Another year is just underway, and whether we like it or not, the global pandemic is still around, albeit in a more controlled capacity. There has been an increased interest in health and wellness since 2020, and many people found new ways to keep moving even when they had to maintain social distance (Griffiths, 2021).
If you’re unsure of how to improve your health, in small ways, this is the blog for you. The team at Echelon Health are looking forward to next year and to start it in the best way possible, we present some tips about keeping healthy – from nutrition to exercise. Let’s start this year with good habits!
1. Nuts and seeds
Some people will tell you to avoid nuts because they are high in fat. However, nuts and seeds are in fact very nutritious! They are full of protein, fibre and a huge variety of vitamins and minerals (FDC, 2020).
Nuts can aid with weight loss and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Jackson & Hu, 2014). A previous study found that low nut/seed intake had links with an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the US (Micha et al., 2017).
2. Coffee is not that scary
Despite being a bit of a controversial topic, coffee has many benefits for your health. Several studies have linked coffee with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, cognitive diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s as well as several other illnesses (Freedman et al., 2012, Liu et al., 2016).
Coffee is rich in antioxidants and has documented benefits for heart protection and longevity (O’Keefe et al., 2018).
Of course, you have to remember that consuming caffeinated products should be done in moderation. Excessive consumption of coffee products may cause insomnia and heart palpitations. Keep your coffee intake to less than four cups per day and limit or avoid entirely if you are pregnant as it has been linked with lower birth weight (Poole et al., 2017).
3. Take care of your gut
The bacteria that are found in your gut, the gut microbiota, are very important for your health. Disruption in this area has been linked to a few chronic diseases such as obesity and digestive problems (West et al., 2015, Torres-Fuentes et al., 2017).
To improve the health of your gut, eat foods that are probiotic such as yoghurt or sauerkraut and don’t forget to eat enough fibre.
4. Vitamin D all year round
The majority of people do not get enough vitamin D during the year. A small deficiency is not too harmful to the body, however maintaining regular levels of vitamin D aids with optimising your health.
It can improve the strength of your bones (Rizzoli et al., 2013), reduce symptoms of depression (Shaffer et al., 2014), reduce the risk of cancer (Feldman et al., 2014, Tagliabue et al., 2015) and give a boost to your immune system (Zdrenghea et al., 2017).
If sunlight is not as abundant where you live, then it might just be that your vitamin D levels are a bit lower. It is a good idea to have a test done to keep an eye on the level of various vitamins, including vitamin D, in your body.
5. Veggies and fruits
Some of these tips might be a bit unusual, however, among them, we should still keep in mind the importance of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
They are full of fibre, vitamins (and we already know how important both of those are), minerals and antioxidants all of which contribute positively to your health. Several studies show that eating fruit and vegetables can lower the risk for heart disease and obesity (Aune et al., 2017, Wang et al., 2019).
6. Protein for the body
One of the reasons we need protein in our body is because it supplies the materials needed by our body to create new cells and tissues (Kim et al., 2016). It is also needed because it helps to maintain a reasonable weight.
A higher intake of protein can boost your metabolic rate while extending the time you feel full for as well as decreasing cravings or the need to snack (Leidy et al., 2011).
7. Exercise and more exercise
Another well-known fact is that exercise is key to good health. Our bodies are made to move, and exercise helps with muscle, bone, joint, heart and mind health (and more). Cardio is very good for your physical and mental health.
The CDC suggests that adults aged 18-65+ exercise for at least 150 minutes per week and do muscle-strengthening activities twice per week. Those who are 65+ should also add balancing activities to that list (CDC, 2021).
8. Saturated fat
Saturated fat is quite a controversial topic. In the past, saturated fat was thought to contribute to heart disease due to various inconsistent studies (Heileson, 2020) and while it’s true that it can raise cholesterol levels, it can also raise HDL cholesterol – the good cholesterol – and reduce LDL cholesterol – the bad type which has links to heart disease (Astrup et al., 2020).
Of course, don’t consume too many products with saturated fat, but perhaps it is time to consider that saturated fat alone is not the villain in any diet, especially if it is part of a balanced diet.
9. Spice up your life
Our world is abundant with naturally occurring herbs and spices. They are not only great for providing flavour to the dishes that we prepare but also may potentially contribute to better health (Jiang, 2019).
For example, ginger has been used for a long time in traditional and modern Chinese herbal medicine. It has anti-inflammatory effects and is used in some cold medicine as a vitamin boost (Shahrajabian et al., 2019).
10. Take care of your social life
Humans are social beings. Sure, some may have longer or shorter social batteries however, taking care of your relationships with family and friends is important both for your mental well-being as well as physical health.
Research has suggested that people who have strong relationships with their loved ones live longer (Yang et al., 2016).
These few steps across your life can have a huge, combined effect on your eating habits and well-being. If you wish to live healthier, do not just focus on food and exercise. Sleeping habits and social interactions are also important to good development.
There is a lot of research out there that prove the benefits of the ten tips mentioned above and it is easy to introduce small changes that will improve your health. As it is the New Year, here is another tip about what you can do to start 2022 positively!
Extra tip from Echelon Health
This year we recommend that you get a private health assessment. Scans and tests will be able to provide an expert level of knowledge regarding your health. Combining these results with various health tips about diet and exercise will ensure that you have a holistic view of your health and ways to improve it if needed.
Our advanced imaging technology (CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound) can detect abnormalities that are as small as 2mm and prevent them from developing into a worse condition. Our recommended Platinum Assessment can detect up to 94% of preventable causes of death.
The technology at our facilities, combined with years of medical knowledge and experience and seamless client care allows our clients to feel comfortable and taken care of during all parts of the assessment.
If you would like to find out more about what we offer, download our brochure here or contact our team by filling out the form on the side!
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