The Health Triangle

The Health Triangle: Make 2021 Your Healthiest Year Yet

The Health Triangle: Make 2021 Your Healthiest Year Yet

Nutritional Therapist Yasmina Bona on using the Health Triangle for optimum wellbeing

When picturing your health, imagine a triangle. Food and nutrients are at the centre of the triangle, and the three angles represent core pillars, which are sleep, hydration and exercise. Nutrition is at the heart of good health but long lasting health can only be achieved with the support of the three other pillars. And this is why…

Sleep is a critical part of attaining good health. The benefits of sleep are made possible thanks to growth hormone (GH). Several studies have shown that this hormone has a rejuvenating effect on the body because it stimulates tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, muscle building, breakdown of fat stores, and normalisation of blood sugar. Sleep also acts as an antioxidant for the brain by removing free radicals that can damage neurons.

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Unfortunately, poor sleep often occurs as a result of poor nutrition or too much stress and anxiety. Compounds in certain foods and drinks may also interfere with normal sleep. Sugar, tea or coffee, for example, contain stimulants and should be avoided in the evening. Also, eating late means that digestion starts at a time when regeneration and cleansing should be taking place, not the breaking down and assimilation of food. And consider your intake of minerals calcium and magnesium, which have a calming effect on the body, as does Vitamin B6. Integrating seeds, nuts, roots and leafy vegetables in your diet is therefore a good idea for a decent night’s sleep. How much sleep is optimal? This varies from person to person and depends on your stage of life but a good benchmark for an adult is 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Hydration is another crucial component to achieving good health. The human adult body is made up of 60% water; the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. In order to replenish the water that is lost through urination, sweat and breathing, it is recommended to drink 1.5 to 2 litres each day – that is eight tall glasses.

Water is also essential as a component of blood and thus essential for transporting chemicals and nutrients to cells and tissues, as well as removing waste products. Finally, many metabolic processes need water to occur; digestion and temperature control for example. As a result, even mild dehydration impairs physiological responses.

Finally, the effect of exercise on general health is undisputed. With regular exercise, the body becomes stronger, functions more effectively and has greater endurance. It results in improved cardiovascular and respiratory function, and increases overall energy levels. Regular exercise also exerts a powerful positive effect on mood and the ability to handle stress thanks to the release of moodelevating endorphins. Exercise improves the immune system and aids digestion and elimination. Studies have shown that someone that is not fit has an 8-fold greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than a fit individual. The key to finding a regular exercise routine is to find an activity you enjoy, whether it be a brisk nature walk or dancing. A minimum of 15-20 minutes of exercise which gets the heart rate going at least three times a week is ideal for a long-term benefit. Try to keep it fun and varied. The best way to stay motivated is by varying your routine or finding an exercise buddy to work out with.

Keeping the health triangle in mind and giving equal importance to all four elements, you will be on the right track to tackling the new year in a healthful way.

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