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Start the New Year with a Free Health Check

As we start the new year looking after our health, weight or lifestyle maybe a priority wrapped up in a New Years Resolution.

Understanding our current health status can be part of this process. Though there are services offering in-depth health biomarker tests such as Bridgford & Bingham Nutrition I always ask a client during their consultation their results from their most recent NHS Health Check.

The NHS Health Check is a free health service for those aged 40 to 74. It's designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia. As we get older, we have an increased risk of developing one of these conditions. The NHS Health Check gives us an opportunity to intervene to lower the risk of these diseases. If we're in the 40 to 74 age group without a pre-existing condition, we should receive communication from our GP surgery or local council inviting us for a free NHS Health Check every 5 years. We can also call our GP surgery to check if we are due and to book a Health Check.

Taking about 20 minutes a nurse or healthcare assistant will ask us some questions about our lifestyle and family history, measure our height and weight, and take our blood pressure and do a blood test.

As well as looking for early signs of dementia, at a later date, we’ll then be guided through our results where they are broken down into our:

• heart age

• body mass index (BMI)

• blood pressure

• cholesterol levels

• alcohol use score

• physical activity assessment result

• diabetes risk assessment

If there are concerns about the increased risk of these conditions our healthcare practitioner will give us advice on what to do next which may involve medication and/or focusing on our lifestyle and diet such as:

Losing weight:-

People with a higher BMI are at greater risk of a range of serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and certain cancers and for every couple of pounds lost these risks start to reduce. If we have struggled to lose weight before or lost the pounds only to regain them there is lots or support and services available via the NHS Weight Loss Plan, local groups or our personal nutritionist, all there to help us achieve sustainable weight loss.

Eating well:-

Eating a balanced diet, including vegetables, fruit and grains, plus some protein and dairy, may help us reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

Our cholesterol can also be lowered by reducing the amount of saturated fat we consume and increasing our polyunsaturated fats intake. There are 2 main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6. Some types of omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by our body, which means it's essential to include small amounts of them in our diet.

Restricting our salt intake to no more than 6g each day can help our blood pressure readings come down.

Cutting back on alcohol:-

To reduce our risk of harming our health, including keeping our blood pressure in check, we are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week on a regular basis. Reducing our intake of alcohol and having several alcohol-free days a week may improve our overall health.

Improving our fitness:-

Doing the recommended 150 minutes of our choice of exercise each week – such as walking (so we are out of breath), cycling, dancing or swimming – will help to bring our weight and blood pressure down, as well as having many other benefits for our wellbeing.

Taking prescription medicines:-

If our blood pressure is high, our healthcare professional may offer blood pressure-lowering medicines. Likewise, we may be prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicines. These can have a very beneficial effect on our health, but we are likely to need to take them for a long time. Depending on our results, doctors will usually advise lifestyle and diet changes first, to reduce our need for medicine and lower our risk of side effects from them, before prescribing these medicines.

So, having a Health Check does not take long but the results and changes to our medication, diet and lifestyle may make a long term difference to achieving our New Years Resolutions.

If this interests you and you would like further professional and personal guidance on Eating Well or Losing Weight I would be more than happy to help you.

Happy Eating,

Nina Thomas

Registered Associate Nutritionist & Food Sceintist

Bridgford & Bingham Nutrition

07958 765337

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