Lifestyle Advice

Dear Patient

I am sure you are only too aware that a healthy diet, a moderate amount of exercise, drinking sensibly and above all not smoking, are all good for our general health and well-being.  Smoking at all is clearly bad for our health, dietary advice seems to be quite faddish, and the amount of exercise and alcohol that we should be taking remains controversial.  Below please find some of the latest thoughts:

Smoking

Confirmed smokers seem on average to die 10 years younger than would be otherwise expected.  This is the equivalent of losing 28 minutes of life for every packet of cigarettes smoked.  The good news is that it is never too late to quit; there are tablets and patches to help you do this available at the surgery.  Please make an appointment to see one of the nurses.  If you have recently started or succeeded in quitting please let us know.

Exercise

Moderate exercise seems to be able to reduce our risk of major illness such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%, and reduces our chance of dying early by 30%.  It also seems to be able to ward off stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise could include walking fast, swimming, cycling, tennis or pushing a lawn mower.  The exercise should be intensive enough to raise your heartbeat and perhaps make you sweat.  You should however still be able to talk during the exercise but be breathless enough that you couldn’t sing a song.   For reasons that are not clear, exercise obtained through work tends to be less beneficial than that undertaken in our free time.  No one has yet to give any explanation of this.  Exercise seems to be able to reduce our blood sugars and cholesterol.  The optimum seems to be about 2½ hours of physical activity each week.

Diet

The human body is astonishingly versatile, and can adequately burn a wide variety of foods.  Nevertheless some foods are increasingly coming under the microscope as doctors are concerned they are contributing to a current epidemic of obesity and diabetes.  There is currently a huge amount of conflicting advice as to what actually constitutes a healthy diet.

Currently in favour: broadly speaking doctors can agree that fruit, vegetables and light Mediterranean style diets are healthy and research seems to show that dairy products, red meat, and eggs are healthy for us when eaten in moderation.

Currently out of favour: sugary snacks, fizzy drinks, margarines and fat substitutes, pre-prepared meals and processed meat.

In pregnancy of course, it is important for Mums to take care of themselves.  Increasing Folic Acid and Vitamin D is recommended in pregnancy as well as iron and multivitamins.   We will prescribe these for you as necessary.

Dementia

As the population ages the incidence of this condition is increasing.  If you or a person you care for is struggling with short term memory and would like an assessment, make an appointment.  It can be warded off by a healthy diet but best of all by on-going exercise.

Hypertension

Raised blood pressure affects 12% of the adult population.  Tablets can be used to control blood pressure, but diet, weight loss, and exercise are just as, or even more, effective.

Obesity

15% of the list size.  We can now refer you for diet and exercise classes.  Please ask.

Diabetes

3% of the list size and increasing all the time.  If you are recently diagnosed, training days are available, though in its early stages, most diabetes can be cured by weight reduction, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.