Written by Diana Arundell – university qualified Naturopath
A new year is always a good time to review healthy (and unhealthy) diet and lifestyle patterns. It’s a great time to check in with what is working for us health wise and to review the areas of our lives that are not serving us so well. The festive season often invites more eating and drinking than usual, which can lead to not so healthy habits that often linger until after Australia Day. The more we drink alcohol and eat sweet treats, the more we tend to want to drink alcohol and eat sweet treats. In the short term, most of our bodies can tolerate this, however over the longer term, it may start to impact our health and well being.
After the Christmas period it’s great to get back into a healthy eating plan as soon as possible. The Mediterranean diet is associated with improved markers of ageing including reduced frailty, reduced inflammatory markers, improved cognitive function and gut microbiome profiles. If you are after ideas for improving your diet in the new year, a Mediterranean style diet is a good place to start. To summarise what that means: Eat more vegetables (80% of your plate), fruit, nuts/seeds, legumes, whole grains, herbs/spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. Eat moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, yogurt and cheese (especially white versions such as fetta/ricotta rather than processed, yellow cheese). Eat red meat rarely and avoid processed food including soft drink and processed meats, added sugar and refined oils. There are many free resources available online to help plan out a healthy eating regime based on the Mediterranean style diet.
Dehydration can contribute to fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, kidney pain, dry itchy skin, constipation and insomnia to name a few. It’s simple and its cheap – aim to drink 1.5 litres of water each day preferably before 5pm so it doesn’t interfere with sleep. Larger or more active humans may need more than this. Tea and coffee don’t count unless it is herbal tea as the aforementioned contain caffeine and have a diuretic effect on the body.
Getting the body moving physically can help to kickstart the metabolism to encourage the shedding of any extra unwanted kilos and starting the new year with an exercise regime can create positive momentum for the rest of the year. Get exercise out of the way early in the day when it is cooler in summer and then it’s accomplished before fatigue may creep in later in the day.
Our modern industrialised world brings many fabulous benefits and it also unfortunately means we are exposed to thousands more toxins than in the past. Our bodies are built to protect us via detoxifying these chemicals from our system however it’s worth checking in with our chemical exposure and making changes where we can, to reduce the toxic load. Some ways we can reduce our toxic load include: avoid using pesticides, use natural skin care and cleaning products, eat organic food where possible, avoid Teflon and aluminium cookware, avoid storing and heating food and beverages in plastic, avoid intake of additives/preservatives, char grilled foods, alcohol and tobacco. Drink plenty of water to improve elimination via the kidneys and the bowel.
Checking in with the inner being is also great to do at the beginning of the new year. Ask yourself: ‘what lights me up?’ ‘What makes me truly happy?’ Make sure these things are included in your plan for the year ahead. It is never too late to learn something new whether it’s creative or active and in fact it may even improve your mental health and increase your longevity. Inner happiness has been shown to improve many physical health markers.
For further information or to make an appointment, please contact Diana Arundell – The Avoca Naturopath and Nutritionist on 0410 465 900.
Diana Arundell is a university–qualified naturopath and consults from her Avoca Naturopath clinic. She has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy health, digestive health, immune function and family wellness programs. She was a nutrition lecturer at Macquarie University for 10 years, and is an accredited Journey Practitioner. For further information or to make an appointment please contact Diana Arundell at Avoca Naturopath on 0410 465 900.