Owing to our fast-paced and hectic schedules, most of us are often unable to sleep for eight to nine hours on a regular basis on most nights. This often leads to the body feeling tired throughout the day with energy levels sinking to its lowest. Which is why, it becomes extremely important to have a good night’s sleep followed by a healthy morning which is sure to make you feel positive and energetic throughout the day.
To help you have a healthy beginning to your day, Dr Vishal Sehgal, Medical Director, Portea Medical suggests a few ways.
1. A king’s breakfast
After more than seven hours of fasting, your body needs to wake up on a powerful note. This is why breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast is supposed to be wholesome and packed with enough nutrients that can keep you going all day long. A power packed meal can include eggs, a portion of fruit along with a bowl of whole grain foods like oatmeal, pasta or barley that contain complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly through the day. Replace eggs with your favourite cheese if you are vegetarian.
2. Sleep like a baby
Given the workaholic culture, the stressful work environment and erratic bedtime, many people suffer from lack of sleep, and hence disorders like insomnia. Excessive smartphone usage and addiction to social media also eat into our daily quota of sleep. Men need seven to eight hours of sleep, while women need just a little longer for a productive day at work. Good sleep not only improves our memory and cognitive abilities but also keeps the digestive system working properly. To improve quality of sleep, it is ideal that you sleep in complete darkness. If you must use light, then go for very dim ones. You must also ensure that the temperature in your room is maintained.
Make sure you drink at least eight to 12 glasses of water in a day, if not more. Individual water requirements can vary with height, weight and level of physical activity, but on an average the minimum recommended amount is about two to three litres per day. Since our body contains about 60 to 70 per cent water, all the major organs require water for normal functioning. Water is known as the ‘elixir of life’ because it alone has the power to heal our body, by flushing out toxins and harmful microorganisms. Besides, drinking enough water keeps your skin and hair healthy.
4. Get some exercise
Since most of us are into a sedentary lifestyle that involves long hours of sitting in an office followed by sitting in front of the TV, it is important to give the body at least 30 minutes of exercise. Moderate physical activity boosts oxygen level in muscles keeping them healthy and toned. Besides aiding weight loss, regular exercise also improves sleep, digestion, cardiovascular, bone and sexual health. Choose from power yoga, Pilates, spinning, aerobics, or a sport such as soccer, badminton, tennis or swimming. Make sure you follow a good exercise routine which includes warm up at the start and stretching at the end.
5. Indulge in green tea
While many don’t understand why there is so much talk around green tea, its advantages are rather understated. Besides being loaded with antioxidants, green tea has many bioactive compounds that not only enhance brain function but also lower your risk of type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many types of cancers. It fortifies the immune system, cleanses your body of toxins and also aids in burning fat. Start your day with a cup of green tea to help keep you energised throughout the day. It is ideal to skip adding sugar altogether, or just add a dash of honey or jaggery if you like it sweet. Since green tea too contains considerable amounts of caffeine, remember not to overindulge yourself beyond two to three cups per day.
6. Go herbal
Indian cuisine in itself uses many herbs that offer a host of health benefits. Regular use of local herbs such as tulsi, mint, cinnamon, neem and aloe vera, can help you ward off many diseases including seasonal allergies, flu, common infections and even some chronic ailments like hypertension, hypothyroidism and diabetes. Use them in cooking to make chutneys or as add on in rice or other dishes. You can also make a concoction of seasonal herbs and have a cup or two in a day. These herbs have many medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antidepressant properties.
7. Load up on fruits and vegetables
Vegetables should ideally form a big portion of your meal, especially during lunch and dinner. The recommended dose for a healthy adult suggests eating four to five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. With many millennials understanding the benefits of plant-based foods, they are moving away from meat and poultry towards a vegetarian or even vegan diet. While vegetables and fruits are low in fat, they ensure a daily supply of essential nutrients like calcium and manganese, and many other vitamins and minerals. They also reduce your risk of chronic ailments such as type II diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables of varied colours and textures as per season.
8. Beat stress with mindfulness
Stress is known to be the single most common reason behind a host of lifestyle ailments such as hypertension, diabetes and heart problems. In our rush to meet professional deadlines or keep pace with life we often forget to sit back, let go and relax. Excessive stress not only takes a toll on the mind but also on our body. Take out time to destress and relax from time to time, if possible, on a daily basis at the end of the day by practising mindfulness or meditation.
9. Stay away from addictions
Consumption of alcohol and smoking cigarettes lead to a number of health problems including COPD, smoker’s lungs, hepatitis, cirrhosis of liver, and cancer. India is known to have the largest number of oral cancer cases in the world owing to tobacco addiction. Chewing or smoking tobacco is prevalent especially among the rural population. Incidence of liver diseases is also on the rise due to a growing trend of social drinking. Therefore, it is best to refrain from smoking and drinking, and if you find it difficult to quit get professional help.
10. Make preventive health checks a priority
Gone are the days when health checks were done only when a person felt unwell. Today, everyone above the age of 30 years must make it a practice to get preventive health checks done annually. Most chronic lifestyle diseases strike silently and are not diagnosed until they produce symptoms at a later stage. Preventive care is beneficial in identifying these conditions early on, when they can be cured or reversed by making simple diet and lifestyle changes. Pick a preventive health package according to your age and ensure that you stick to the schedule as required.
11. Reduce intake of processed foods
Processed foods, ranging from breakfast cereals and frozen meat to packaged foods and health bars, are nothing but fads that have no health benefits. In fact, the multiple stages of processing they undergo and the presence of chemical additives that increase their shelf life make these products harmful for health. Many of these foods also contain high amounts of sugars and salt as well as flavour enhancers that lead to a host of health problems including obesity and mood swings. Processing food destroys natural fibres that are essential for slowing down absorption of carbs, thereby leading to faster digestion and a feeling of insatiability. Make it a point to read labels before purchasing items. Opt for cleaner, organic products that contain fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients.
12. Get more of Omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids are complex unsaturated compounds that are good for the heart. They help in lowering bad cholesterol and building up good cholesterol, thereby benefiting heart function. Omega 3s and 6s help in regulating the natural oil balance in skin and hair keeping them healthy and radiant. Good sources of Omega 3s include fatty fish such as herring, salmon and anchovies and seeds and nuts such as flax seeds, sesame, chia, sunflower, almonds, walnuts and avacado. Olive oil, another excellent source of omega 3s, can be used for cooking as well as topping recipes and dressing salads.
13. Maintain good personal hygiene
Good personal hygiene is a vital aspect of an individual’s personality. A well-groomed person not only has a pleasant exterior but also keeps infections and allergies at bay. Poor hygiene can invite a host of microbial diseases such as acne, eczema and fungal infections. Neglected teeth can lead to many problems including caries, oral and digestive tract infections. Poor sexual hygiene can cause many sexual health problems including urinary tract infections and STDs. It is therefore important to brush your teeth twice daily, bathe at least once using a good quality disinfectant soap and wash your hair with a good shampoo two to three times a week.
14. Treat deficiencies naturally
Today, many of us suffer from some deficiency. Which is why it is important to stick to a wholesome diet. When you find yourself deficient of some micronutrient, it may seem easy to simply pop a vitamin pill and go on with your day. But health experts warn that most supplements deliver an excess of your daily required dose and may lead to many complications due to toxicity. It is best to stick to natural foods that deliver micronutrients in small doses so that they are easily absorbed by the body. For instance, if you are anaemic, go for foods cooked in cast iron utensils or eat more of spinach, carrots and pomegranate that are rich sources of iron and folate. If you still require supplements then consult a doctor.