How to make this year your best year yet

Mid 2019, when we could move around the world freely, I attended a health conference in Australia where Jeffrey Bland, one of the keynote speakers shared a memorable slide. He stated the following:

Health is more than the absence of disease;

 - People are suffering from the malnutrition of "too much, too little" (over-consumptive undernutrition);

 - Chemicalising our foods and agriculture has had detrimental effects on people and the environment in which they live;

 - Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from our whole foods have more to do with health than just preventing nutrient deficient diseases

 - Excess sugar, salt and adulterated fats, proteins and carbs will never serve us well.

So, let’s start this year off on the right foot. It may be a good time to take everything out of your fridge and check ingredient labels and expiry dates. Repeat the same process in your pantry cupboard and make Marie Kondo proud.

Book regular holidays in for the year now. If you work full-time and are entitled to four weeks holiday each year, this equates to one week each season so if you tack it on to a long weekend, that’s a few days extra also. People tend to be so depleted, mentally and emotionally by Christmas that the time around Labour Weekend is especially valuable.

There is a lot of research now showing that spending time in nature helps to lower our stress hormone cortisol. This in turn improves sleep quality. A 2019 UK study showed that people who spent two hours a week in nature were significantly more likely to report good health. Those benefits persisted across different population groups — young, old, wealthy, poor, urban and rural. This may be as simple as taking your work outdoors for part of the day or trying to catch a fish at the weekend.

Regular exercise 20 to 30 minutes four days a week is worth scheduling now for a better year.

This includes walking.

A recent study in Journal of the American Medical Association showed that regular walking is beneficial for your health and can increase longevity in older women.

High-intensity exercise as high intensity interval training (HIIT) makes your muscles hungry for glucose so the sugar gets pulled out of your bloodstream, which will help to regulate insulin levels and reduce the likelihood of insulin resistance and belly fat. This could be an F45 class or even running a power pole distance then power walking the next to challenge your muscles and body.

A primarily plant-based diet provides antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can be a cause and exacerbation of the chronic diseases so adding a decent handful of fresh salad and vegetables to each main meal and including kumara, quinoa, nuts and seeds as low-carbohydrate energy sources is beneficial.

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Easy Vegetable Salad

An easy salad to make that will last several days when covered in the fridge.

2 cups cooked grain i.e. buckwheat, quinoa or brown rice

2 cups roasted vegetables i.e. capsicum, carrot, kumara, zucchini (leave skin on for more phytonutrients for health)

2 cups greens, chopped i.e. baby spinach leaves, shredded iceberg lettuce, spring onions, snow peas, finely chopped parsley, fresh herbs

Method

Toss together using your fingers and store in the fridge. Pour an olive oil and vinegar dressing over the top, just before serving. You may also like to add some crumbled feta, slivered almonds, shallots or dukkah to serve.

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