If your New Years resolution is to be healthier, here are four great places to start to improve your health and wellbeing.
1. Drink Green Tea
Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols – a type of plant compound with powerful antioxidant properties. The type of polyphenols found in green tea is a group called catechins. These are thought to be responsible for the health benefits seen in population studies where those who drink green tea have lower rates of cardiovasular disease, stroke and cancer. Drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day to reap the benefits.
2. Consume less alcohol
While we hear a lot about the benefits of alcohol in terms of red wine and heart health, we don’t often hear the negative side of the story. Alcohol increases the risk of many cancers and in particular for women, breast cancer. Studies have shown that even a moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. One study which followed over 100,000 women over a 28 year period found that just 3-6 drinks a week caused a small increase in the risk of breast cancer. The more alcohol consumed, the larger the risk. Alcohol alters the way our bodies process the female hormone oestrogen. This leads to increased levels of oestrogen which increases risk of breast cancer. So what’s the safest amount to drink? The answer is probably none, but if you’re not willing to make this sacrifice, just limit your alcohol intake and make sure you have at least two alcohol free days a week.
3. Stress less
It may sound easier said than done, but make an effort to make 2012 your year to stress less. That means not just reducing stress in your life but dealing with it constructively. Don’t over commit, exercise, eat well and sleep well. These things will all your stress levels. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol. Prolonged high levels of cortisol can cause digestive issues and lead to stomach ulcers. High levels of stress increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, fertility problems, insomnia, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
4. Eat more vegetables and fruit
Vegetables and fruit have been shown repeatedly to help protect against a number of diseases and health problems. According to the Ministry of Health report ‘Nutrition and the Burden of Disease’ there would be around 1558 fewer deaths in New Zealand each year if everyone ate 5 plus a day fruit and vegetables. An interesting point of note is that internationally, New Zealand recommendations are at the low end of the scale. Australia recommends 2 fruit and 5 vegetable servings for children and 3-4 fruit and 4-9 vegetable serves a day for adults. View the 5 a day recommendation as a minimum not as a target.