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Four small steps to good health

Being healthy does not need to cost a fortune, nor does it require loads of supplements or exercising for hours on end. Steps towards being healthy can start with making small changes in nutrition and lifestyle, which can have profound effects on your health. Being consistent and adopting healthy habits in general is key to success. These small changes will help your health to improve.

1. DRINK LOTS OF WATER

Around 60% of our body is composed of water, so our bodies need to be well hydrated to operate efficiently.

There are many benefits of drinking water - we think more clearly, it flushes waste out of the body, prevents constipation, gives us better skin, we get better sports performance, and it can treat and prevent headaches and improve digestion.

Drink eight glasses a day unless you’re working outdoors, or exercising a lot.

People often question why we need so much water; this is because our diet is generally high in salt, low in water content and typically contains a lot of highly processed foods.

2. EAT MORE FRESH VEGETABLES

The power of eating an abundance of fresh vegetables cannot be taken for granted.

A high vegetable diet helps prevent diabetes, heart disease, improves our immune system and the high fibre helps to prevent bowel problems. Overall, it’s a sure way to prevent any nutritional deficiencies.

Try including veggies at two meals a day. Bulk your existing meals up with vegetables, for example: A meal of canned tuna and rice could be bulked up by adding corn, onion, carrot, parsley and chopped capsicum to tuna and mix some chopped lettuce into the rice.

3. GET MORE EXERCISE

Most of us know the importance of exercise, but may not realise how easy it is to implement an exercise routine to significantly reduce the risk of some serious health conditions. Even a small amount can reap some huge benefits.

Research shows exercise helps with disease prevention, especially type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Some research has suggested 30 minutes of exercise a day like brisk walking, can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%. 

Out of the 1440 minutes you have in a day, most of us can spare 30 minutes on exercise can’t we? Exercise improves the immune system, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, our mood and helps manage weight.

4. HAVE A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP

Good quality and quantities of sleep can be one of the most powerful steps you can take towards good health. Sleep deprivation is linked to many health conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is the time when your body repairs itself, regulates hormones including those involved with appetite and metabolism. 

The benefits of eight hours sleep are endless – it counter-balances stress and possibly helps with weight loss.

Sleep tricks: Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time daily. Maximise melatonin (sleep hormone) by reducing bright lights too late in the evening. If you work night shift, it’s very important you still develop a routine around sleep and sunlight hours.

FOLLOW THESE FOUR STEPS 

Although these little steps may seem too simple to do much good, and many of us may think we are already doing these things, but possibly not implementing them as consistently as needed to see results. Given the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes among our Polynesian community, starting with these small changes is a step in the right direction.

This article originally appeared in Pacific Peoples Health Issue 4

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