Between work, family and just generally keeping our lives in order it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. If you’ve fallen off the personal health wagon, it’s never too late to jump back on. Here are few steps (some of which are fairly surprising) you can take to get yourself back on track:
- Decrease your salt and fat intake. Stay away from fried foods and opt instead for grilled or baked especially when you’re eating out. Ingesting to many saturated fats increases your risk of heart attack and too much salt will lead to increased blood pressure. While it is more expensive, using olive oil instead of sunflower oil when cooking is another way to decrease saturated fat intake.
- Drink Alcohol. Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation can actually be beneficial to your health, according to a report on webmd.com. Choice of beverage comes down to personal taste but red wine is recommended because it contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which helps to protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Alcohol can increase HDL (good) cholesterol by 20%, which lowers the risk of heart disease.
- Sleep more. If you’re struggling try cutting out alcohol and caffeine. Lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and an impaired immune system. You should be getting 7-8 hours a night, so set yourself a nightly deadline and make sure you meet it.
- Drink more water. The general consensus (as I’m sure you’re aware) is 8 glasses a day but this doesn’t all have to be in the form of pure water however as many of the food stuffs we eat contain water. Water also helps our bodies with digestion, nutrient absorption and assists with detoxification.
- Look after your bones. A diet high in calcium and vitamin D will help build stronger bones and improve nerve and muscle function. Good sources of vitamin D and calcium include: Sunlight, sardines, tuna, milk, pure cod liver oil, yoghurt, cheese and broccoli.
- Eat more fruit and veg. According to the NHS, the recommended daily intake of fruit and veg is 5 portions a day. Research shows that eating 400g plus of fruit and veg daily lowers your risk of strokes, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Get stressed. As funny as it sounds, as long as it’s in small amounts stress can actually be beneficial to your health. In times of stress, your body prepares itself by releasing the hormone cortisol, which boosts your immune system.
- Eat carrots. Remember when your parents told you to eat carrots because you’d be able to see in the dark? It turns out they weren’t lying. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and improves vision.
- Don’t worry. Be happy. And laugh. Ever heard the saying laughter is the best medicine? Research suggests that laughing can boost blood flow by up to 20%, boost the immune system and reduce levels of chronic stress in the body.
- Finally, get some exercise. Your heart is like any other muscle in your body, the more you work it the stronger it gets. While it’s important to get some exercise, it’s equally important that you don’t overdo it.
While the standard of service delivery and patient safety in hospitals constantly monitored and improved by accreditation organisations, it’s best to avoid it altogether by taking care of yourself.
- License: Creative Commons image source
This article was written by Michael James for a medical accreditation organisation in South Africa.