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Monday, 11 July 2011

Ultimate physical and mental health - in a nutshell

With all the new research coming out, telling us to “do this or that”, it’s easy to get confused about how to be perfectly healthy. One article reads that red wine is good for you, the next is telling us that alcohol will kill you. How do you know what to believe?

Today our aim is to organise and summarise all this information in the one concise list.
Firstly, we need to define what ultimate health is. Ultimate health is not about “being good” with your diet or exercise, or looking like a supermodel. Ultimate health is about moderation. It is about feeling energetic and well.
Moderation means that your brain gets a rest from reading packets and choosing foods. Moderation lets you “off the hook” when you slip up in your regime, which will lower stress levels.
Ultimate health is also about your mental health. Physical and mental health are intertwined, and need to be addressed together. When your mental health is good, good physical health will follow.
For ultimate health, follow these steps:
SLEEP: Sleep is important for a number of reasons. Healing and growth occur during sleep (if you’re injured or unwell). Sleep is also when you store your memories. Lack of sleep will damage your ability to function. It also changes your hormones in such a way that you conserve body fat very easily.
RELAX: acute (short, sharp) stress (like a 30min hard exercise session) followed by active relaxation (meditation, stretching, sleep, etc) will boost your “well being” hormones. Allowing your body to let go of excess fat without fearing famine. Another example is working like a dog towards a deadline, then taking a break from work straight after.
Chronic stress (such as running for several hours, or working like a dog for weeks on end) will alter your hormone balance in such a way that makes it hard to lose or maintain fat levels. Chronic stress also decreases your cognitive health and can lead to severe health issues.
EXERCISE MODERATELY: moderate exercise can boost your “happy” hormones without increasing your risk of injury. Moderate exercise occurs between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. This feels like you’re puffed but can continue. Moderate time exercising is around 30 minutes
EXERCISE REGLARLY: regular moderate exercise has been shown to impact mental health, and is often used to treat depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Consistency is the key for these benefits, exercising 10 times one week and then not at all the next week will not be effective. Regular exercise is exercising 4-6 times a week.
EAT LOTS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES: fresher is better when it comes to optimum nutritional health. This applies to meat, poultry, seafood, cereals, grains, and fats too. If all your food is as close to it’s original source as possible, then it is unlikely that you will be in want of any nutrients. This is particularly true for fruit and vegetables, which carry an abundance of antioxidents and nutrients. These nutrients can be destroyed by cooking or storage, but are imperative in preventing sickness and boosting health. It is a similar story with some oils, which in their raw form are healthy, but once heated can form dangerous triglycerides.

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