When it comes to your health and well-being, the prospect of sticking to strict plans can be discouraging. To make life a little easier for you, we asked the experts to share the ONE thing we should all be doing to improve our health.
You’re probably more clued up than you think, but just in case you’re missing something, here’s a checklist of the 10 health rules to live by:
1. Wear sunglasses
‘Be as cautious with your eyes in the sun as you are with your skin. Protecting against UV light helps to guard against age-related eye issues like cataracts, which can cause blindness,’ says optometrist Rakesh Kapoor. If you have a fair skin and light-coloured eyes, sunglasses are a must, as UV exposure could put you at risk for ocular melanoma. ‘Use sunglasses that meet EU or Australian regulations,’ adds Rakesh.
2. Spend more time brushing
‘You need to brush for two minutes, twice a day. Most of us brush for 30 seconds, but that’s not long enough to remove plaque. I also tell people to smell their dental floss after use – that usually encourages them to keep using it! Floss twice a week.’ – Dr James Goolnick, dentist.
3. Eat some fat
‘An intake of good fats, found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts, slows the skin’s wrinkling process. But do try to avoid vegetable oils – they’re high in omega-6 fats that have can have an inflammatory effect. For beautiful skin, don’t forget to wear sunscreen, too!’ – Dr Stephanie Williams, dermatologist.
4. Eat only when you are hungry
‘Understand when you are hungry, eat then – and stop when you’re full. If that means lunch at 3 pm, go with it. People who eat this way tend to eat less throughout the day, which can assist in weight maintenance, which in turn can help in many areas of their health.’ – Rob Hobson, nutritionist.
Read more: How to eat your way to a flatter tummy
5. Don’t just reach for fibre
‘Increasing fibre doesn’t help everyone with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and there’s also a type of constipation that’s called slow-transit constipation, for which this is the worst solution – it will just lead to more bloating, wind and pain. If you try raising your fibre intake and things get worse – stop.’ – Dr Anton Emmanuel, gastroenterologist.
6. Check your Vitamin D Levels
‘Low levels of vitamin D are surprisingly common and, despite popular belief, it can affect women in sunny climates; nearly 40 to 50% of women of reproductive age have low levels, yet it’s essential for health and plays a role in fertility. So get your levels tested.’ – Dr Narenda Pisal, gynaecologist.
7. Know your risks
‘Many women have no idea of their risk of heart disease. Ask your doctor about yours, and do what you can to lower your risks: losing weight, stopping smoking, tackling blood pressure or cholesterol, or exercising. A family history of premature heart disease makes this even more essential.’ – Dr Jane Flint, cardiologist.
8. Don’t be so rigid
‘My “rule” would be to have fewer rules! A lot of stress is created by ourselves as we try to fit rigid ideas about what we should do, or how we should do it. If we were all more flexible in our thinking – if we stopped trying to be so perfect – we’d create a lot less stress in our own lives.’ – Dr Mark Winwood, psychologist.
9. Bend backwards more
‘Most of the bending we do each day involves forward bending, and this creates an imbalance in the body that leads to poor posture, pain and spinal problems. Get up every now and again and gently bend backwards, or simply arch your back in your chair – even that is enough to help balance things.’ – Tim Allardyce, physiotherapist
10. Keep the biggies under control
All our experts agree on these! Take care of the big ones and you’ll make a difference to almost every area of your health – and add years to your life. So what are the big ones? Sleep better, stop smoking, keep a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and reduce stress.