Everybody wants to be healthy, right? Although there are some things we can’t control about our health, there are many things we can. By developing healthy habits that we practice on a daily basis, we can tip the odds in our favor for living a long and vibrant life.
1. Drink more water. Most people don’t drink nearly enough water to properly hydrate their bodies. If you simply consider the fact that the human body is about 75% water, it helps to understand the importance of drinking the recommended daily amount of 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses. The problems associated with improper hydration and the benefits of proper hydration are too many to list here, but consider this one: Inadequate fluid intake and dehydration increases the risk of developing kidney stones. If you’ve ever suffered the pain of a kidney stone, that knowledge alone could be enough to prompt you to drink up.
2. Eat less food more often. Many people believe that the best way to lose weight is by skipping meals and eating less often. The truth is that when you skip meals, the metabolism slows down and you burn less calories and fat. It’s better to eat five or six small meals and snacks (eat every three hours throughout the day) to keep the metabolism going. Include a protein (cheese, fish, lean meats, nuts, eggs, milk, etc.) with each meal or snack to help prevent glycemic (blood sugar) spikes that can lead to weight gain.
3. If it’s white, don’t bite. White bread, white rice, white sugar–these are all processed (refined) carbohydrates that have been stripped of their natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Stick with more natural foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and stevia (a natural sweetener). Processed foods that contain limited amounts of natural fibers and nutrients may fill you up, but they can still leave your body malnourished. Natural foods contain the fibers and minerals your body needs to function properly.
4. Give your liver a daily cleansing. For most of us, our livers are working overtime to filter toxins from the air we breathe, the foods we eat, and the things we drink. Like any filtering system, the liver needs to be cleaned occasionally to help it operate properly, so another good healthy habit to develop is periodic detoxification. For a good natural detoxification, squeeze half a lemon in 8 ounces of water and add stevia to taste first thing every morning. The lemon juice helps clean out the liver and also balance blood sugars naturally.
5. Get moving. There’s no way around it—if you really want to get and stay healthy, exercise is a key factor. Research has proven that consistent aerobic exercise prevents obesity and insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Exercise has proven to be just as effective as a particular oral diabetic medication in sensitizing the insulin receptor sites to allow glucose into the cells—and you don’t need a prescription! Of course, the benefits of exercise reach much farther, including cardiovascular health, stress reduction, muscle toning, and sleep enhancement.
6. Take mental breaks. I sometimes ask my patients, “Where’s the ‘comma’ in your day?” Many of us wake up in the morning and begin a marathon run through the day’s business until we fall into bed exhausted that night. It’s essential to our mental and physical health to take breaks to allow our minds and bodies to relax and regroup. Learn the art of “mini-meditation” to stay refreshed and energetic all day long.
7. Get your sleep. Sleep rejuvenates cells and helps in the healing process and also helps to maintain and boost the immune system (e.g., the chances of catching a cold increase if you haven’t had a sufficient amount of sleep). Lack of sleep also leads to stress, which leads to increased cortisol release, which leads to weight gain. How much is enough? For most adults, approximately 7-8 hours of sleep a night is about right.
As we all know, there’s no time like the present to start on the road to better health. Start these healthy habits today and in no time they will be a natural part of your daily routine!