Stay hydrated

Running water

It can be easy to forget how important water and other liquids are in a balanced diet.

It’s very important to get the right amount of fluid to be healthy. However there are lots of mixed messages about how much, and what to drink and this can be confusing.

Do you really need to drink six to eight glasses of water on top of all my other drinks? Is it true that tea and coffee do not count towards your fluid intake? (FYI The answer to both these questions is no!)

  • Why do you need water? 

Your body is nearly two-thirds water and so it’s important that you drink enough to stay hydrated and healthy. If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, get headaches and not perform at your best.

  • How much do you need?

The amount of fluid you need depends on many things including the weather, how much physical activity you do and your age, but the Eatwell Guide suggest six to eight glasses of fluid per day.

This is on top of the water provided by food you eat. You can get water from nearly all fluids that you drink, apart from stronger alcoholic drinks such as wine and spirits.

Does it matter which drinks you choose?

– Sugary drinks provide calories and can harm teeth

– Water is a great choice

– Tea and coffee count towards your daily water intake. In moderate amounts caffeine does not affect hydration but caffeine affects some people more than others, and the effect can depend on how much caffeine you normally consume.

– Pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeinated drinks because of their caffeine content. Caffeinated drinks are also unsuitable for toddlers and young children.

– Milk contains lots of essential nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and calcium, as well as being a source of water. However, it can also contain saturated fat so it’s a good idea for adults and older children to choose semi-skimmed (less than 2% fat), 1% or skimmed milks

–  Fruit juices and smoothies give you water plus some vitamins, minerals and natural plant substances from the fruit. Smoothies may also contain pureed fruit, which adds fibre. These drinks can also count towards your five a day. However they can contain quite a bit of sugar so don’t have too many

–  Alcoholic drinks contain water, but drinking alcohol increases the amount of water you lose as wee.

  • How can I tell if I am getting enough water?

Your body has ways to make sure you stay hydrated. Feeling thirsty is your body’s way of telling you that you need to drink more.

However, the easiest way to spot that you might not be getting enough water is if your wee is a dark yellow colour during the day.

If you are getting enough water your wee should be a pale straw colour. So if it is darker than this or if you are going to the loo infrequently or passing very small amounts of urine, then you probably need to drink some more fluid.

You also need to drink more if it is hot, or if your temperature is high due to physical activity or illness.

  • What happens if I don’t drink enough?

If you don’t drink enough water you will become dehydrated. The first thing you will notice is increased thirst and a dry sticky mouth. Other effects include tiredness, poor concentration, headache and dizziness or light headedness.

Having regular drinks throughout the day will help you stay well hydrated especially when it is hot or you are exercising.

Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and may need to be encouraged to drink more.

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Get Active, Move More

Family Walking Dog Through Winter Woodland

Experts say that if exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.

People who get active regularly have a lower risk of many serious diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

That’s why for the next three months we’re promoting exercise and activity and encouraging people to Get Active, Move More!

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite all this great news about exercise, we all move far less than people used to. In fact research suggests that lots of us spend more than seven hours a day sitting down.

Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.

So much so that inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”.

Everyday examples of sedentary behaviour include using a computer watching TV, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music.

Too much of this is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

To stay healthy, people aged between 19 and 64 should try to be active daily and aim to fit in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

Moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, cycling, gardening, dancing, swimming and playing football in the park with the family.

Examples of vigorous activity include running or a game of singles tennis.

On top of this we should also carry out muscle strengthening activity such as exercising with weights, yoga or carrying heavy shopping at least two days per week.

Being active ourselves and persuading inactive people (those who do less than 30 minutes per week) to be more active is the best thing we can do for everyone’s health.

Doing just 10 minutes more activity each day can help us and those around us lead a healthier life.

There’s plenty of opportunities to squeeze in some more activities. Why not visit www.derbyshiresport.co.uk to get some ideas.

 

Stay safe in the sun

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It’s summer and if we’re luckily that means warm weather and even the odd spell of sunshine.

As welcome as this is it’s still important to take care of you, and your family, when out and about.

You might think that you know all there is to know about keeping safe in the sun, but check out our top tips just as a refresher.

Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

  • Spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm in the UK

One of the best ways to protect your skin is to spend some time in the shade.

But remember that UV rays can pass through certain fabrics so it’s still important to think about what you’re wearing and apply plenty of sunscreen.

  • Cover up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses.

The more skin that’s covered by your clothing, the better the protection you’re getting. Choose clothing that’s loose-fitting and deeper in colour.

Also look for materials with a close weave – as a guide hold the material up to check you can’t see through the fabric.

When choosing sunglasses look for one of the following:

  • ‘CE Mark’ and British Standard
  • UV 400 label
  • 100% UV protection written on the label or sticker
  • Make sure that the glasses offer protection at the side of the eye, for example, choose wraparound styles.
  • Use a sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF15 and 4 stars. Use it generously and reapply regularly.

Remember that sunscreens will not completely protect you from sun damage on their own. However, they are vital for protecting the parts of skin that you can’t shade or cover.

It’s recommend that you always buy sunscreens with:

  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 (UVB protection)
  • High star rating with at least 4 stars (UVA protection)

It’s also important that you’re actually using sunscreen properly.  As a guide, adults should aim to apply around:

  • Two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck
  • Two tablespoons if you’re covering your entire body while wearing a swimming costume

Make sure you put enough sunscreen on and regularly reapply sunscreen even ‘once a day’ and ‘water resistant’ products.

Don’t store sunscreens in very hot places as extreme heat can ruin their protective chemicals.

And finally don’t forget to check the expiry date on your sunscreen. Most have a shelf life of two to three years.

 

Cleaning up our air

Closeup of little girl blowing blue wind wheel

As well as all the changes we make to what we eat and the amount of exercise we take, there are other factors that can impact on our health.

A key one is the quality of the air that we breathe and poor quality, polluted air can have serious impacts on our health.

Across the UK, air pollution is having a major impact on our health, with poor air quality contributing to 40,000 deaths every year in the UK.

In Derbyshire, poor air quality contributes to around 400 deaths each year.

On 15 June, National Clean Air Day will encourage people to think about making small changes that can improve the quality of the air that we all breathe.

Whether it’s leaving the car at home for the day, walking the kids to school or making longer term changes, there’s lots that we can be doing to improve our air.

  • Air pollution increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma attacks, as well as being associated with dementia.
  • Drivers can be exposed to nine times more air pollution than cyclists because cars gather pollution from the vehicle in front.
  • Air pollution increases the risk of getting lung cancer and contributes to roughly 1 in 13 cases of the disease.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution. Air pollution is linked to premature births, low birth weight, impaired lung development, asthma and increased hospital admissions.
  • Most of the pollutants that damage our health are too small to see, and they get through the gaps in simple fabric face masks

We all need to be making changes to improve the air we breathe. Some top tips include:

Use your feet, take to the street. Walk, cycle, bus, tube or tram.  However you like to travel, leave your car at home and take to the streets.

Switch your engine off when stationary. By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

Drive into the future . More than 80,000 people bought low polluting cars in 2016. When you upgrade your car, why not think about an electric, hybrid or LPG model.

Save your log-burner for the bleak midwinter. We all love wood-burning stoves. But burning wood produces lots of pollutants. To minimise pollution buy a Defra-approved stove, use authorised fuel and only light it when you really have to.

You can download toolkits, get advice on how to reduce pollution and find out more about National Clean Air day at www.cleanairday.org.uk

Let the sunshine!

Walkers Standing On Pile Of Rocks

Finally the sun is shining and we’re all able to start spending more time outdoors.

Sunlight is not only a mood booster but it’s also beneficial to our physical health as a vital vitamin – Vitamin D – is mainly created via direct sunlight during summer.

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

It’s thought that around one in five people have low levels of Vitamin D which can lead to bones becoming soft and weak causing pain and deformities.

So how long do you need to spend in the sun to create vitamin D?

Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.

It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements.

This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed.

But you should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up, or protect your skin with sunscreen, before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

It’s worth noting that you can’t make vitamin D by sitting indoors next to a sunny window as the rays that are needed don’t travel through the glass.

Most people can make enough vitamin D from sunlight if they’re able to spend time outdoors in the summer, but latest health advice is that everyone over the age of one should consider a supplement, especially in winter.

There are some high risk groups that are advised to take a supplement year round.

These are; babies and young children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, people over 65 years of age, people with darker skin tones and people who are housebound or spend little time outdoors.

If you’re unsure whether you need a supplement, contact your pharmacist, GP or look online at the NHS Choices webpages.

It’s also worth remembering that there are many other benefits to spending time outside.

Taking notice of your environment can boost your mental health, you could arrange to meet a friend outdoors and be social, and just getting outside can mean that you’re moving more.

Gardening or walking for just 10 minutes at a time can be good for your body and mind, and help you sleep better as well as boosting vitamin D.

Get active

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Shake off the winter cobwebs, reach for your trainers and head out of the house. Better weather means it’s now easier to get outside and get active – so what are you waiting for?

Physical activity is good for physical and mental emotional health. It helps improve sleep, maintains healthy weight, manages stress and improves our quality of life,

Getting active also reduces your chance of developing the following conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes by 40%
  • Heart disease by 35%
  • Falls, depression and dementia by 30%
  • Joint and back pain by 25%
  • Colon and breast cancer by 20%

Many of us now spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying down. Whether it’s watching TV, using a computer or sitting in the car.

This has several unwelcome effects on our health as sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism.

This in turn affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

Remember than any exercise is better than nothing and it’s never too able to start. So why not start small and build up gradually – even just 10 minutes can provide benefits.

Whenever possible try to break up sitting down with short bursts of activity every half an hour.

This could be having a ‘walk break’ when getting up to make a drink, or standing up when on the phone. You can also try some chair based exercises at your desk.

To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.

OR

75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.

OR

A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles.

Here’s a few easy ideas to start you on your way to some everyday exercise:

  • Go for a walk
  • Try a Couch to 5k running app
  • Do some gardening – digging and lawn mowing effectively burn calories
  • Get out your dusters and do some vigorous housework
  • Take the stairs or walk up escalators instead of using the lift
  • Stand up on the bus or train and get off a stop earlier if possible
  • Make a splash and take up swimming or water aerobics

Why not get some more sporty ideas at www.derbyshiresport.co.uk

Cheap as Chips?

 

British money on kitchen table, coast of living

Lot’s of people think they can’t afford a healthy diet or that it is just too much work, but is this really the case?

A recent study – Cheap as Chips – found that healthy food in the UK is actually frequently cheaper than unhealthy food, and in general food is more affordable than it’s ever been.

The report found switching to healthier versions of products in the supermarket can save money and five portions of fruit and vegetables can be bought for as little as 30p.

So if healthier food can be, and often is, cheaper than unhealthy food, why do we still think that it is expensive or not worth the hassle?

In many cases it might be down to convenience or taste rather than actual cost.

Ready meals are often unhealthy due to high levels of salt and fat, but these are the flavours that we’re used to.

So when we try to replicate the same meal at home from scratch it can be a disappointment.

Takeaways and microwave meals don’t need preparation, are available to people who have limited cooking skills and free up our time.

So, is there a way that healthy meals can be as convenient as pre-prepared meals or a takeaway, and save money too?

It’s a difficult balance, but here are a few everyday tips to achieving a healthier, but still affordable, diet:

  • Save time by buying things pre-chopped. You don’t need to spend hour preparing ingredients. You can buy low fat grated cheese (which can be frozen) as well as ready chopped peppers, garlic and ginger that can be used to add flavour without needing salt
  • Frozen veg can be cheaper and is just as nutritious as fresh. There’s a wide variety of choice available including ready chopped onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, peas and carrots. Just pop them straight in the oven or throw a handful into homemade curries and other meals.
  • A slow cooker can be your best friend. This lets you use cheaper cuts of meat and frozen veg and means you’ve got your own ready meal at the end of the day
  • Use the local butcher or the butchers counter in the supermarket. They will chop and prepare your meat just how you want it for no extra cost
  • Store the healthiest items at the front of the fridge and cupboards. If you’re hungry and want a snack, a crisp apple as soon as you open the fridge will become more appealing
  • Grow your own seasonings. Fresh herbs are a great way to season food and add taste without resorting to salt, butter, or cheese
  • Some convenience foods are already healthy. For tinned foods such as baked beans or pasta look for the reduced salt and sugar versions
  • Start making changes one meal at a time. Start with breakfast – plain cereal is often cheaper than sugary versions and healthier too.

For more tips and information on healthy diets visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/portionsizewise