Everyone wants to be healthy and happy don't they? Ok, maybe not everyone. But the majority do. So here's your opportunity to start; by living these simple but effective lifestyle changes. You can be healthy and happy!
1. Give Up Soda
Ouch I hear you say. Well, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, acid reflux, kidney disease, liver damage and osteoporosis are just a few of the health conditions linked to soda consumption.
You can ease into it gradually but swap your soda for healthier drinks like water, sparkling water, and on occasion tea or organic black coffee.
2. Get Eight Hours Of Sleep Each Night
What makes sleep deprivation harmful is that it doesn't just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.
Deprivation of sleep has the same effect on your body’s immune system as physical stress or illness, which may help explain why lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of numerous chronic illnesses.
Sleeping less than six hours a night more than triples the risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of sleep a night double the chance of dying from heart disease.
Sleep is also linked to important hormone level production and of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.
A lack of sleep reduces levels of the fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain.
Small changes to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure you have an uninterrupted, restful sleep and thereby, improved health.
3. Eat More Healthy Fats And Fiber
Public health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like full-fat dairy and butter.
The latest science suggests healthy fats should make up anywhere from 50 to 85% of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut, coconut oil, butter, nuts, avocados, and animal fats.
Yes; butter needn’t be ignored, and in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it's raw, organic, and grass-fed.
A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of early death from any cause, likely, because it helps to reduce the risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
When boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). A great source of fibre is organic whole husk psyllium, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber loaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.
4. Eat Fermented Vegetables
Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and contain high levels of beneficial bacteria, making them ideal for your gut flora.
In addition to helping break down and remove heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients like the K2 and B vitamins. They may also play a role in:
- Preventing diabetes, obesity, and regulating dietary fat absorption
- Lowering the risk of cancer
- Improving your mood and mental health
- Preventing acne
Cutting back on sugar and antibiotics while eating fermented foods will give your gut health a complete work-over, helping to clear out disease spreading bacteria and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing bacteria instead.
Eating just a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables with one to three meals a day, can have a beneficial impact on your health.
5. Sit Less And Walk More, Work On Your Flexibility
On average, an adult spends 9 to 10 hours a day sitting and although it might appear natural to sit this long, it’s actually quite contrary to nature.
Your body is made to move around and be active most of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend most of the day sitting instead.
Setting a target of taking from 7–10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) goes a long way toward getting more active and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise routine you may already have.
In addition, standing up at work rather than sitting at your desk, and making an effort to improve your flexibility, will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates and yoga are options to help increase your flexibility and a personal fitness trainer can assist you.
6. Have Your Vitamin D Level Tested
It’s incredibly easy to boost your vitamin D levels, making no excuse to put your health at risk from low levels. Yet, researchers such as Dr. Michael Holick estimate that 50% of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. If you’re among them, your risk of diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses may be significantly increased.
In a study of over 100 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more inclined to have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Dementia is also directly linked to vitamin D. Older people who have minimal vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
Occurrence of several types of cancer could also be cut in half if more people increased their vitamin D levels.
Sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels but you can also take a vitamin D3 supplement.
7. Eat Nutrient-Dense Protein (Quality not Quantity)
Protein is necessary for your health as it's a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signalling molecules, and a main building block for your muscles and bones.
But, eating protein excessively could actually be worse than eating too many carbohydrates. Excessive protein can stimulate two biochemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth.
Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and nuts.
Quality of meat is just as important as the quantity. As a general rule, the only meat recommended for eating is grass-fed, ideally organically raised meats (and the same goes for dairy and eggs).
Plant foods can also give you plenty of protein. Consider chia seeds, spirulina, sprouts, and bee pollen.
8. Be Active In Your Community And Help Others
Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it's also a powerful way to help yourself.
Apart from the good feelings you get from freely giving your time, and the potential to develop new relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant effect on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.
In a study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40% less inclined to develop high blood pressure than those who did not. People who volunteer for selfless reasons, i.e. helping others before themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centred reasons.
The benefits of being active and doing things for the community are particularly noticeable among older adults, who tend to slow down once retirement hits. Becoming less active and socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.
Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose as well as making you feel good, but it’s about much more than that. It will help you to join with your community to promote the greater good.
So get started and watch yourself become a healthier and happier you!