The start of a new year is an opportunity for many of us to rethink parts of our lives and commit to positive change.
Plenty will dedicate themselves to a healthy diet, others will take up a hobby, and hopefully some will pledge to eat their fair share of the strawberry dreams when it comes time to break out the Quality Street again.
This year also marks the start of a new decade, and Sky News has assembled some of the best expert advice from the past 12 months to help ensure you stay healthy throughout the 2020s.
Look on the bright side
Back in August, researchers in the US linked optimism and prolonged lifespan after an extensive study of tens of thousands of people found such jolly fellows could reach 85 years and above.
People who believe good things will happen in the future are better able to regulate emotions and behaviour, bounce back from stress more effectively, and have healthier habits like exercising.
Have some children
An academic study published in February suggested that people who have kids live longer than those who remain childless because their immune systems are “refreshed” when toddlers go to nursery.
Immune systems can become weaker over the course of a lifetime, but children bringing infections home give their parents a workout and keep them in tip-top shape.
Stay away from “ultra-processed” foods
Your risk of cardiovascular disease and an early death could increase if you eat “ultra-processed” food, according to research published last May.
Two studies published in the British Medical Journal said the likes of ready meals and packaged snacks, both typically higher in sugar, salt and fat, were a bad idea – no matter how easy and tasty they may be.
Don’t buy into pills and detox teas
NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis has warned new year dieters against quick-fix solutions like detox teas and pills, saying they have a “slim chance of success” (we see what he did there).
He has said those looking to shed a few Christmas pounds should look to lose weight more gradually, embracing more long-term dietary changes to ensure the best chance of a healthy turnaround.
Try a diet high in fibre
It may sound like a recipe to spend more time than you would like on the toilet, but 2019 saw the NHS recommend nine foods high in fibre that could cut the risk of early death by up to a third.
They were oats, bread, wholewheat pasta, bulgar wheat, brown rice, potatoes, lentils, dried fruit and nuts, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Eat much less meat
Just one bite of a sausage would use up your daily meat allowance if you want to commit to a healthy future.
Experts said this time last year that meat consumption needs to be reduced to 7g per person each day in order to save the planet and reduce millions of early deaths per year by 2050.
But maybe not that much less…?
Researchers at the University of Oxford are not quite so convinced by a low-meat diet, as they reckon it would starve you of crucial vitamins and could increase the risk of a stroke.
Much like the Force, bringing balance to your diet would seem the best bet.
Don’t throw away banana skins
Banana eaters traditionally peel off the skin, chuck it in the bin and then devour the soft yellow fruit inside.
But one dietitian claimed in November that eating banana peel can improve people’s sleep, give them healthier skin and also help with weight loss.
Avoid long daytime naps…
Before Christmas, a Chinese study said people who sleep more than nine hours a night or have long daytime naps have a greater risk of stroke.
Those who sleep nine or more hours a night are 23% more likely to have a stroke than those who slept seven to eight hours, and regular daytime nappers who slept for more than 90 minutes are 25% more likely to later have a stroke than people who nap for under half an hour.
…but 40 winks now and then can be good!
Research out of Switzerland in September suggested that the odd nap could actually help save your life.
The study of 3,462 people aged between 35 and 75 found that short additional sleeps, just once or twice a week, cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by almost half.
Try asking Alexa for advice
Amazon teamed up with the NHS during the summer to offer official health advice via Alexa, with tips verified by health professionals being offered.
It makes a nice change from looking up your ailments on Google, which invariably leads you to a website that says you are almost certainly on death’s door.
Download some NHS apps
For those looking to the internet for guidance but who don’t fancy asking the occasionally creepy Alexa for help, professionals have recommended a number of handy apps from the NHS.
There is NHS Smokefree for those who want to quit smoking, Drink Free Days for people embarking on Dry January, plus the range of NHS Fitness Studio apps to help with workouts.
Go nuts for nuts
Nuts could be the key to keeping slim, according to scientists at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School.
They said in September that replacing an unhealthy snack with half a daily serving of nuts could slow weight gain in people as they get older, reducing the risk of obesity and subsequent heart problems.
As we move further into the decade, we get closer to Spain becoming the country with the longest life expectancy.
Researchers think it will have an average lifespan of nearly 85.8 years by 2040, a good few higher than the UK.
Become an early bird
You could get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to improve your overall well-being, according to a study published in June.
More than 20 night owls with an average bedtime of 2.30am took part, going to bed and waking up two to three hours earlier than usual, and wound up feeling much better about themselves.
Go for a weekly jog
One jog a week is all you need to cut the risk of early death, according to a study published in November.
The study found that running once a week or less frequently, for less than 50 minutes each time, at a pace lower than 6mph (8kmph) an hour, could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
One of the oldest pieces of health advice in the book still holds true, as scientists revealed last summer that every single apple contains more than 100 million bacteria and helps us stay healthy.
Most of the good microbes are in the seeds, though.
Don’t treat your pet like a human
As much as you no doubt love your animal, treating Lola, Theo or Teddy like a human friend could be seriously damaging to your health due to the potential transfer of antibiotic-resistant bugs.
Researchers said that kissing your pet is probably a bad move, although chances are we’ll all ignore them.
Watch your weight
Last April a study of almost three million people found that severely obese people are 50% more likely to die early than those of a healthy weight.
Plenty of exercise and a clean diet can help stave off those extra pounds.
Don’t worry too much about coffee
We end with some good news for journalists everywhere – coffee addicts can pour another cup safe in the knowledge that it does not have a bad effect on the heart.
Past research had suggested it stiffens the arteries, and drinkers were told to cut down, but turns out it is a fine beverage so long as you avoid it late in the day.
Source : Sky News : http://news.sky.com/story/new-decade-new-you-20-tips-to-stay-healthy-in-the-2020s-11898250
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