I am still feeling in the New Year spirit and I can’t help feeling excited about making some changes for the better and losing some bad habits at this time of year.
Now that school holidays are over and families are getting back into their routines I am seeing lots of people putting some thought into how they can make this their best year ever.
The notion of a fresh start, a new beginning, is quite inspiring and while it lasts……… I say run with it!
Use the motivation we have at this time of year to propel you into action! Whether it is a new direction career wise, or healthwise, I hope you enjoy your new start.
Would you pass a WOF?
It may be a common analogy but it’s a good one. We tend to look after our cars better than we look after our bodies. When was the last time you had some vital assessments such as blood pressure, weight, body mass index, HDL cholesterol and blood glucose?
All too commonly I hear from patients that suddenly they were prescribed blood pressure medication, or that out of the blue, they have been told they are pre-diabetic. These changes in our health don’t happen overnight, so what happened between healthy and sick? My health philosphy is based strongly on prevention and I really feel there is a lack of awareness about prevention among the medical profession and public alike. Let’s face it, most of us still die prematurely of preventable diseases, and there are more people on pharmacuetical drugs (and suffering the side effects) for lifestyle diseases such as high cholesterol and type II diabetes than ever.
In my clinic we have started a Warrant of Health programme to help our clients keep track of some vital statistics. With this crucial information we can be proactive about preventing what I call the ‘Big Three’, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Read on to find out the recommended assessments, some of which you can do at home.
At home assessments
Weigh yourself– I am not fan of weighing yourself everyday, or even every week but it is good to know if you have gained say, 5kg over the past year. Every month to six weeks is enough.
BMI (body mass index)
This is a useful tool although it’s results must be taken with a grain of salt, as body shape and muscle mass etc is not taken into account. Don’t make all your goals around BMI but it can be good to keep an eye on.
How to do it
BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared.
A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 26. A score below 18.5 indicates that you may be underweight; and one above 25 for a NZ European or 26 for Maori or Pacific Islanders indicates that you may be overweight.
Waist circumferance – this is a very important measurement, in fact I think it is much more important than weight and BMI. Excess weight around your mid-section is dangerous because of the fat you can’t actually see – that surrounding your organs. By the time you have a noticably bulging belly, you have fat stored in your liver and other abdominal organs. Fat stored in your liver interfers with it’s ability to remove insulin from the bloodstream and in time can lead to insulin resistance. Fat stored in the mid-section is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
How to do it
Exhale and relax then take a measurement at the belly button, keeping the tape measure horizontally in line with your belly button.
Healthy waist circumferance Males = below 94
Healthy waist circumferance Women = below 80
Breast self examination
It is important to look for changes in shape, size, colour and any discharge from the nipple. Do this in a mirror firstly with your hands by your sides then with them on your hips, and lastly with your hands clasped behind your back.
Secondly, feel for any abnormal changes in the breasts. With your arm raised use the pads of your first three fingers to feel for anything abnormal. It is also important to check your armpits.
If you notice anything at all that worries you, let your doctor know immediately.
Additional analysis we do as part of our ‘Warrant of Health’ Programme:
During our 1 hour consultation a full health history is taken where we discover your strengths and weaknesses, and your genetic predispositions, giving us clear areas to focus on.
We also do the following:
Liver function, B12, folic acid and iron status with live blood analysis
BMI, weight and waist circumferance
Send for blood tests such as cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides and thyroid hormones
From this information we will put together a plan specific to your needs including diet, exercise, treatment of any conditions with either herbal medicine or supplemental therapy.
4 follow up sessions throughout the year are included in this programme.
Homemade Hummus with flaxseed oil
This is a healthy protein rich snack and made even better with the addition of the super healthy oil, flaxseed.
- 1 can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup of tahini (found at the supermarket or health food store)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed with 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/4 cup of natural yoghurt
- 3-4 leaves of fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil
- Parsley, olive oil and paprika to serveTo prepare
Drain the chickpeas and set aside the liquid from the can. Combine all the ingredients except those for serving in a food processor and blend till smooth. Add more oil, lemon juice or juice from the chickpeas if you prefer a runnier consistency.
Put your hummus in a serving bowl and top with the parsley, a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of paprika to taste.
This muesli is divine. It is full of flavour while being extremely low on the glycaemic index and providing a whopping 20grams of protein per serve. Most supermarket mueslis are full of sugar and fat which they try to brush over with claims of ‘wholegrains’ or being a ‘good source of fiber’. It is best made relatively fresh, say every week.
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped raw pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dried apple
4 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons vanilla essence
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with rice, soy or cows milk. Add berries, other fruit or natural yoghurt to taste.
Makes 8 serves with 20grams of protein per serve. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!