Losing weight may be understandably on the top of your agenda in the New Year, but don't forget that when it comes to your health, there are some far more important resolutions that you should be making
As you celebrate the birth of a brand New Year, it's the perfect time to shed those unhealthy habits and establish a firm foundation that can extend your life expectancy and ensure that those golden years remain pain-free. Here are some expert tips to add to your list of must-do resolutions this year!
Sleep soundly: Some people think that sleeping is rather like operating a bank account--that you can incur sleep debt and make up for it by binge napping later. However, compromising on your nightly sleep can affect you in many ways, and will do more harm than just drive you to the nearest coffee machine. "Chronic sleep deprivation can affect the health of your heart, bring on conditions like diabetes and obesity and can even alter your mood, personality and behaviour," says Dr Devgnani, clinical director of the Sleep Disorder Clinic in Mumbai and a consultant physician at the Department of Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine, Jaslok Hospitals, Mumbai. "Resolve to sleep at least 7-8 hours every day, while adhering to regular schedules for bedtime and rising."
Get your daily dose of D: By just soaking in ten minutes of sunshine everyday, you can protect yourself from debilitating diseases. "Sunshine is the most easily available source of Vitamin D and it's free!" says Dr Selvi Radhakrishna, a consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon practicing at Apollo Speciality Hospital and the Chennai Breast Centre. "It plays a vital role in calcium metabolism, thereby strengthening your bones, so resolve to get your dose everyday. Most people go to great lengths to avoid the sun, especially women who are afraid of tanning, so many might find themselves deficient in this important vitamin."
Boost your body with Iron: It's one of the most essential elements required by our bodies at a cellular level and yet, we can't produce it internally. Iron has to be acquired from a balanced diet. "It's shocking that a vast majority of Indian women are anaemic. This is a direct result of heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles, poor diets, worm infestations acquired from walking barefoot," says Dr Sunder Valliappan, ER physician at St Isabel's Hospital, Chennai. "Resolve to eat more iron rich foods this year such as jaggery, dates, green leafy vegetables and animal meats (especially liver). Besides transporting vitally important Oxygen to all our tissues, Iron also plays a role in mental and neurological physiology. Symptoms of Iron deficiency include constant fatigue, brittle hair, slow mental functioning and bad performance at schools and at work. The simple act of keeping an eye on your diet and the addition of an iron supplement every day will leave you feeling more energized, active and ready to take on any challenge that 2013 may bring!"
Walk everyday, come what may: It's official: Walking revs you up both mentally and physically. Two new studies (including one conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh) show that lots of walking can help you reap great benefits like better cardiovascular health and diabetes control. The studies established that those who walked consistently had even improved their memory power. Walking for at least half an hour every day is absolutely essential, feels Dr As you celebrate the birth of a brand New Year, it's the perfect time to shed those unhealthy habits and establish a firm foundation that can extend your life expectancy and ensure that those golden years remain pain-free.and Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, a WHO Collaborating Centre in Gopalapuram, Chennai. "Come rain or shine, resolve to keep walking every day (or as much as possible) in the coming year," he says. "Aim at first to stick to this resolution through the entire month of January, so it will become a positive addiction. Chances are that you will continue for years to come."
Work on that winning smile: Improving your oral health should be your top priority and you can take small but effective action in this regard. "With the simple act of brushing your teeth every night, you can reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay by as much as 60%," says Dr M. Manicka Raj, Conservative dental surgeon and endodontist, Punnagaiy dental Clinic, Madurai. "Also, prevent the build up of bacteria by ensuring that no food particles remain stuck between your teeth and be sure to change your toothbrush when the bristles are frayed." Schedule periodic visits to your dentist, every 3-6 months. "Many people never visit a dentist until teeth require a root canal or even an extraction, procedures that are expensive when compared to a simple filling. Caring for your teeth before there is a persistent problem can save you not just money, but much pain as well," says Dr Manicka Raj.
Be wary of the silent killers: Schedule in time for a complete physical this year. "Diabetes, blood pressure, hypothyroidism, osteopenia/ osteoporosis, high cholesterol, breast and cervical cancer are some common ailments that often strike silently after 40," says Dr Selvi Radhakrishna. So, if you're celebrating that milestone birthday this year, opt for some essential tests such as fasting blood sugar, thyroid function tests, lipid profile, vitamin D levels, mammogram, cervical Pap smear. Check blood pressure and measure BMI at least once in a year."
Listen to your heart: Unfortunately, too many heart attacks these days are self-inflicted. "Our arteries are blocked as a direct result of junk food, high-fat diets, smoking, alcohol, stress and physical inactivity," says Dr Pratiksha G Gandhi, preventive cardiologist and chairperson of IPC Heartcare, Mumbai. "The New Year is time to assess if you've been leading a hectic, chaotic lifestyle that has the potential to destroy your heart in the future. Resolve to slow down and listen to your heart--start by staying cheerful, eating heart healthy foods and ensuring that you do that annual check-up."
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