Change Your Life Style through Nutrition and Exercise
Food management is important not just when it comes to checking weight, it can also improve your ability to relax and cope with stress. Certain food and drinks act as quite powerful stimulants to the body and so are a direct cause of stress. This stimulation may be pleasurable in the short term but more harmful with prolonged consumption, writes SULAIMAN AKHTAR FAROOQUI
It can not be denied that our body cannot be relaxed if it is not maintained properly. Nutrition and exercise are cornerstones of the healthy life style, and so it is very essential to achieve balance between the two. Food is a fuel we put in our bodies in order to survive, and exercise creates the process that turns it into energy. In times past, the equation was relatively easy to achieve – the balance between energy input and output occurred naturally. We burnt up a lot of energy just keeping warm and doing a lot of physical work.
Today’s society, with its increased automation and sedentary jobs, makes it more difficult to maintain any equilibrium. Western society offers us abundant food and warmth with minimum physical outlay, so it has become all the more important consciously to monitor the balance of our diets.
Food management is important not just when it comes to checking weight, it can also improve your ability to relax and cope with stress. Food affects every organ of our bodies, including the hearts, lungs and brains. The correct diet not only improves the bodies but it also encourages the fitness and energy, nourishes nerves, feeds muscles, and increases the circulation and breathing and supports the immune system. It also promotes a general feeling of calmness.
Most experts agree that a well-balanced diet is crucial in preserving health and helping reduce stress. Certain food and drinks act as quite powerful stimulants to the body and so are a direct cause of stress. This stimulation may be pleasurable in the short term but more harmful with prolonged consumption. Among those which cause stress are caffeine, fats, salt and sugar.
Foods to Avoid
Caffeine: It is a drug, commonly found in food and drinks such as coffee, tea, chocolate and Cola. It is strong stimulant that actually generates a stress reaction in the body by causing a rise in the release of adrenaline. In small doses caffeine can have a positive effect on our health.
Fats: It is important to limit the amount of fat in our diet. Too much fat causes obesity and puts unnecessary strain on the heart. There is also evidence that high-fat contribute to growing incidence of breast, colon and prostate cancers in Western society.
Salt: Salt should be minimized in our diet. Foods high in salt, such as refined convenience foods, bacon, ham, sausages and pickled items, should be avoided. The dangers of high salt intake are similar to our responses to stress. It can induce high blood pressure, irritate the menstrual cycle and have stimulant weakening effect on the adrenal glands, muscles and nervous system.
Sugar: Sugar is one of the most common food additives, and unfortunately, it is also one of the most ‘empty’ of all foodstuffs. An overly high sugar intake will also strain our insulin-producing glands, perhaps inducing diabetes. More obvious problems include obesity, tooth decay and mood swings. These are difficult problems for children to deal with, and parents must be aware of the dangers of placating a disruptive child with a bar of chocolate or a bag of sweets.
There are certain foods that are super foods – packed full of nutritional value in such beautifully balanced forms that they are easy to assimilate. If you incorporate these super foods into your diet, you will boost your energy levels and achieve a personal equilibrium that is one of the most basic-and long lasting aspects of relaxation in the true sense of word.
Almonds: Almonds are important source of the minerals, zinc, and magnesium, potassium and iron, so that a small handful of the nuts can transform a light salad into a well-balanced meal.
Barley: This has a very high mineral content. It has lot of calcium, potassium, and B-complex vitamins, making it useful for anyone suffering from stress or fatigue. Add a handful of barley to home-made chicken soup for soothing and nourishing meal. It also lowers the level of the cholesterol in the body.
Beetroot: For hundreds of years, beetroot has been used as a folk remedy for anemia and liver problems. It helps the digestive system, especially when grated raw, perhaps served with grated apple and carrot and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
Carrots: A single carrot will supply all your vitamin A needs for a whole day. Nibbling a carrot sticks is a much healthier pastime than grazing on salted peanuts and crisps. Research has shown that carrots have a protective effect against ultraviolet rays, so they can help you to look younger for longer as well.
Cider vinegar: Made by fermenting the juice of whole, fresh apple, cider vinegar’s beneficial effects come from the high mineral contents of apples. It is usually high in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and trace elements. It increases blood oxygenation, improves metabolism, strengthens digestion and increases blood clotting ability. Two teaspoonful of cider vinegar in a glass of water on an empty stomach in the morning is helpful to people with weight problems.
Garlic: Like sprouts, garlic has been used as a cure-all for millennia. Inscriptions on the Great Pyramid at Gizeh in Egypt mention garlic as a food eaten by its builders. Some naturopaths believe that common infectious diseases, like flu and bronchitis, are caused by an accumulation of toxins in the body that gradually undermines the functions of internal organs. Garlic has been shown to be an excellent antiseptic. It was used with amazing success in treating soldiers with infected wounds during both World Wars. In the Second World War, the wounds of British soldiers were treated with garlic. Some of the wounds were already gangrenous, but garlic checked the spread of gangrene and resulted in the shedding of gangrenous tissue. As recently as 1965, the Russians flew 500 tons of garlic to Moscow to fight a flu epidemic, and some people still call garlic ‘Russian penicillin’.
Grapes: Grapes are very cleansing and regenerating. Grape fasts – eating nothing but grapes and drinking water for a day or two – are a well known method of detoxifying the body. They are an ideal food not only for convalescents, but for anyone suffering from fatigue of depression.
Potatoes: Potatoes have a well-know soporific effect: they contain substance very like chloroform. Research suggests that certain foods cause contentment and lifting of depression by altering brain chemistry in a similar way to drug therapy. A potato is not only an ideal carbohydrate: a medium potato contains only about 90 fat-free calories, as well as vitamins A, C, B1, B6, niacin, iron, potassium and fiber.
Sprouted Grains: Sprouted foods are seeds that have been used in diets for thousands of years especially by the Chinese. They are rich in vitamins A. C. D. E. K and B complex, in calcium phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, high quality of protein, and enzymes. Sprouts are rich in vitality because, unlike most vegetables, they are eaten at the peak of their freshness – when they are still growing.
Apart from these, stick to good and natural foods that have nourished people for generations; fresh vegetables and fruit; fresh fish; poultry; game, beef and lamb, reared organically, if possible; wholegrain; nuts; seeds; pulses; free range eggs; cold–pressed oils; cheeses; butter and milk. It is recommended to eat four or five small meals spread throughout the whole day rather starving all day and bingeing over a large dinner at night. This is also very important for keeping your blood sugar level constant.
When the season of any food or vegetable is there, eat the fresh foods in that season. However, it is sensible to eat a really fresh, locally grown carrot, rather than some green beans that have been flown or imported from other areas. Use whole meal rather than flour, and eat brown rice rather than white. Finally, take time to sit down and enjoy your meal. Grabbing some food and bolting it, when short of time, will play havoc with your digestions.
But getting the diet right is only part of the picture. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of exercise in a healthy and relaxed lifestyle. If the body is never pushed beyond its regular pace, relaxation periods will invariably have less benefit. Exercise doesn’t just promote an increase in physical fitness; people who exercise regularly can enjoy a range of secondary benefit.
Among all aerobic exercises walking is often overlooked as aerobic activity. A brisk purposeful walk will improve your muscle condition, your circulation, and your posture. Start off by walking for thirty minutes a day. Walk fast enough to make yourself a little out of breath and vary your route so you are not walking on flat ground all the time. After a week or two, you can increase the time you walk to about forty – five minutes. By now you should be seeing the benefit: you will probably be sleeping better, your concentration will be sharper and you will feel better balanced emotionally.