There are 3 key pillars to both physical and mental health
Each pillar is intrinsically linked to the next and therefore, if one of the pillars is weak, then the remaining pillars will also be of poor quality. The end result of this weak structure is a poorly functioning and ultimately unhealthy individual.
Said pillars are namely;
- Sleep (see our section on Sleep under our 'Your Health' tab)
There is a seemingly endless supply of written and online information on what constitutes a “healthy” diet, with lots of conflicting information from people/organisations who are convinced they have it absolutely right.
The first point is that the diet needs to be tailored to the individual, and the word diet should be defined as standard daily nutritional intake versus the often-held view of “a means to lose weight”.
Slow, steady and consistent changes/substitutions in your diet are much more likely to produce sustainable weight loss and improved overall health, versus yo-yo dieting and associated weight loss and then subsequent gain.
The NHS currently advocates a calorie-based model of diet;
- Recommending around 2,000 calories per day for a woman and 2,500 calories per day for a man.
- At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
- At least 2 portions of fish a week including a portion of oily fish.
- Limited intake of fats and sugars.
- Eating breakfast daily.
- At least 6-8 glasses of fluid (namely water) per day.
- Alcohol intake of no more than 14 units per week for women and 21 units per week for men (link alcohol).
- Regular aerobic exercise.
There are many other specific diets discussed in health circles which have proven efficacies;
- The Mediterranean Diet (https://patient.info/heart-health/cardiovascular-disease-atheroma/mediterranean-diet).
- The Palaeolithic Diet (https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction/paleolithic-diet-paleo-diet).
- Intermittent fasting, namely the 5:2 Diet (https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction/52-diet).
Many of the Doctors at Crookston Medical Centre will advocate the “Low carb diet”.
- This is a diet that limits carbohydrates, mainly found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. Instead of the carbohydrates, you eat natural proteins, fats and vegetables.
- In the most basic form, you should eat meat, fish, eggs, diary, vegetables and natural fats; and avoid sugar, bread, pasta, rice, beans and potatoes.
- Drinks are also a point of note – most alcoholic beverages (with the exception of spirits) contain a high amount or carbohydrate and sugar. It is a similar case with fruit juices and carbonated drinks (including diet) – these are all best avoided in low carb diet.
- The major reduction of carbohydrate/sugar intake lowers your body’s circulating insulin levels which in turn encourages fat breakdown and burning (known as ketosis).
- To achieve “low carb”, it is recommended that carbohydrate/sugar intake is limited to less that 50g per day (you will be surprised how little this is when you start reading the packaging labels and indeed how much sugar there is in processed foods!).
- One of the unique points of low carb is that calorie counting is not required or relevant – you eat (low carb foods) when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
- Other benefits include weight loss, reversing type 2 diabetes, a “healthier gut” and reduction in sugar cravings.
- Circumstances where a low carb diet may not be advisable – type 1 diabetes, pregnancy, breast feeding.
- An advocate and pioneer of this diet is a Swedish GP, Dr Andreas Eenfeldt. His website https://www.dietdoctor.com/ is an excellent resource for more information on the Low Carb diet, even without signing up for the paid sections.