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7 Achievable Health Goals for 2018

7 Achievable Health Goals for 2018

At this time of year – with the Christmas crockery sided away and guilt setting in after an indulgent festive season – many of us start to set priorities for the New Year.

Fitness and health goals are certainly the most common, hence the surge in gym memberships throughout the country.

Even if you don’t subscribe to the conceit of resolutions – noting that most dissolve before January is over – it’s a good time to think about what you want to achieve in the 12 months ahead.

7 Achievable Health Goals for 2019

With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help you get on a healthier track in the New Year.

It’s not just about eating a healthy diet but avoiding nutritional deficiencies, following an exercise programme that keeps you motivated, getting enough sleep and ensuring body and mind are in perfect harmony.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, overcome an underlying health problem or shrug off stress in 2019, we’ve got you covered.

1. Cut out sugar

One surefire way of becoming a healthier version of yourself is to cut out, or certainly cut down on, sugar. The sweet stuff has been implicated in so many health conditions, from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and obesity.

This year, we learned that the sugar industry has been part of a 50-year cover-up of the detrimental health effects of sugar. It was a tale of deceit and corruption so egregious as to be the basis for a Hollywood film.

If you’re in any doubt about the dangers of sugar, read Gary Taubes’ eye-opening book The Case Against Sugar. Once you quit, you’ll never go back.

2. Prioritise gut health

2017 was the year when ‘gut health’ went overground. Articles on the microbiome flooded the web, and probiotic-rich foods like kefir and sauerkraut were touted in Superfood blogs week after week.

Many are beginning to appreciate just how important the vast colony of bugs in your gastrointestinal tract are to your overall wellbeing, with the microbiota having an effect on everything from mood and sleep to immunity and digestion.

If you get your gut in good working order, you are sure to enjoy benefits to multiple body systems.

3. Build exercise into your day-to-day routine

It goes without saying, but the majority of us could do with exercising more. Self-evidently obesity is bound up with all kinds of health problems, but even modest amounts of visceral fat can contribute to heart disease, dementia, depression and many other diseases.

It is a lot easier than you think to build fitness into your regular routine. Whether ditching the car to walk or cycle to work or proactively using your lunch hour to sweat off some calories, all you need is the willpower to make a change.

Running is an especially good exercise, with one recent study showing that runners live, on average, three years longer than non-runners!

4. Don’t skip vitamin D

It’s a sad fact, but most of us just don’t get enough vitamin D, which is why the Vitamin D Council have referred to deficiency among the population as a ‘pandemic’.

In Britain, we certainly should take a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter when sunlight is at a premium, but arguably we should take them year-round to keep our levels in the healthy range.

Vitamin D is essential not only for immune health, thus reducing the likelihood of cancer and infections, but also mental health; dangerously low levels of vitamin D have been recorded in both young people with depression and elderly dementia sufferers.

Earlier this year, a major study indicated that Vitamin D supplements could spare over three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year.

5. Drink more water

As we drink more and more caffeine, we seem to drink less and less water and thus become more and more dehydrated.

Too few people appreciate that water is more than a flavourless beverage containing no sugar, calories or additives; it is an essential nutrient for life and health.

Water actually accounts for around 60% of our bodies and 73% of our brains, so it’s little wonder hydration affects proper physiological functioning.

We recently wrote a blog reviewing various drinking waters, from alkaline and filtered to bottled and tap. It’ll certainly help you cut through the confusion.

The main thing, alas, is to ensure you’re drinking enough day-to-day!

6. Get at least eight hours’ sleep

We have become so obsessed with tech that we spend hours every night scrolling through social channels, our faces illuminated by the glow from our smartphones.

This naturally affects what time we go to bed, and consequently how many hours’ sleep we get. Do your body and mind a favour and shut your phone off an hour before bed. Oh, you need your alarm? Then set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ an hour before.

Better-quality sleep has so many benefits, from improving energy levels and mental sharpness to expediting fat loss and boosting mood.

One great book we read this year was Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by neuroscientist Matthew Walker. In it, Walker suggests sleep as a virtual panacea for an array of conditions which negatively impact body and mind.

7. Eat your greens

It probably goes without saying that we should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables; they are the cornerstone of a good diet.

Earlier this year, in what was a widely-reported story, we learned that 10-a-day should be the new target for such foods.

Research by Imperial College London correlated 800g of fruit and vegetables (equal to 10-a-day) with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.

You simply can’t argue with such statistically significant results. In 2019, aim for a couple of portions of fruit per day along with at least half a dozen vegetables: by doing so, you stand a great chance of hitting all your key nutrients except perhaps omega-3 (for which, a top-quality fish oil is recommended).

If you do find 10-a-day tough going (and many do), a greens supplement can help. Our formulas from Vibrant Health, Greens Best and pHresh Greens utilise many of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables in existence, from broccoli sprouts and kale to spirulina, spinach and wheatgrass.

One scoop is generally equal to between three and seven servings of greens.

Make 2019 Your Healthiest Year Yet

Most of us just don’t get enough vitamin D, which is why the Vitamin D Council have referred to deficiency among the population as a ‘pandemic’.

Will you manage all seven in 2019? Who knows. To have the best chance, make a plan and document your progress, setting reminders on your calendar.

It’s too easy to fall off the wagon, so don’t be afraid to let yourself off the hook once in a while.

With any luck, 2019 will be your healthiest year to date; a year characterised by better sleep and nutrition, higher energy levels and stronger immunity.

The power’s in your hands.