Friday, December 7, 2007

A Healthy Body

Look at your health; and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy.-----Isaak Walton

Health is a gift. It is precious. No amount of money can replace a strong, healthy body that functions at its optimum. We are constantly in awe of the body's miraculous ability to strive for balance: how it sends out signals in order to obtain the vital nutrients it needs and warning signs when things are out of kilter.

In the past 10 years we have become increasingly aware of the importance of food - not only as a source of fuel and energy, but also as a means to good health and excellent immunity.


If you are like us, you will also become fascinated with what foods are, how they work n the body and what effects they have. Growing up in a country like New Zealand has been a huge privilege. It is a sanctuary in so many respects. A country like this has a great emphasis on clean, green living and leading an active, outdoor lifestyle. Yet, despite this, as a nation we are less physical and more overweight than we ever have been, according to health reports.

Diet Start

However, when you undertake to find out which foods you should eat in your diet or which form of exercise you should do, you may find that it is often difficult to know what is best. We are constantly bombarded with the latest health findings, new ways to do things or the best things to take. But how do you know what to believe when it comes to advertising? How can you decipher what is hype and what is reality? The truth is it's incredibly difficult. And the only way you will ever really know what is best for you and your family is to investigate it for yourself.

Wouldn't it be great if 'health and nutrition' was a standard subject in schools? If children grasped the fundamentals of health, knew what different foods offer and understood the importance of moving and staying fit, what a powerful tool they would have for life.

Although we are not professional nutritionists, over the years we have begun our own, more serious investigations, studying lots of literature as well as speaking with many qualified consultants, doctors and health practitioners. Our conclusion is that the topics of nutrition and exercise are not black and white. The body is far too complex and intricate for questions to ever have a standard answer — everyone is different and every one of you will be affected by foods and exercise in a different way.

Rather than following some strict regime or plan, we believe that it is more important to understand the basic fundamentals of healthy living. Therefore, when it comes to giving you insights or advice in this book, we have tried to steer away from the hype and give you helpful information about health, which enables you to make better and more informed decisions. As you become more educated, you can make up your own mind and incorporate new habits into your lifestyle.

Regardless of how many new concepts, varied diets or popular fads appear, it seems there are some basic principles that have provided the mainstay for decades. Generally speaking, most nutrition and health experts agree that we should:

  1. increase our intake of complex carbohydrates (see page 89);
  2. choose wholegrain breads and cereals over refined processed ones;
  3. reduce fat intake (an emphasis on less saturated and trans fats (see page 97); reduce our sugar intake;
  4. moderate our salt intake;
  5. drink plenty of clean water;
  6. supplement wisely (see page 115);
  7. exercise regularly (see page 126);
  8. include exercise that raises our heart rate for at least 20 minutes at least three times a week; include weight-bearing and strength-enhancing exercise at least three times a week; rejuvenate our mental and physical health with good sleep.

When we look at the list, taking care of ourselves does not seem too complicated. How is it, then, that people don't have the time. Ready-made, pre-packed, frozen or takeaway foods are a quick option that get rid of the hunger pangs, but do not take into account what real nutrition is all about. We are told that convenience foods are not good for us, so why do we keep buying them and sustaining the demand? Because it's, well, convenient!

In the same way, exercise is a chore for many people, not a pleasurable part of self-care. Some may prefer to stay in bed an extra hour rather than get up and be active, or to drive straight home after work rather than take the detour past the gym or the swimming pool. How can people be encouraged to change their habits and lifestyle to include regular exercise, and most of all to do it with pleasure?

Knowledge is a powerful thing - it can change your life. Science is continually evolving, and as our diet evolves, so does all the information associated with it. The information we offer in this chapter will enable you to make more informed and educated choices that will affect your life every day, and your health in the future.

... andjoyohoxing