The state of our health worldwide is at crisis point. Our modern rushed lifestyle has resulted in an increase of chronic lifestyle disorders such as autoimmune diseases, infertility, stress and hormonal imbalances. The inability to physically adapt to our cultural and behavioural environment has given rise to what are called ‘mismatched diseases‘.
Our physiology, brain and chemical makeup is the same as 10,0000 years ago, however our environment has changed drastically. Our food has become food products loaded with preservatives, sugars, additives and colours. Our work life has become sedentary with the increase use of computers and other digital devices. Our life demands have caused an increase in chronic stress and mental health concerns, where 1 in 5 Australians suffer from some form of mental illness.
Awareness and education is key to stopping the rapid increase of lifestyle related disorders, allowing individuals and families to make informed healthier choices. When wanting to improve wellness holistically, my simple EAT, MOVE, THINK health philosophy is a simple yet effective way to assess and improve your health habits.
EAT for better health
Choosing good food can sometimes be hard, especially when labeling and food marketing can confuse the consumer with titles such as “sugar free” “fat free” and “natural flavours”. These labels are usually on products that are not only high in sugar but are also full of preservatives and additives.
An easy way to monitor your sugar intake is to remember when reading food labels is that 4grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.
The recommended intake of sugar is 5 teaspoons a day, with the average Australian consuming 29 teaspoons a day! The way to avoid sugar, preservatives, colours and other nasties is to shop in the fresh produce aisle. Consuming only fresh produce can take time to plan, yet eliminating food products and eating real food will allow your body to repair, heal and thrive.
MOVE for better health
According to statistics, Australians are not very active, with 57% not getting enough exercise and doing less than 30 minutes of activity per day. An alarming statistic shows that we can spend up to 18 hours sitting, taking into account travelling in a car or public transport, then sitting at a desk all day before coming back home to sit on the couch.
Unfortunately, regular exercise at the gym may not make up for the fact that you have a sedentary job. We are meant to be continually active. Movement throughout your day and increasing what is called incidental exercising is essential for health and wellbeing.
THINK for better health
Chronic stress is fast becoming an epidemic; the Australian statistics on stress and mental illness are alarming.
Around 90% of Australians feel chronic stress in their life.
Exercise. Exercise increases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones.
Diaphragmatic breathing: This is essential to get plenty of oxygen throughout your body. It involves breathing through your diaphragm, not your chest and neck muscles. Put your hand on your stomach, then take a big breath in through your nose – your stomach should expand. When you exhale, release through your mouth and the stomach should relax. Your chest shouldn’t move and all the movement should come from your diaphragm expanding.
A wellness lifestyle should not be hard to implement since small changes in your life can exponentially improve your health - body, mind and soul.
Sydney-based Dr Debra Villar has over 17 years’ experience in the health and wellness industry, and is a sought-after speaker and coach. She is the director of one of the largest multidisciplinary healthcare centres in Sydney’s CBD. A full time working mum to three children, Dr Debra also lives the urban woman life, and understands first-hand how modern day demands can affect our health and wellbeing.