Being healthy doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself of all of your favourite foods, it is all about learning to eat them in moderation. The main foods to moderate are those containing unhealthy fats and sugar, and alcohol drink wise. You shouldn’t exceed 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, 14 units of alcohol a week and should only moderately eat treats. However, there are some foods you should avoid as they can be hazardous for your health.
- Coffee: Around every corner there is a coffee shop of some sort, coffee market researchers Allegra estimate that we consume around 2.3 billion cups of coffee per year in shops, which is around 45 cups per adult per year. Coffee has never been more popular and Allegra have forecast that there will be 32,000 coffee shops in the UK by 2025 and coffee shops will outnumber pubs by 2030! Consuming excessive amounts of coffee can be addictive and withdrawal symptoms can kick in a dozen hours after your last cup, the symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety and drowsiness. Caffeine is bad for your health as it can raise blood pressure levels, make you at risk for cardiovascular diseases, dehydrate you, irritate your stomach, cause acid reflux and heartburn, result in insomnia and worsen menopause symptoms.
Healthier option: Switch your daily cups of coffee to tea, which is more beneficial for your health as it hydrates your body, can lower your cholesterol, improve your sleep, help you avoid muscle cramps, lower your risk of cancer, protect your bones, strengthen your immune system and help reduce stress.
- Energy drinks: Energy drinks are frequently in the press discussing the harmful health effects. They can disrupt your sleep, make you gain weight, cause a spike in blood pressure, lead to type 2 diabetes, damage nerves and blood vessels, cause a caffeine overdose and give you poor dental health. Energy drinks are marketed to the general public as drinks that increase energy and mental performance. They contain caffeine to stimulate brains function, increase alertness and concentration, it takes around 10 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream and for your heart rate to rise, after an hour your body starts to sugar crash as your caffeine levels are dying down and 12 hours is the time it takes you to properly remove caffeine from your bloodstream.
Healthier option: Given the many health hazards, cut energy drinks out of your diet and replace it with green juices or smoothies. Green juices and smoothies containing green vegetables such as spinach, parsley and kale are a source of B vitamins, which helps your metabolism run faster and produce energy at a faster rate.
- Sugary cereals: Most cereals are full of added sugar and refined carbohydrates, starting your day off with sugary cereals will cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, then after a couple of hours your blood sugar will crash. Sugary cereals can increase the risk of tooth decay, weight gain, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Healthier option: You should replace unhealthy cereals with Oatmeal as it keeps you fuller longer and is full of important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. If you aren’t a fan of oatmeal then muesli, yoghurt, chia pudding or eggs, are all healthy breakfast options and will stop you from feeling hungry an hour later!
- Junk food: Junk food provides you with a short-term energy boost, however, it doesn’t last! You will be left feeling lethargic, lacking energy, grumpy, craving sugar and feeling fatigued once the rush wears off. Eating excessive amounts of junk food can lead to weight gain and obesity, and the more weight you gain the more at risk you are of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
Healthier option: Swap crisps for kale crisps, swap sweets for fruit, swap pudding for chia seed pudding, swap chocolate for protein bars, swap chips for sweet potato wedges, swap fried meat for grilled/oven-cooked meat and swap ice cream for frozen yoghurt.
- Alcohol: There were 6,813 deaths related to the consumption of alcohol in England in 2015 and were 88 deaths every month in Ireland in 2014. Regularly drinking more than 14 units a week is harmful to your health. The short-term effects of alcohol can include disturbed sleep, increased feelings of stress, impaired judgement, memory loss, sickness and stomach problems. The long-term effects of alcohol can include brain damage, cancer, dementia, foetal alcohol syndrome, heart disease, liver disease, mental health problems, pancreatitis, reproduction problems, raised blood pressure, osteoporosis, stomach ulcers or a stroke. You don’t necessarily have to cut alcohol out of your life, it is about consuming it in moderation and not exceeding the 14 units a week recommendation.
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