As doctors, we often urge people to “stay healthy” or ” eat healthy food” but what do we really mean by this?

Maintaining good health is not easy for many people. Real life interferes with our health for lots of reasons. Sometimes it’s because we feel rotten, perhaps depressed. Lots of people live alone and are desperately lonely. Our homes may be damp or dingy. Some people drink too much alcohol or smoke heavily. Taking recreational drugs can also lead to very unhealthy behaviours, sometimes leading to criminality. We have rows with friends, family or colleagues; many people work very long hours and when they finally get home, cannot be bothered to cook a “healthy” meal. Finding time to exercise at the end of the day can be difficult too. Sexual health is part of general health and sexually transmitted infections are on the increase. Using condoms with a new partner is a sensible measure – not only will this help prevent unwanted pregnancy but also prevent transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis.

So why do we need to think about keeping healthy? Firstly because a healthy body is stronger and makes us feel happier. Secondly, it helps maintain a strong immune system so reducing the chances of infections, but also reducing the risk of chronic (long term) diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The best way to become healthier is by making small but significant changes which are easy and enjoyable. This will include drinking plenty of water, taking more exercise – just start by doing more walking each day rather than killing yourself at the gym! Setting aside 30 minutes every day for a brisk walk can really make a difference in just a couple of weeks and the more you do, the more you will want to do. And with our beautiful coastline why would you not want to get out there? Even those with less mobility can enjoy a short walk.

Obviously what you eat plays a big part in living healthily – and the scientific evidence is clear now that a moderately low carb, Mediterranean based diet, rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats is clinically proven to help reduce weight and can even help diabetics reverse their problems with insulin resistance and high blood sugars.

Sugary foods are probably the yummiest things to eat and most of us enjoy a cake, a biscuit or a pud when we eat out. The problem with sugar is that we are addicted to it from quite an early age, so stopping it can be really difficult. Just like any other addiction, kicking the sugar habit needs to be done carefully. Many people substitute fruit instead when trying to lose weight, but fruit also contains fructose, a fruit sugar. Although not as detrimental to health as sugar, fructose and lactose in milk still can contribute a significant amount of sugar to the diet.

Our practice nurses are able to help you in specific areas with regard to healthy eating but we will also add some links to this page so you can decide for yourself how and what will work best for you in staying healthy.

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