Fall in love with your health

Love and good health

February is known as the month of love, but it’s also ‘Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month’. This makes it the perfect time to try out some positive lifestyle changes to fall in love with your health.

Many people put their health on hold, only to worry about it later, when something goes wrong. This month is a reminder to be proactive about balancing diet, exercise routines and taking some time to relax.

A good diet is central to overall health. Preparing your own healthy meals as often as possible and using the healthiest and freshest ingredients gets first prize for influencing what goes into your body. This is also a great way to control your portion sizes. Foods and drinks that are high in processed carbohydrates should be avoided or consumed sparingly.

Gert Coetzee, pharmacist and the diet pioneer who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About, shares his tips on how to avoid and manage common lifestyle diseases, like type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Avoid or manage type-2 diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body can no longer produce or respond to insulin. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can delay or prevent type-2 diabetes and is also necessary in managing the disease overall.

Making healthy food choices, which includes controlling portion size and choice of food, is an essential step in preventing or managing diabetes. The key to managing blood sugar levels is to manage your carbohydrate intake.

Since carbohydrates are responsible for raising blood sugar levels, managing the quantity of carbs you take in is a key. The balance between how much insulin is in your body and the carbohydrates you eat makes a big difference to your blood glucose.

Recommended foods

  • Foods rich in fibre: Fibre helps control blood sugar levels. Examples of foods high in fibre include nuts, vegetables, whole wheat, oatmeal and brown rice.
  • Fish: Fish such as trout, salmon, tuna and sardines are good substitutes for high-fat meats.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
  • Food that contains good fat: Foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol levels as well as combat diabetes. Examples of these are avocados, nuts (like almonds, walnuts and pecans) and olives.

Manage your blood pressure

Lifestyle plays an important role in treating high blood pressure. In fact, you may be able to avoid or delay the need for medication if you manage to control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle.

Recommended foods

  • Leafy greens: These will help your kidneys get rid of more sodium through urine, which lowers your blood pressure. Examples of these are kale, collard greens, green lettuces and spinach.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes are high in potassium and magnesium which can both help lower your blood pressure.
  • Beetroot: Researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine have discovered that drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure.
  • Skim Milk: Skim milk is an excellent source of calcium and is low in fat which is important for a high blood pressure diet.

If you haven’t been to the doctor to test for diabetes and high blood pressure, now is the perfect time to do it.

Get moving

We all know exercise is important, but finding the time to fit it in can be tough. The good news is that just a quick exercise session at home is good for your health.

Here is a versatile move that will get your heart pumping and torch calories, all while toning your arms, stomach and legs:

Mountain climbers

  • Get into a straight-arm plank position, with your hands directly below your shoulders.  Your body should form a straight line from your neck to your ankles.
  • Lift your right foot and drive your right knee up to the centre of your body.
  • Quickly switch legs, driving your left knee up into the centre of your body. Try to keep your hips level and your shoulders directly above your wrists.
  • Do as many of these as possible for one minute?