Amanda Claassen, a registered dietitian, exercise scientist and Head of Science & Innovation at Virgin Active, recommends the following:
1. Limit UV light
The amount of natural sun exposure South Africans typically get is sufficient to provide them with healthy levels of Vitamin D, but excessive exposure cause DNA damage. Too much ultra violet (UV) exposure can lead to eye damage, suppress the immune system and even cause skin ageing and skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen and reapply it frequently. Throw out expired sunscreens which don’t offer protection anymore.
2. Avoid cigarette smoke
First prize is to quit if you’re a smoker or at least cut down, as several substances in tobacco are toxic for your body and can lead to premature ageing, disease and cancer development. Take a supplement with 300mg Vitamin C per day to alleviate some of the cell damage caused by smoking. Even if you don’t smoke,secondary smoke inhalation is just as bad, so avoid it where possible.
3. Eat fruit and vegetables daily
Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients that protect against premature ageing and fight disease development and vegetables are also the food group that is the least fattening. Grab a fruit to eat on your way to and from work. During winter, chunky veggie soup is great as a light meal or snack.
4. Drink water
Mild chronic dehydration is very common and makes it difficult for your body to metabolise and function optimally. It is also often the culprit behind headaches and cravings, which makes the recommended six to eight glasses of water per day sound reasonable. Keep a water bottle with you during the day as a reminder to take frequent sips.
5. Sleep soundly
Daily life is increasingly busy and stressful and few people take active action to de-stress. Chronic exposure to stress can suppress your immune system, cause mental distress and can lead to disease development. Try a daily relaxation routine, which includes a sound sleep routine, to get the necessary rest for your body and mind.