Saturday 3 December 2016

From sunscreen to sex: Ten pieces of advice for healthy living from Irish experts

If the experts could give you just one piece of advice, what would it be

Published 08/10/2016 | 02:30

If the experts could give you just one piece of advice, what would it be
If the experts could give you just one piece of advice, what would it be
Meditation and breathing exercises can have a dramatically positive impact on your mental and physical health Photo: Depositphotos

If the experts could give you just one piece of advice, what would it be?

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1. DON'T HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON AT THE WEEKEND

Maureen Cooper
Maureen Cooper

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SAYS: Breege Leddy, sleep physiologist (RPSGT) at The Insomnia Clinic.

"Good sleep is fundamental to our overall health and well-being and is governed by an internal body clock/circadian rhythm. This 'master' body clock needs a strict routine to stay regulated. More and more of us have altered schedules at the weekend as we tend to have lie-ins, and this has a knock-on effect on meal times.

"This causes the body clock to get out of sync, and most of us now display symptoms of what we call 'social jet lag'. We now know that this can lead to weight gain, depression and other physical and mental diseases."

Dr Jonathan Lyne
Dr Jonathan Lyne

Bon Secours Hospital, Glasnevin, Dublin; bonsecours.ie/insomnia-clinic

2. DO TAKE A 'STOP MOMENT'

SAYS: Maureen Cooper, mindfulness teacher

"Is your life so hectic that you long for a moment to be quietly with yourself? Taking a 'stop moment' is a simple way to drop the chaos and connect with yourself. Just stop what you are doing, and notice how you are. Is your body tired? How is your mood? Simply notice without judging. Now rest your attention on your breath, let go of thinking about what you have to do and allow your mind to relax."

Gary O'Toole
Gary O'Toole

Maureen provides training in mindfulness and empathy for people in the workplace and is the author of The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress.

awarenessinaction.org

3. MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY

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Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor

SAYS: Dr Jonathan Lyne, consultant cardiologist, Blackrock Clinic

"Exercise is probably the most important action that any individual can do to improve their life expectancy and survival.

"Whether you exercise or not is a massive determinant to your overall health and well-being. Extensive research has shown that not participating in regular exercise increases the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, a stroke or heart attack. Also, the psychological benefits include a reduced risk of depression. All in all, well worth the effort!"

Suite 19, Blackrock Clinic, Blackrock, Co Dublin; heartrhythmcardiologist.com

4. EAT TOR REDUCE INFLAMMATION

SAYS: Gaye Godkin, registered dietician.

"At the heart of all illness is a process called inflammation. Inflammation is a vital process which keeps the body healthy and is a primary function of the immune system. When it gets out of control, it causes illness and disease. Arthritis, gout, colitis, asthma and heart disease are examples of diseases of excess inflammation which have been linked to diet and lifestyle.

"The actual process of inflammation, can be a slow burner in the body. It is never too late to implement healthy changes. We can help ourselves by eating foods that protect us like oily fish, rich in omega 3 and limiting foods that hurt us. The rich man's diet such as red meat, excess alcohol and coffee are all inflammatory contributors."

5. LEARN TO BREATHE CORRECTLY

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SAYS: Dylan Crowe, physical therapist, Complete Fitness

"I teach proper breathing to all my clients. We should show breathing more love. Lie on your back and imagine your lungs are like balloons that travel all the way to the base of your spine.

"Inhale through your nose to fill those two long balloons for 5 seconds. Exhale slowly for 5 seconds. Repeat 20 times. Controlled breathing releases tension, improves posture, strengthens your immune system, heart and lungs - and helps control your nervous system."

32 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2; completefitness.ie

6. PRACTICE QUALITY SEX

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SAYS: Dr Derek Freedman, MD FwRCPI and specialist in STD screening

"Know the name, have the mobile phone number, use a condom, give breakfast and offer a return match. So many infections are silent, and may only show in one of a couple, so it is essential to know the name and the phone number of the person you are having sex with, so you can let them know if there is a problem.

"If in any doubt, get tested. Condom use is a universal precaution. Breakfast lets you know where you have been - it should be wholemeal! A return match/date is good sporting etiquette."

88 Ranelagh Village, Dublin; 01 497 5826 / df@freedman.ie

7. WEAR SUNSCREEN AND TAKE VITAMIN D

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SAYS: Dr. Geraldine Morrow, consultant dermatologist

"UVA rays, which contribute most to ageing and also increase skin cancer risks, are present all day long, even on cloudy days, and they can also penetrate glass windows. It is easier to form a daily habit of wearing a broad spectrum sun screen which helps protect against UVA and UVB rays if you expect to be outdoors for more than 15 minutes in total. Aim for factor 30, or higher if your skin is very fair or already sun-damaged.

"Like stopping smoking, it is never too late to change your sun protection habits, as over 75pc of total sun exposure occurs after the age of 18 and the effects are cumulative.

"So what about vitamin D? In recent years, low levels of vitamin D has been associated with increased incidence of certain cancers and diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. Sunscreen has been blamed as a contributory factor to reducing vitamin D, which is mainly produced in the skin.

"However, studies have shown that the real-life application of sunscreen (we apply more thinly and reapply less frequently than under laboratory conditions) does not impede vitamin D production. .

"For at least half the year in Ireland there is not enough sunshine for vitamin D production anyway, so taking a daily supplement or increasing vitamin D intake through fortified foods and protecting your skin probably makes more sense."

39 Grosvenor Road, Dublin 6; geraldinemorrow.com

8. GET YOUR FIVE A DAY (AT LEAST)

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SAYS: Elsa Jones, nutritional therapist.

"Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day boosts overall health and can help to reduce our risk of developing many illnesses - including heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

"One reason for this is that fruit and vegetables contain lots of fibre, which helps to keep our bowels healthy. Adequate fibre in the diet can also help to control cholesterol levels and keep blood sugar levels stable. To maximise the amount and variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet, try picking a 'rainbow' of fruit and vegetables of different colours to eat every day, as each colour provides its own unique set of vitamins and antioxidants.

"So, for example, orange fruits and vegetables are high in beta carotene - which boosts skin radiance and helps to prevent premature ageing - whereas red fruits and vegetables are particularly high in lycopene, an anti-oxidant which safeguards prostate health."

elsajonesnutrition.ie

9. PRACTICE THE 'FLAMINGO' EXERCISE

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SAYS: Gary O'Toole, consultant orthopaedic surgeon

"One simple thing everyone could do every day that might one day save them from falling is to work on their proprioceptive ability. It applies to all ages, from 2 to 102. Every morning, when brushing your teeth, practice standing on one leg.

"Beginners can lean against the basin, improvers can try staying away from the basin and the 'elite' can try closing their eyes while doing it. Try it. It's amazing how difficult it is if you're only starting, and it is amazing how quickly your balance improves with practice. Alternatively, see you in theatre when you need your ankle or wrist fixed!"

Mr O'Toole is one of 14 Sub-specialist Orthopaedic Consultants at the Beacon Centre for Orthopaedics, Sandyford, Dublin 18; orthopaedics.ie

10. MONITOR KNEE-JERK REACTIONS

SAYS: Allison Keating, Registered Psychologist, bWell Clinic

"I would recommend a life-changing book called 'Man's Search for Meaning', by Viktor Frankl. A renowned psychiatrist, he was taken to a concentration camp during WWII. Here he saw immense suffering but also the triumph of the human spirit through adversity.

"Frankl said if you can find meaning in suffering you can be free regardless of your personal circumstances. As a psychologist, this is what I have been in awe of with people. None of us escape difficulties in life but if you realise that you have the freedom to choose how you react to the situation, you are back in control. "There is a gap between when something happens and how you respond. Often we just respond habitually with old behavioural patterns - whether this is to become angry, upset, stressed or anxious. Remember this one thing... Mind the gap.

"That gap can provide you with a mindful moment to consciously choose how you will respond. In CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), this technique gets you to ask yourself 'is there another way I could respond to this? Is there a better way?'"

12 Saint James Terrace, Malahide, Co. Dublin; bwell.ie

11. START A GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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SAYS: Sinead O'Connor, yoga teacher and holistic health coach

"I'd recommend a morning meditation practice. I notice a difference in the days that I make time to meditate - I'm more focused, positive, clear, accepting, creative and peaceful. Alternatively, if you don't feel ready to sit still and quiet the mind, writing a gratitude diary first thing in the morning is a very uplifting and positive start to the day. I write 10 things that I am grateful for, and feel rich inside."

hushyoga.com

12. INCREASE YOUR MOBILITY

SAYS: Marc Smith, personal trainer, Complete Fitness, Dublin

"By increasing your mobility and range of motion, you automatically improve your ability to move efficiently and effectively. This allows for the improvement of optimal movement patterns for that individual.

"Increased mobility gets you into the best possible position to increase your strength, reduce your risk of injury and give you greater control of your body. Increased mobility will allow the body to achieve specific positions and reduce joint stiffness."

32 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2; completefitness.ie

13. LEARN MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

SAYS: Liam Plant, art therapist/psychotherapist, counselling and psychotherapy supervisor

"Mindfulness meditation not only improves one's personal well-being, it is helpful in improving our relationship with others and the world in general.

"There is now abundant research to show that regular mindfulness practice reduces stress and anxiety, strengthens our immune system, improves memory and concentration, helps us manage our emotions and increases a capacity for empathy, compassion and self-awareness. It has also been shown to improve relationship satisfaction."

Oscailt, 8 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4; liamplant.com

14. LOOK AFTER YOUR GUMS SAYS: Dr Andoni Jones at MyDental

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"My tip is really a basic one - keep your teeth and gums in good condition. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but if they aren't cleaned well, the bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become inflamed.

"When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form spaces, called pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and cannot be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease could lead to bone and tooth loss. "It's important to brush and floss daily and attend regular dental check-ups ."

MyDental, 4 Bath Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4; mydental.ie

Irish Independent

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