The WHO defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity"
7 April 2019| Last updated on 18 April 2019
Adopting healthy habits, reduces the risk of disease, controls weight, increases longevity and improves mood and well-being.
I’m passionate about offering my patients evidence-based advice and supporting them to achieve better health. Poor habits and mindsets take a lifetime to develop- however, arming oneself with new knowledge, patience and perseverance, improved health is attainable for all.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight which in-turn reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancers, heart disease and stroke.
In our diets we should aim to:
- Fill our plates with colourful, unprocessed plant-based, fibre rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, seeds and nuts
- Reduce animal products- particularly red and processed meat
- Eat ‘good fats’ poly and mono-unsaturated and omega3 (found in walnuts, flax-seeds and avocados,) and avoid ‘bad fats’- trans and saturated (found in cakes, biscuits and margarines.)
- Reduce processed foods; those with long ingredient lists, cured and preserved meats, long expiration dates, added ‘E-numbers’, sugars and excessive salt>/li>
- Consider a prebiotic and kefir
Our body is 60 percent water. Optimal hydration contributes to mental clarity, joint flexibility, healthy immunity and kidney function.
- Women should drink at least 2L of water daily- men closer to 3L
- Water intake should increase with exercise and sweating
- Filtered water reduces ingested toxins
Undertaking regular exercise reduces the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and dementia. It keeps joints flexible, improves cognitive function and mental wellbeing:
- Aim to exercise for 30-60 minutes five times weekly
- Regular weight-bearing exercises prevent osteoporosis, bone fractures and increase basal metabolic rate which in turn burns more calories. Walking, yoga, dancing and weightlifting are examples
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a time efficient way of exercising
- To avoid injury, warm-up, gradually increase intensity and consult your doctor prior to starting
Being sun-safe is imperative. Sunrays emit ultraviolet light- UVA (causes skin aging) and UVB (increases cancer risk.).
- Avoid the sun’s strongest rays from 1000-1600
- Use a sunscreen with high SPF and UVA+ B protection
- Reapply sun-cream 2hourly; 30minutes before going outdoors and more frequently if sweating or swimming
- Sunglasses, long-sleeved clothes and hats provide additional protection
For skin cleansing, I prefer an oil-based balm with a warm muslin cloth to open skin pores, then cold water to close.
A few key skincare ingredients can transform your skin:
- Retinoids reduce wrinkle appearance, improves skin firmness, lighten pigmentation
- Vitamin C reduces dullness and redness, improves tone and texture
- Skin specific Acids target dullness, uneven tone and textural irregularities
- Antioxidants reduce inflammation and wrinkle appearance, improve tone and can repair sun damage
- Hyaluronic acid, smaller particles plump and hydrate skin
Sleep deprivation increases the risk of hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and can reduce immunity, willpower and mental clarity. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. Aim to:
- Wake-up the same time daily with morning exposure to sunshine to ‘set’ your body clock
- Go to bed only when tired on a comfortable mattress in a dark room at around 21oC, using earplugs as required
- Avoid cigarettes, shisha, alcohol and excessive caffeine
- Unplug light emitting electronics, relax, wind down and take a warm bath prior to bedtime
Mental Health Care
Being happy correlates with a reduced risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. We can improve our mental health by:
- Focusing on the positive in our lives
- Recognize when we’re feeling stressed
- Avoid worrying about things out of our control
- Finding purpose and meaning- helping those less fortunate
- Making time for things we enjoy. Having fun and laughing
- Connecting with family and friends- old and new
- Practicing Meditation and mindfulness
- Getting outdoors, being close to nature, keeping plants
Dementia is caused by brain injury/disease and results in changes to mood, personality, memory-formation, learning and communication.
While dementias cannot be cured, research shows keeping our brain challenged and adopting a healthy lifestyle will help.
‘Brain Exercises’ include reading more, sudoku, crosswords and anything mentally challenging. The Alzheimer’s Association advise new experiences and hobbies to keep your brain active and improve vitality.
Prevention better than cure
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) advise:
- Annual weight, BP, glucose and cholesterol, especially if over 40 with cardiovascular risk
- Cervical cancer screening in women aged 21-65, with 3 yearly Pap smears
- 2 yearly Mammograms for over 50s[ are effective at detecting breast cancer early. With risk factors, earlier or more frequent mammograms may be advised
- Colorectal cancer screening at 50
- Consideration of influenza, pneumoccal and shingles vaccines in middle age
Authored by Dr Preya Patel
Dr Preya Patel is a London Trained Family Medicine Consultant at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital. She offers consultations to all the family and advocates lifestyle medicine.
Dr Preya Patel
Mediclinic Parkview Hospital