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Health and Wellbeing - August 2014

31 Jul 2014

Maintaining Healthy Iron Levels

Iron is a dietary mineral and its presence is critical for the maintenance of many bodily functions. Perhaps the most important and well-known function relates to the transportation of oxygen within the blood.

Iron deficiencies are, unfortunately, more common in women than in men.

  • You might be iron deficient for a number of reasons:
  • Insufficient intake of iron. The body absorbs iron from animal sources more readily than from plant sources. If you are vegetarian, your diet needs to allow for this and address any potential iron shortfalls,
  • Excessive exercise and sport placing high demands on the body,
  •  Inability to effectively absorb iron, and
  • Significant blood loss, associated with menstruation, pregnancy.
  • The symptoms associated with low iron levels are fatigue, chronic tiredness and a weak immune system.

If you think you might suffer from an iron deficiency, then you should consult your doctor or dietician. Avoid self-diagnosis and treatment through supplements as you can easily over do it. Dietary iron in excess can be toxic within the body so it is important you get the balance right and get a professional opinion.

Importance of calcium

It is well known that dietary calcium is critical for strong bones and teeth.
Here are three other good reasons you should make sure there is sufficient calcium in your diet:

  • Regulation of muscle and heart functioning,

  • Assistance with blood clotting, and

  • Proper enzyme functioning and transmission of nerve messaging.

Calcium needs change throughout life and with the aging process. Young children and adolescents need increased calcium when they are growing. 

The need for calcium occurs  again for women as they approach 50, and all adults from the age of 70.

Milk, cheese, yoghurt and milk-based products are a great source of calcium. Fish with light bones (salmon and sardines for example) are also recommended.

For vegetarians, tofu, soy products and leafy green vegetables are highly recommended.

You will be much better off sourcing your calcium through balancing dietary intake and consuming foods high in calcium as opposed to consuming supplements. If you think you might be deficient in calcium and need advice, refer to your doctor or consult a dietician.

Lastly, in order to maintain bone density and calcium levels within the body, it is highly recommended that we all exercise and more specifically train with weights, performing weight-bearing exercises.

Five great benefits of Pilates

Improved posture and alignment.

  • Pilates helps correct imbalances in posture and alignment by training muscle groups equally and evenly. When the body is out of alignment, excessive stress is placed on the joints, ligaments and spine. Once improvements are made, the body functions more efficiently and injuries are avoided.
  • Improved flexibility.Many workouts, especially those with heavy resistance and weights focus on muscular contractions and muscle shortening. Stretches if any are typically static. With Pilates, movements and stretches are mostly dynamic and there is a focus on both shortening and lengthening the muscles.
  • Relaxation and stress relief. Pilates methods incorporate a strict focus on deep and regular breathing, which brings on a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Muscle tone and strength. Pilates is not easy. Hard work and excellent execution of moves and sequences will bring with it improvements in strength without creating bulky muscles. Better muscle tone, especially around the thighs, hips and waist is readily achieved with time.
  • Physical and mental endurance and capacity. Pilates is a true mind and body workout. Body weight exercises and sequences challenge the physical capacity, whereas the completion of repetitions and sets combined with improvement over time, engage and challenge the mind.

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