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Top Five Tips for Maintaining Optimal Nutrition

Aug 18, 2007
Secretly we all want just a few things in life, none the least of which is to live a life that is healthy and energetic. One way to accomplish this is to eat a well balanced diet that fuels the body to take on life's challenges.

Did you know that one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and well being is to eat a diet that is well rounded and nutritious?

Diet can make the difference between feeling great and feeling just o.k. But how do you know which foods will propel you to health and well being?

Proper nutrition is easy. In fact, all you need to do to ensure your health and well being is follow five simple steps, outlined below.

Top Five Tips for Maintaining Optimal Nutrition

- Eat a well balanced diet. This means you have to incorporate foods from each of the four food groups.

- Adopt the phrase moderation. At no time should you consider some foods 'bad' and other foods 'good'. Rather, all foods can be nourishing if they are eaten in moderation. Chocolate cake will not make you fat if you don't eat it every day for dinner!

- Take a multi-vitamin. Even the healthiest dieter may not get all of the vitamins and nutrients they need from diet alone. Why? Our bodies aren't always able to absorb nutrients efficiently from the foods we eat. Thus it is important to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement daily.

- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your diet, and even contribute to weight gain.

- Exercise daily. Even 10 minutes of routine exercise can help your body maintain its peak fitness level.

Excessive consumption of alcohol can also wreak havoc on your diet. Alcohol inhibits the body's ability to absorb vital nutrients, such as calcium. In addition, alcohol in the evening can interfere with your sleep cycle.

Other things you can do to improve you nutrition include incorporating lean proteins and fish into your diet. Fatty fishes including salmon provide key nutrients called "essential fatty acids" which help your brains ability to function properly.

Nutrition is a choice. For you to be the healthiest person you can be, it is vital that you make choices that are good for you and your well-being.

In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, encompassing the ability to achieve full potential, deal with crises and meet environmental challenges." In other words, health -- or wellness, to use a trendy term -- is the capacity to undertake physical effort, to live within one's own potential and carry out tasks with vigor and alertness, leaving enough energy for unforeseen emergencies. The more recent Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion goes further, suggesting as fundamentals for health: "peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity." For example, people can't easily stay healthy if they're starving, if the air is polluted or during wartime.

Today's key buzz words are "disease prevention" and "health promotion", rather than trying to "treat the symptoms of illnesses" (as is practiced by most medical practitioners nowadays) that are largely preventable. Unfortunately, despite lip service, prevention is often a hard sell as it takes both personal and community action. Yet studies show that even a few words of advice from health professionals can often help to prevent disease by motivating people to modify their lifestyle.

Do you exercise every day? If you want to live a long, healthy life, maybe you should.

A recent study by Timothy Wessel, a physician at the University of Florida, indicates one of the strongest risk factors for developing heart disease is inactivity - even more so than being overweight. During the four-year study of 906 women, Dr. Wessel documented those who were moderately active were less likely to develop heart disease than sedentary women, no matter how much they weighed. The study concluded: "These results suggest that fitness may be more
important than overweight or obesity for cardiovascular risk in women."

In January, the updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines strongly urged that everyone should take part in "at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity" on most days, above whatever activities they do at home or work. To loose weight or to avoid gaining weight as we age, 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous exercise is recommended. And those who have already lost weight and are attempting to keep weight off need 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise.

A study of 9,611 adults by the University of Michigan Health System, found that people in their 50s and 60s who participated in daily exercise were 35 percent less likely to die within the next eight years than their inactive couch potato counter parts.

Convinced that it's time to add exercise to your day?

The Basics -- Make Exercise a Life Priority:

- If you're not used to exercising, check with your doctor before beginning any strenuous fitness routine.

- Start slow. If 30 minutes of exercise is too much, start with 15 minutes and add a few minutes each day.

- If you don't have time for 60 minutes of exercise, break it up into two 30-minute sessions throughout the day.

- Schedule a specific time to exercise everyday - then keep to your schedule!

- Take part in more intense activities that can improve your heart health, such as: running, dancing, swimming, cycling, and climbing stairs.

- Find exercise that you enjoy. You will be more likely to continue and improve your daily performance if you look forward to a favorite activity.

- Wear proper clothing and footwear. This has two functions. Clothing and shoes that are suited to your activity will enhance performance and offer the right kind of support for your body and feet. They will also place you in a better frame of mind for exercise. When you wear your favorite running outfit and slide into your special running shoes, your mind says "it's time to get out the door and put my feet in motion!"

- Add everyday activities to increase your overall fitness level, such as gardening, housework, walking to the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and raking leaves.

- Always drink lots of water.

- If you feel discomfort or pain after an activity, use ice therapy immediately to reduce swelling and numb pain. Always have a cold pack in your freezer, ready and waiting. Most aches and pains attributed to exercise respond well to icing and will melt away within 24 hours after applying ice for several 20-minute sessions. Using cold therapy reduces down time, getting you back on schedule fast. (If the pain does not lessen within 48 hours after using ice therapy, is intense or becomes worse, see your doctor.)

Exercise every day.take care of your heart.live long!
About the Author
David Timms is the editor of the leading Nutrition and Prevention Web Site http://coffeebreakhealth.co.uk

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