Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Here’s to your health!

Nutritional therapist Sherry Hammoud suggests some new year’s resolutions for a healthier, happier life

Al-Ahram Weekly

It’s that time of year when most of us set goals, with health-related goals being undoubtedly the most popular. The top resolutions for the new year are related to weight, exercise, improving relationships or quitting smoking.

But for many people, the road to an optimum lifestyle is often easier said than done. Family commitments, work obligations, as well as a lack of time and effort, are some of the reasons that the best of health resolutions can be brought to a standstill.

However, there is always another year and another chance to begin with a fresh start.

The following five resolutions can help you become healthy and fit throughout the coming year.

Diet in moderation: When most of us contemplate weight loss, we tend to draw a sharp line between what can and what cannot be done. In general, we tend to avoid major food groups, such as carbohydrates, thus omitting deserts and starches.

But it would be a much better decision to cut back on sweets and deserts, rather than omit them completely. The key word here is moderation.

Be realistic with your goals: Many people who intend to become more physically active think of going to the gym. But more often than not they set their goals too high, planning to attend exercise classes and work out on machines at the gym.

They may become discouraged if the desired goals are not met within a certain period of time and they may accordingly halt their intended resolution. But don’t be too hard on yourself: things don’t have to be in black and white. Exercise can be flexible, easy and fun if done with a particular method and for a specific period of time.

Get your RDA of calcium: Though this may not be a typical resolution, it is a very important one. Osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the chance of fractures, is a major health threat for 80 per cent of women.

One out of two women over the age of 50 will have a fracture related to bone thinning in her lifetime. Taking care of calcium intake in your diet as a young child or teenager is very important and will determine the state of your bones later on in life.

Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis, and three servings of dairy products a day, including skimmed milk, low-fat cheeses and yogurt, are recommended. There are also many non-dairy options to help you absorb calcium, such as canned salmon, dark green vegetables and dried beans. In addition, calcium supplements can be taken to help meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Some forms of exercise that use gravity to put pressure on the bones like walking, running, aerobics and dancing can also help make bones stronger. Be aware that certain foods like soda drinks and smoking can contribute to the weakening of the bones as well as slow down bone-cell production and cause faster bone thinning.

Put yourself first: Putting yourself first does not mean being selfish; it means being smart. Women are the main caregivers and multi-taskers when it comes to home, work and family.

Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in the day to get things done, and as a result many women feel frazzled, frustrated and stressed out. Try to avoid stress as much as possible.

It can take a toll on health and may cause stomach aches, increased appetite and weight gain. Constant stress may also affect the immune system, making people more susceptible to colds and other infections. It may also aggravate conditions such as anxiety, sleep deprivation and hypertension.

The answer is to get a good night’s sleep. It is a well-known fact that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood and appearance. But sleep is also better for your health than you might realise.

A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Sleep is also necessary for strengthening your memory, so try to get seven to eight hours of sleep at night. If you can’t, then take a nap without feeling guilty about it.

The list of negative consequences of too much work goes on and on. But women do not have to be victims. With the to-do list never ending, there’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to find time to do something for yourself.

Even if it’s just for ten minutes, try to find time to go for a walk, exercise, talk to a friend, soak in the tub or meditate. Ideas vary with individual tastes, but there are many ways to reach that desired state of relaxation.

Get regular health screens: Staying up to date with all relevant health tests may be crucial to living a healthier life. Try to make a point of going for regular health screenings, such as the osteoporosis screening test, which is essential for women aged 65 and older and for younger women with risk factors or a family history.

Other important health screens are mammograms for women beginning at age 40 and performed every one or two years. Regular pap smears are also recommended. For older men and women, starting at 50, screening for colorectal cancer is also important.

Calcium RDA
It is very important for bone health to make sure you get your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium and other minerals and vitamins. This should be:
- From age 11 to 24, between 1,200 and 1,500 mg daily
- From 25 to 50, 1,000 mg daily
- For postmenopausal women, 1,000-1,500 mg daily if on menopausal hormone therapy
- For pregnant and breastfeeding women, 1,200-1,500 mg daily
Without adequate Vitamin D, calcium absorption is reduced. This vitamin is found in some food sources, including fatty fish, fish liver oil and dairy products fortified with Vitamin D. An adequate intake of Vitamin D for adults ranges from 200-600 international units a day.


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