15 January 2015

New Year - New You 
(ha ha, it's a bit late for a new me!)

Here's Stella Magazine's* 5 x 5
five experts, five top tips on 
How to Maximise Your Health
New Year #List http://www.kidsdinge.com https://www.facebook.com/pages/kidsdingecom-Origineel-speelgoed-hebbedingen-voor-hippe-kids/160122710686387?sk=wall http://instagram.com/kidsdinge
Above is a simple fun, easy to remember, list of health improvements but below is a more 'New Year' list of suggestions.

I'm sure all of us do some of the following; but perhaps when busy we tend to forget.  And there are some new ones here which I hadn't thought of. 
As we're semi-retired then eating at the same time every day, also getting enough rest and sleep are probably second nature.  
But there are quite a few on this list which would not be too difficult to adopt, although perhaps not all at once.
I'm going to start by sitting less, and standing more; managing my time more effectively (less blog?!); cut down (if not out) sugar; try not to kid myself that I'm not rather overweight(!); and lastly to try some of the exotic mushrooms now on sale.  They shouldn't be too hard to assimilate into our lifestyle, for a good beginning.....

David B Agus, a cancer researcher and professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California.  His book 'A Short guide to a Long Life' is out now
  1. Eat the same time every day: the body likes a strict routine.  Eat erratically or go to bed and get up at inconsistent times day in, day out, and you will negatively affect hormone levels.  It's been shown, for example, that constant grazing increases the risk of diabetes.  Your body needs to anticipate what's happening to it so that it can be prepared.
  2. Never wear shoes that hurt your feet: and always get your flu jab.  They may sound unrelated, but both stop your body suffering periods of inflammation.  We're only just teasing out what inflammation is doing to our health, but it's extremely likely that it has a role in the development of heart disease and cancer.  If you reduce the amount of inflammation you suffer, the healthier you will be.
  3. Only shop at the edges of the supermarket: that's where the unprocessed, natural foods are.  The food that is going to maximise your health is fresh, real and sold without a label.  Once you go into the middle the products are more likely to be packaged, and to contain ingredients you can't pronounce and that your body absolutely doesn't need.  And don't juice - it causes the fruit and vegetables to oxidise and degrade faster, reducing any health benefits.
  4. Stand up whenever you can: when it comes to negative effects on health, sitting is as dangerous as smoking.  Even going to the gym doesn't full counteract the changes in measures of things it causes, such as blood fats or blood sugar.  Try to get up and move about as much as you can every day.
  5. Be the person who knows your body best: we should all know measurements such as our blood pressure and blood sugar - we should be aware of how our body looks and feels so we can pinpoint any changes quickly.  Also we need to be in tune with our bodies to know which foods suit us and which don't.  Finally, be aware of your family history - if you have cancer, heart disease or any other diseases in your family you should be actively taking steps to reduce your own risk of developing them.

Marilyn Glenville is a nutritionist who specialises in women's health and hormonal balance
  1. Stop eating sugar: not only does it increase the risk of weight gain, when it comes to hormones - one of the keystones of health - it can cause imbalances.  A diet high in sugar or refined carbohydrates causes overproduction of insulin, which leads to the deposition of fat around the middle.  It's also link ed to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.  Sugar also interferes with female hormones, increasing the risk of PMS and, in some cases, it can affect fertility.
  2. Balance your levels of omega-3 and omega-6: the average Western diet contains about 10 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3. This puts the body in an inflammatory state, which can trigger hormonally linked problems.  The easiest way to rebalance things is to eliminate vegetable oils, and everything made from them, in your diet and increase omega-3 from oily fish, nuts and avocados.  Ironically, the evening primrose oil that many women take to tackle PMS is very high in omega-6: if you use this it's important to counteract it with more omega-3.
  3. Take vitamin D: it's vital for everything, including hormone balance, yet without supplements, by the end of winter most of us will be deficient.  The recommended daily dose is 400iu (10mcg) - those with very low levels may need a higher dose.  A simple finger prick blood test (for instance from naturalhealthpractrice.com) can measure levels.
  4. Don't be afraid of phytoestrogens: there's a myth that those supply the body with oestrogen and so women have become a little fearful of them.  What they actually do is provide oestrogen-like substances that balance hormone levels.  You can find them in food.  Soy povides isoflavone (a phytoestrogen), bu there are many other types and it's good to have a variety of them.  Other foods you should consume include beans, lentils, peanuts and flaxseeds.
  5. Look after your adrenal glands: they are one of the body's hormonal-production centres.  Our stressful lives tend to put them under pressure, which can lead to fatigue, weight gain and poor concentration.  Aim for a good work-life balance, regulate blood sugar by eating low-GI meals and ensure your diet is high in B vitamins and magnesium (wholegrains and leafy greens).,  If you're stressed try an L-theanine supplement, which is calming and supportive.

Benjamin Bonetti is a hypnotherapist and specialist in stress and mindfulness.  His book, 'How to Stress Less', is out now.

  1. Don't lie to yourself: that might include whether you are actually a healthy weight, whether you drink too much or eat a diet that is good for you.  Take an objective, honest view of your health, nutrition and level of fitness.  If you get those three areas right you'll have a strong health grounding.  On a more emotional level, ask yourself, 'Who am I really and does what I do in my life reflect that?'.  If it doesn't, there will always be a part of you that's lacking.
  2. Don't let fear hold you back: fear stops many of us living well.  Whether it's fear of change, the unknown or of the results, it keeps thousands of people in situations that are making them unhappy or unhealthy.  Decide what changes you need to make, look at what worries you about that and think how likely it actually is to occur (and what if it does?).  Regret is a harder emotion to handle than fear.
  3. The best way to fight stress is to stay in the present:  a lot of the things that cause us stress aren't related to what's actually happening in our life but our reaction to it.  We spend too much time reflecting on the past or worrying about the future and none of that is actually the reality.  The more time you can spend in the now, the more likely you will actually reduce stress.
  4. Study how you speak to yourself: our internal linguistics - the words we use in our head- can be a key to how good we're being to ourselves.  If you constantly beat yourself up or use words like 'should' or 'must', ask yourself where those thoughts are coming from.  Chances are they aren't from you.  If you do find yourself doing this, understand that you can't easily turn it off - instead, be aware of it, try to manage it and don't let yourself fall for it.
  5. Forget the idea that there's a quick fix to good health: if it took you 20 years of choices to create a health issue such as being overweight, you won't fix it with a 10-day diet.  Forget short-term goals.  Ask yourself,' What would I like my legacy to be?'.  Think long term and view it as a journey to the result you require.  Then take steps towards it.

Christina Howells is a London-based personal trainer and co-founder of the online training programme That Girl (bodybychristina.com)
  1. Manage your time: if you don't do this well then everything that makes you healthy suffers - you won't get enough sleep, you won't have time to prepare healthy foods, and you won't find the time to exercise.  Book appointments for the gym or some time for yourself in your diary just as you would meetings for work or the family.
  2. Build more muscle mass: once we pass the age of 40 we start to lose muscle mass and it leads to a slower metabolism, middle-aged weight gain and a decline in strength and function  You can build muscle mass by lifting weights, but I prefer functional fitness moves such as those in primal fitness classes like Animal Flow.  Moves include crawling or trying to move opposing arms and legs.  Not only does this build muscle, it also works a greater number of muscles at once, which gives more effective results.
  3. Strengthen your rotator cuff: the muscles that hold the shoulder joint in place, the rotator cuff, are often ignored when we exercise but if they are weak, you're going to have worse posture and a greater risk of neck and back pain.  There's a simple series of exercises that you can do anywhere that work the area.  If you search the terms 'rotator cuff exercises' and 'NHS' online, you will find the full programme.
  4. When you exercise, focus:  So many people at the gym are simply moving their arms and legs up and down - and then they wonder why they aren't getting results.  You need to focus on the muscles.  If you actually think about the move you're doing and squeeze the muscle you're working while you do it you recruit more muscle fibres and get a faster, more effective result.
  5. If you don't rest, you don't get the results you desire: have two rest days a week - it's during rest that your body strengthens and grows.  Overtraining will also lead to you losing enjoyment in what you're doing.  Sometimes, when life is hectic, you won't want to work out and you should ask yourself where that comes from: is it an excuse or is your body trying to tell you that it needs more rest?

Shabir Daya is a pharmacist and the co-founder of online healthy store Victoria Health

  1. Take probiotics: Most people have only 50% of the good bacteria we should have in our system.  Without healthy gut bacteria you can't be healthy.  Eighty per cent of our immune system is controlled by the gut as its bacteria help trigger the immune response.  It aids detoxification and absorbs nutrients from food.  Buy a good acid-resistant bacteria.
  2. The antioxident Co-enqyme Q10 is needed by every energy-producing cell in the body.  On top of that it aids oxygenation of the tissues - which can help the heart but also reduces risk of gum disease (the bacteria that cause this can't survive in an oxygen-rich environment).  Most Q10 supplements contain a form called ubiquinone, which our body then converts to ubiquinol, the form it can use, but as we get older our ability to carry out that conversion is impaired.  Take an ubiquinol supplement instead.
  3. Axtaxanthin, one of the most powerful antioxidants, is 400 times more potent than vitams C and E: it also seems to be highly anti-inflammatory and, because it is fat- and water-soluble, can enter glands such as the splen that many other antioxidants (mostly water soluble) don't really help.  It may also help stimulate collagen production.
  4. More exotic mushrooms types such as reishi, shitake and maitake have powerful medicinal properties that we are only just discovering.  They are antibacterial and antifungal and can help stabilise blood sugar and reduce the aggregation of platelets that leads to cardiovascular disease.  While you can, and should, add the natural forms to your diet, it's hard to get the amounts shown to have therapeutic doses by food along, which is why I suggest a supplement.
  5. Take krill, not fish oil: when we think of taking in omaga-3 we usually think of fish-oil supplements - but these normally come from large fish, which can be contaminated by toxins.  Krill, as the first part of the food chain, doesn't have the same toxicity issues.  It's a smaller molecule than the fats in fish oils, which means it can enter cells more effectively.
So now we know!   

*Sunday Telegraph

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