5 steps to perfect health
How healthy are you? According to TV nutritionist Patrick Holford, probably not very. But there is hope for us all yet with this simple guide
‘I'd describe 100pc health as waking up full of energy, with a sharp mind, great mood, no aches and pains, no digestive problems, no weight problems and nothing that would indicate a risk of disease – in other words, perfect blood pressure and cholesterol," says TV nutritionist Patrick Holford, who is currently touring Ireland with the aim of getting us in shape.
“So far, over 5,000 Irish people have completed my questionnaire on diet and lifestyle and the nation's health is not looking good,” he says.
“In my questionnaire, participants are asked about diet, sleep patterns, general health, and allergy symptoms. The average score is around 40pc,” says the founder of The Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London.
“I believe that by following my five steps to better health, people can increase their score in less than three months.
“Celebrity Big Brother contestant Danielle Lloyd is a case in point. The 23-year-old scored 37pc on the test with low energy, bloating and stomach pains, irregular periods and weight gain as her health issues.
“However, she followed my five steps for six weeks and her health score more than doubled to 76pc.
“If you optimise your nutrition and possibly take supplements along with an improved diet, then most people can achieve a score of 80pc or more,” he says.
Holford believes there are five key processes in our bodies – and keeping these in tune are the five golden secrets of
having 100pc health.
1. Balance Your Blood Sugar
Holford says: “It's not fat that is causing the epidemic of weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, it's sugar and refined or processed carbohydrates.
“When you eat too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, you get a quick burst of energy followed by a lull.
“And when your blood sugar is too high you convert the excess to fat. You not only need to eat fewer carbohydrates, but also the right kinds.
“But now there's an exciting new science called glyconutrition, which recognizes that the body needs several different kinds of sugars to make a variety of glycoproteins. An example is glucosamine, which keeps your joints healthy.
“Another example is beta-glucans, carbohydrates that can be found in foods, such as mushrooms, oats, barley, and yeast. These clever sugars help control diabetes, promote weight loss and lower cholesterol.”
Holford's bestselling Low GL Diet is based on these food principles.
2. Eat Fats that Heal, Not Fats that Kill
‘Fat isn’t just the stuff we store too much of. There are intelligent fats too, the omega 3 and 6 fats that control everything from our mood to our risk of heart disease.
“For example, omega 3 fats will do more to reverse arthritis than any pain-killer drug, while six out of eight trials show they are highly effective as anti-depressants.
“The UK's National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends that all doctors prescribe one gram of fish oil to patients who have had a heart attack. The trouble is, most of us don't eat nearly enough omega 3 and 6 fats.
“I have oily fish three times a day and also have a tablespoon of ground seeds such as flax and pumpkin seeds. And I also take both omega 3 and omega 6 supplements every day too.
“The worst fats are from deep-fried and processed foods high in hydrogenated fats. They make brain membranes thicker and less flexible. They make people thicker too.”
3. Bump up Your B's
‘Alzheimer's is a preventable disease, but the older you are the more B vitamins you need to keep your mind sharp. Many people over the age of 60 need 100 times the basic RDA to keep their memory sharp and protect their brain. B vitamin supplements are essential.
“A toxic substance in your blood, called homocysteine, will predict your risk for heart disease and stroke better than cholesterol, plus your risk of losing your memory. If you have enough B vitamins your homocysteine level is low. If you don't have enough, it goes high.
“Women with high homocysteine levels have 20 times the risk of pregnancy complications or of children born with birth defects.
“There is also a process called methylation that happens a billion times every few seconds in your body and brain. It keeps everything in balance and makes you feel ‘connected' and it depends on B vitamins, especially B6, B12 and folic acid.
“I believe eating wholefoods, fruit and vegetables, and staying away from white, refined foods is essential. I also supplement B vitamins every day, taking BioCare's Optimum Nutrition Pack containing an antioxidant multivitamin, extra vitamin C and essential fats.”
4. Antioxidants Are a Girl's Best Friend
‘The secret to staying young is to up your intake of antioxidants. These are nature's anti-ageing nutrients, high in fruit and vegetables, but highest in berries and dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli. Red wine and red grapes contain one of the most potent antioxidants of all, called resveratrol.
“I always advocate eating a multi-coloured diet, with something green, something orange such as carrots, something blue/red such as berries, and something yellow every day – and the odd glass of red wine. The yellow spice turmeric, and also mustard are potent anti-inflammatories.”
5. Water – the Body's Most Essential Nutrient
‘Water is freely available but most people just don't drink enough. You literally need at least eight glasses of water a day. Your brain and body is two thirds water. If you only drink when you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
Not drinking enough makes you tired and dries out your skin and your joints. It's a major cause of constipation. The long-term effects of not drinking enough are more serious – including kidney stones. Hunger is often confused for thirst, so when you're hungry drink a glass a water. Dehydration also causes a loss of concentration. Drinking water needs to become a habit if you want 100pc health.”