Dr Christian: 10 simple principles for a better you – both inside and out

It can seem like being healthy is a big effort but there are lots of things you can do that only require a few minutes a day and will make you feel better for hours.


by Laura Potter |
Published on

Switch Off

If you work all day at a computer your down time shouldn’t be at a computer, so do something different – read a magazine, listen to music, take the dog for a walk, bake, draw.

There are three pillars of good health; exercise, diet and the mind, but we forget our minds. You don’t need to sit cross- legged in a darkened room with whale music talking to your chakras, just take five minutes to relax. It improves mood, stress,

sleep and sharpens your mind. It can even help improve your pain threshold.


We all eat the odd takeaway, go out for dinner or bung a pizza in the oven, but if you only ever do that, lay a rule down that at least two nights a week you cook, and gradually increase that.

It helps you to have some control over what’s in the food you’re eating – research shows that when people cook meals at home, they eat fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat, whether they’re dieting or not. It also helps your kids: children whose parents cook tend to choose healthier meals independently.

Dr Christian staying fit and healthy - inside and out

A Social Life

There’s been so much research that has exposed the impact of loneliness, and it’s easy to neglect seeing your friends and family. For older people social isolation can increase risk of dying early by 14 per cent.

It leads to all sorts of medical, physical and psychological problems, so keeping in touch is an important factor for wellness. Make time for your partner, too – a lot of us get so busy that they’re the person we neglect most.


The evidence is overwhelming: poor sleep has huge health implications. Being sleep- deprived impacts mood and immunity – you’re more likely to pick up a cold, or have it for longer if you under-sleep. It’s not good for your brain, either.

People say they’ve learned to “manage” on less sleep, but there’s a difference between managing and doing well. Eight hours isn’t necessarily right for everyone – but you’ll be aware you’re not getting enough if you’re finding it hard to get up in the morning, feeling drowsy in the day, and craving sugar just to get an energy boost. Familiar?

Dr Christian staying fit and healthy - inside and out


It sounds very American, but it can be really helpful if you’re not too obsessive. If you have an ongoing health problem, jot down some notes in your diary. If you’re trying to lose weight, noting good days and bad days and what you ate can be helpful. If you’re having lots of digestion problems note down your mood and food. If you’re struggling with stress, keep a diary to get some perspective.


Being active is good for all sorts of reasons. If you look good, and you know you’re doing something worthwhile, you feel good. It’s not a cure for depression, but it helps with low mood as well as things like PMS. You don’t have to sign up for a half marathon, endless evidence suggests that fairly short bursts of exercise are really good for you.

Doing anything is better than doing nothing, whether that’s 10 minutes on your High Intensity Training app, or a 20-minute walk three or four times a week. Get a bit out of breath doing what you enjoy. Research has found that even exercising for 15 minutes a day extends life expectancy by three years.

Dr Christian staying fit and healthy - inside and out

Getting Outdoors

Research shows that being active outdoors, like walking in nature, improves your sense of wellbeing, lowers depression and enhances mental health. It’s also a way to help you get vitamin D, which most of us lack.

It’s important for bones but has also been linked to reducing your cancer risk. It isn’t in many foods, so getting 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin helps your body to produce it.


I’m not talking something elaborate: a couple of pieces of toast or a bowl of porridge in the microwave only takes a few minutes, and grabbing something on the go is better than not having anything at all. You’ve fasted overnight, so eating gets your metabolism up and running and fuelling calories.

People who eat breakfast tend to manage their weight better than people who skip it. When I did Supersize Vs Superskinny almost all of the overweight people thought skipping breakfast was helping, but come 11 o’clock you’re starving – so you eat more. You’re also likely to reach for sugar to perk yourself up.

Dr Christian staying fit and healthy - inside and out

Your Teeth

A quarter of adults don’t brush their teeth twice a day and a third of all children starting school have tooth decay. Two minutes twice a day to brush properly and floss is perfect. If you use a manual toothbrush, set a timer for two minutes; most of us do about half that. Use a good alcohol-free mouthwash and go to the dentist every six months.

Between meals, chew sugar-free gum. Apparently the NHS could save £8.2m a year if all 12-year-olds did. Poor dental health is linked to diabetes, heart disease and strokes – so it’s not just about having a beautiful smile.

Medical Appointments

Don’t put your screenings off. If you’re due a smear test, dental check-up, sexual health check-up or a mammogram, book it and attend it, because symptoms will only get worse if you don’t pay attention.

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