The body is a reflection of what we put in it, If you watch what you eat, exercise and have enough rest, it’s said you will have a healthy body.
Now is the time to take stock of your diet and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for maximum health and vitality.
TAKE A WALK TO TOP UP VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth, but there is increasing evidence it plays a much wider role in maintaining good health.
Vitamin D – made by the body when we spend time in the sun – protects against heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, dementia, mental illness, musculoskeletal disorders and even fertility
However, even when it’s bright, spending a lot of time indoors, being overweight, wearing covering clothing and having a darker skin can all keep our levels low.
Dr Derbyshire explains: ‘Weight is an issue because vitamin D is stored in fatty tissue.
‘That was fine when we were hunter gatherers and built up reserves of vitamin D in summer, when sunshine and food was plentiful because it was then released over winter, as we lost weight because less food was available.
‘But nowadays even if you get plenty of sun, a lot of the vitamin D you store up gets trapped and is not circulating in the bloodstream where it can be used.’
Calcium – found in dairy products – helps vitamin D be absorbed and helps the bones grow strong
Sunshine is our primary source of vitamin D, and some foods are fortified with added vitamin D. It is also found in egg yolks, red meat and oily fish.
If you are low in vitamin D, you could also be low in calcium, because the sunshine aids absorption of this bone-building mineral.
A diet high in protein increases the amount of calcium lost via the kidneys — so if your new year’s resolutions included a Paleo weight-loss plan, you may need a top up. Dairy foods are the best source.
VITAMIN A FOR GOOD SIGHT
There’s a kernel of truth to the old wives tale that carrots are good for your eyes – they’re a good source of vitamin A which is important for eye health.
Vitamin A deficiency can also lead to night blindness and other visual impairment.
While rare these days, it does still happen, particularly if there are other issues such as Crohn’s disease which disrupts nutrient absorption.
Taking a top-up of carotenoids is also a good idea if there is a family history of age-related macular degeneration.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the UK but AREDS — the long-running Age-Related Eye Disease Study – found a specific combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc significantly reduces the risk of AMD.
Studies show taking daily fish oil can lower blood pressure – a condition known as the ‘silent killer’ as it raises the risk of heart problems – as can cutting back on salt, alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.
MAGNESIUM TO PREVENT DIABETES
It’s estimated that one in 16 people in the UK now has diabetes, and the numbers affected continue to climb, largely as a result of obesity.
However, recent research suggests nutrient gaps are also a factor.
One study found taking a top-up of magnesium reduces blood sugar levels and improves the glycaemic status of people with pre-diabetes.
Glycemic status is an index which rates how fast a food releases sugar into the blood – with the lower number the better.
Dr Derbyshire says: ‘Green leafy vegetables, red meat, dairy food and fish are all good sources of magnesium.
‘But we clearly aren’t eating enough of them because the National Diet and Nutrition Survey confirms most adults are not getting the recommended daily amounts.