Top Health Tips: Eat right ➲ Stay well ➲ Live long

Top health tips

The key to healthy eating is to consume a variety of foods, and here are a few tips I’ve assembled over the years that I find helpful:

  • Eat many different foods, mainly veg 

  • Limit fat intake to a third or less of total calories, mostly as oils 

  • Drink water before you eat 

  • Eat slowly 

  • Cut your calories by chewing sugarless gum before a meal – it reduces your appetite 

  • Have a cup of black tea before you walk. You burn fat faster 

  • Make your salads interesting with celery, carrots, broccoli, onions, and other vegetables 

  • Instead of whole juice mix half with water 

  • Don’t pour oil, spray it 

  • Think small portions 

  • Start to earn your calories through ­exercise 

Carbohydrates are your best friend

Irrespective of the nonsense fad for going gluten-free, carbohydrates of the unrefined variety are the body’s perfect fuel – and the dieter’s best friend.

They ‘burn clean’, which means they don’t leave any ‘dirty’ toxic waste substances behind that your body has to work hard at dealing with.

And if the body doesn’t get enough of them, you start to feel miserable and depressed. Deprived of carbohydrate, as in a high protein diet, the body breaks down fat reserves and its own muscle.

Unfortunately, fat and protein don’t burn cleanly. They produce toxic substances called ­ketones and aldehydes that make your breath smell – like pear drops – if levels get too high.

But... there are good carbs and bad carbs

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Some increase blood sugar more than others and they’re said to have a high glycemic index. That doesn’t mean carbs make you fat, just that high GI foods elevate your insulin levels too much.

High GI foods result in a high, sharp blood sugar peak, which increases the tendency to insulin resistance and diabetes as well as cravings, binges, overeating, and obesity.

Low GI foods result in slow, shallow blood sugar peaks, no rebound insulin peak, no tendency to insulin resistance, good appetite control, little overeating, and normal weight.

Good carbs = unrefined carbs = low GI foods: Like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, wholemeal products, and whole cereals, particularly oats. So good carbs combine the lowest calories with the highest nutrition.

Bad carbs = refined carbs = high GI foods: Any foods containing sugar and all highly refined foods – cakes, biscuits, ice cream, and chocolate as well as alcoholic drinks.

And there are good fats and bad fats

Fats in foods can age you – so avoid the nasty ones. One of the reasons why coronary heart disease is so common in the UK is our unhealthy diet.

Fat intake, especially saturated fat in the form of animal fat, is much too high.

Age-defying fats

Good fats are mainly oils like olive oil. It can protect the heart by ­reducing the amount of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol in the blood, making blood platelets less sticky and so less likely to form blood clots.

This may be the reason why people in Mediterranean countries, who consume large amounts of olive oil, have lower death rates from heart disease.

Almost as good as olive oil are rapeseed oil, peanut oil, nuts, and cholesterol-lowering margarine.

Steps you can take stay well

  • Be physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week. Break this up into three 10-minute sessions when pressed for time. Healthy movement may include walking, sports, dancing, yoga, running or other activities you enjoy.

  • Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose a diet that's low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sugar, salt, and total fat.

  • Avoid injury by wearing seatbelts and bike helmets, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and using street smarts when walking alone. If you own a gun, recognize the dangers of having a gun in your home. Use safety precautions at all times.

  • Don't smoke, or quit if you do. Ask your health care provider for help. UCSF's Tobacco Education Center offers smoking cessation and relapse prevention classes as well as doctor consultations for smokers trying to quit.

  • Drink in moderation if you drink alcohol. Never drink before or while driving, or when pregnant.

  • Ask someone you trust for help if you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.

  • Help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS by using condoms every time you have sexual contact. Condoms aren't 100 percent foolproof, so discuss STI screening with your provider. Birth control methods other than condoms, such as pills and implants, won't protect you from STIs or HIV.

  • Brush your teeth after meals with a soft or medium bristled toothbrush. Also, brush after drinking and before going to bed. Use dental floss daily.

  • Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun's harmful rays are strongest. You are not protected if it is cloudy or if you are in the water — harmful rays pass through both. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Select sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the sun's rays.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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