6 Health Hacks by the Author of The Health Fix, Dr Ayan Panja


The Health Fix is a concise, no-nonsense, impactful, easily-actionable book on how to improve your health you’ll read. It’s a pleasure to have its author Dr Ayan Panja share some of his wisdom here.

Over to Ayan.

When it comes to health, most of us take it for granted, that is, until we start to feel ill.

This is exactly what happened to me, and when I was in my early 40s, my health went from being really pretty good to my suddenly finding myself not being able to function.

Nothing was working properly. I remember my neck aching when I got to a give way junction in my car as I looked left and right, my memory seemed to be failing me and my digestion was all over the place. On top of all of that I had overwhelming fatigue and low mood. It took me about six months to work out what was wrong with me. The answer lay not in any medication, but changes to my lifestyle.

In terms of the things that affect your health on a day-to-day basis, and what my own illness had taught me, take a look at these eight factors which form something that I call the ‘Health Loop’:

Genetics (family history)
Sunlight (vitamin D)

Infections (previous ones)

Once you think about your ‘typical day’ and your past medical history, you can lay out your health story and see what has led to your current health status.

Most people know that we need to eat healthily and take exercise but it’s often not enough to keep us feeling well at times given the 8 factors above. This is why it can be important to drill down on our health by laying out our story.

The other thing is that when you start to feel like I did, it’s often a sign that you are in a state of ‘system malfunction’. Our gut, brain, heart, skeletal system and immune system are all biological systems interacting with both the environment and each other. The good news is that most of the tools we need to make them work better all involve manipulating the 8 factors above.

A clever way to do this is not just think of them as what, (like avoiding highly processed foods) but also how and when. If we just take ‘Diet’ for a moment: How do you eat? What do you eat? When do you eat?

>In the book I talk about Gary (one of many cases) who has terrible heartburn and works on his feet all day. During his ‘typical day’ he eats quickly and is on his feet all day so eats his meals standing up. Just by changing these two things before changing what he eats will have a positive effect on his digestion. So sitting and eating slowly would be one part of Gary’s ‘lifestyle prescription’.

There is no one formula for good health. It is totally individual but there are some principles worth thinking about which can help.

Try to do the following as much as possible and is realistic (and only if not advised otherwise by a healthcare professional).

  1. Control your ‘monkey brain’. This is the limbic system part of our brain that is impulsive and selfish, focused on seeking pleasure as well as reacting to things. Our monkey brain comes to the fore when we are tired. You will see it in action in both teenagers and toddlers frequently. They don’t ‘think’. For adults this just means thinking before acting or reacting. Is your monkey brain hijacking you to shout at your partner or eat a whole pack of biscuits? Take the extra second before reacting and make sure your adult brain is in gear.
  2. Start your day the right way. Firstly think of something which makes you feel good and puts a smile on your face. Then stretch and/or so some simple exercise each morning, whether it’s a couple of press ups or some burpees, even if it’s in the bathroom before your shower to wake yourself up
  3. Drink water first thing in the morning to get your hydration kick started.
  4. The power of a mindful minute. Twice a day just stop for a minute. For me it’s when I pull into work and home in the car. It resets me and prepares me to be present for the day or evening ahead. It’s nothing fancy – just an indulgent minute to close your eyes, breathe slowly and activate your vagus nerve.
  5. Stick to meals without snacking in between. This avoids blood glucose spikes which can affect energy levels, mood and future risk of developing diabetes.
  6. Eat dinner 3 hours before you go to sleep at night. This aids digestion and will likely improve your sleep quality. If you feel peckish after dinner just have hot water maybe with lemon or mint leaves if you prefer.

Lastly, be kind to yourself. These tips may require you to change your behaviour and that means it can take time. Try making changes as easy as possible by setting yourself up for success. Control your environment, prepare to give it a go and just see how you feel after a while.

Read more in THE HEALTH FIX by Dr Ayan Panja. You can buy the book HERE.

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