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 Holistic Health

December 2009
5 Health Resolutions
Prof Adrain Kennedy
 
The human body can be 100 percent functional even with 99 percent debility. The best example of this is the heart attack, in which very often, upto the moment of the incident, the individual is leading a perfectly normal life. The reason for this is, that most modern day ailments are silent and even the combined symptoms of a disease are little displayed to be recognised.

Take high blood pressure, diabetes, hypercholestremia (high cholesterol), or even cancer as examples - all of these ailments are major killers, and can only be identified through medical diagnostics, and are most often detected at an advanced stage. If detected early, all these ailments could be reversed by lifestyle change and medication. If left too late, these ailments are most often fatal.
 
Have a Regular Medical Check
So, your first resolution should be to have a medical check every year. If an ailment is detected, resolve to behave in a responsible manner by implementing the advice given by the physician, especially of taking medication as prescribed and thereafter undergoing timely evaluation to chart progress and for planning disease management.

Eat Right
The major problems we face in relation to food these days are that most of us eat too much and we eat the wrong foods. Your resolution in this area should be to eat the right foods in the right quantities.

Resolve to eat fruit and uncooked vegetables daily, as these are from nature's own pharmacy. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and most of all, antioxidants that cleanse and detox the cells of the body, and strengthen the immune system to resist infection and disease. In addition they also contain fibre and roughage that evacuate and clean out the digestive tract.

Even while fruits and vegetables are the super stars of nutrition, a balanced diet is what should be aimed for. So, in addition, ensure the intake of whole grain cereals and pulses, low fat milk products, unsaturated oils and sufficient fluid. What should be avoided of course is commercial and fast foods. These usually contain high fat, sugar, salt, colouring and preservatives.
 
The Right Quantities
  • Eat breakfast like a king (whole grain cereals, low fat milk, fruit)
  • Have lunch like a common man (chapattis, dal, subzi, dahi)
  • Dinner should be like a poor man (soup in any of its various forms - mixed broths containing vegetables and meats, for example).
The benefit of moderation in food is that you will lose all the extra weight and fat, and yet have a nutritious diet.

Reduce Alcohol, Smoking and Narcotics
A little alcohol is good; too much is bad. A little comprises not more than the equivalent of 120 ml spirits (rum, whiskey, and vodka etc) on any occasion. The equivalent of one unit in wine is 200ml or one glass, and the equivalent in beer is 400 ml or one mug. We should resolve not to exceed this and never to drink on consecutive days.

The best resolution to take of course is not to drink alcohol at all. The reason being that alcohol is addictive and amounts beyond moderation as indicated can lead to social and medical problems. Most often we drink to relax, unwind and celebrate. Over drinking can lead to lowered social inhibitions, increased libido and unsafe practices, which often result in disastrous outcomes – and these are not ways to safe partying.

Nothing good can be said of smoking tobacco and having narcotics. The time risk between smoking and cancer is seven years, if you smoke more than one packet of 10 cigarettes or more per day. The risk of cancer is very real.

While smoking may be a slow killer, with narcotics, the risk of death through overdose is immediate. So no matter what the drug - whether tranquilisers, stimulants or hallucinogens, no matter whether the drugs are inhaled or sniffed or injected - an overdose can result in immediate death.
 
Tips to Control Stress
  • At work: Plan, review, delegate and be a team player.
  • At home: Be participative with the family and join in on outings, help with the chores and be a part of rituals and celebrations.
  • Manage your daily routine: Include not more than eight hours work, not less than eight hours sleep and spend the balance eight hours in health and recreation (i.e. daily exercise, some quiet personal time, and so on).
  • Moderate your personality: Be accommodating of others. Try and be self competitive, rather than to compete with others. Certainly pursue quality, but do not insist on perfection in others and even yourself.

Exercise Daily
The best health resolution you can make is to exercise daily. Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, mobilises the joints, reduces body fat, strengthens the muscles, improves immunity, combats disease, improves your sex life, adds life to years and years to life. Brisk walking for an hour is especially good for older age groups. Add to this joint mobility and free hand exercise or even yogasanas and you have a complete workout.

For the younger ages, jogging, swimming or aerobics dance are excellent for cardiovascular endurance; the gym is a must to improve strength and shape. For the fitter few, karate, taekwando or any recreational sport including tennis, badminton, squash, golf, basketball, and so on can be pursued on a seasonal basis.

Manage Your Stress
We all have stress. Stress is good. It's only too much of stress – when not properly managed - which is debilitating and bad. Good stress gives you energy and motivation. Too much of stress causes psychosomatic body breakdown, resulting in headaches, sleeplessness, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, hypertension etc. We must resolve to manage our stress so that it is productive, rather than destructive.
Prof Adrian Kennedy is Consultant, Wellness Rx, International guru on health, wellness and lifestyle medicine and guest faculty for Harvard Medical School, USA

    
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