Your daily health checklist

Published by rudy Date posted on February 17, 2009

If you’re an organized person (bordering on being OC?), you probably draw up a daily checklist of things to do at home and at work, so that your life runs like clockwork. Without your checklist, your multi-tasking life could go haywire. Or you could go bonkers.

On top of our daily checklist, we must have a (mini) health audit every day, according to Handbook for Life (how to make friends, beds, love, tea, money … and the world a better place) by Caroline Righton (available at National Book Store).

Right on, Caroline! Listen up, everyone: “Whoever you are and whatever your age and general state of health, the key thing is to ask yourself if your body easily meets the demands made on it by the life you lead, and whether, if you would like to have a different sort of life, you might need to raise your game to improve your health …”

So, what are the things you need to ask yourself when you do your mini health audit? Here are a few questions and some answers:

1) Do you sleep well?

I guess for most of us who work such looong hours, the answer is a yawning no. Yes, says Caroline, “Most people need between seven and eight hours’ sleep a night … Sleep is needed by your body and brain to recharge and stay healthy. Too little and your immunity can decrease and your concentration suffer. Too much and you may feel lethargic and even depressed.”

What to do?

Take a few tips for a night of bedded bliss:

• Don’t eat or drink too late, yes, and say no to spicy foods, caffeine or alcohol.

• Take a warm milky drink. Milk does help as it contains brain-calming tryptophan.

• Don’t do any strenuous exercise close to bedtime. Allow your body several hours to relax and cool down before getting some shut-eye.

If the problem persists, says Caroline, go and see your doctor. For sure, you won’t be the only insomniac in the waiting room. Zzzz you there!

2) Do you feel stiff or have creaky joints when you wake up?

If your only form of exercise is stretching a point or bending your principles, you could be in trouble. “This (having creaky joints) is probably a reflection of your level of fitness,” writes Caroline. “… If you are worried about it, of course see your doctor, because it can be an indication of medical problems, but first try stretching out and gently flexing the offending creaking parts while lying in bed … Even gentle exercise, such as swimming, can help if it’s carried out regularly.”

3) Does your tongue look less than rosy pink?

Now, that’s no tongue-in-cheek question. Caroline has a mouthful to say on that: “Tongues really aren’t at their best in the morning, but serious badger’s bum furring is most likely to indicate that you are dehydrated and so, drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day and not overdoing coffee and booze should help.”

4) What color is your urine and does it smell?

Don’t get pissed off now, but your urine has a lot of story to tell about your health. For instance, smelly pee means you might have a urinary tract infection. And the darker yellow it is, the more likely you are to be dehydrated. Drinking alcohol can dehydrate your body so your urine may be dark after a night of boozing it up. Rehydrate, but if your problem persists, see a doctor.

5) Is your waist size over 94 cm. (man), 80 cm. (women)?

As the experts say, “The broader the waistline, the shorter the lifeline.” For an overall picture, says Caroline, look at your body fat percentage, your blood pressure, resting heart rate, and cholesterol levels.

6) Have you got your stress levels under control?

Caroline’s book can’t stress this enough: “Stress is a killer, which is ironic given that it was once a lifesaver as the body’s front-line defense mechanism.”

Today, you are probably stressed if you feel guilty when you relax — yup, you’re stressed because there’s no stress in your life.

Here’s an antidote to stress, according to Caroline: “Get the stress in perspective … Count your blessings and accentuate the positive in your life …”

It’s a fact, as proven by medical tests, that optimists respond better to medical treatment. Indeed, a dose of positivism keeps ill health at bay.

7) Do you eat a sensible diet with restricted fatty or sugary foods?

Once more with feeling: A high-fat, high-sugar diet puts one at high risk of heart disease and diabetes.

8) Do you keep your salt intake low — to less than 6 g. a day?

How low should you go? Here’s the lowdown on salt from the life audit handbook: 6 g. is about the same amount as one level teaspoon. Too much salt raises the blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack. You better watch out, too, for processed foods, bread and cereals that contain salt.

9) Do you drink enough water?

How much is enough? Answer: Eight or more glasses keep the immune system healthy. An added bonus is that it helps you lose weight, too. But that’s another weighty issue that deserves another lengthy discussion.

So, how did you fare in this life audit? –CHING M. ALANO, Philippine Star

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