits,
- This year’s buzz is for LISS training (Low-Intensity Steady State) so a 30-minute brisk walk, bike ride or swim counts.
- Resistance training, using weights (including body weight) 2 or 3 times a week will help build lean muscle,
- This burns more calories than fat, aiding weight management; it helps keep bones dense, reducing the risks of osteoporosis, and maintains strength for functional movement such as carrying shopping.
- Flexibility and mobility, keeping your joints mobile and muscles flexible may not seem important,
- In later life, it allows us to get up off the floor, get out of the bath and put your own socks on.
Reducing stress and getting enough rest and relaxation (R & R)
- Quality Sleep, how often do you wake up raring to go? Are you frequently awake at 2 am unable to quiet your mind?
- Undisturbed sleep is shown to affect mood, stress, energy, and even the immune system.
- Reduced stress, a little stress isn’t a bad thing, that’s why we have Adrenalin and cortisol, as a caveman these chemicals helped keep us alive (fight or flight) in life or death situations.
- The pressures of our modern life have left many with a constant flood of these chemicals overloading our systems, leading to fatigue, irritability, weight gain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and eventually burn out.
- Relaxation, we are now always ‘connected’ we know within minutes what’s happening across the other side of the world.
- We know what’s going on in our friends’ lives, what celebrities are doing/dating/eating/exercising and endorsing.
- We almost need to re-learn how to relax, read an actual book, lunch with family, go to a spa or the theatre with friends And be in the moment rather than capturing it and posting it on Instagram!
As I said, it’s not any-one thing; I lead a reasonably healthy life.
Still, on reflection, there are improvements I can make in all 3 areas listed above
We are all a work in progress, the constant changes in our body as life progresses require us to take stock and adapt so don’t be afraid to change tried and tested routines
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