Give yourself a health boost
There is so much advice around on health, diet, exercise and general wellbeing that following it can be overwhelming. But looking after yourself needn't be difficult - or unpleasant. Treat your body to a health kick with these simple ideas?
Laughter really could be the best medicine
Having a good giggle helps fight infection, ease pain, control diabetes, boost blood flow, and may even reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Laughing also reduces stress - and even better, a good belly-laugh combined with regular chortling can burn calories.
Adults should drink around six to eight glasses of fluid a day, according to the British Dietetic Association - plain water is ideal, but diluted fruit juice or fruit and herb teas are fine too. Without enough water, dehydration can leave you tired, constipated, nauseous, headachy and can even lead to kidney stones - while plenty of fluid cuts hunger, boosts energy levels and makes you look better too.
Get a good night's sleep
One in five people manages on fewer than six hours a night, but not getting enough rest can leave you physically and mentally under par, and may accelerate the ageing process. For an uninterrupted eight hours' rest, cut out caffeine and too much alcohol before bed, and get into a night-time routine. For a modern take on a traditional remedy, try Night Time Milk, which has naturally higher levels of melatonin - a hormone which makes us feel drowsy - than normal milk. Available at selected branches of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, or visit www.night-time-milk.com.
Eat your greens... and your reds, oranges, yellows...etc!
Packing your diet full of fruit and vegetables will ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as cutting the risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and cancer by up to 20%. You need at least five portions daily for the maximum benefits. To protect your eyes, tuck into yellow and orange fruit and veg, like sweetcorn, carrots and apricots, which contain lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene.
Listen to your dentist
Flossing regularly not only improves your oral hygiene and reduces the risk of gum disease, but could cut protect your heart. Research from Harvard Medical School found that ignoring the inflammation-causing bacteria lurking in the tiny gaps between your teeth could make you 72% more likely to suffer from heart disease.
Get pet friendly
Fido and Fluffy aren't just good companions, they can be great for your health too. Pet owners suffer fewer ailments, and are less prone to heart attacks. There are psychological benefits as well - stroking a cat or watching a fish can lower stress levels.
Stop to smell the roses
Aromatherapy, harnessing the natural healing powers of essential oils, has been around for more than 6,000 years. Rose alleviates depression and grapefruit has an uplifting aroma, while sleep-inducing lavender can help you sleep well - and they all smell nice! Buy a special oil burner, add a few drops to a bath or enjoy a massage - but never put essential oils directly onto your skin, always mix with a carrier oil, such as almond oil.
Eat well, live well
Keep your total calorie intake down, but boost the benefits of your diet by munching on superfoods, including oily fish, tinned tomatoes, nuts, spinach, oats, berries, onions, rosemary, soya, bananas and yoghurt. Easy to fit into your diet, between them they do everything from improving bone density and memory to fighting cancer and the signs of ageing.
Become a quitter
If you smoke, giving up the habit could have the biggest positive effect on your health of all. The negative effects of smoking on health - and your pocket - are well known, and you're also affecting those around you. Talk to your doctor or visit www.givingupsmoking.co.uk for tips and advice on giving up smoking.
Turn on the radio
Music can reduce anger and depression, and distract us from pain. And as anyone who's ever had ?our tune' will know, a single note can bring back happy memories. So pick a song, which makes you feel on top of the world - and sing along at the top of your voice to give your upper body a good workout.
Get out more
The Government recommends that people exercise five times a week or more for 30 minutes. But it needn't be boring or exhausting. Swimming is an excellent all-round exercise, which is kind to your body, while dancing helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and keeps your mind active - plus you can make new friends as you step the light fantastic. Or go for a brisk walk - head for your local park or just wander up and down the high street, where a two-hour turn around the shops could burn 200 calories.
Being healthy doesn't mean depriving yourself - a few squares of dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure, may protect against heart disease and cancer, and can even control diabetes. Or enjoy a glass of red wine - the potent antioxidants in red wine can help protect against heart disease and cancer. No more than two small glasses a day though, otherwise it has the opposite effect.
Start as you mean to go on
Begin the day with a good breakfast. People who skip the first meal of the day have a higher chance of becoming obese, developing diabetes or even having a heart attack. Sadly you can't tuck in to a traditional British fry-up every morning - wholegrains and cereals are more beneficial - but you can enjoy a traditional cuppa. Tea, or even better green tea, is packed with flavonoids, disease-fighting compounds, which can help protect against ageing.
Look on the bright side
Having an optimistic attitude can cut your chances of suffering from depression, boost your immune system and cut stress. So make sure to find the silver lining every day - remember to concentrate on the positive things as well as the negative, don't let things get out of proportion and don't go through life expecting the worst.
Take a break
Whether it's a fortnight in the sun, or simply 10 minutes out of your day, make sure you seize the chance to do nothing from time to time. A break from the day-to-day routine can give you a chance to really appreciate the world around you rather than rushing through life. You needn't leave the country though - enjoy a long soak in the bath with the door firmly locked or relax with a good book. Or take up meditation - studies suggest it could boost the immune system as well as giving you chance to de-stress.
Ginger up your life
The root not only tastes great, but is said to warm your internal organs, ease depression, help digestion, lower blood pressure, cure ailments from colds to nausea, and it's also great for improving your circulation. For a great-tasting drink, grate 1cm of fresh ginger into a cup, add boiling water and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Add honey and lemon to taste. To boost your circulation further, combine ginger with a ginkgo biloba supplement - herbalists recommend 120mg a day (always check with your doctor first). Available from Holland & Barrett, priced from £4.49.
Stay flexible by making time to stretch every day - the average person loses 70% of their flexibility from the age of 20 to 70. Get advice on the best exercises from a qualified professional - or check out yoga and Pilates classes in your area. Pilates is ideal as it's gentle, and benefits those suffering from a range of conditions from osteoporosis to incontinence, while yoga also teaches deep breathing and relaxation methods.
Phone a friend
Good friends can actually help you to live longer, according to a new Australian study. Researchers believe that spending time with people we've chosen to get close to - unlike family who we can't pick - helps lengthen your life. They also believe that friends may encourage people to look after themselves, and can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety at difficult times.
Believe in something
People who are religious tend to live longer than those who are not. Researchers believe faith helps people through stressful situations, while religious people also tend to have a more positive view of the world and feel there is a purpose to life. Those who practise an organised religion also benefit from the support provided by their community.
Get out of your rut
Trying something new and hanging on to your sense of adventure keeps you young. If you still feel 21 inside, act like it - set yourself goals to achieve, whether it's reading the books you've always meant to, learning to cook a foreign cuisine or seeing the world. For a vitality boost, try guarana, containing natural stimulants which can increase energy levels and relieve fatigue, while also decreasing stress levels (ask your doctor first). Buy it from Holland & Barrett, from £7.29.
More articles in this category:
Or check out the Archive for more!