Healthy eating and physical activity

The two main factors involved in a person’s state of health are genetic characteristics and lifestyle. In Europe, most of the main causes of death correspond to chronic illnesses directly related to the lack of behavioural change associated with lifestyle, which the individual can control.

Behaviours that represent a danger for the preservation of health are considered risk factors. Two of the main ones, with the greatest negative influence on chronic pathologies, are sedentary life and inadequate nutrition.

Physically active people enjoy a higher quality of life because they suffer fewer limitations that are normally associated with chronic diseases and ageing; they also benefit from a longer life expectancy. By improving our lifestyles, the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, the leading causes of mortality in humanity, are reduced.

Physical exercise increases psychological well-being and improves our mood, strengthens self-esteem, generates self-confidence and increases self-control.

It is important to promote the practice of physical activity and sports at all ages, as it involves positive changes in personal well-being, immediately after having done some type of sport. It is proven to reduce anxiety and depression problems.

Physical activity and sport are synonymous with health, expressing values of life, joy, desire for progress, freedom and movement, sharing, socializing, all these aspects are enriching both personal and group.

Therefore, in the psychological field for all people, physical exercise is fundamental.

What recommendations should be taken into account before starting the regular physical activity?

The fundamental recommendation is that before starting a physical activity training plan, visit your doctor for an examination to obtain a certificate of fitness to start a physical activity.

This evaluation is carried out by specialized cardiologists. The evaluation consists of a complete physical examination, blood and urine tests and an electrocardiogram. Ergometry or stress testing is a fundamental diagnostic technique used primarily to diagnose angina in patients with chest pain and to assess the heart’s response to exercise.

When we do physical exercise, what dietary guidelines should we take into account?

The diet before training should be based on foods rich in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. This will prevent delaying gastric emptying and diverting blood flow from the muscles to the stomach and avoid stomach upset.

Foods should contain little fibre and fat, which avoids discomfort in training. The tolerance time of the last meal before physical activity is individual, although there is a general indication that 2 to 3 hours prior. Consume 200 to 400 ml of an isotonic drink with a carbohydrate concentration not greater than 7-8%. During training, it is suggested to continue consuming 100-150 ml of drink at intervals of 15 min during the first hour of physical activity. It is important that the athlete chooses the drink that best suits his taste and taste.

To replenish body carbohydrate stores after exercise, a key element for all athletes, during the first 6 hours after physical activity, which reduced reserves of glycogen (muscle reserve HC), foods rich in HC high glycemic index (maltodextrin – glucose – ripe banana – spaghetti – orange juice) are recommended. The glycaemic index is a system that compares the “quality” of different carbohydrates contained in individual foods and provides a numerical index based on measurements of blood glucose after ingestion. After this important period, foods with moderate glycaemic index carbohydrates can be incorporated into your normal and usual diet.

Many athletes, especially those who want to sculpt their bodies, apply a diet based on protein intake. Are there special diets recommended depending on the type of sport practised or the result you want to obtain?

Yes, there are diets, although it is appropriate to call them “specific food plan”, which are applied according to the type of sport and depending on the objectives that an athlete is considering. Among the food plans, there are those based on a higher percentage of protein in the intake (hyper protein diets) and low percentages of carbohydrates and fats. This type of eating plan aims to stimulate the body’s consumption of fat and carbohydrate stores, obtaining a faster weight loss than a balanced eating plan, and an increase in muscle mass if you are exercising. It is important to keep a medical check when you are doing this type of protein feeding to avoid food imbalances.

How long do I have to wait to digest according to my physical activity?

The right time and that is suggested is about two or three hours, since food takes, on average, four hours for digestion in the small intestine, and if we do exercises too soon we may suffer, in some cases, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and even cramps, due to the contraction of muscles and the extra need for oxygen.

Is there the famous “cut of digestion”, which prevents us from getting into the sea or the pool immediately after having eaten?

The hydrocution, or popularly “cut digestion” (inappropriate term, since it is not at all a failure of the digestive process), is a term differential shock (difference in temperature) characterized by a syncopal state caused by sudden contact with cold water, which triggers a reflex called immersion reflex (decreases heart rate and contraction of the most superficial vessels), which causes an inhibition of breathing and circulation, generating a cardiac overload that causes, in some cases, a cardiorespiratory arrest.

As we know, food digestion increases the circulation of blood in the stomach and duodenum that are processing it, which decreases the supply of blood to the rest of the body.

So, yes:

  • the water temperature is less than 27 °C.
  • We have been exposed to the sun for a long time before the bath.
  • we have carried out very intense physical exercises or work, with a great deal of sweating
  • we took psychopharmaceuticals
  • we’re just after a hearty meal

… a prudent waiting time of 1 to 2 hours after a meal or effort is recommended. Other recommendations, which are common sense and which will help to avoid sudden changes in body temperature, are to gradually enter the water and not to do a very intense exercise before bathing.

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