5 Simple Steps to Improve Health
The great outdoors
If you want good health, clearer mind and a decreased risk of heart disease, you need to ensure you have adequate vitamin D. The best source is simply from sunlight, but our fear of sun exposure has lead us to shy away from spending time in the sunshine. However, expert advice has changed and we need to spend more time outdoors (with adequate protection from the midday sun during the summer months). Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of heart disease by 64% and a 81% higher risk of dying from heart disease. Spending just 20 minutes per day outside will also help lower blood pressure. Add a brisk walk and you will also be improve your respiratory and joint health.
Colour your palate
It is a known fact that the more colourful your plate, the more nutritious the food. Junk and processed food tends to be the beige/biscuit colour. Mother nature has given us an abundance of powerful antioxidant-rich foods, all of which benefit our health. Fill your plate with colour. Opt for the powerful phytonutrients in berries such as blueberries and raspberries which are also lower in fructose, so perfect if you are watching your sugar levels. Go green with broccoli, shown to help protect against some cancers, particularly hormone cancers. Add an array of green leaf packed with nutrients, especially calcium. Include the protective carotenoids found in carrots, sweet potatoes and squash, and fill up with red tomatoes, packed with Lycopene, which not only helps protect you from some cancers, but also protects you from heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, peppers, papaya and even watermelons but it is in its most usable form when cooked and combined with healthy fats. I prefer to take my lycopene in pill form (one daily Cardiomato pill is the equivalent of approximately 6lb of tomatoes!).
Lubricate the body
Our body needs a range of healthy fats, especially omega 3 found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. Not only does a diet rich in essential fatty acids aid joint health, it also benefits brain health, concentration, protects against heart disease, boosts the immune system and speeds up healing. The Mediterranean diet is packed with fresh fruit and vegetables, alongside fresh fish and plenty of healthy oils – they also eat far less junk food! A diet rich in healthy oils also enables us to absorb and utilise many vitamins and phytonutrients, such as lycopene. I recommend coconut oil when cooking, it remains stable when cooking, even at high temperatures and can help protect you from heart disease.
Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water. It helps flush out our toxins, helps lubricate our bodies but above all, it is essential for life. Staying hydrated decreases your chances of colon or bladder cancer, it also helps protect us from heart disease, helping the blood pump more efficiently. We stay more focused, have a clearer head and we perform better. We get a better nights sleep when our bodies are hydrated and suffer less aches and pains when waking and after exercise. Our kidneys play a vital role in regulating our blood pressure, keeping hydrated, alongside monitoring our sodium intake, will help reduce high blood pressure significantly. Many people confuse thirst pangs for hunger pangs so often just drinking a glass of water whenever you are hungry can help to control weight, particularly cravings.
Turn off the mobile phone, hide the laptop and find some time for you. Stress is one of the biggest threats to our overall health, but especially heart health. Stress also lowers the immune system and can also change our relationship with food. Those who suffer from more stress, tend to rely more heavily on stimulants such as caffeine and refined carbohydrates, particularly sugar, which artificially gives you a ‘feel good’ boost – in fact food manufacturers spend thousands of pounds identifying the ‘Bliss’ factor in these foods. Soon you are not just suffering from stress but also diabetes and heart disease from your poor diet choices.