Five Ways to Keep Yourself Healthy
By Angeline Ng, 01 December 2017 4314
You wake up feeling like a zombie and drag yourself to work in a train packed full with people. You regret staying up late to re-watch The Game of Thrones on HBO as you chow down your ham sandwich and wash it down with your first cup of kopi of the day. You sit at your desk all-day unless it’s lunchtime or when you heed the call of nature. After work, you head to the hawker centre for your favourite char kway teow.
If this is how you spend your usual day, it might be time to work in some changes because no matter how hectic and stressful lifestyles we Singaporeans lead, the adage health is wealth never gets old. Here are 5 ways to keep healthy.
1. Have adequate sleep
Having adequate sleep is one of the most difficult things to achieve in our stressful society, but the importance of having sufficient rest can never be overstated.
For adults, the recommended number of hours is 7-9 hours (Source). Some sensible tips you can employ to ensure you have adequate and a restful sleep include: using the hour before bedtime for quiet time (no, Netflix binging doesn’t count), cutting down on nicotine and caffeine, and avoiding consuming heavy meals within a couple of hours of bedtime (Source).
If you still have trouble sleeping or getting rested, you could be suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency (Source). Besides getting more sun exposure to increase your levels of Vitamin D, you could eat more fatty fish such as tuna or salmon and foods fortified with Vitamin D such as some dairy products, orange juice or cereals. Vitamin D supplements are also widely available. Guardian pharmacy sells a bottle of 60 tablets (1000Iu) for $20.90.
2. Cut down processed foods
Processed foods are convenient, but they usually pack a whole punch of badness. High in sodium, sugar, nitrates, refined carbohydrates, artificial ingredients, the list goes on. Having too much processed foods could result in fibre and magnesium deficiency, just to name a couple of consequences. Instead of having ham sandwiches or sausages for breakfast, you can try healthier options which can be prepared the night before such as overnight oats. Here are 8 mouth-watering recipes to start you off. If overnight oats are not your thing, you can try these healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings.
3. Exercise more, preferably outdoors
We work too much, and work out too little. Exercise not only improves our health (Source); it improves our mood. Also, a 9-5 job means there’s not much time to exercise while Mr. Sun is still out. If you’re not able to rest properly, you could actually have a Vitamin D deficiency, which makes it all the more crucial to slot in exercise, especially on your off-days. You don’t need to have an elaborate exercise plan or get an expensive gym membership. It could be as simple as taking a 20 to 30-minute walk thrice a week, spending some outdoor time with friends and family or picking up a dance fitness class such as Zumba at your nearest community club.
4. Consume sufficient Vitamin B
Vitamin B is purported to decrease stress levels, increase work productivity and in general improve health (Source). B group vitamins can be found in a wide range of foods such as whole grains, bananas, beans and meats.
Vitamin B is important for the maintenance of cardiovascular and neural health, is vital for energy metabolism and may even help keep depression at bay. Here are 12 energy-boosting recipes rich in vitamin B to try. Or you could just pop by any pharmacy or wellness store to purchase a bottle of Vitamin B supplements which won’t cost you more than $30.
5. Increase your fibre intake
Eating out most of the time usually means probably not getting enough fibre in your diet. Singaporeans on average get only about 13g a day (Source) but the recommended amount by the Health Promotion Board is 20g for women and 26g for men. Adequate amounts of dietary fibre promotes healthy bowel function, controls cholesterol and blood sugar level (Source). If your fibre intake is typically low, increase your intake of fibre gradually, over a period of 2-3 weeks (Source). Sudden ‘bulking up’ may cause bloating and flatulence warns Ms Chong Ai Heong, Dietitian from the Department of Dietetics at Singapore General Hospital.
According to HealthXchange, Singapore’s first interactive health portal, some of the best dietary sources of fibre are oats, legumes, fruits such as apple, pear and orange, and many types of vegetables including green leafy vegetables, cabbage and tomato. To easily integrate fruit into your diet, you could eat fruit as a healthy mid-day snack or add fruit to your whole grain cereal or oats. There are also numerous commercial fibre supplements available should you need to supplement your diet. Make sure you drink lots of water because fibre works best when it absorbs water (Source).
Good health is a blessing we should never take for granted. Whatever we do and put into our bodies have impact on our health. The key is balance and moderation. A sensible diet – through natural foods or supplements – complemented with a suitable amount of exercise and a healthy lifestyle should ensure that we stay in tiptop condition!