Ten healthy hints

Mark Twain wrote that the only way to maintain one’s health was to “eat what you don’t want to eat, drink what you don’t like and do what you’d rather not”. While keeping healthy requires sacrifice, the benefits will leave you feeling better and happier than before.

Nutritional consultant Joan van Rensburg says that making simple lifestyle changes helps fend off stress, heart disease, allergies and a range of other problems that plague people in today’s stressful environment.

So, if there are 10 things you do for your health in 2008, make sure they are the following:

1. Stop smoking and excessive drinking. The more you smoke the more likely you are to develop cancer or heart disease. For most adults, moderate alcohol use – up to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women and older people – causes few problems.

2. Find a stress outlet. This needn’t cost an arm and a leg – read, sit in the garden, take the pets for a walk, do a crossword or play cards.

3. Sun yourself. Half an hour in the sun each day helps the endocrine system (hormonal system). Remember to lather on the sunscreen and take off the sunglasses as the sun’s rays enter the pupils of your eyes, stimulating the pineal gland, which secretes a hormone transmitter that helps elevate the levels of serotonin in your body (the happy hormone).

4. Maintain a healthy weight. Type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition affecting the way your body metabolises sugar (glucose), is more common among people who are obese. Cut down on foods that contain preservatives and use natural ­sweeteners, such as fructose, raw honey, stevia and zylitol, which have a stabilising effect on your blood sugar levels.

5. Eat more raw foods. To start off make every snack a raw food. Eat lots of the richly coloured vegetables, such as carrots, peppers and tomatoes, which are full of antioxidants. In the process you’ll be helping your body by building a strong immune system. This is particularly important if you have allergies, cancer or are HIV-positive.

6. Consume more essential fatty acids. These are the Omega fatty acids, consisting of Omega 3, 6 and 9, which can be found in oily fish, avocado and supplements. Fatty acids are essential because they help protect your heart, boost the immune function, fight degenerative diseases, help increase fertility, improve mental health and promote healthy skin.

7. Eat garlic and wholegrain foods. Researchers have found that 5ml of garlic extract lowers levels of a disease-causing chemical by up to 48%. Make sure you have whole-grain bread, rice or pasta at least four times a week and you will reduce the chance of having cancer by 40%.

8. Take care of your skin. Always wear sunscreen lotion during summers. It is also advisable to use ­winter-care creams to overcome the harsh cold. Be sure to smile and laugh more too – your skin will shine.

9. Make love. Having sex in a healthy relationship is one of the best medicines. People who have sex at least twice a week get a protective boost from their immune systems – and it relaxes the mind too.

10. Socialise. Socialising improves memory, concentration and problem-solving skills.

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