LifeStyle sums up the health tips given by experts in articles run on these pages over the years as the Pulse column comes to a close
1 Drink six glasses of plain water a day.
It is as simple as H20. Water transports nutrients in the body, eliminates waste products and regulates temperature. All this for zero calories. Do not bother with ionising machines that convert tap water into alkaline water. The makers claim the machines reduce acidity in the body, hence warding off degenerative diseases. But doctors say the body already maintains a healthy pH range without external help.
2 Eat mostly plants and unprocessed foods. And a bit of meat.
The secret to a long and healthy life can be summed up in American food journalist Michael Pollan’s famous rule: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. He advocates eating whole foods rather than processed food, and suggests stopping when you are about to feel full. Meat should be a side dish. Ms Ashu Sharma, dietitian at Sodexo Singapore, a food and facilities management company, says: “Eating less meat will mean less intake of saturated fat, one of the major risk factors for heart diseases and other types of cancer.”
As a rule, you need only two palm-size servings of meat a day. Mix that with a range of different foods with varying nutrients to have a healthy and balanced diet.
3 Don’t pop pills, eat nutrient-rich food.
Get vitamin A from eggs for healthy eyes, skin and stronger resistance. And vitamin C from fruit such as strawberries. Dietitians say a person on a balanced diet with no pre-existing deficiencies does not need supplements. In fact, Ms Nehal Kamdar, a senior dietitian at Raffles Hospital, dismisses the idea of having to meet a daily vitamin and mineral target as a “marketing myth”.
4 Lose weight by eating a healthy diet.
Forget the Atkin’s Diet, slimming pills, acupuncture, fat-busting creams or machines. The bottomline to losing weight is eating healthily. Mrs Magdalin Cheong, the chief dietitian in Changi General Hospital, says: “Avoid high-calorie food all the time, choose healthy foods most of the time and enjoy ‘naughty’ food sometimes.” That means avoiding deep-fried or sugary foods, eating lots of healthy foods such as vitamin-packed blueberries (inset) and giving yourself occasional ‘naughty’ treats, such as a sweet cinnamon roll.
5 Get eight hours of sleep a day.
Studies have linked inadequate sleep to weight related issues and diseases. To ensure a good night’s rest, establish a routine sleep pattern, keep the bedroom solely for sleep and not other stimulating activities, and avoid eating a heavy meal or exercising close to bedtime.
6 Stub out.
Smokers, you have no excuse, the health risks are clear. A recently published study by the National University of Singapore found that smokers are seven times more likely than non-smokers to get lung cancer. Smoking also causes heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, a common heart disease where the arteries are clogged and may possibly trigger a heart attack. Then there are the savings you can make. In 2008, Pulse interviewed a man who estimated that he could save $4,500 a year if he quit smoking.
7 Exercise at least four times a week, for about 45 minutes each time.
A combination of resistance training, such as lifting weights, and cardiovascular workout such as running, can build stronger bones, heart, lungs and blood circulatory system. With obesity at bay, the risk of heart diseases and cancer is lowered. Mr Chung Tze Khit, owner of Gold’s Gym, suggests incorporating active elements in your lifestyle by taking the stairs or alighting one bus stop earlier than your destination and walking the rest of the way.
8 Healthy mind = healthy body.
When your body experiences emotional stress such as anxiety, anger and sorrow, it will release chemicals such as adrenaline that will drive your blood pressure up, make your heart beat faster and put a strain on your health. It will also lower your immune responses, making you susceptible to diseases. Dr Lim Yun Chin, a specialist in psychiatry at Raffles Hospital, gives three tips for emotional health. Firstly, connect with people who love you, and get affirmation and emotional support from them. Secondly, love yourself by exercising, relaxing and having a balanced diet. Lastly, learn to reframe your problems through self-talk or cognitive restructuring to turn your negative thinking into positive ones. So, if you want to flex any muscles, smile.