Food and health go hand in hand.
There is no doubt that the human body is unable to adapt to the drastic change of our life styles. The 20th century has galloped into the 21st, with each decade offering us new challenges to our life style be it in transportation or communication. As that Nokia hand free adv showed, the conventional mobile will twist the human spine in the centuries to come. Heart attack has become a much dreaded word in the psyche of the sedentary corporate professional, what with fast food oozing with fats (read cholesterol ) stress (read targets) late lunches etc ,health has become a casualty . We, ostrich like, tend to live in the world of “it cannot happen to me ’’syndrome. Until reality bites ….
I would like to take this opportunity at demystifying cholesterol and the totally impossible tongue twisters that are a part of discussions on the subject. Those nasty LDLs (low-density lipoprotein), the triglycerides (the bad guys) and (the good guys) HDLs (high-density lipoprotein). Demystification apart, at a very practical level, I’m sure that you’re asking yourself, “Fair enough, but what is the bottom line at the end of the day? What should I do to eliminate or reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels; and increasing HDL?”
If you have an abnormal “lipid profile” as it is technically called, your first step is to visit a doctor and decide whether you need medication or not. Once you are in safe medical hands, make sure that you get yourself tested regularly. Next, on the ‘to do’ list are making specific lifestyle changes that will enable you to stop, or at least reduce, your medication levels over the long run. You would be surprised at how much can be achieved by a few important changes in your lifestyle.
So to bite the bullet, this is what you have to do =Start with your diet
With rising affluence and being spoilt for choices with respect to variety of restaurants vying for your mind space the secret is to CONTROL your portions no matter how tasty they are. So what is portion control? To give a simplistic definition it is limiting the quantity of food a person should eat.
A healthy portion of anything is a handful of it. Say, a piece of meat or fish, the size of your palm, is a healthy measure. A cup of rice again needs to be a handful of cooked rice, and so on. Once you control the quantities you are eating, you are well on your way to good health.
What you eat is very important. First on the list is fiber, a seriously good guy who needs to be as widely incorporated in your diet as much as possible. Sources of fiber are raw vegetables, fruit and whole grain cereal that is processed as little as possible. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. They also prevent hunger pangs; since they fill you up, ensuring that you are not hungry for the unhealthy stuff anymore. Fiber is also the broom of the body, ridding it of toxins. Fiber even binds with fat molecules and removes them from the system.
Next up is fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines; are a great source of Omega 3 acids. Omega 3 acids are a way wonderful to lower LDL and increase HDL. Grilled fish twice a week is a great idea. If you are vegetarian, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts are also great sources of Omega 3. On the other hand, please remember the handful rule here. These nuts are fairly calorie intensive, and like we already know, calories not used by the body get stored as fat in one of its forms, something that needs to be avoided at all costs!!
Omega 3 fatty acids, and unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive, sunflower or canola oil are good friends. They can actually help you in the struggle to achieve a normal lipid profile. The only caveat is that any form of fat contributes nine calories per gram, and so even a small quantity can increase your total calorie intake very quickly. Spend time to read the food label before you buy a product that has fat, even if it says it is a zero cholesterol product. If the ingredient list has saturated or trans fats, shun it like plague.
Well that’s half the battle won, the other half is exercise. Aerobic activities like running, walking and dancing; as well as strength training, are vital to improve your lipid profile. The exercise will help you burn fat, sleep better and reduce stress. In fact exercise is the key factor for increasing HDL levels. Here we go back to the caution factor. Please get yourself medically cleared for exercise before you start, and take it nice and slow to start with.In the end, it always comes back to the same things – a healthy diet, daily exercise and seven to eight sleep hours every day. It’s also important to make a conscious effort to control stress. So wish you a healthy living.