How do you invite good health into your life? There are a great many ideas and an endless amount of information available to us when it comes to being healthy. But, you need to ask yourself, “Is there a cannot miss strategy?” This would be one that would be the best or near so and one that most of us could agree on. Would it surprise you to know there is no single strategy for being as healthy as you can be rather, there are many interdependent steps that you should be doing. We’ve put these into what we call our top 10 personal health tips that can help you feel happier and healthier.
- Drink Water
We have all heard the adage to drink 8 glasses of water (8 ounces each) per day. But, how many of us really do it? Water is the most essential component of life, whether for building bodies or nations. As an example, the muscles that move our body are 75% water, our blood plasma is 82% water, our lungs are 90% water, our brain is 76% water, and our bones are 25% water. This illustrates the importance of water for the body. Water is the cellular foundation of our body. And all too often, while we think we are hungry, we are just thirsty. For example, it’s 9:30 am on a typical day in your life – how much water have you drank today? The average person hasn’t drunk any water by this time, but has had 2-3 cups of coffee. Your day is already beginning in a water deficit. Would it surprise you to know that about 80% of people, maybe even you, are suffering from chronic dehydration.
Chronic dehydration can often be the underlying contributing cause of pain, chronic pain, and nearly all the degenerative diseases that plague our times – heartburn, arthritis, colitis, cholesterol, and cancer. They all can be prevented by increasing water intake on a regular basis. Along with good nutrition, almost 95% of the illnesses that plague us as people can be mostly overcome. We generally need in excess of four pints of water each day, which is used by the body for digestion, detoxifying cells, watering the lungs, keeping the body alkalized, and many other processes by the liver and other organs.
What should we do? To rehabilitate our bodies from chronic dehydration, you need 2-3 liters of water each day. This water should be as cold as you can get it and preferably filtered to be rid of chlorine and other contaminants. Did you know that water treatment plants only treat for bacteria and other harmful, naturally occurring parameters. They do not treat for contaminants in the water related to agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and many others. A growing problem is what scientists call emerging contaminants that get into drinking water due to human excretions of drugs, caffeine, and all the other substances we take into our bodies. What is not used passes through and ends up in the water supply. Thus, filter your water so it is as healthy as it can be for you.
When a martial artist throws a great kick or punch, it is generally accompanied by an expulsion of air from the lungs for great striking force. Yet, most people are unaware of their continuous breathing unless they are having trouble doing so due to a cold or other ailment. Breathing oxygenates the body (this helps with digestion), expels toxins, and livens the tissues, as well as helps us to process our emotions. For example, have you noticed how much more you breathe when you are angry or how much softer you breathe when you’re relaxed and happy? Your breathing rate will change in relation to the state of your emotions. Stretching, martial arts, Tai-Chi and yoga are not just done for a for a good workout, but all help the body in breathing as they are for all intents and purposes, breathing exercises. Breathing through the mouth is detrimental – it lets in airborne contaminants, but also ages the body prematurely. Breathing through the nose accesses the lower lobes of the lungs and thus, activates anti-stress hormones.
- Exercise Daily
Face it, in the current age of technology, many, both old and young, have become couch potatoes. Thus, you need to exercise/move every day – make it a priority. You do not need to perform a full-blown workout, but stay active. You can go to the gym, swim, bike, yoga, tai chi, do a 30-minute walk after during lunch or after dinner and so many other things, such as sit up and pushups and more. By being on the go and moving, we keep our lungs and cardiovascular system healthy. The more we challenge our body, the fitter it gets. Perhaps not like a pro bodybuilder, but more capable of doing physical things without tiring. As we exercise, whether it be gentle walks or high-intensity, our lymph system is cleaned and we naturally excrete toxins that helps relieve aches and pains. Make it a habit – 20 to 30 minutes each day, more if you can.
- Eat More Fat
Do not make fat a dirty word. Fat is necessary for correct physiological functioning of the body. Our body may be mostly water, but it is also composed of necessary fat, especially the brain. And, correct brain functioning requires fat. This doesn’t mean to go out and gorge down French fries and fried chicken, but you need to obtain fats such as Omega-3 and saturated fats from your diet. Losing weight also requires fat – fat burns in a carbohydrate flames, but that’s another story. Too much fat is not a good thing, but even saturated fat plays a major role. For example, in moderation, saturated does not contribute to heart disease, instead, it plays a key role in cardiovascular health. Likewise, loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in white blood cells damages their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders such as viruses, parasites, and bacteria. And, fat is also required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone. There are specific saturated fats, such as those found in butter or coconut oil, that function as messengers in the body that directly influence your metabolism and the release of insulin. Including saturated fatty acids in our diet, we greatly diminish the stress reactions in the body, whereas polyunsaturated fatty acids amplify them. Dr. Mary Enig suggests that about half the fats in your diet be saturated. Also, the right fats in your diet can also help burn unwanted body fat, as well as helping to fight inflammation.
Doctors have generally recommended that you sleep at least 8 hours per night. However, most of us do not and most of us are sleep deprived. Like water, sleep is a necessary part of good health and a tired body is much more susceptible to colds, flus, and other ailments. You think better, digest food better, perform under stress better and rid yourself of it better when you get the right amount of sleep. Your overall sense of wellbeing improves with adequate sleep, instead of when you are tired and grumpy. With adequate sleep, the body can repair itself and rejuvenate much more quickly, whereas sleep deprivation can lead to hypertension, a propensity for diabetes and or obesity, as well as other health problems.
- Eat Your Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables provide vitamins, folic acid, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients that are needed by the body. The more you eat the better; best of all, most of them are non-fattening. The fact is that most people just do not eat vegetables very often. Think of a rainbow; these colorful plant foods also contain antioxidants, which are responsible for scavenging free radicals, especially vitamins C and E (causing cell damage and aging), aid longevity and youthfulness, and fight cancer. Vegetables help to cleanse the blood, provide clean water to hydrate the body, as well as provide healthy sugars, and they help support the liver, regulate cholesterol levels, and promote healthy elimination. And, they taste great. Why not start today, by putting a rainbow on your plate in the form of a good salad or have at least two types of vegetables with each meal.
- Seek Nature
Most people live indoors and do not get outdoors as often as we should. We work all day, go home to dinner, often in the dark, and collapse on the sofa from the stress of the day. We become so accustomed to being inside that we miss the feeling of being connected to nature or, even trying. Lack of time in the sun means you’re not getting your Vitamin D, which is necessary for many important functions in the body, including constructing our hormones. Being indoors leads to feelings of depression and stress unlike a walk on the beach or outdoors, which provides negative ions that balance our circadian rhythms, slows our heart rate appropriately, and creates a sense of peace and wellbeing. So, next time you go to work, take a short break outside. Sit on a bench and look up into the sky to help relieve stress and open your body to a greater connection with nature. Try a bike ride or hike on the weekends, even if it’s only in a local park. The world of nature is far more inviting and complex than the ones we as people have created – connect with it for a happier, healthier you.
- Invest in Probiotics
Do you ever get the feeling of being bloated, uncomfortable, or gassy; that your favorite foods now give you heartburn? There is a trend of so-called bad foods such as gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, fruit and so on that you have removed from your diet because of the negativity associated with them. And still, you have the bloated and related feelings. The reason for this is because the bacteria levels that you normally have within your stomach have reduced to very low levels. When bacteria levels get low, it becomes more difficult absorb healthy foods and, the levels can drop even more. We live in a world that is very dependent on antibiotics that we have trouble with the body keeping balance sometimes. And, a great many buy into hot-nutrition issues. A current one is gluten free. What is gluten? Gluten is a composite of storage proteins termed prolamins and glutelins found in wheat and related grains (this includes barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids such as spelt, khorasan, emmer, einkorn, triticale, and so forth). Gluten has viscoelastic properties, i.e., it gives elasticity to dough, which helps it rise and maintain its shape. Often, gluten gives the final product a chewy texture. However, unless you have Celiac disease you do not need and should not, eat gluten free products. Celiac disease is a problem with digesting gluten (found in foods like bread, crackers, and pasta) that affects the absorption of nutrients. Symptoms include gas and bloating, weight loss, and fatigue. Thus, watch out for the fads that are started and promoted for virtually no reason or because someone heard this or that and have a lot of followers on social media. Good nutrition helps in so many ways. Therefore, eating probiotics foods like kefir and yogurt, kim-chi or sauerkraut or kombucha, are good ways to restore your good bacteria levels. Reducing your stress levels by getting back to nature occasionally helps too.
- Express Yourself
Your emotions play a key role in health and disease. Specific emotions have a direct effect on our biology. These include anger, grief, fear, fright, sadness, and timidity. Although such ephemeral emotions cannot contribute pathologically, they do constitute are considered healthful emotional aspects of well-balanced people. Allow yourself to feel what you feel so that pent up emotions do not overflow. Keeping them pent up can cause illness and imbalance in the body states – mentally, physically, and spiritually. You be you and be happy; do not buy into group think just because someone thinks it’s cool or wants you to. This will negate who you really are and could potentially cause pent up emotions long-term due to participation in something your really do not think the same way about as the person you are trying to please. This is only one example. Be authentic with yourself – find out who you are and express it. By expressing yourself you free up your conscience and reduce physical stress.
- Relax through Meditation and Stretching
Meditation, whether done alone or while stretching is one of the oldest, most ancient, and beneficial methods for self-care. It quiets the mind, and aligns your brain waves, which enhances your feeling of being more at ease, more fully present, and deeply rested. Learning to meditate is not solely a religious issue as some suppose, but is practiced by a great many people around the world to calm themselves. Sometimes just closing your eyes and becoming aware of your breath can have a calming influence over the whole mind-body organism. Work on it for short periods, just 10 minutes and, try doing it outside in the park. You will amaze yourself at how calm you can be.
The field of health is very broad and it both an art and a science. To have good health you must be persistent in your pursuit – it’s a journey. These tips are a mere beginning.