Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3 Ways to Optimize Your Health and Well-being

3 Ways to Optimize Your Health and Well-being: "

Post written by Zen Family Habits contributor Melanie from Dietriffic.

Life can get pretty busy at times, and sometimes our health begins to suffer as a result.

But, as parents we are duty bound to look after our own health, just as much as we are to look after our children’s health. After all, if your health begins to suffer, who will be there for your children, giving them the care that only you can?

We all know that what we eat on a consistent basis has a huge impact on our health. But, often when life gets busy, it’s our healthy eating habits that get pushed to the bottom of that ever increasing to-do list.

So, what areas do you need to focus on for optimal health and well-being?

#1 Strong Bones

People seem to forget about bone health, once they get past their teens. However, you are still building bone mass into your 30s. This means, if you are pre-30′s, there’s still time to boost your bone strength.

A calcium-rich diet is recommended for both men and women. Good calcium sources include plain yogurt, milk, calcium-fortified soy milk, cheddar cheese. Some non-dairy sources include Chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Weight-bearing exercises are also necessary for increasing your bone density, and reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Think, walking, jogging, and step aerobics, etc.

Vitamin D is essential, too, otherwise the calcium in your diet is basically irrelevant. Try to eat oily fish and eggs regularly. Other sources include fortified margarine, and breakfast cereals. Or course, short periods in the sunlight are also important for synthesizing vitamin D in the skin.

If you are over 30 years of age, don’t worry, you can make changes in your lifestyle that will help slow the process of bone loss — all of the above are also relevant for you too.

#2 Fight Fatigue

Fatigue hits us all at times, as we try to juggle work, relationships, and our children. But, sometimes, that fatigue stems from low iron stores, particularly prevalent among women in their 20s and 30s, who don’t eat much meat.

The best sources of iron come from animal protein, such as liver (not if you are pregnant), meats, or chicken, however you can also get iron from plant sources. To aid the absorption from these plant foods, eat them with a vitamin C source, such as orange juice, red peppers, or strawberries.

Non animal sources of iron include beans, nuts, dried apricots, brown rice, fortified breakfast cereals, and most dark green leafy vegetables (such as curly kale).

Be aware that tea and coffee contain polyphenols which can bind to iron, making it difficult for your body to absorb. So, avoid drinking tea and coffee during, and around, your mealtimes.

#3 Lose Weight

Being overweight obviously puts you at an increased risk of health problems. Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick that will help you to lose weight overnight. But, weight gain doesn’t have to be an inevitable fact of life, as we grow older.

It’s true, metabolism does slow downs and you start to lose muscle mass as you get older. But, taking some exercise, and reducing your calorie intake can go a long way to offsetting that.

If you are eating the same, or more, than what you did in your 20s, you probably need to cut back. Take a look at your dinner plate proportions — you should fill one half with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with lean meats or alternatives, and one quarter with starchy carbs. This is an easy way to control your food portions.

Fiber is also important, as it will help you to feel fuller for longer, which means you take in fewer calories over the course of one day. Some of the best sources of fiber include peas, beans and lentils, fruit eaten with the skin on, berries, high fiber breakfast cereals, and nuts such as almonds.

When you eat well, you feel well. That ultimately means you’ll be able to cope with whatever life has to throw at you… even those tantrums from your two year old!

Read more healthy eating tips from Melanie on her blog Dietriffic, or follow her on Twitter.


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