Five Healthy Habits for the New Year

By Nisha Patel -

As the New Year approaches many people will be making resolutions. According to Forbes online, a study carried out by the University of Scranton suggests only 8% stick to them. If this is the case, instead of making flakey resolutions, isn’t it better creating life long habits. The book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg gives a great insight about why habits exist and how to create new long-lasting habits.

New Years resolutions usually fail because there are too many that are far too general e.g I want to lose weight, quit smoking, drink less. It’s more effective to plan, for example, how the weight loss will take place by breaking it down into a few manageable steps. For example, instead of my morning cappuccino/latte which contains a lot of empty calories, I’ll have a smoothie instead. Focus on these steps until they’re established habits and then move onto more you’d like to incorporate.

1) Water, water and more water

It’s such an obvious and simple habit but still widely ignored with people opting for juice, high calorie caffeinated drinks and soft drinks. Worryingly the energy drink market is also booming and according to foodmanufacture.co.uk 46% of Brits have drunk an energy drink in the past year. However, water not only helps keep the body hydrated, but is also essential in keeping energy levels up and hunger at bay. Thus preventing snacking between meals. The diagram below beautifully illustrates the importance of water in the body with its numerous health benefits.

2) Smooth-ie start to the day

Starting the day with a morning smoothie is a fantastic way for the whole family to get their essential fruit/vegetable intake. There are so many tasty combinations that can accommodate the most challenging of palates. Morning smoothies can help with bowel movement by providing a fantastic source of roughage from the fibre content of the whole fruit/vegetable. This also allows a slow release of energy throughout the morning, preventing mid-morning snacking.  Adding nuts and seeds can help slow down the release energy even further keeping the body fuller for longer. Adding blue-green algae to the smoothie like Spirulina and Chlorella can help keep the body healthy and help prevent many conditions. According to Dr. Mercola, spirulina has a wealth of health benefits including helping balancing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, keeping allergies at bay and helping prevent Candidiasis (yeast infection) by promoting healthy gut bacteria.

3) Tea time

Teas can be a great source of comfort and relaxation as well as providing health benefits. According to the British Journal of Nutrition long-term (12 week) green tea intake significantly reduced blood pressure. Certain herbal teas can provide relief for certain self-limiting ailments for example coughs. Thyme is a great example of this. According to the University of Maryland, two preliminary studies suggest that thyme may help treat acute bronchitis and relieve cough. Thyme is approved by the German Commission E to treat those conditions. See thyme tea recipe here.

4) Breathing meditation

We often focus on the health of our body, but the health of the mind is also vitally important. With mounting pressure of the fast paced modern lifestyle, it’s understandable most people are suffering from stress induced illnesses. 10 minute of breathing mediation a day is a great way to calm the mind and turn relax the body. According to the National Centre for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine several studies demonstrate the effectiveness of meditation in high blood pressure, IBS, ulcerative colitis, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

5) Move your body

The idea of exercising the body doesn’t alway paint a fun-filled picture, but exercise can be immensely enjoyable. The key is to find a fun form of exercise that’ll ensure motivation is maintained on a regular and long-lasting basis.  The current recommendation is 30 minutes of cardio five times a week. Incorporating it into the day is another great option. Cycling/running/speed walking to and from work. Running up the stairs instead of getting the lift/escalators. Choosing an activity that increases the heart/respiration rate and produces a sweat is a must.

Core building exercise is equally important. According to patient.co.uk about 8 in 10 people have one or more bouts of low back pain. In most cases, it is not due to a serious disease or serious back problem, and the exact cause of the pain is not clear. This is called nonspecific lower back pain. The usual advice is to keep active, and do normal activities as much as possible. According to NHS choices website core building exercise like Pilates and yoga can help with this type of lower back pain.

Increasing physical activity throughout the day can positively impact health and wellbeing, whereas a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a wide range of diseases and disorder as shown in the diagram below.

 

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