Healthy Tip: Simple steps for your bowel and heart health

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Bowel and heart health

April is Bowel Cancer awareness month but did you know that many of the lifestyle risk factors are the same for heart disease?  Heart Research UK is encouraging everyone to take simple steps for good bowel health, steps that will also benefit your heart health too.

Eating well
Following the Government’s Eatwell Guide, which shows you how much of your daily diet should come from each food group, is a good place to start for a healthy, balanced diet. 
- Eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit every day.  As well as containing fibre, vegetables and fruit contain antioxidants, substances which help to delay or prevent cell damage.

- Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet which not only keeps everything moving easily through your digestive system,  it plays a key role in heart health too as it encourages friendly bacteria in  the gut to thrive and helps to lower levels of total and LDL -‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood.  

- High fibre foods also typically have a low glycaemic index, meaning that they release energy more slowly leaving you feeling fuller for longer meaning you are less likely to munch on extra snacks between meals.

- Protein is needed to help our body repair cells and make new ones. Limit the amount of protein from red meat, (beef, pork, lamb and goat) and choose the lower fat, poultry and vegetarian sources (chickpeas, beans and lentils) instead.  Include low-fat milk and dairy products such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, rather than full fat products to help lower you intake of saturated fats.

- Limit food and drinks high in fat or sugar such as sweets, cakes and crisps. They are not needed for a healthy diet and should only be eaten in small amounts.

Keep hydrated
- Keep hydrated by drinking around 2 litres of fluid such as water, semi skimmed mile or herbal teas every day and avoid sugary drinks

Get active 
- People who are more physically active have a lower risk of heart disease and bowel cancer. Being active can help make you feel good and keep a healthy body weight. You can be more active simply by taking the stairs rather than the lift, taking a brisk walk, doing the housework or getting off the bus a few stops earlier.  If you don’t do much exercise, try starting with 10 minutes and increase the time gradually.  Choose something you enjoy and aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. 

Eating a balanced diet, being active and not smoking can reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease, so fuel up on fruit and vegetables, fibre and lower fat proteins and keep salt, sugar and saturated fats to a minimum  to keep your body happy and healthy