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Prevention Is Better Than Cure: 5 Factors Essential For Health

Pick the true statement:

  • A - Diet and Lifestyle impact your health.

  • B - Your genetics predetermine whether or not you get ill

Which one is true?



The Human Genome Project has shown that diet and lifestyle can impact our health by as much as 90%[1]. We all have genetic mutations and weaknesses making us more vulnerable and predisposed to particular illnesses. The same underlying causes impact different people in different ways. However, we are not slaves to our genes. Genes merely load the gun. Diet and lifestyle pull the trigger.

In this post, I will be highlighting the main five factors that are essential to your health, starting with the most important:

1. Food

Food is a duel-edged sword. The right foods can heal you. The wrong foods can harm you. Foods that harm you include: vegetable oils, most highly-processed foods, sugary drinks, most pizzas, white bread, most fruit juices (high in sugar), margarine, pastries, biscuits and cakes, chips and crisps, gluten-free junk food, processed cheese and meats, most fast-food meals and anything high in sugar and refined grains.

Foods that help to optimise your health:

Fruit and vegetables: Eating more fruit and vegetables is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your health. This can help protect you from heart disease, stroke, arthritis, dementia, cancer and even slow down your body’s ageing process. Remember, ‘variety is the spice of life’. Build on the amount and variety of fruit and vegetables you include in your diet.

Healthy fats: Are you afraid of fats? If so, this is unsurprising as fat in foods has been vilified in the Western World for the past few decades. However, the 'Big Fat Fraud' has finally been exposed and the 'low fat is good' health hypothesis has effectively been disproved. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the 1980s, coinciding with the rise of the low-fat hysteria. Type 2 diabetes has also risen significantly through this period. It is time for your body to reap the benefits of the healthy fats found in such foods as avocados, nuts and seeds, organic extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed organic butter and ghee, coconut oil and Omega-3s (found in seafood - like salmon and sardines - walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds).

TT's top tips for better eating

  • Avoid eating food that is high in toxins. Aim to buy organic where possible or wash non-organic in bowl of water with capful of apple cider vinegar to get rid of pesticides.

  • Aim to buy organic meat and chicken to avoid antibiotics and growth hormones. If constrained by budget, it is better to buy less and to maximise by making stews and stir fries and using bones for making healing bone broths.

  • Eat real food.

  • Aim to include a large salad in your diet every day. The more of these ingredients you include, the better:

    • Dark leafy greens: Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Arugula

    • 1 cup broccoli sprouts

    • Cauliflower

    • Purple cabbage

    • Slice of red onion, yellow or green onions

    • Red, yellow or green peppers

    • Mushrooms: White Button, Bella , Cremini, Shiitake

    • Raw walnuts, almonds

    • Raw sunflower, pumpkin seeds

    • Sprouted beans like mung beams

    • Sprouted black/green lentils.

    • Consider other vegetables like radishes, artichokes, squash, and zucchini. Add avocado for healthy fats.

    • Shake on as much of these anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer spices as you can stand (turmeric, curry powder, garlic powder, oregano) and remember herbs are nutrient-dense and add flavour. Coriander is also a powerful detoxing herb.


2. Stress/ Relaxation

Understanding the extent to which stress has a negative impact on one’s health is crucial. Stress is a manifestation of our ‘fight and flight’ response: a survival mechanism that has been pivotal to our evolution.

In the 21st Century, we are experiencing more chronic stress (a perpetual, daily feeling), as opposed to acute stress (an incident occurs, we respond, incident concludes, balance is restored). The problem today is that most people are unaware that they are stressed.

They remain in a perpetual state of constant agitation. Our bodies, however, are unable to distinguish between the non life-threatening stressors of today (stuck in a traffic jam, 40 things on a to do list etc.) and the life-threatening flight or flight stressors of thousands of years ago. The stress response is our survival instinct and is the same today as it was then.

Survival takes precedence over ‘rest and digest,’ resulting in the shut down of secondary bodily functions (such as digestion and immunity) when survival is at stake.

Stress is often unavoidable but it is manageable. If you change your response to stress this will have a positive impact on your resilience. This in turn will not only improve your health and strengthen your energy reserves, but also remove one of the main obstacles to healing and wellness.


  • Simple breathing has a profound effect on the stress response. Learn more about breathing techniques which can be done anytime, anywhere;

  • Practise daily meditation. Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Meditation apps such as Headspace, Calm and Buddify can help you get started;

  • Give yoga a try. Yoga is a mind-body practice, combining controlled breathing and meditation or relaxation that can help reduce stress.


3. Movement

Our Homo Sapiens ancestors were on the move all day long; gathering fruits and berries, collecting firewood, building shelters, fleeing or hunting. Today however, many people are sedentary for a large part of the day. If, like most people, you spend the majority of your day in a sitting position (commuting, working in an office, watching TV), evidence shows that this prolonged inactivity actively promotes chronic diseases, even if you are very fit.

In fact, studies are increasingly highlighting that prolonged sitting can reduce lifespan even for those who exercise regularly. In other words, one or two hours a day at the gym cannot counteract the accumulated ill effects of sitting eight to twelve hours a day [2].

Movement and exercise boost your brain health, release endorphins, which make you feel happier, make you look and feel younger, improve skin, shrink your fat cells and help you recover faster from chronic diseases.


  • Standing is better than sitting. Take a closer look at your day and find ways to stand up and/or move more.

  • Avoid sitting for longer than 50 minutes out of every hour. Stand up. Move around for a few minutes before sitting for the next 50 minutes.

  • Combine high-intensity training (HIIT) and non-exercise activities like walking, aiming for 7,000-10,000 steps a day. There are even apps to help monitor this! Walking should be in addition to, not a replacement for, a regular fitness regimen. However, if you are not doing any exercise, walking is a good place to start. Avoid sitting as much as possible!


4. Sleep

Many people are unaware of the fact that poor sleep is a risk factor for cognitive decline and even Alzheimer’s Disease. [3] Every system in our body is affected by lack of sleep. Studies indicate that the average person needs around 8 hours sleep per night. Sleep is critical for brain detoxification. Research shows that the brain has a unique waste management system, which is activated while we sleep. Sleep is essential for cementing the day’s events into long-term memory. Most of the brain's regeneration process takes place while we are asleep. It is during this time that our bodies fix, rebuild, regenerate and repair.


  • Avoid technology for at least 1 hour before bed.

  • Drink caffeinated drinks with caution.

  • Have an Epsom salt bath in the evening. Magnesium relaxes mind and body.

  • Maintain low light in the evening to help stimulate melatonin levels.

  • Maintain a regular sleep pattern.

  • Keep the bedroom dark and the temperature cool.


5. Polypharmacy

A popular class of heartburn medications, called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI's), which include such drugs as Nexium, Omeprazole, Prilosec and Prevacid, are being implicated in dementia [4]. Today, many people are on Statin drugs, yet there is increasing evidence of the negative effects these cholesterol-lowering drugs have on long-term health.

Pharmaceutical drugs manage symptoms. They are not designed to address root causes of symptoms. Prescription Drug Deficiency is not the root cause of any illness. Additionally, these drugs are accompanied by numerous and, with long-term use, often damaging, side-effects (make sure you do not stop taking pharmaceutical drugs without advice from a medical doctor and ensure you are fully informed about the medication you are taking).


  • If your are taking four or more prescription drugs, consider scaling back, under doctor supervision;

  • Review your medication periodically. Understand that drugs such as PPI's are intended for short-term use and not for life;

  • Consult a Functional Medicine Practitioner, such as a Nutritional Therapist, who can help you to identify and address root causes of your symptoms, thus enabling you to come off prescription drugs.

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