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Health is wealth

YHL asks: why should you invest in your health and wellbeing?

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said: “The first wealth is health”. Essentially, this means that without good health we don’t have security or prosperity in life. All too often we take our health for granted until we become ill and then we realise how vitally important it is. Investing both time and money in our health can help to lower our risk of chronic disease and improve our quality of life.

However, as the country faces a cost-of-living crisis, many of us are tightening our belts and cutting back on unnecessary expenditure. Things like vitamins and supplements and gym memberships are seen by many as luxuries that need to be dropped when money is scarce.

So, should we still be investing in our health during these difficult times?

Prevention is better than cure

The Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus first coined the phrase “Prevention is better than cure” around the year 1500 and it still holds true today. Taking steps to look after your health can reduce your risk of getting ill and can help you to enjoy a long and happy life. By investing in good quality, organic food and good quality supplements, we can support our health, give ourselves more energy and reduce our risk of illness. Although organic food is more expensive, it’s important to note that it contains fewer pesticides, fewer additives and preservatives, no GM ingredients and reduced use of antibiotics. It’s also a more sustainable choice for the planet, has high standards of animal welfare and helps protect wildlife.

Are we lacking key nutrients?

While vitamins and supplements may seem like a luxury, they can help to top up our intakes of vital nutrients that we may not be getting from our diets. Data from the Health & Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS) has revealed that many people in the UK are lacking in eight key nutrients, which could lead to harmful effects on their health. These include vitamin D, folate, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron, iodine and omega-3.

“In an ideal world, we should get all our nutrients from the food on our plates, enjoying a spectrum of colourful fruit and veg, oily fish, dairy foods, lean meats, beans, legumes, nuts, soya foods and red meat. However, busy lifestyles make this hard,” said Dr Nisa Aslam. She recommends a multivitamin and multimineral supplement appropriate to your age group as well as a 10µg daily vitamin D supplement between October and early March. “We get vitamin D via summer sunlight on our skin, but in the UK, during the autumn and winter months, it’s much harder to get enough UVB to meet our vitamin D needs, because we tend to cover more of our skin with clothes and the sun stays lower in the sky. Therefore, we need to rely on foods and supplements.”

Invest your time as well as your money

Investing in your health not only means investing money, but also investing your time. Making time for regular exercise is vitally important. According to the NHS, regular exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer and reduce your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent. Government guidelines are to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. By making time to commit to a regular exercise routine, you will be investing time in your future health. While gym memberships can be expensive, there are cheaper ways to keep fit, such as going for regular walks, taking up running or following workout videos on YouTube.

Everyone is currently feeling the pinch during these challenging times, but we shouldn’t forget that you can’t put a price on good health.

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