February is Healthy Lifestyle Awareness month, a month dedicated to highlighting the importance of healthy living through good nutrition and regular exercise.
Being healthy is not just about eating enough fruit and vegetables, it’s also about relaxing and spending quality time with your loved ones as this contributes to an overall healthy lifestyle and well-being.
The key to embarking on a healthy lifestyle is to start small. Making a small change to your diet and being able to maintain it can go a long way. We all have something that we can adjust in our diets and lifestyles. The road to self improvement and positive change in your health doesn’t have to come with expensive gym memberships and unreal expectations – there are some realistic ways to keep your physical and mental health at its best in 2018.
Gert Coetzee, Pharmacist and Diet pioneer, who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About says “long lasting improvement is possible with consistency and discipline.”
Below he shares some health tips which can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1. Cut down on sugar
Cut back on the amount of sugar that you would regularly add to foods, such as cereal, and drinks such as tea and coffee. When baking, replace the sugar in recipes with stevia extracts, or spices such as cinnamon and almond extract. Stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages, go for sugar free or low-calorie drinks. When shopping, compare food labels and go for the products with the lowest amounts of added sugars.
2. Lower your salt intake
Taking in too much salt increases blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and strokes. The intake of processed food and fast food should be decreased as these are high in sodium and other preservatives that are bad for your health. Avoid adding salt to foods – instead use herbs, spice, lemon and other salt-free seasoning blends. Eat fresh poultry, fish and lean meat rather than processed, canned or smoked meats.
3. Limit alcohol intake
Too much alcohol is bad for your health because it can damage your internal organs – specifically the liver. The liver is important as it plays a central role in all metabolic processes in the body. Heavy drinking can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and digestive problems. Excessive drinking also increases your risks of getting cancer and cardiovascular disease. An occasional glass of wine isn’t a cause for concern, but the cumulative effects of drinking alcohol can take its toll on your body.
4. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
Having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been linked to improved health. This is because fruits and veggies are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, fiber and vitamins which can protect you from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Exercising is important because it assists in weight loss and also lowers the risk of some diseases. The health benefits of regular physical activity should not be ignored as they can add years to your life. Exercise releases endorphins which triggers positive feelings in the body and adds to the body’s overall well-being. Walking is just as good as jogging/running for heart health. In terms of heart health, walking for an hour is roughly equivalent to a half-hour run.
6. Eat less processed meats
Processed meat is considered unhealthy because it has been linked to diseases like, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Go for healthier options such as salmon, chicken and hake.