... in with the new

With Auld Lang Syne just a distant melody (no, nothing?) and the wilting Christmas tree reminding us that we have just a mere 11 months to start preparing for next year, it's perhaps time to turn our attentions to the possibilities of 2020.

Now while the old adage 'new year, new start' is often overplayed and under-realised, the changing of the calendar signals as good a time as any to make some positive life changes.if only till February, eh?

The diet starts tomorrow

I hope you've finally conquered that pile of Christmas leftovers because it's roasted vegetables and low fat yogurt from hereon in. Okay, so I may forgive you the occasional pork pie and bucket of lard, but we both know that you could be trying a bit harder on the diet front. Healthy eating is more than just a way of looking after your ticker and can prove to have a positive impact on both your mental performance and the ability to protect yourself from common illnesses.
As uninspiring as it might be, fruit, veg and wholegrain foods offer the best menu for weight control (not cake) whilst also providing a consistent level of energy throughout the day. Your immune system on the other hand benefits from nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and iron while brain foods like oily fish and nuts can improve your concentration and mind power. Admit it, it sounds like the world's most boring buffet.

There must be something in the water

Though I doubt you're quite prepared to start ordering shots of H2O this weekend (or J2O for that matter) we all know by now that we should be downing at least 2 litres of water a day. More than just a marketing ploy by the bottled aqua giants though, studies have long suggested the health benefits of regularly topping your water levels.

We all consist of around 60% 70% water, even more if you're a snowman, so it's important to replace the fluids we naturally lose throughout the day. Surprisingly though, it appears that the best time to increase your liquid stock is before you even butter your toast with this routine of internal cleansing providing a foundation to build the proceeding hours from.

As well as a great morning pick me up, a few glasses of water to start the day is thought to boost metabolism by around 24%, help your lymph system (fighter of infections) and increase the production of muscle and blood cells. It's also said that it can help give your skin a healthy glow.well it's a lot cheaper than anything from The Body Shop.

Let's get physical. Physical.

Don't shoot the messenger but it turns out that exercise might actually be good for you (who'd have thought it?). Though the physical benefits of a good workout are clear for all to see, it also produces 'happy chemicals' that can't be bought down any dark alley, music festival or university. These endorphins are thought to be great tacklers of depression, anxiety and stress.

More than just a legal high from some 'hippy campus' though, regular exercise is also good for your hippocampus (see what I did there?). The age old gap between brain and brawn appears to have been bridged with our good friend science suggesting that pumping the iron can create neurogenesis and result in improved brain power and memory. Now what was I talking about....?

Dream a little dream of AC

What's the one thing you need that you never seem to get enough of? I'll just give you a moment to get your minds out of the gutter.Done? Great.

In the international league table of the sleep deprived, Brits ranks somewhere in the middle with less than half of us getting the recommended 7-9 hours kip. Now while sleep may bring sweet unconscious relief from the daily grind, it also plays an important role in the development and recovery of our physical and mental health.

Memory is a key beneficiary of a swift siesta with sleep giving way to a consolidation phase that allows the brain to cement new skills and information. This is great news for the GCSE teens who now have a reason to sleep in until the mid afternoon. Another winner in the sleep stakes is weight loss thanks to the increased levels of leptin. A hormone produced by the body's fat cells, leptin decreases the sensation of hunger but was found to be less prevalent in those who regularly failed to get their 40 winks.

Other areas that are helped by a visit from the Sandman include your immune system, fertility and blood pressure, so maybe it's time to stop watching Storage Hunters repeats in the early hours of the morning and start letting your head hit that pillow.

The new year might welcome some unwanted post-Christmas blues but it also brings about the opportunity to set a precedent for the next 12 months. A healthy lifestyle is all about balance, but just remember that cake and boxsets sway the see-saw far more than fruit and exercise. So take a breath, shake yourself out of that early January slumber and take heed of the words 'out with the old, in with the new.'

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