6 health tips for the New Year

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Check out these 6 handy tips on how to make your year a healthy one.

The festive period is over. Your waist has expanded an inch or two, and you’re determined to get back on track this January.

But instead of making the same old New Year’s resolutions, take a look at these 6 tips that carry specific benefits for your health.

Read these 7 tips on how to get over the dreaded January blues.

Try one meat-free day a week

While you might already include plenty of vegetables in your diet – have you ever thought about taking a break from meat?

You don’t have to take the drastic measure of cutting it out entirely. You could start small, such as opting for one meat-less day a week.

But what benefits could this have for your health?

Strengthens your heart
Vegetarian meals high in fibre and high in potassium can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Prevents cancer
Antioxidants play a role in protecting your body against free radicals, which promote cancer cell formation and growth. And they can be found in plenty of vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and leeks.

Protects against type 2 diabetes
Whole foods (including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) which are common in vegetarian diets supply the body with nourishing fuel that contributes to more stable blood sugar levels.

Supports your stomach health
Choosing plant-based foods containing positive types of bacteria helps to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and regulate ghrelin (the hunger hormone). What’s more, fermented varieties of vegetarian food – such as water kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi – help to diversify your gut bacteria.

Stay away from Doctor Google

The internet plays an integral role in our lives. We use it to connect with people, watch our favourite TV shows, and find easily accessible information.

But because the information is so quick and easy to find, we sometimes fall into the trap of consulting the internet on important issues such as our health.

And we’ll even google our symptoms BEFORE we book an appointment with the doctor. You know, the person professionally qualified to treat our health and give us advice.

Becoming reliant on Google could be dangerous for your health, and here’s why:

Causes unnecessary stress
Although you might be experiencing painful or unpleasant symptoms, your condition might not be serious and easily treatable. Yet by consulting Google, you open yourself up to heaps of worrying diagnoses that will only alarm you and cause unnecessary anxiety. Google is a source of information, therefore it’s going to compile a list of possible diagnoses. But it takes human judgement to get an accurate diagnosis.

Could lead to self-medication
Convincing yourself that Google has the right answer, and that you don’t need to see your doctor, might tempt you to visit a drugstore and self-medicate your condition. This poses a dangerous risk to your health as you could end up taking the wrong medication.

Masks the real problem
If your condition really is serious, then it needs to be dealt with by a professional so you can receive the appropriate treatment and care. Google can’t refer you for a scan or surgery – only a doctor can do that!

Take up swimming

Swimming is a great exercise for staying healthy. It can keep your stomach trim and work wonders for your mental wellbeing.

And if you’re daunted by the gym, or need to spice up your current exercise routine, swimming offers an ideal alternative.

5 good reasons to take up swimming

1. Lowers risk of chronic illnesses
Swimming can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.

2. Burns calories
A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour. Increasing your time in the pool or upping the intensity could work wonders for your fitness. What’s more, exercising for 30 minutes in water is worth 45 minutes on land, as your body works harder in the pool.

3. Boosts your energy levels
Swimming boosts your metabolic rate, which in turn can boost your energy levels – sharpening your focus and making you feel more alert.

4. Reduces stress
Swimming can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your sleeping pattern.

5. Works your entire body
Unlike running or cycling, swimming uses all the muscles in the body. Whether you choose to swim breaststroke, backstroke, or a rigorous hammer butterfly – you’ll benefit from a full body workout.

Add berries to your diet

When it comes to health benefits, berries have a fantastic reputation. They’re loaded with compounds such as antioxidants, ellagic acid, fibre, resveratrol, and flavonoids.

It comes as no surprise, then, that they’ve been included in the NHS’s list of 10 popular “superfoods”.

But are you including them regularly in your diet? Here are five good reasons why you should. Berries can:

  • Keep your memory sharp as you age
  • Aid your digestive system
  • Lower blood pressure and boost heart health
  • Increase levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol
  • Aid weight loss

Discover 6 helpful tips on how to control high blood pressure without having to take any medication.

Walk your way to better health

UK Chief Medical Officers say that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, like walking, every week.

Yet it’s surprising how such an enjoyable, simple form of exercise is often overlooked.

Some people think walking doesn’t really count as proper exercise. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.

A report from The Ramblers, a walking charity, and Macmillan Cancer Support found that getting active through walking:

  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Increases ‘good’ cholesterol
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Builds healthy bones and muscles
  • Improves balance
  • Reduces the risk of falls.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of iron

Iron plays an important role in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia which can cause tiredness, shortness of breath, and a pale complexion.

But how much should you be getting each day? And what foods serve as good sources of iron?

Good sources of iron
You can get iron from a range of foods, including:

  • Dark-green leafy vegetables – such as curly kale and spinach
  • Liver
  • Meat
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Wholegrains
  • Nuts
  • Beans

You should include these foods in your diet to get your daily recommended iron intake. Speaking of which…

What’s the daily recommended amount?
According to the NHS website, recommendations for daily iron intake are:

  • 8.7 mg for men over 18
  • 14.8 mg for women aged 19-50
  • 8.7 mg for women over 50