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For most of us, weekends are structured around a braai with friends and family; week days are long and exhausting and nights are short with interrupted sleep. Someone once said, “Act yourself in a new way of thinking”.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, research has shown that centuries ago the diet composition of humans comprised of lots of fibre (70-100g daily), only 3% of energy was from protein, potassium intake was easily 7000mg/d and sodium intake was less than 800mg/d. Now, in modern times our current fibre intake reach only 20g per day and our diets consists mainly of protein and starch. Processed foods contribute to exorbitant amounts of sodium (easily 2400mg/d) and because of low fruit and vegetable intake, our potassium intake is as low as 2700mg/d.

The problem with this westernized diet of low fibre and potassium, high protein, energy, sodium and refined starches is it all contribute to weight gain, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

The socio demographic and lifestyle statistics of the oldest old people (>80years) living on the island of Ikaria in Greece has indicated that modifiable risk factors such as physical activity, diet, smoking cessation and mid-day naps, might depict the “secrets of long-livers”. Dan Buettner writes in his book, “Blue Zones” that most people living in the Blue Zones enjoy physical activity incorporated naturally into their daily lives (like gardening or walking); have a sense of purpose (like caring for grandchildren or civic volunteering); have low stress levels and a slower pace of life; strong family and community connections; and follow a diet characterized by moderate caloric intake, mostly from plant sources.

So, in short, how do we set the stage for health and vitality?

  1. Eat together as a family: Do not sit in front of the TV or screens while eating. Aim to sit around the dinner table for at least 5 meals per week.
  2. Do physical activity on a daily basis. Aim to incorporate activity naturally by walking to school or work, parking your car farther away, climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  3. Sleep better! Take lunch time naps where possible, and aim to sleep ±8 hours at night. Do not watch TV or screens before bed time.
  4. Buy more fresh foods that is grown locally and in season. Where possible buy organic fruit and vegetables and free-range poultry and meat.
  5. Aim to eat fish twice to three times per week: Salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, pilchards, sardines can contribute your Omega 3 requirements which is needed for brain and heart health.
  6. Plan your meals around vegetables, salads and fruit.
  7. Decrease your meat intake by having a meatless day once a week and by replacing meat with poultry and fish.
  8. Snack on healthy fruit and vegetables regularly instead of sweet, chocolates or chips.
  9. Drink water abundantly!
  10. When using fat, rather use extra-virgin olive oil and avoid deep fat fried foods.

Have a look at the Mediterranean diet which can help achieve these goals:


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