Body: Full Body MOT (Part II)

   Health and wellbeing consists not just of eating well and getting the balance between rest and activity- it also involves taking care of our bodies. To use the analogy of car maintenance- the better we maintain our car- the better the car will perform. If we make sure our car is regularly cleaned- inside and out; the oil is changed regularly; the windscreens are clear, they are filled with fuel and are serviced regularly; we repair all the bumps, scrapes and scratches before rust sets in; we will improve the chances of its optimum performance. In this second part of the whistle stop tour of our bodies we will focus on top to toe health: considering ways we can better care for our teeth, hands, nails and feet.

It goes without saying that good nutrition will be evident in the condition and outward appearance of our bodies. Our skin, hair and nails are made up of strong fibrous proteins: keratin and collagen which need to be replenished with supplies of the essential nutrients. Antioxidants particularly Vitamin C and zinc can improve the condition and strength of skin, hair, nails and gums. Protein has been essential in improving immune system health; preventing premature ageing and strengthening skin, hair and nails.

Essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3 are important nutrients in improving the circulation. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, eyes, skin and growth. Avoid taking excess Vitamin A as it is stored in the liver, causing serious side effects and damage. Vitamin D, made by the action of sunlight on the skin, is important for absorbing phosphorus and calcium in the body and the formation of strong teeth and healthy bones. B Vitamins, iron and zinc are all critical to the health of body cells, circulation, nerves and immune system. An improvement in the intake of water will provide overall health benefits to the body by hydrating the skin and improving the metabolism.

Dental care
Good oral care involves a routine of brushing the teeth and flossing at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste before breakfast and last thing at night. At night the amount of saliva produced to clean the mouth is reduced, thereby increasing the risk of decay and gum disease. Gum disease can leave the gums puffy, sore and bleeding, causing bad breath and eventually, the loss of teeth. Research has indicated that gum disease ins a contributory factor in heart disease and diabetes.

A diet which is high in fruit and vegetables and low in sugary and refined foods may reduce the risk of plaque build up. Avoid eating sticky, sugary and acidic foods, particularly between meals to minimise the harmful acids which tooth enamel and cause decay. If you can’t brush your teeth immediately after, eating a piece of hard cheese or chewing sugar-free gum helps to reduce acid formation.

Hand care
Our hands are parts of the body that are constantly in use: in and out of water, exposed to heat and cold and strain- often unprotected. Being more susceptible to wear and tear, it is important that we do not overlook a daily hand care routine. Neglect of our hands is easily detected as they appear to age more quickly than other exposed parts of the body.

Hands should be kept clean and dry whenever possible. Hand hygiene is also important as a means of reducing the spread of infection that is carried by hands. This can be reduced by washing and thoroughly drying, all part the hands. Careful drying of the hands is important to prevent dryness and chapping. Dry skin should be cared for with rich hand cream or moisturiser as this will replenish lost oils in the skin.

Care of the nails is an important aspect of hand care. Avoid biting and tearing nails and ensure that they are kept clean using a nailbrush. Soften cuticles by soaking them in warm water or dipping them in warm olive oil and gently push them back- do not cut them as this can introduce infection. Trim nails to an even length, cutting off any irregularities and file them to smooth the edges and avoid snags.

Foot care
Like hands, feet are constantly in use and prone to wear and tear. The poor relation of the hand, the foot though hidden, deserves equal attention and care. The soles of the feet are covered by over 250,000 sweat glands which contribute to the distinctive odour of sweat and bacteria.

A daily routine of washing feet in warm soapy water will reduce the problems associated with infection. Feet should be thoroughly dried and special attention should be given to in between the toes which are common sites of infection. Cut toenails with clippers straight across, avoid cutting the corners of the nail to prevent in growing nails. Improve circulation to the feet by putting them up. Feet can be invigorated by massage with a roller or hand massage.

Corns develop over joints of the toe as a result of pressure or trauma. Alleviate the build up of hard skin forming on toes by soaking regularly and using a emery board or pumice stone to keep them smooth. Keep feet supple by applying moisturising cream all over, avoiding in between the toes which are prone to moisture. Ensure that feet are kept warm and exercise them to improve circulation.

(source: ©

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