James Colquhoun – Food Matters

Despite your best efforts, sometimes things aren’t always as they seem. We’re busting 5 of the most common “healthy” habits that could actually be doing more harm than good.

1. You Opt for Low-Fat or Fat-Free

In 2012, a study from Purdue University showed that the low-fat and fat-free salad dressings, in particular, make it more difficult for you to absorb key nutrients in your salad. Carotenoids, which are linked to combating cancer, heart disease, and vision loss, are more readily absorbed from veggies when paired with fat-based dressings.

So while you may think you’re doing the right thing cutting back on the fat content of your meal, in fact, you’re reducing the benefits of eating the salad in the first place! Use a full-fat homemade dressing, or add some avocado, nuts, seeds or oily fish to your salad to boost the nutrient bioavailability naturally.

2. You Stay Out Of The Sun

As part of your long-term skincare regime, you slather on the sunscreen, put on a hat, and stay in the shade. That’s when you have time to actually get away from your desk job and get outside…. But whilst there is nothing wrong with wanting beautiful, supple skin for as long as possible, totally avoiding sun exposure is actually detrimental to your health.
In fact, without daily sun exposure, your body struggles to produce adequate vitamin D, resulting in a range of deficiency symptoms including depression, gut problems, fatigue, tiredness, muscle, bone and joint pain. Not convinced? Here are 8 more reasons to get sunshine daily!

All you need is 10 minutes a day of sunshine on exposed skin without any sunscreen to kickstart your body’s vitamin D generation.

3. You Avoid Salt Completely

Consuming salt (sodium chloride) has been demonized as a contributing factor to heart disease for years with its links to increasing our blood pressure. However, studies show that dietary sodium or salt intake does not affect everybody the same way. In fact, for many people, there are no changes in blood pressure after ingestion of varying amounts of sodium. It’s only in those who are salt sensitive!

When you completely avoid salt, you’re actually restricting a food rich in minerals and electrolytes that help replenish your stores and support optimal health. According to health expert Mike Adams, adding a sprinkle of high-quality sea salts such as Himalayan or Celtic sea salt into your dietary routine helps to give your mineral intake a gentle boost with 84 different minerals and trace minerals.

In fact, the majority of sodium in the Western diet comes from processed, packaged foods. So if most of the food you eat is fresh produce and minimally processed, then a sprinkle of quality sea salt is nothing to worry about, in fact, it’s good for you! Click here for more information on the salt debate.

4. Your Exercise Efforts Are Focused On Cardio

Daily walks, a morning run, or an afternoon jog is certainly a great addition to a healthy lifestyle, but when you’re skipping gym sessions or at-home strength training circuits for another run, then your metabolism, muscle structure, and skeleton may be missing out! Plus,  if you’re upping the cardio in an effort to lose weight without doing any resistance training, you’ll still lose weight, but you’ll be losing valuable muscle tissue too! For a lasting change, you have to integrate strength workouts into your routine.

Research demonstrates that resistance exercise training has profound effects on the musculoskeletal system, contributes to the maintenance of functional abilities, and prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia, lower-back pain, and other disabilities. As well as positively affect risk factors such as insulin resistance, resting metabolic rate, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, body fat, and gastrointestinal transit time, which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

To get the benefits? Aim to stay active most days, with at least 2-3 resistance training sessions a week for a well-rounded fitness regime!

5. You Skip a Sleep-In for The Gym

Yes, you read that right!

Picture this: It’s super early in the morning, and your alarm goes off. Time to hit the gym or make that Pilates class before you race to work. The only problem is, you’re really, really tired! Some might tell you to get up and go no matter what, but in actual fact, on those super sleepy mornings when you have been deprived of sleep, you’re better off hitting snooze!

Sleep plays a major role in your overall physical and emotional health, helping your brain function, reducing your risk of chronic disease, promoting mental well-being, and boosting your immune system. Yet most Americans aren’t getting enough sleep.
Studies also show that sleep loss is associated with increased hunger and appetite, linking a lack of shut-eye with an increased risk of obesity.

So from time to time, when you just can’t face that early morning workout, don’t feel guilty. Enjoy the sleep in knowing you’re doing something great for your body!

We’re not saying to skip exercise altogether though. If the only time you can fit in a sweat session is early in the morning, and each day you’re struggling to decide whether to snooze or workout, then it’s simply time to reassess your bedtime schedule to make sure you’re getting enough of both sleep and exercise!

It’s easy to get caught up with what you feel you ‘should’ be doing, and what others may push or mislead you to do, but in the end it comes down to doing the things that make you feel amazing, deep down to your core. They’re individual, and can be a mix of things from walking to work, enjoying a green smoothie, helping others, reaching new personal bests with your fitness, or cooking delicious, healthy meals for yourself and your family. Those are the health habits that give you long-lasting radiant health and help you find true happiness.

What “healthy” habits have you broken since learning more information?