I’ve been seeing so many daft health and well-being guides lately that I thought I might as well write my own. I’ve been on this planet for well over half a century now and reasoned that I must have learned something. So, let’s run some flags up the pole, shall we?
Don’t feel obliged to take a holiday. It can be one of the most stressful activities in existence. You’ll have to spend at least a week making sure that everything’s sorted out before you leave, then, upon your return, there’ll be twice the work to catch up on. The whole business of getting to your destination and back is fraught with anxiety and annoyance, which usually undoes any good done by the holiday. Holidays frequently cause weight-gain, hangovers, stomach upsets and family rows. So why not stay at home, sort the house out, and spend the money doing things that might make you happy?
Don’t sign up for a gym. Instead, walk, cycle, swim or pirouette to wherever you need to be. While you wait for the pounds to fall off, if someone remarks unkindly upon your figure, proclaim loudly, “It’s not a beer-gut, it’s the long-range fuel tank for a powerful love machine.” Your critic will stand back, awestruck. People of uncertain age, it’s true, may easily develop what those vulgar Aussies sometimes call ‘a balcony over the playroom.’ Barring genuine medical causes of weight gain, however, the simplest cure is to consume fewer calories and move around more strenuously.
If you possibly can, drink less alcohol, or try to take short breaks from it. We know that alcohol makes you a better lover, a braver combatant and a lovelier person but it also impairs your liver function, ruins your sleep quality and generally gums up your system. Getting good sleep will improve your life so much, it’s really worth giving it a go. Especially if, like me, you’ve hardly done it for years.
Breathe through your nose, rather than your mouth. Get some fresh-air exercise and twenty minutes of proper outdoor light every day. These three things are essential for your well-being. They really are.
Eat an apple each day. It’s great slow-release energy. Apples are strangely filling, too and full of magical ingredients, which names I can never remember. When you are cycling or walking and find that with some way still to go, you’ve hit an energy slump, an apple will re-boot you.
With bananas, which contain potassium, let them get all blotchy before you eat them, because that’s when they’re crammed with antioxidants, which are also good for you.
Invest in some interdental brushes. See a dentist and a hygienist regularly. Because heart disease and other nasties sometimes hitch a ride on poor dentition. If NHS dentists are hard to find, subscribe to a modest private plan. It really is worth it. My current one costs £32.00 pcm (that’s about £1.08 a day). It means that if I’m ever in pain, or break a tooth, I can usually see someone pretty much straight away.
Always keep some sachets of body salts such as Deoralyte (other brands are available) in your medicine cabinet. The sachets contain a combination of minerals called electrolytes, which your body needs.
If, for example, you’ve had a stomach bug, with all the ghastly drama surrounding it, your electrolytes may be depleted. Following exactly such a bug, while exhausted, I once lost sufficient electrolytes that I suffered a brain seizure which briefly killed me. Take this seriously; especially during hot weather, when dehydration is also more likely.
Always keep a pot of fresh bio-yoghurt in your fridge. If you ever have a stomach bug, as mentioned above, the yoghurt will help replenish your gut flora. Gut flora are tiny organisms living in your intestine which act as traffic-calming measures for your fecal transits. In short, they help prevent valuable nutrients from whooshing straight through you like an express train.
Drink some water. Just tap water. Nothing fancy. It’s very good for you. Quite a few of those dull un-earned headaches may be caused by simple dehydration. It took me years to learn that.
If, like me, you love chocolate eat a very few squares each day, of the strongest dark chocolate that you can find. Chocolate with 70% cocoa solids is good. 85% is even better. Can’t remember why but it’s good kit.
Always have breakfast. Even if it’s only an egg on toast. It boots you up.
Ration the amount of news which you allow into your life. Media news feeds depression, makes you angry and will never be any good. Besides which there’s nothing that you can do that will ever change any news events. Put some nice music on instead. Finally cease all smartphone or computer screen activity at least an hour before bedtime.
“It Ain’t Rocket Science, You Mug” Martin Newell’s list of obvious health-hacks won’t ever be published in hardback by Long & Melford for only £40.00.
Pictured. My 2018 deathbed kit. When I was finally well enough to go to the doctor, he told me. "It wasn't flu, but you've had something very like it." In the old days, he told me:"We'd have sent you to convalesce -- somewhere like Frinton". Then he added seriously," DO take it easy for a few weeks, you've been quite ill."