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5 small changes to make a big difference in 2019

Every year, most of us vow to start off the year right with a resolution to do something different.  However, many of us don't see our resolutions through and usually, it's because we try to take on something too drastic or difficult.

Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at nutritional supplement specialist Pharma Nord, looks at a range of small changes people can make to ensure 2019 is the year they really see a difference.

1. Ditch the detox diet for some healthy tweaks
There never seems to be a shortage of new diets to try, and while some of them could work and others are fads, almost all of them require drastic changes to the way we eat.

Changing dietary habits extends to work lunches, to what we cook for our family and what we may or may not be able to order if we dine out for a nice meal, making it a challenge to maintain.

Instead of a dietary overhaul, many of us could simply benefit from some healthy tweaks, rewarding us with long-term good health if we stick to it.

As a prime example, cutting out excessive sugar can go a long way to improving any diet, especially if sweet cravings are an issue.  Some supplements (such as Bio-Gluco Control) contain organic chromium yeast, an absorbable form of the element chromium which is necessary for healthy blood sugar balance.  A balanced blood sugar not only means fewer sugar cravings but better energy and concentration levels as well. Bio-Gluco Control also contains Delphinol, a Chilean berry extract shown to reduce the rate of sugar absorption from the gut into the bloodstream.

2. Get some ‘me time’ without the monastic retreat
Making sure we have 'me time' is how most of us nurture a happy head-space, but it doesn't necessarily mean we have to book an expensive retreat away or do a course in self-help.  Focusing on a few areas such as beating stress or addressing anxiety can pay dividends long term, as chronic stress can affect us physically, not just mentally.

Constant stress causes a constant elevation in the stress hormone cortisol, which in research has been linked to lowered immunity, increased anxiety and mood disturbance. We are biologically programmed to handle short-term stress which helps us cope with dangerous scenarios.  Most of us, however, are constantly stressed as we worry about finances, relationships and the workplace.

Supplements can help here, especially the 'relaxing' mineral, magnesium, which has been shown to combat stress and anxiety.  Magnesium supplements have been shown to stimulate the use of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the brain's main “off switch”, perfect for relaxation and even supporting a restful sleep.

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids also goes a long way to support brain health.  Our main sources include oily fish (or walnuts and flaxseeds) but most of us don't eat enough to reap the benefits.  If these foods aren't for you, fish oil supplements make a reliable and effective alternative.

3. Take heart without breaking the bank
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a quarter of all deaths in the UK and so many New Year’s resolutions include looking after our hearts.  There's quite a lot we can do to support heart health including increasing our physical activity levels (try walking more or picking up an enjoyable gym class), managing our stress levels and decreasing our alcohol and smoking.  Supplementing with CoEnzyme Q10 has also demonstrated potential in research to protect the heart.

In a trial featuring heart failure patients, the Q10 product Bio-Quinone demonstrated the ability to reduce major adverse cardiac events (including mortality) by 43% when compared to placebo.  Patients who took 300mg of Bio-Quinone per day also experienced improved cardiac function, reduced hospital admissions and better recovery rates.

CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance found in our cells, especially those of busy organs like the heart.  As Q10's main role is to help provide energy, busy organs such as the heart depend on good levels it to support their functions.

4. Keep your immune system in tip-top shape
We start the year with two months of winter left, but vitamin D3 can help the body defend against colds and flu during these dark cold months. Vitamin D supplementation is something the UK government suggests we all consider, as our main vitamin D3 source (sunlight) is generally inadequate in most parts of the UK during winter.

Speaking of immunity, selenium is a vital nutrient for a healthy immune system but it's something that many of don't get enough of, partly because UK soils have naturally low levels of the mineral – a recent survey estimated that over half of all women and a quarter of all men in the UK don’t get enough selenium.

An organic selenium supplement such as SelenoPrecise is a highly absorbable and effective way of meeting your daily selenium requirements and keeping the immune system in fighting shape.

5. Sweat the small stuff
While it’s a great idea to set goals and challenge yourself at the start of the year, if you bite off more than you can chew, that can leave you dispirited, demotivated and likely to fall back into the bad old ways.

Choosing to adapt smaller healthy habits, like increasing physical activity, decreasing unhealthy habits and taking the right supplements, can add up to a big impact on your health with little effort or worry to ensure that your new start continues throughout the new year.

(References available on request)

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