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Staying healthier longer

What we eat and drink, how we look after ourselves, our mental attitude and our lifestyle all affect our health, says Dr Chris Browne, the My Last Song doctor.

Healthy eating

Follow these health tips to live longer, healthier lives.

  • Stop smoking - you should have stopped years ago. If you're still smoking, stop immediately, as smoking is dangerous. 
  • Drink moderate amounts of alcohol - don't drink to excess; don't drink everyday; wine and beer are less harmful than spirits. Red wine can be beneficial.
  • Never binge drink - binge drinking can damage your liver, brain and  endanger your health by making you lose balance and judgement;
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day - your body needs water to function properly.
  • No more than two cups of coffee a day - too much caffeine not good.
  • Drink tea - tea is high in anti-oxidants, especially green tea, herb teas and redbush tea;
  • Drink freshly made fruit and vegetable juices - these are good for you, so invest in a juicer. The redder the juice, the better it is.
  • Eat fish in preference to meat - rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, abundance of essential minerals, vitamins and protein to maintain healthy nerve tissues, strong bones and teeth, a glowing complexion; and maintenance of muscles and body tissues. 
  • Eat chicken in preference to red meat - easier to digest, less cholesterol, contains essential amino acids.
  • Steam rather than boil vegetables - steaming retains more vitamins and minerals.
  • Make imaginative salads - salads are easy to digest, contain more vitamins and minerals, and are less fatty, than cooked meals. Add nuts, fruit and berries so that they are even healthier and you won't get bored with them.
  • Eat small portions - this puts less strain on the digestive system and keeps your weight in check.
  • Eat foods that research has shown prolong life such as cranberries, broccoli and oats. Also foods high in potassium - fruit, nuts, pulses - as this will reduce risk of strokes.
  • Fast intermittently - have no more than 600 calories a day two days out of seven or alternative days, to increase the body's ability to repair itself.
  • Exercise as much as possible - walking, swimming, cycling, going round the golf course, tennis, bowls, fitness classes, dancing, gardening, housework...all are excellent forms of exercise. Spend at least 30 minutes a day doing fairly strenuous physical activity.
  • Take up an exercise such as Tai Chi - research has found it improves balance and reduces risk of falls.
  • Take an aspirin once or twice a week before you go to bed. It will help you sleep better and it is good for the blood.
  • Find your healthy weight, reach it and stay at it - BMI, or Body Mass Index is the easiest way to see the weight you should be for your height. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Careful eating and more exercise will reduce your weight.
  • Yoga - good for the body and mind. You will feel more supple, more relaxed, more focussed and meet new people.
  • Enjoy the sunshine - sun on the skin produces vitamin D, and an increase in the feel good factor. However, sunbathe in moderation, avoid sun in the middle of the day and don't get burnt by the sun.
  • Be happy and reduce your stress levels - if you are happy you are more likely to be healthy; if you are stressed, it can cause stress related illnesses.
  • Laugh a lot - laughing releases beneficial hormones and makes you feel good.
  • Listen to your favourite music - if it makes you feel good, then it will have done you good. 
  • Keep your mind occupied - the brain benefits from activity and will stay healthier longer if you exercise it by reading, doing puzzles, learning new mental skills.
  • Have younger friends - this will encourage you to keep up with them physically and mentally, and thus keeping you healthier as well as enjoying yourself more.
  • Sleep well - older people tend to need less sleep, and then get anxious about it. You will sleep better if you do a lot of physical and mental exercise. A small alcoholic nightcap can also relax you and assist with sleeping.
  • Wake up, get up. Unless you have a good reason to stay in bed once you wake up, get up and get on with life. 
  • Have regular checkups with your GP, and occasional scans - the quicker health problems are diagnosed, the more likely they are to be solved.
  • Cut down on the pills and medication - take only those your doctor says are absolutely necessary, Their possible side effects and reaction often does more harm than good.

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