10 healthy investments you need to make
There’s no end to the number of health products available on the market. Here are the ones we recommend
A sunrise alarm clock
You can find these intriguing alarm clocks in some electronic stores and department stores or buy them online. In addition to the typical radio/alarm, the clock can be set to become brighter gradually, as it gets closer to your wake-up time. The increasing light prompts your brain to begin making the stress hormone adrenaline, which helps you to wake up. You can also buy clocks that allow you to wake up to pre-recorded messages, to slowly building music coupled with an aromatherapy diffuser or to an alarm that gradually increases in volume.
A slow cooker
They’re perfect for making bean-based soups and stews high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre. Slow cookers are also ideal for simmering lean cuts of meat, which are healthier due to their low fat content, but also tougher for the same reason.
A home blood pressure-monitoring test
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that monitoring your blood pressure at home can save money and give your doctor a valuable insight into your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
A large freezable water bottle
Use it to keep cold water on your desk all day long. This ensures that you stay hydrated with a healthy, non-calorific liquid rather than sipping sugar-filled soft drinks or juices.
A non-stick pan
In the old days, you needed lots of butter and oil in order to keep your meats and veggies from sticking to the pan. A non-stick pan eliminates all that. Hint: make sure the pan is hot before adding the oil. This creates a barrier between the pan and the food, eliminating any possibility of sticking. Another great option: invest in a panini maker for grilled sandwiches.
A good mattress
A survey of 400 people found that 8 in 10 thought a bad mattress could cause sleep problems. Ironically, nearly half said they had a “bad” or “very bad” mattress. First off, you need a new mattress if yours is ten years old or even older. Also consider how lumpy it is – ditch your mattress if its topography resembles a mountain range, with its peaks, valleys and slopes. Another warning sign is waking up feeling sore or stiff, despite not being physically active the day before.
Although no one mattress works best for everybody, there are some guidelines to follow:
• Size. Make sure you buy one that’s larger than you think you will need, especially if you sleep with someone else.
• Firmness. This is strictly an individual decision. But make sure you try out any mattress in the store. Lie on it. Roll over. Get into your typical sleeping position.
• Frame. Make sure you get a sturdy, good-quality frame, one with at least ten slats and a fifth leg as a centre support.
• Maintenance. Turn your mattress over and upside down at least every three months.
One set of ankle weights allows you to do just about any leg exercise at home and you’ll never have to set foot in the gym again to maintain shapely legs. In addition to the traditional leg lifts, you can use ankle weights to do other popular leg exercises such as hamstring curls and leg extensions, often performed on a machine at the gym. Look for ankle weights that allow you to add weight as you get stronger, and with Velcro straps rather than shoelaces for easy access and removal. Many of these weights contain small pockets into which you can insert or remove weighted bags. Try on the weights in the store to make sure they feel comfortable.
Why? Because blenders are great for making breakfast smoothies. You can toss in any kind of fruit – fresh, canned or frozen – along with cottage cheese or yogurt for your calcium portion, a handful of nuts or seeds for heart-healthy fats and a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavour. Add a glass of crushed ice in the summer for a cool drink, or warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds on cold winter mornings.
A light box
Bright light therapy has been shown to relieve depression during pregnancy as effectively as antidepressant medication. Additional research shows that it can also ease seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression some people experience during the winter months when sunlight is in short supply. It may ease other types of depression as well. The therapy involves sitting in front of a specially designed light box shortly after waking each morning for 20 minutes to an hour. You can purchase a light box for home use from a variety of sources, many of them online.
A vegetable grater
Grating vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, celery, cucumber and so on adds volume to your meals, meaning you take in fewer calories while eating more food. Plus, grating helps you to “hide” your veggies in casseroles, sauces and other dishes.