Mindful Eating: a new commitment to food

Nowadays, we are always rushing into something or somewhere. When it is time to pause for having a meal, our brain keeps connected to everything around us: we constantly check our phones, we are absorbed by social media news, and stressed by work and life issues. Amidst such turbulence, how can we be aware of the compromises made in our relationship with food?

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Inverting old and bad eating habits

Cultural, economic and marketing practices affect the way we buy and use food. Labour, leisure, preferences and lifestyle changes have made us increasingly sedentary also jeopardizing our eating habits. In the hope of contradicting these paths, many new diets have emerged, offering a range of ways to lose weight and improve our health. All these new solutions are nonetheless focused on cutting and adding nutrients to our meals, forgetting an essential part of the process: our eating behaviour.

Mindful eating cuts across this boom of trendy diets to alert us that healthy eating also included rethinking our eating habits and our relationship with food. This bond with what we eat derives from the awareness taste, smell, colour and texture of food. According to the Centre for Mindful Eating, “pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Mindful Eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating.”

This complete awareness helps us to focus or thoughts and feelings in those physical sensations related to eating, and to identify the true origin of hunger – whether if it is a physical hunger or if it is a consequence of an emotional cause.

Mindful Eating has been helpful in treating many conditions, including eating disorders – like binge eating -, depression or anxiety, and addressing various erroneous food-related behaviours.

How to practise Mindful Eating

Practising Mindful Eating may not be an easy task since it usually contradicts our normal eating habits, simultaneously demanding total concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few steps that can help us improve our Mindful Eating.

First, the shopping list. We should consider the health value of every item added, preventing us from impulse buying at the supermarket. A second step is discipline.  We should avoid skipping meals and thus prevent seating at the table with excessive hunger. Meals should be taken with an appetite but in appropriate portions.

The third step involves the essence of Mindful Eating. “Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.

Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings” as advised by Harvard Health Publishing.

The following steps involve taste and chewing. It’s easier to taste food completely when our mouth isn’t full. So taking small bites and putting down utensils between bites could help. Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly are other techniques that improve our experience in tasting all the flavours that are released.

Final advice: “Devote at least five minutes to Mindful Eating before you chat with your tablemates.”

World Cancer Day 2018

What do specialists say? Healthy daily habits and screening are the main keys to cancer prevention.

There were an estimated 14.1 million cancer cases around the world in 2012, a number that is expected to grow to 24 million by 2035, according to World Cancer Research Fund International. To combat this disease and following guidelines from health institutions and specialists across the globe, many people in developed countries are changing their habits.

The adoption of a healthy lifestyle can reduce up to one-third of cancer cases, decreasing related fatality rates. Overweight and smoking are pointed out as strong risk factors, with the last being responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases in the world. A diet low in fruit and vegetables, alcohol use and lack of physical activity are also behavioural contributors to mortality associated with cancer.

Diagnose in advance

Screening, combined with a healthy lifestyle, is essential for cancer prevention and treatment. Early mammography screening contributes to reducing breast cancer mortality. For women aged 50 years or old, screening is a vital procedure to detect advanced cancer cases. Even though many people are aware of the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings, there isn´t the same concern with other forms such as colorectal cancer, in which mortality is still very high.

Screening can be effective in selected cancer types when appropriate tests are used, implemented effectively, and linked to other steps in the care process. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

A healthy routine to combat cancer

There is a growing number of people worried about cancer, who nowadays has access to a great amount of information. Aiming to promote a longer and healthier life, informed and concerned individuals are scrutinizing and adapting their diets for the sake of protection. It is already known that adopting specific habits in our daily routine can reduce the risk of a great number of conditions, cancer included. Regarding the World Cancer Day, celebrated every year on February 4th, the World Health Organization recalled the following effective tips for cancer prevention.

 

If you need to undergo diagnosis or treatment, you may contact us and we will make all local arrangements according to your condition and availability, ensuring that you undergo care in distinctive centres in Portugal, with medical experts and multidisciplinary teams.

Lifestyle changes to fight high blood pressure

Hypertension affects 4 in 10 people all over the world and the numbers are growing every year. For those affected by hypertension there are some lifestyle changes that can attenuate and lower blood pressure values and for those who are in risk of having high blood pressure, they can prevent the disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

There are 3 lifestyle changes that can make a difference:

1. Adopt a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals is good for the overall health of every adult. According to the website WebMD, a healthy diet should include:

  • “Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
  • Eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods
  • Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • Eating less red meat and sweets
  • Eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Eating foods with less sodium”

2. Maintain a healthy weight

Having a health weight means keeping a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for high blood pressure, as well as other health issues related to excess weight.

3. Be physically active

Practice exercise regularly is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Walking, running or practicing other sports is essential to every adult and children. It is recommended to walk for at least 30 minutes a day in order to be healthy.

These lifestyle changes aren’t just important for controlling blood pressure but also for general wellbeing.  The more healthy behaviors you put in your daily routine, the better your health will be in the future.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

Consequences of hypertension

Hypertension is a silent and symptomless disease.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure can go on without noticing the condition for years and years and only learn about it when other related diseases appear. If left untreated, hypertension can originate many other diseases and health conditions, and some can be fatal.

According to the American Heart Association, some of the health consequences of untreated hypertension are:

  • Damage to the heart and coronary arteries which can lead to heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

Controlling blood pressure is essential to keep track of the way the condition is affecting those with hypertension. Blood pressure values vary with age, gender and ethnicity so you should be aware of what values are considered normal and what values are considered high and need immediate action. Regular doctor visits and regular screenings are very important to control existing hypertension or to prevent hypertension.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

World Hypertension Day

Today, May 17 is the day to talk about hypertension. Hypertension is a disease that affects millions all over the world.

It is estimated that 4 in each 10 adults have high levels of blood pressure. Hypertension is the main risk factor for disease burden worldwide. Strokes and heart attacks are two of the main consequences of hypertension.

A healthy lifestyle can help combat hypertension. Some attitudes towards life can help make a difference:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Practicing regular physical exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

    World Hypertension Day
    World Hypertension Day

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

10 facts about diabetes

April 7 is the World Health Day. Every year the World Health Organization chooses a health problem that concerns millions and millions of people around the world and raises awareness to that problem.

This year, the World Health Day is dedicated to Diabetes, a disease that affects 422 million people, according to the World Health Organization. In order to join the conversation about diabetes we will highlight 10 facts about the disease:

  1. 422 million is the estimated number of people worldwide who suffer from the disease
  2. It is one of the leading causes of death
  3. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 (caused by lack of insulin production) and type 2 (caused by the ineffective use of insulin)
  4. The third type of diabetes is related to pregnancy, the gestational diabetes
  5. The incidence of type 2 diabetes is much greater than the others
  6. When diabetes is detected and well-managed, people can live a long and healthy life with the disease
  7. Early detection and diagnosis is crucial for patients to live a long life
  8. The majority of deaths related to diabetes occur in low and middle-income countries
  9. Diabetes can cause blindness, amputation and kidney failure
  10. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle increases the chances to avoid being affected by diseases such as diabetes type 2 that are caused by sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition. Eat well and be physically active are two of the most important tips for those who want to live longer.

Read the full article on the World Health Organization’s website, here.

Vitamins and its benefits for your health

Our bodies need a certain amount of vitamins in order to be healthy. Maintain a healthy diet is important for weight-loss goals but is also important to ensure the body is consuming the necessary amount of vitamins.

When following a healthy and balanced diet, it is possible to get most of the vitamins the body needs with daily food intakes.

These are some of the vitamins our bodies need in order to be healthy:

  • Vitamin A – promotes the functioning of the immune system and maintains good eyesight. Vitamin A can be found in the following foods: cod-liver oil, sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B complex – there are 8 vitamins in this complex and their benefits are to transform carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy that lasts throughout the day. Vitamin B complex vitamins can be consume through foods like meat and fish.
  • Vitamin C – known for its immunity properties, this vitamin is also a good antioxidant and infection prevention. Vitamin C in high doses is known for slow the growth and spread of some forms of cancer like prostate, pancreatic and liver. The foods that contain vitamin C are mainly citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D – Also known as the “Sun vitamin”, this is the most hard to get vitamin in the winter months because one way to get is through sun exposure. The lack of vitamin D is associated with weak bone health.  Fortified milk, cheese and cereals are good sources of vitamin D when the sun exposure isn’t enough. Getting vitamin D in the winter in Portugal isn’t likely to be a problem, since there’s an average of 330 sunny days per year.  Click here to read more about Portugal in the winter.
  • Vitamin E – acts as an antioxidant in the body and it is especially beneficial for both hair and skin as it protects cells from the damage of free radicals. This vitamin is present in foods like leafy green vegetables, almonds and vegetable oils.
  • Vitamin K – one of its roles is to prevent blood clotting and to promote bone health. As people get older the intake of this vitamin is important for osteoporosis prevention. Food sources of this vitamin are leafy green vegetables, olive and broccoli.

The intake of these suggested foods is good for maintaining vitamin levels up and keep the body ready to defend itself from external threats. We should always favor the natural intake of these vitamins from food instead of the artificial chemical ones.

Read more about vitamins and its benefits here.

We are what we eat

The debate isn’t new. What we put into our daily meals is what we will become in the long term.

The better we eat the better our health will be in the future. Eating better is mostly a question of education and information, of asking questions and reading labels to make healthy choices. And the ability to make right choices starts in the supermarket.

The World Health Organization explains why most people aren’t eating a healthy and balanced diet:

Increasing production of more and more processed food, rapid urbanization, and changing lifestyles are transforming dietary patterns. Highly processed foods are increasing in availability and becoming more affordable. People around the world are consuming more energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugars, and salt. (…) people are consuming less fruit vegetables and dietary fiber (such as whole grains), that are key components of a healthy diet.

Most food products available for children have high amounts of sugar and salt that parents aren’t aware of. According to the World Health Organization, “most people consume too much salt—on average 9–12 grams per day, or around twice the recommended maximum level of intake.” And they also consume too much sugar, that is why the WHO strongly recommends people to reduce their intake of free sugars from 10 to 5% of the total daily energy intake. Free sugars are defined as “(…) monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.”

The amounts of sugar and salt present in our daily food intakes can sometimes be a deadly weapon and are responsible for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity. And these diseases can occur in children and teenagers, not only in adults.

The high costs of treating such diseases increase every decade but sadly the investment in prevention doesn’t. Prevention is important to bring awareness to health issues and to educate consumers about their food choices. The more educated consumers are, higher the chance they will go for a healthy diet with a focus on fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits and grains. The Mediterranean diet is a good barometer for a healthy diet, as it focuses on the balance between whole grains and fresh vegetables and low red meat consumption.