Five health promises you should make this year

So, it’s February. How are those New Year resolutions going for you?

Whether you’re still on track, or you’ve already fallen off the wagon, making positive changes for your health is something you can do whatever the time of year.

We asked MQ Health General Practitioner Luke Morphett to tell us the five basic promises we should be making for better health in 2019 and beyond.

1. I won’t smoke

I know it’s obvious – doctors and health authorities have been banging on about it for years. But the fact is many people still smoke, and there are still people who start smoking every year. The main reason most people still smoke is because it’s really, really, really hard to quit. But there is a lot of help available. For practical tips and assistance visit, and your GP can help with advice and, in some cases, medication.

2. If I drink alcohol, I’ll do so in moderation

Another unsurprising piece of advice, I’m sure. But you may not be aware of the most up-to-date guidelines. To reduce your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime, drink no more than two standard drinks per day. An average restaurant serving of wine or a 375ml bottle of full-strength beer both have approximately 1.5 standard drinks. As always, see your doctor if you need some help.

3. I’ll eat a healthy diet

It’s hard to sum up what constitutes a healthy diet in a few lines, but a few rules of thumb are:

  • Eat a balanced diet including different types of vegetables and fruits, grain (cereal) foods including mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre sources (breads, pasta, etc.), lean meats and other protein sources, and mostly reduced fat dairy.
  • Go big on vegetables/salads – they are good for you and fill you up. Aim for these to make up half of your evening meal
  • Eat mostly home prepared meals, as these are generally healthier than pre-prepared meals, takeaway or fast-food/restaurant meals. This combined with sensible choices at home will help you to limit your intake of saturated fat, added sugar and added salt.
  • Eat sensible portions. One way to do this is to eat more slowly, and stop eating once you are satisfied (as opposed to ‘full’). This tip will improve your diet, and help you lose weight if that is your goal.

4. I’ll exercise regularly

This reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers, and also improves your mental health. The aim is to participate in 2.5-5 hours per week of moderate intensity physical activity, and be active on most days. This can be at least 30 minutes of exercise five days per week, but research has found it can also be broken down into smaller chunks and still provide the same health benefits. Aim for moderate intensity, which means you should be breathing a bit harder and lightly sweating, but you can still carry out a conversation. But if you haven’t exercised for a while, gradually build up both the duration and intensity of exercise.

5. I’ll see my doctor

Find yourself a regular GP who you can talk to and trust, and see them at least once per year (unless they advise you otherwise). It is important to keep track of all of the above areas, as well as things like blood pressure and weight. The aim is to improve your health in the short term, but also avoid health conditions where possible in the long.

If you want to improve your health in 2019, make an appointment at the MQ Health Preventive Health Clinic. A specialist GP will spend around 45 minutes assessing your health and developing a management plan with you. Phone 9812 2908 to make an appointment or visit the website for more information.





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  1. “2. I’ll drink alcohol in moderation”

    Perhaps this was poorly phrased, but it seems to be suggesting that those who do not use alcohol should start using it in moderation. There is considerable evidence to the contrary. The following quotes are short summaries, but the web pages mentioned include links to relevant studies.

    “According to the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, individuals who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking for any reason.”

    “The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink per day) and binge drinkers have a modestly increased risk of some cancers.”

    “In fact, a recent study that included data from more than 1000 alcohol studies and data sources, as well as death and disability records from 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016, concluded that the optimal number of drinks to consume per day to minimize the overall risk to health is zero.”

    If you prefer an Australian perspective, though with a lot of overlap with the above, try
    “Alcoholic drinks and ethanol are carcinogenic to humans. There is no evidence that there is a safe threshold of alcohol consumption for avoiding cancer, or that cancer risk varies between the type of alcoholic beverage consumed.”
    CONTENT WARNING: This Wikipedia page contains graphic images of cancers that are sufficiently gross that I seriously considered not including this link, but I decided to include it so I could quote:
    “The alcohol industry has tried to actively mislead the public about the risk of cancer due to alcohol consumption,[7] in addition to campaigning to remove laws that require alcoholic beverages to have cancer warning labels.[8]”

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thank you for pointing this out. I am absolutely not recommending that people start drinking alcohol for health reasons if they do not already, but we could have phrased the “promise” differently to make that clear.

      I have already been in contact with the editors, and they have suggested changing the wording.

    2. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      We’ve changed the header to “If I drink alcohol, I’ll do so in moderation”. We hope that clears up any confusion.

      This Week team

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