Hit Your Health Goals

Small health changes with BIG health payoffs


According to research, it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit. So what better time now that spring has sprung to start on these little health changes that could have a big impact on your life.


Switch off!

Sleeplessness, headaches, fatigue and dizziness can all be symptoms of electrical sensitivity. ‘Electrical sensitivity affects about 35 per cent of the population. It interferes with your body’s natural rhythms.  Cordless phones may be the worst, as we tend to keep them beside the bed, where we receive electrical waves from the base. Other risk areas include: using the hairdryer over 10 minutes; keeping your digital clock by the bed and sitting too close and too long in front of a computer screen. Switch to an analogue clock and a flat screen monitor and keep your wireless network router in a different room to your study or bedroom. Also if you’re working in front of a computer screen for long periods make sure you take a few minutes break at least every half an hour’ Suggests Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com), author of Natural Health Bible for Women.


Stand tall, sit tall, walk tall

Grandma was right! Just standing tall works the deep postural muscles, which hold you up against gravity. When you slouch, not only does it look awful (bulging stomach, round shoulders) but also it puts pressure on the spine and reduces the efficiency of your breathing and the ability of your core muscles to support the spine. Remember to lengthen up through the crown of your head and you’ll look taller and slimmer’ explains Lynne Robinson, Pilates guru and co-founder of Body Control Pilates (www.bodycontrolpilates.co.uk).


Go nuts with nuts

Feeling peckish? Almonds make a great snack because of their protein content. ‘They are high in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, needed for normal growth and development as they are important components of cell membranes. They also help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Almonds are also an excellent source of copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.


Drink your food and chew your soup!

Chew food a minimum of 30 times. ‘This should be mixed with enough saliva for you to almost drink it! Chewing enough not only stimulates the secretion of digestive juices needed for proper digestion, it also ensures that your food is properly mixed with saliva and is swallowed with less gas.  Unbroken down food in the gut leads to many problems. One of which is gas and bloating! Liquids foods such as soups and smoothies should also be chewed. If you do not chew it, then your body will not produce adequate enzymes.


Go for a 15-minute walk at a lunch break

It takes up to 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the vitamin D you need. Sharon Morey, Nutritionist at Quest Vitamins says ‘Vitamin D can help with the symptoms of mild depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Vitamin D is also well known for its role in bone health: it ensures that calcium is absorbed properly and retained in the bones. Another important, and lesser well-known role of vitamin D is in immunity. The best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight on the skin.  If you work indoors, go out for a walk in your lunch hour and always make sure to spend time outdoors at the weekend. You can also take a supplement, such as Quests’ Forte D 4000 (www.revital.co.uk, £12.69)’


Stuff your veg

Are you struggling with getting your ‘five a day’? Stuff your veg to increase your intake. We have been stuffing peppers for years. In the same theme – instead of bread, use large lettuce leaves to wrap around fish, meat or other fillings (e.g. lentils, beans, lamb mince). You can also fill chicory leaves with a vegetables filling or prawn mayonnaise – Delicious!


Fake your burger

Are you trying to cut down on carbs? ‘Large mushrooms like Portobello mushrooms are great ‘fake’ burgers! They can also be cooked and added into a food mixer with chickpeas, olive oil, a little salt, a little flour (or corn flour), herbs and 2-3 whisked eggs. Once you have a good consistency, using your hands, mould into burger shapes and grill in the oven till crispy on each side. Serve with salad on the side’ suggests Barns.


Start the day with hot water and lemon

Swap your coffee for ½ a freshly squeezed lemon with water in the morning (but drink through a straw so you protect the enamel on your teeth). Why? Lemons are really good for supporting digestion, but particularly fat digestion. By digesting fats more effectively, you may also absorb fat-soluble nutrients better such as vitamin A, vitamin E and B12.


Sleep better

Sleep makes you feel and look better; it decreases risk for cardiovascular disease, boosts metabolism and memory and reduces stress. However, busy lifestyle and endless ‘to do’ lists can make it very difficult to switch off. Help yourself with Magnesium ‘Many of us are deficient in magnesium that is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ as it relaxes muscles and nerves. Have a good quality magnesium supplement before bed and you will see the difference after three to four months. Try Quest Vitamins Synergistic Magnesium (£4.99,www.revital.co.uk)’ advises Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.


Have sex regularly

It can make you happier and more confident – those who have regular sex as well as plenty of hugs and intimacy, tend to be much happier than those who don’t. It seems that those who have greater emotional support have a greater sense of well-being. Oxytocin is the love hormone that is released with sexual activity and orgasm, so it’s no wonder those having regular sex feel happier!


Go green

Make yourself a fresh fruit smoothie with Chlorella or Spirulina powder (try Green Lightning by Nature’s Plus available from www.revital.co.uk, £26.40). These ‘greens from the sea’ give us a great natural dose of nutrition to help us cope better – especially if you are prone to becoming run down during a stressful period. The fruit in the smoothie is also rich in vitamin C to support the immune system.


Take probiotics

There are actually over 400 known species of these bacteria in the human gut, and their numbers total around 100 trillion per person – ten times more than the number of cells in our body! ‘They help break down our foods and absorb nutrients, fighting off detrimental bacteria, producing substances that nourish and protect the gut wall, and interacting with the immune system. Go for the ones with different strains of bacteria, such a Pro-Ven 25 Billion (Boots, £13.95)’ says Adrienne Benjamin, Nutritionist at Pro-Ven Probiotics.


Pop some oatcakes in your handbag

Oats delivers their energy slowly and can be kinder to the gut than wheat. Easy to take to work (they fit perfectly into mini plastic clip-lock pots that can go in your handbag) – always put with a protein snack or good essential fatty acids e.g. cottage cheese, hummus or a nut butter (almond or walnut). Ideal time to eat: Mid-morning because you can use the extra energy from the carbohydrates throughout the day or just before a gym session to give you energy.


Go natural

In the food and drink we consume, there are small amounts of undesirable substances such as pesticides, even if we eat mainly organic food and filtered water. But the enzymes in our digestive tract can break these down and excrete them, to some extent. Even if they are absorbed, the blood from the digestive tract flows first through the liver, where it is filtered to remove more toxic or waste substances before they can reach the body’s tissues. On the other hand, toxins absorbed through the skin don’t come into contact with digestive enzymes, and can circulate around the body before reaching the liver. This makes them more likely to be trapped in tissues anywhere in our body’ explains Barns.

‘Natural ingredients are the ones that are derived from environmental sources with no synthetic compounds. When choosing skincare look for essential oils, which are the most powerful, organic ingredients. Go for Skin Balm by What Skin Needs (www.whatskinnneds.co.uk, £13.99) with Lemon, Green Tea, Aloe Vera and Ylang Ylang essential oils’ advises Sonja Dymalovski, Skincare Expert at www.whatskinneeds.co.uk.


Think purple

Blackberries, blueberries, black grapes, beetroot, blackcurrants, purple plums, figs, prunes, raisins, red cabbage, aubergine – purple foods are a great source of anthocyanins. These are a type of flavonoid that is potently antioxidant, being protective to our cells. Anthocyanins work closely with vitamin C in our body, to increase it into our cells, enhancing the integrity of all cell walls and collagen. Therefore they help the strength and maintenance of skin, all connective tissues and blood vessels.


Brush your cellulite away

Dry body brushing, also called skin brushing, is the easiest and the cheapest way to fight this stubborn orange peel. ‘It helps to break up fatty deposits, aids lymphatic drainage and stimulates circulation. Overall it should take between 3 and 7 minutes to brush the entire body. The most important point is that you should always brush towards your heart. Use firm, rhythmic strokes to brush the sole of your right foot. Then brush over the top of your foot toward your ankle. Move to your lower leg, cover the whole surface. Brush from your knee to the top of your thigh.  Brush your buttock areas up to your waist. Repeat on your left leg. Brush at the top of your buttocks and move upward. Brush the whole of your back up to your shoulders. Brush your right arm, paying particular attention to the area around your armpit. Repeat on your left arm. Finish by brushing gently over your throat and neck.