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Easiest Ever Health Boosts

HealthLiving a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard work. Follow our must-dos and see how easy it can be to boost your wellbeing and treat your body well.

Just eat something fishy… Don’t like fish? Use flaxseed, walnut or canola oils

This simple measure can add five years to your life, says Dr Trisha Macnair, author of The Long Life Equation (Adams Media Corporation). The omega-3s in fish can help prevent coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis, she explains. Aim to eat two portions of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or sardines a week. Don’t like fish? Use flaxseed, walnut or canola oils in cooking; and consider taking a good supplement such as TLC OmegaCare Forte, R 169,99 for 90 caps at Clicks, Dis-Chem or selected pharmacies.

Do something at random

Sticking to a rigid schedule to ‘optimise’ your time kills your ability to simply enjoy life, says Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness (Penguin). And we’re inflicting the same patterns on our children – filling their weekends with classes and visits. “We need to inject unpredictability and surprise into our lives,” he explains. Put this into practise by taking a different route for your daily walk or run, taking the kids to the park after school instead of heading home, or popping into a gallery or museum on a Saturday morning. Try to make a few spontaneous decisions, rather than having everything mapped out.

Blow and throw

Almost 50% of women admit to carrying used tissues, reports a study conducted at the UK’s Cardiff University. “Yet cold and flu viruses can live for 48 hours or longer if kept in a warm place like a bag,” says Professor Ron Eccles.

Make Monday meat free

We’re not jumping on the Paul McCartney bandwagon, but it makes sense to become a ‘meat reducer’ in light of reports linking red or processed meat consumption to an increased risk of bowel cancer. Try cutting out meat on Mondays and aim to work in at least one other day during the week. …red or processed meat consumption leads to an increased risk of bowel cancer

Good alternatives include fish, pulses, quinoa, nuts and seeds, milk and dairy products. Keep processed meat to a minimum and opt for locally produced outdoor-reared, free-range meat. If you can’t buy organic, choose lean meat and trim any fat where residues of antibiotics and growth hormones used in intensive farming tend to be stored. Visit freshearth.co.za for meat-free meal ideas.

Don’t Hover

Around 85% of us hover over seats in public loos, says physiotherapist Ann Mayne. This increases our risk of urinary infection as it doesn’t fully empty the bladder, she warns.

Ditch the Fear

We often use up energy and create our own stress by cultivating fear, then entrench this through negative talk on the weekend when we should be relaxing. Gossiping is also a coping mechanism we use to rid ourselves of insecurities. However, the relief we get is temporary and just makes us feel more insecure. Don’t focus on how different you are from others, rather try to see each person as intrinsically good. As yoga teacher, Sharon Gannon explains, “When destructive emotions arise within you, cultivate the opposite state of mind. See the other person’s potential for kindness and bolster your own expression of kindness. If you see them in a negative way, the power of your perception will only help to keep them that way as you polarise yourself from them, assuming a superior role.'” www.jivamuktiyoga.com)

Get Rid of your Air Freshener

Synthetic air fresheners release chemicals into your home that can cause headaches, earaches and depression, says a study from the UK’s Brunei University. Opt for one that’s environmentally friendly instead, such as Better Earth Natural Aroma’s Air Freshener, R24, from faithful-to-nature.co.za. Products in this range are free from ethoxylated ingredients, sulphated surfactants, parabens, animal products, colourants and synthetic fragrances.

Don’t keep your Cellphone next to your Bed

Radiation from cellphones can cause insomnia and headaches, say Swedish scientists. So use your landline at bedtime and don’t keep a cellphone next to your bed, says Dr Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.

Trick Yourself!

Experts warn that one in five women drinks enough to damage her health, so cut down on your vino intake – without even noticing. Invest in smaller glasses – typical wine glasses hold a third of a bottle! Read the label: white wine often contains 12-13% alcohol, but there’s a good selection of low-alcohol options with around 9%. Twee Jonge Gezellen TJ Light contains 8,5% alcohol and costs under R25 (at Pick n Pay). We also like Four Cousins Extra Light (9%) and Fleur du Cap Natural Light (9,5%). Organic wines are produced without chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. Try Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chardonnay Chenin Blanc, R49.50, or the non-alcoholic Inah (shiraz, cabernet sauvignon or merlot), R61.

Stretch Out

After the common cold, back pain is the most widespread reason for time off work. Yet simply stretching each muscle group for 15-30 seconds a day makes all the difference, protecting muscles and joints from injury, says Dr Macnair. Choose an exercise like Pilates or yoga, or try the British Chiropractic Association’s ‘three-minute spine strengtheners’ at chiropractic-uk. co.uk/straightenup.

Look in a Full-Length Mirror… Naked!

Our bodies are the best indicator of our wellbeing and being aware of any changes can be key to early diagnosis, as you’ll soon spot anything out of the ordinary, says Dr Kate Saffin. Dimpling or puckering of a breast could signal breast cancer, thinning locks could indicate hormonal changes or diabetes, and changes to a mole might indicate skin cancer.

Write Down What You Eat

New research shows that keeping a daily food diary could double your weight loss. Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in America studied the dietary habits of 1 700 people over six months. Average weight loss was 6kg, but those who kept a food diary lost twice as much as those who didn’t.

Eat a Banana Every Day

They’re cheap, portable, readily available – and good for you! A recent mental health study found that the tryptophan in bananas can alleviate depression, while their B vitamins help calm the nervous system. And two a day can reduce blood pressure by 10%, reported a study in India.

Text by Michele O’Connor and Mandy Mcdonald. Taken from the January 2010 edition of Essentials magazine.


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