Here are some top health tips for 2015 – or for any other New Year, for that matter! These timeless tips will get your year started off in a healthy and energetic way!
1. Reduce your salt intake. Did you know that about 80% of sodium intake comes from processed foods, canned foods, and foods purchased from restaurants? Excessive consumption of salt causes high blood pressure and leaves us at risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your salt intake:
- Eliminate or drastically reduce your consumption of processed foods – choose whole fresh foods, fresh vegetables and fruits instead.
- When buying canned foods read the label (the fine print) and choose canned goods with reduced sodium.
- Cook your own food whenever possible – that way you are in control of the salt content.
- When dining in restaurants inquire about low sodium options or heart healthy options that might be lower in salt. You will be protecting your heart and your overall health!
- Laugh a little – it’s good for you! Laughter is a miraculous thing… it reduces stress, helps build our immune system, and it can literally give us a different perspective on a situation. Physically, it stimulates the release of endorphins – a natural chemical in our body that helps us feel good. Recent studies from the University of Chicago show that having a great sense of humor can actually add as much as 8 years to a person’s life! Now that’s amazing! And that’s reason enough to find the humorous side of life!
- Eat all the colors of the rainbow! It sounds odd but it’s a great way to be sure you are getting lots of natural vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from the food you are eating. How so, you ask? The fruits and vegetables that are the best source of antioxidants (like beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, zinc, selenium, quercetin, luteolin, and catechins) are the most brightly colored. The bright coloring of fruits and vegetables actually comes from the antioxidants and phytonutrients! This includes orange, purple, red, blue, yellow and green produce. So, when you are shopping for produce – think RAINBOW!
- Stay socially connected! It is a well-documented fact that staying socially connected is very important to our wellbeing. According to Melanie Ferris of Wilder Research, “Research has shown that higher levels of perceived social connectedness are associated with lower blood pressure rates, better immune responses, and lower levels of stress hormones, all of which contribute to the prevention of chronic disease (Uchino et al., 1996).” Social isolation has been found to be a risk factor for such health issues as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. So be sure to set aside some time to connect with others, whether through social media, or in person with family, neighbors, co-workers and friends at social events!
- Be ‘pro-active’ with your health. Have you recently had little health issues going on? Possibly things that are not serious at the moment, but annoying? Some small health issues could be signs of the beginning stages of degenerative disease. Issues that could be warning signs are blood pressure increasing, cholesterol going up, weight gain (especially in the middle area), arthritis starting to happen, and low energy. Research is proving more and more that 80 – 90% of degenerative disease can be avoided by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Many degenerative health issues can even be reversed – I have experienced this in my own health! By being pro-active with your health and making small sustainable changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of chronic disease, increase your energy, and build your health.
- Add alkaline foods into your diet! Squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice into the water you drink every day. Surprisingly, lemon is an alkaline forming food for the body (after digestion and assimilation), even though it is acidic before digestion. Our body must maintain a balanced pH level. By eating more alkaline forming whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and decreasing the amount of acid forming highly processed foods you eat, you will help your body to be healthier, more energetic and vibrant in the long term.
- Avoid silent inflammation by choosing to live a healthy, whole foods dietary lifestyle. According to Dr. Barry Sears “food can be the most powerful drug”. Food can either increase or decrease inflammation in the body, depending on what we eat. In fact, many physicians believe that inflammation is the root cause of all illness and disease. Inflammation is also a major cause of premature aging, and it can really drain your energy! So don’t give inflammation a chance – eliminate empty refined (unhealthy junk) foods from your diet, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (good carbs that contain fiber), good protein, good fats and drink plenty of healthy, living water.
- Practice ‘mindful eating’. In our fast paced society, so many people eat on the run, consuming their food quickly and automatically, chewing the food too fast without noticing any of the details about the food. By not taking time to enjoy our food we miss out on the pleasure of eating, including the wonderful aroma, the taste, the texture and the visual appeal it provides for us. Slow down, take the time to really be mindful of what you are eating. Eating healthy food should truly be an enjoyable experience! By slowing down and by chewing your food more thoroughly, you will also be helping your digestive system – after all, digestion of food starts with the saliva in your mouth. When your digestive system is working well, you will feel healthier and have more energy!
- Listen to your body when cravings strike….. Could some of your cravings be caused by the ‘seasons’? It sounds odd, but in a way – it makes perfect sense. Our body often craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people are tending toward a natural desire to detoxify by eating lighter foods such as leafy greens, raw vegetables, and citrus foods. During the hotter summer months, people tend to crave more cooling, raw foods, or fruit or even the coolness of ice cream. Fall is when our bodies start to prepare for winter and often people tend to crave dense, grounding foods like root vegetables, squash, onions and nuts. During the colder winter months our bodies instinctively want hot and heat producing foods including spicier foods, oil and fats. Holiday ‘seasons’ can also produce cravings for us – particularly with traditional foods we have at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The key to cravings during sweet ‘holiday seasons’ is to know your limit – everything in moderation!
- Go green! Green up your dietary lifestyle. The most common item missing from the standard North American diet is green vegetables. Adding green vegetables of all types to your daily food intake can make a big difference in your health. Greens help the immune system, the blood, and the respiratory system. Green vegetables are alkaline-forming, which helps neutralize the effect of acid-forming foods. Many green vegetables provide fiber, and virtually all greens contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – which we need to maintain good health! So energize your body with greens!
- Get enough Vitamin D. During the winter months we are not able to make enough Vitamin D from sun exposure (unless you live close to the equator), so you will likely need a high quality Vitamin D supplement. But the summer months are the perfect time to enjoy the sun and get your Vitamin D at the same time. So let your skin be exposed to the sun for at least 30 to 60 minutes before applying any sunscreen, that way your body will be able to make Vitamin D and you won’t get sunburned! Vitamin D is an important nutrient – it can help prevent many health problems, including depression, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes – to name a few.
- Stay hydrated! Staying hydrated is very important, since water comprises about 60% of our body weight and almost every system in our body requires water in order to function properly. Total daily water intake can be derived from eating foods that are high in water content (such as fruits like watermelon or vegetables) as well as drinking water. That being said, there is a general recommendation about total daily water intake from The Institute of Medicine:
- For men: about 3 litres or 13 cups per day
- For women: about 2.2 litres or 9 cups per day
It is very important to drink enough water and/or eat high water content foods to avoid dehydration, which will zap our energy and interfere with normal body functions.
Here’s to a great New Year! May it be your absolute best year ever!!
Copyright © 2015 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved