More and more research is showing that the key to lifelong good health is lifestyle choices. Making simple changes in diet, exercise and stress management is key to achieving good mental and physical health. Here are some manageable tips to start making those changes today.
1. Drink more water
Your body is composed of about 60 percent water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. A mere 5 percent drop in water levels in the body causes 25 – 30 percent loss of energy and can cause your metabolism to slow down. Some effects of dehydration include hunger, poor digestion, constipation, bloating, joint pain, high blood pressure, allergies, asthma and the list goes on. Make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of purified water each day to feel your very best.
2. Eat your breakfast
Eat within the first hour of waking up. The reason for this is that while you’re sleeping your body is fasting. When you wake up, you need to break the fast in order to prevent low blood sugar symptoms and to start your metabolism. Begin the day with a meal that includes protein, complex carbohydrates and a little bit of fat, which delay the absorption of sugar into the blood and take longer to digest.
3. Eat real food
This may sound crazy but sadly it’s not. The majority of what our North American diet is made up of is fake food. Much of our food is chemically enhanced, processed and void of all nutrients. So, the goal is simple; eat foods that are alive and real. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients in the food that you’re eating, don’t eat it!
Fake food is highly processed and far from it’s natural state. It contains non-food ingredients such as:
1. Genetically Modified Organisms
2. Hormones, Antibiotics, Pesticides
3. Partially Hydrogenated Fat
4. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
5. Artificial Colors, Flavors and Preservatives
Try to eat healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat and fish as much as possible. And, try to eat nutrient-dense organic foods whenever possible.
4. Read nutrition labels
This is so important! Trusting in a brand alone is not the best way to judge whether a food product is something that is truly good for you or not. Don’t be fooled by the fancy packaging that claims to be “natural” or “organic”. Sometimes these foods are still bad for us. Most products on our supermarket shelves are loaded with trans fats, sugars, artificial colors and a whole slew of other stuff you probably don’t want to know about. Remember, stick to real food and ingredients that you can pronounce. This change alone will make a world of difference in your diet and reduce the amount of toxins you eat on a daily basis.
5. Exercise daily
Did you know that daily exercise can reduce all of the biomarkers of aging? This includes improving eyesight, normalizing blood pressure, improving lean muscle, lowering cholesterol and improving bone density. If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference — so do something! Sign up for ballroom-dancing lessons, walk to the park with your kids or a neighbor you’d like to catch up with, jump rope or play hopscotch, spin a hula-hoop, bike to work, jump on a trampoline, or go for a hike. Make sure to move your body everyday.
6. Control Your Blood Sugar
You know what it’s like. You have high energy and feel great one minute and then you’re slumped over, tired, anxious and jittery the next. Why? Blood Sugar!
Blood sugar (glucose), provides the energy that keeps your brain buzzing and your heart ticking, and all of your other muscles and organs functioning nicely. Insulin pushes glucose into needy cells or into the liver for storage; hormones prompt the liver to release stored glucose if blood levels get low. These hormones keep your blood sugar where it should be even if you miss meals or work out strenuously. But you can mess with the system by overdoing foods that are high in simple carbohydrates such as sugary items like candy, cake, muffins, soda, white bread etc. Inhale a big load of pure simple carbs at one sitting and your blood sugar will shoot up.
The best solution to prevent a spike in insulin is to eat mini-meals throughout the day. Going hours without food sets you up for a sugar-heavy snack fest. Try and aim to eat every 3-4 hours and make sure to include complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats in each meal.
7. Practice Relaxation Daily
Believe it or not, this is one of the most important tips to maintaining good health. The relationship between the mind and the body is so strong. Providing yourself with a small amount of relaxation or “time-out” every day – even just 15 minutes – can improve your health dramatically.
Some ways to naturally reduce stress and relax include:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Yoga is great for reducing stress and clearing the mind or going for a walk in nature.
- Sleep at least 7 hours per night to help with hormone production. Our body does the majority of recharging and healing during the hours of 11 pm and 1 am. So try and get to bed early!
- Deep breathing
- Positive visualization
- Learn a new hobby such as painting, writing, playing the piano – something that you’ve always wanted to try!