As we move into March, lots of people will be thinking about spring cleaning, opening the windows to let the fresh air in and blow away the cobwebs. Beyond the home, however, now is the ideal time to spring clean your daily routines to improve your health and wellbeing. Here are ten of our favourite ways to do just that:
- Avoid Processed Foods
While not all processed food is bad for you (bagged spinach is technically processed, for example), much of it has more sugar, salt and other additives than is good for you. These can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes (among other things). Therefore, it's a good idea to cut them out of your diet as much as you can. Check listed ingredients every time you pick up packaged food and look for 'hidden' ingredients. Sugar, for example, isn't just sugar; it's also honey, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate and maltose.
- Increase Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Another way to cut down processed foods is to increase amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat. That's because they are rich in natural vitamins, minerals and fibre, all of which help your body function effectively and efficiently. Aim for 'five a day' as a minimum.
If you can, get up to 10 a day, which has shown to significant health benefits. Mix up the fruit and vegetables you eat, adding as much colour to your plate as you can each day.
- Try Smoothies
A great way to increase the number of fruit and vegetables in your diet is to mix up a smoothie. There are tons of smoothie recipes available, but experimenting is a fun way to find out what you like. Don't be afraid to try unusual combinations. For example, spinach is choc-full of vitamins but doesn't have a strong taste. In addition, you can add seeds or supplements.
- Try Juicing
Just like smoothies, juices help add fruit and vegetables to your diet. And, while turning them into juice technically only counts as one of your five a day, you are still getting all the benefits of the good vitamins and minerals.
- Eat Seasonally
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, you get the best from them when they are in season. Research in America, for example, found significant increases in Vitamin C in broccoli bought in season as opposed to out. As a result, it's a good idea to eat seasonally whenever you can.
- Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains are an easy and tasty way to improve your diet. They have a whole host of nutrients, including protein, fibre, B vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper and magnesium. A recent World Health Organisation study found people eating whole-grain foods found a reduction in coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, and certain cancers.
- Drink More Water
Drinking water isn't just good for quenching your thirst. It helps keep you hydrated, which matters to every cell in your body. Without water, they'll struggle to absorb nutrients or get rid of toxins. In addition, water helps your skin look younger and can help you lose weight because it fills you up and stops cravings calorie-free. To make sure you drink enough, aim for six to eight glasses a day.
- Drink Warm Water and Lemon
One of the best ways to start your day is with water. A mug of warm water and lemon has been shown to help boost immunity by releasing flavonoid from lemons. It is also thought to help 'kick start' your system first thing. As a result, your body flushes out toxins and bloating is reduced.
- Take a walk
Now the weather is changing; it's an ideal time to start getting outside. It's good for exercising and staying in shape. It's also good for your bones as sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D, which can be hard to get from other sources. However, remember sunscreen does reduce the levels of vitamin D the body produces. Just 20 minutes in the sunshine before you apply sunscreen will help to boost your vitamin D levels.
- Take a Bath
Ending the day with a warm bath is wonderfully relaxing. To add health benefits, drop in some Epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts helps produce serotonin, which is incredibly relaxing. And, as the salts absorb into your skin, they can help reduce muscle tension, pain and joint inflammation. This makes them ideal for after exercising or for those who suffer from conditions such as arthritis.