December is a month in which we close cycles, and with the arrival of a new year we set new goals and purposes. To achieve a healthier lifestyle, Patricia Vial, Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Nestlé Central America, gives us six important tips to make them come true in 2022:
Balanced diet: Food provides nutrients in different amounts; Therefore, our diet must be varied and balanced, according to our gender, age and level of physical activity. Following this point, fruits and vegetables should be an important part of the daily diet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables is, worldwide, a factor that is impacting health.
“A healthy and balanced diet in proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients, helps to avoid chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and others. In many cases, these diseases manifest in advanced ages, but they can be the consequence of poor eating habits acquired from an early age. For that reason, we pay attention to what, when and how much we eat, to avoid problems in our health, in the medium or long term, “said the expert.
Hydration: Hydration is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle, since water favors the transport of nutrients to organs and tissues and is the medium where all vital chemical reactions occur. In adults, water represents approximately 60% of the body’s weight and therefore, we must drink at least 2 liters of liquid a day, to maintain adequate hydration.
Sleep well: There are three pillars to a healthy life – nutrition, exercise and a good night’s sleep – and they are not independent of each other. Getting a good night’s sleep helps stabilize the internal clocks that keep the body working. In addition, during the night the body (and brain) heal and “cleanse” itself, by activating the cellular cleaning system – called autophagy. Recent research indicates that sleeping after midnight impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels the next day. Additionally, chronic lack of sleep predisposes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Vial’s recommendation is to sleep at least seven hours. “Sleeping well, in terms of quality and quantity of hours, is critical for health: it impacts our memory, concentration, energy levels and physical performance. Even the immune system works more efficiently when we sleep well, “said Vial.
Physical exercise: A good diet should be complemented with daily physical activity. The Nestlé expert advises starting little by little – about 30 minutes a day – and progressively increasing until you achieve 50 to 60 minutes a day. In addition to the benefits to reduce stress and anxiety, maintain body weight and adequate muscle mass, each exercise session mobilizes millions of cells of the immune system, positively impacting our immunity. As an added benefit, exercise helps keep our brains young, protecting us to some extent against cognitive decline associated with aging.
Dine early and avoid late-night snacks: According to our internal clock, we should have dinner at sunset, as this gives time to digest food before autophagy, or cellular cleaning, begins. By dining late at night we remain in “fat storage” mode for many hours, which predisposes us to overweight and obesity. Evening snacks can also affect body weight and stimulate the production of stress hormones and other unhealthy metabolic changes.
Meditation and mindfulness: Meditation increases activity – or communication – between the parts of the brain that process stress-related reactions, and in areas associated with concentration and calm. In this time of pandemic, this activity has become a trend to help in the processes of anxiety, depression, stress and others. Some studies have shown that meditation helps boost immunity by helping to reduce stress levels.
“At the beginning of the year, we have an excellent opportunity to create or improve habits that will provide us with greater well-being, motivation and happiness. A varied and balanced diet, physical exercise and adequate rest are the pillars on which our health rests in the short, medium and long term ”, concluded the specialist.
Vial is an expert in Nutrition, with more than 25 years of being part of the Nestlé Central America team. He has served in various positions, helping to improve the lifestyles of Panamanian consumers and the rest of Central America.