On 7th April, we celebrate World Health Day. Let’s face it: life in Hong Kong can be overwhelmingly hectic. Often, we prioritise work, family, and other commitments and forget to take care of our personal health and wellbeing. We owe it to ourselves and to those who depend on us to be on top form.
It doesn’t take much to be healthy. Try focussing on just one of these steps this week and you’ll soon see a difference. Try all five and you’re well on your way to optimal health!
1. Eat real food.
In today’s frantic world, it is far more convenient to grab the first thing that comes to hand. How easy is it to reach for a pre-packaged meal - not the healthiest of food choices – when you’re rushing around. To feel, look and be great, you need to consume real food as often as possible.
Have you ever seen a list of ingredients on a stick of broccoli? No, but we’ll tell you what’s in it. It’s packed full of goodness and void of nasties.
Try to get into the habit of checking food labels and avoiding products with a long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce. These foods tend to be chemicals, additives and highly processed. Work on the premise that if you don’t recognise the ingredients, your body won’t know how to process them. This leads to gut issues, weight gain, inflammation and, ultimately, disease.
Food for our body is like fuel for a car. If you fill your car up with dirty petrol, expect spluttering, stalling and a breakdown in the fast lane. Expect the same if you fill your body with junk food choices.
2. A healthy eating strategy.
To ensure you eat real food, put in place a healthy eating strategy:
3. Move more.
Physical inactivity has been linked to a host of health conditions. You don’t need lots of time or money to be active. Take the stairs rather than the escalator. Go for a walk or a swim. Dance to music at home or enjoy gentle stretching exercises. Do something every day, and it’ll become a healthy habit you won’t want to do without.
4. Drink more water.
Our bodies are made up of up to 70% water. In Hong Kong’s heat and humidity, it is important we keep ourselves hydrated. Fill a jug of water at the beginning of the day and sip it throughout. A good way to tell if you are drinking enough is to check your pee – it should be pale or slightly yellow. If it is dark, up your intake. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol too as these can be dehydrating.
5. Get a good night’s sleep.
How much better do we feel when we’re well-rested? Sleep is key to having energy to thrive during the day. It helps with our mood and can even help with maintaining weight.
Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. If we sleep less than 6 hours a night on a regular basis, our likelihood of falling sick increases.
Ensure your bedroom is clutter free to allow you to relax. Turn off electronic devices especially those with blue light at least an hour before turning in. The sleep you get before 12 is most beneficial, so try to get to bed between 10 and 11pm latest and rise between 6 and 7 am. If possible, stick to the same routine at the weekend.
With just a few simple steps that don’t cost loads of money, you can make a great difference to your physical and mental wellbeing!
World Autism Month
April is also World Autism Month. We firmly believe that diet and lifestyle CAN make a difference to individuals on the autism spectrum.
Autism is a mental health disorder characterized by impaired social & communication skills, repetitive and distinct behaviours. With no pharmacological treatments for the core symptoms of autism, we feel that nutrition is a potential therapeutic treatment.
Joe Mclean, one of our resident health coaches, takes us through some exciting new research below:
Recent research suggests sulforaphane - a phytonutrient found within the cruciferous vegetable family (broccoli sprouts, for example) could improve the symptoms.
Sulforaphane can activate the release of heat shock proteins (HSP). HSP have multiple roles and functions within the central nervous system including synaptic transmission, which is commonly decreased in autistic subjects. (N. Gan et al, 2010).
It can also reduce oxidative stress through increasing the activity of the bodies environmental response within the brain, detoxifying free radicals and facilitating protein & DNA repair. Finally, patients on the autism spectrum commonly have excessive neuro-inflammation through a protein called NF-kappa beta. A study by D. Moon et al, (2009) demonstrates sulforaphane’s ability to inhibit this protein.
In a study by Singh et al (2014), patients aged 13-27 years old with moderate to severe degrees of autism were given a dose of sulforaphane derived from broccoli sprouts, with doses ranging from 50umol – 150umol depending on body weight or a placebo.
Following the 18-week trial, the sulforaphane treatment group observed showed signs of significantly improved aberrant behaviour and social responsiveness, which are 2 measurements for the core symptoms associated with autism.
Interestingly however, when the study finished the improvements in symptoms slowly disappeared, indicating that when sulforaphane stopped being administrated the symptoms slowly increased. Studies will need to continue to explore this with large-scale human trials to confirm these results and to improve our understanding.
Nonetheless, the research is promising. There are no known side effects through sulforaphane consumption and it has been consumed for many years. It seems the optimum sources of sulforaphane is from cruciferous vegetables and sprouts. Most noticeably, broccoli sprouts. Try out our delicious broccoli soup recipe below!
Other lifestyle interventions can make a difference too:
Our health coaches are here and ready to help guide you through the process. We will hold your hand every step of the way.
Recipe of the Month