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Experts speak: do this one thing to improve your health

What is the one thing you can do to improve your health in 2020? We spoke to a range of experts, including a GP, a dietician and a personal trainer, for their top piece of advice to boost your health in the new year.

Increase your Vitamin C intake
– Monicia Horne, nutritionist
Vitamin C helps to repair and revitalise damaged cells in your body and strengthens your body’s immune defence. Boost your daily intake by eating these good sources of Vitamin C: green and red peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, guavas, papaya and oranges.

Don’t skip breakfast
– Tamryn-Lee Goddard, personal trainer
Skipping meals can actually contribute to weight gain. As a reaction to starvation, our bodies’ next defence is to store whatever food we next ingest as fat. If you have a busy schedule, plan and pack your meals the night before.

Get enough sleep and you’ll find you crave carby foods less and lose more fat
Get 7-8 hours sleep a night
– Brendon Katz, sports trainer
Sleep is a critical component in getting the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition. Studies show a very direct link between sleep and body fat. So get enough sleep and you’ll find you make better decisions, crave carby foods less and lose more fat.

Drink less!
– Janet Gourand, of World without Wine
Stop or at least moderate your wine habit. Even a couple of glasses of wine a night will add up to more than the so-called “safe” limits of alcohol, which works out at just one-and-a-half bottles of wine a week.

If you’re overweight, seek a support group
– Dr Ian Westmore, psychiatrist
Studies have shown that addressing weight stigma and bias, and promoting positive mental wellbeing are very important steps in the battle against obesity. If you’re feeling down about your weight, consider joining a support group such as Overeaters Anonymous or Weigh-Less.

Emphasise self-care
– Alisha Crous, of Adventure Bootcamp
Self-care is not about self-indulgence. It’s about self-preservation. Take one hour away from your computer and phone, an hour that you can dedicate to working ON your life, as opposed to working IN your life. You can plan your exercise routine, and schedule things like a manicure and quiet evening at home. That way, you can begin the week with your priorities firmly in place – including that all-important self-care – and not merely react to life as and when it happens.

Ask for help
– Zane Wilson, of SA Depression & Anxiety Group
If you are suffering from the blues, lean on your support system and ask for help. Be specific in your request, for example, invite a friend to go walking with you, or ask your sister to come and help you cook. People are usually happy to help if you tell them what you need.

Go for regular gynaecological screenings
– Dr Masangu Mulongo, medical doctor specialising in sexual health
Regular pap smear tests can detect cervical cancer early, so it can be treated. Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer among women worldwide and a leading cause of cancer death in South African women.

Educate yourself about prostate cancer
– Garron Gsell, of the Men’s Foundation
Educate yourself about prostate and testicular cancer, so you’re familiar with the symptoms – such as pain when you urinate or blood in your urine. Regularly examine your testicles for lumps. Early detection is the key.

Make the change
The saying goes, “your greatest wealth is your health”. Bear that in mind as you put these expert tips into effect in the new year. A few simple changes to your habits and lifestyle – like these – can make all the difference. Make this the year that you invest in your health.