Six steps to boost health and ban dread disease

John Hamlett, a fitness expert, shares six steps to boost health and ban dread disease.

According to the most recent South African Demographic and Health Survey, almost 70% of South African women are either overweight or obese, as are 13% of our children. More than double the global average of 5%.

While heart disease and diabetes are directly linked to being overweight or obese. There is evidence that a causal link exists between excess weight and cancers of the oesophagus, colon, rectum, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, breast, ovary, kidneys, thyroid gland, and even leukaemia.

It’s clear that South Africans need to take stock of their health, and their approach to regaining control of their weight – and what’s more, they need to take more action than signing up for a gym membership in January, then never using it.

“The slide to being overweight or being obese does not happen overnight. It’s the culmination of months and years of unhealthy eating, inactivity, and avoiding the right food and exercise choices for a variety of reasons,” says John Hamlett, a fitness expert and TomTom Athletics Club founder. “Losing the weight won’t happen overnight either – but doing so is vital if you are to reduce your risk of contracting a life-threatening disease, such as cancer or heart failure.”

Six tips and tricks to boost health and ban dread disease:

  • Limit your calorie intake. This doesn’t mean you need to stop eating. It means you need to make healthier food choices. Consult with your doctor or dietitian to find out what your daily calorie intake should be, and base your food choices on achieving that with the help of this handy online calorie counter.
  • Get out and about. One of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to get active – and you don’t have to go from zero to cardio hero to see the benefits. Track your movement with a TomTom Touch Cardioentry-level fitness tracker, which helps you monitor your daily step count, number of calories burned, as well as sleep and active time. Set yourself daily or weekly challenges, and decide on rewards before you start each challenge, to give yourself time to plan something healthy.
  • Ditch the diet drinks and choose water instead. Water hydrates the body, giving you a healthy glow, reducing wrinkles, and boosting weight loss. Drinking coffee or tea doesn’t count towards your daily recommended intake of eight glasses – you want to choose pure, unflavoured water for the best results.
  • Love the food you eat. It’s true that you’ll have to give up some types of food, but if you balance your food choices within your targeted calorie range, you can still enjoy tasty, filling meals. Veggies are low-calorie and include fibre (which makes you feel full) – but you can do so much more than just boiling them as part of a healthy eating plan. Steam them, roast them, bake them, spice them up with chilli or other fragrant spices. Healthy food certainly doesn’t have to be boring.
  • Up your game. Getting active by taking a walk around the office park at lunchtime is a great start – but you’ll see better results in your weight loss and health programme if you push yourself a little more each week. Take a jog at lunchtime instead of a walk, or use your newfound fitness as a foundation to make that gym membership worthwhile. If you’ve been tracking your progress on your TomTom fitness device, you can set yourself new goals (and rewards) to boost your activity even further.
  • Be prepared. Plan your meals in advance. Make sure you have all the required ingredients to prepare lunches for work in advance and have a good breakfast. A good breakfast will help you avoid those mid-morning nibbles, and a packed healthy lunch will reduce the temptation to eat unhealthy convenience foods during the day.

MEET OUR EXPERT - John E. Hamlett

John E. Hamlett is the Founder and Designer of John's New Lifestyle and is the coach of the TomTom Athletics Club Elite Athletes. He has been a professional athlete, teacher, electronic engineer and intelligence colonel; qualified as a specialist in nutrition and fitness (studied in Russia and the USA); was a physical training instructor in the military, qualified aerobics and swimming coach instructor, tri-athlete coach, gym instructor.

Five winter-warming soup ideas to boost your immune system

The winter months are here – the days are shorter, the nights colder but nothing can be quite as soothing than mouthfuls of a delicious, warming soup. In your quest to make it through cold- and flu-season without a sneeze, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) gives you some soup ideas with food combos, packed with nutrients and flavour, to give your immune system a boost.

Creamy roasted red pepper & tomato soup

Red peppers are packed with vitamin C, which is important for cells of the immune system to work properly, helping them to detect and destroy invading germs. Half a cup of chopped red pepper has nearly double the recommended daily intake of vitamin C – double that of the famous orange. Tomatoes are also excellent sources of antioxidants, specifically lycopene and vitamin E, which protect immune cells from damage. Add a creamy texture with a punch of protein by stirring in some low-fat plain yoghurt.

Carrot, orange & ginger soup

All citrus fruit, including oranges, are high in vitamin C which is well-known for its immune-boosting effect. Vitamin C is also known to help maintain the integrity of your skin, which is the body’s first line of defence against microbes and viruses. Vitamin A-rich carrots pair well with citrus fruits to make a vibrant sniffle-fighting soup.

Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols. It has also been thought to promote healthy sweating which is helpful for fighting colds and flu’s since sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent, called dermicidin. Ginger has also been seen to improve symptoms of nausea, which is often experienced with the flu.

Practical tip: add the orange towards the end to minimise the amount of vitamin C lost from the heat.

Chicken soup made with bone broth

Granny was right to give you chicken soup when you were sick. Chicken is a valuable source of protein and iron, both of which support a healthy immune system. Too little iron could lead to anaemia and weaken the immune system. Combining iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C, such as broccoli, red pepper and sweet potato, can help boost your absorption even further.

Chicken soup made with real bone broth will also work wonders on your digestive and immune health. The gelatine in the bone broth contains a vital nutrient, called glutamine, which is the primary fuel for the cells lining your gut, keeping it healthy and able to block out pesky bugs.

Butternut, sweet potato & cinnamon soup

Butternut and sweet potato are both rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A has long been known for its role in supporting the immune system, as it was called ‘the anti-infective vitamin’ from as early as the 1920s. Vitamin A is needed to maintain the surfaces of the respiratory and digestive systems, which is important to make sure they block harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

Cinnamon’s essential oils have antimicrobial properties; these help to stop the growth of harmful bugs. It’s so effective that research has shown that it can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. Besides these benefits, what can provide as much relief from the cold or flu as a warm cup of tea with cinnamon and ginger?

Click here to view the recipe!

Super seed & nut soup toppers

Add some crunch and texture to your soup by sprinkling a mixture of your favourite roasted nuts and seeds over it. They’re great sources of many nutrients needed for a strong immune system, including selenium, copper, zinc and vitamin E. Almonds and sunflower seeds are particularly high in the antioxidant vitamin E, with a 30g serving giving you a whopping 50% of your daily requirements. If you’re looking for more affordable options, seeds and unsalted peanuts are the way to go.

Remember that most of the immune-benefits seen from the nutrients mentioned above, are largely only obtained from eating foods rich in these nutrients. The same benefit is not always seen when using supplements. In fact, using mega-doses of some nutrients could actually harm your immune system. So, make sure to maintain a healthy, balanced diet this winter, and get cooking.

The HSFSA plays a leading role in the fight against preventable heart disease and stroke, with the aim of seeing fewer people in SA suffer premature deaths and disabilities, and to reduce the cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden in SA and ultimately on the SA health care system. Their mission is to empower South Africans to adopt healthy lifestyles, make healthy choices easier, seek appropriate care and encourage prevention