Plan for Good Health in this New Year and Beyond
New Year’s “resolutions” fail for lots of reasons. But, if we make the commitment to live healthier from here forward, then it will like work, start small, go slow.
Little but significant changes can make a big overall difference in our health.
When we commit to a lifestyle, it is no longer about meeting a goal. It is about living a bit differently, a bit better, so that ultimately we are happier and healthier for doing it.
The Big Q: Ready to start fresh in Y 2017?
The Big A: Yes!
Below is a list of 10 positive lifestyle changes for longer, healthier life, boosting happiness and well-being along the way, as follows:
1. Give up Soda
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to Soda consumption.
If you are still drinking soda on a regular basis, committing to swapping it for healthier beverages like pure water, sparkling water, Hydrogenated Water and the occasional cup of tea and/or Organic black coffee could be one of the most health-promoting decisions of your life.
When you consume Soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain, a physically identical response to that of heroin. This explains why so many find it difficult to give up their daily Soda fix. It can be done though, and you’ Will feel better for it, I stopped drinking Soda 20 yrs ago.
If you struggle with Soda or sugar addiction, do not make the mistake of switching to Diet Sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks.
The research shows these drinks wreak the same or worse havoc on our metabolism and health as sugar-sweetened Sodas.
2. Eat an Avocado Daily
Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fat your body can easily burn for energy. Because they are so rich in healthy fats, Avocados also help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods.
Research reveals that adding Avocado to salad allows your body to absorb up to 5X more carotenoids, antioxidants that help protect us against free radical damage.
Avocados provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium and vitamins E and B (including folate). Avocados have a long list of potential health benefits.
Besides its anti-inflammatory properties, research suggests it can help improve your lipid profile, protect against liver damage and inhibit oral cancer cells. I eat at least 1 Avocados a day, as it helps to optimize mitochondrial health.
3. Make & Eat Fermented Vegetables
Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut microbiome.
In addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods gives our gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out harmful microbes and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.
In so doing, fermented foods may help, too:
- Prevent obesity and diabetes
- Prevent gut and bowel disorders and related diseases
- Lower your risk for cancer
- Improve your mood and mental health
- Prevent acne and reduce dental plaque that can lead to cavities
Just 1/2 cup of fermented vegetables daily can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. Start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together, just like people did before WWII and the advent of processed foods. I eat sauerkraut and fermented beets daily. I do not take any Rx drugs.
4. Give Blood and test your Vitamin D and Omega-3 levels
These 3 may be among the most important yet most frequently overlooked health tests out there, and I recommend doing all of them annually.
- Donate Blood: Anemia is a concern for some, a far greater yet less recognized health hazard is iron overload. In fact, most adult men and non-menstruating women have damaging levels of iron that, if left untreated, can damage human organs and contribute to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and many other disorders. The serum ferritin test measures your stored iron. I recommend adults get a serum ferritin test on an annual basis. Ideally, your serum ferritin should be somewhere between 20 and 80 ng/mL, definitely no higher than 80 ng/mL. As a general rule, somewhere between 40 and 60 ng/mL is the sweet spot for adult men and non-menstruating women. When you get your results, be sure to check the actual level as most labs use normal levels that are too high for good health. If your iron level is above 80 ng/mL, the solution is to donate blood. Once your levels are normal, and you are not a menstruating woman, continue donating blood two to 3X a year. If ferritin levels are over 200 ng/mL, a more aggressive phlebotomy schedule is recommended. Although your local blood bank may not realize this, recent US legislation allows all blood banks to perform therapeutic phlebotomy for hemochromatosis or iron overload. All you need is a doctor’s order.
- Vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of a wide variety of ailments and chronic diseases, from cold and flu to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, depression and dementia. The Vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status and is most strongly associated with overall health. An optimal range is between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). If you live in the US, January and February are ideal months to find out if your Vitamin D levels are low. As for raising the levels, sensible Sun exposure is the ideal way. However, Winter and indoor work prevent most people from achieving ideal levels from Sunlight alone. In that case, make sure to supplement with vitamin D3 (not synthetic D2), and increase your vitamin K2 as well, either from food or supplementation. I am out in the Noon Sunlight daily for at least 20 mins weather permitting. Omega-3 fats are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) your body needs for digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and much more. They are particularly important for proper cell division and function of cell receptors. Low concentrations of the marine animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA have been shown to accelerate cognitive decline and increase your risk of death from all causes. Omega-3 deficiency is thought to be an underlying factor of about 100,000 premature deaths each year. While there is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA for healthy adults. This is where testing comes in handy. Getting your level tested is the best way to customize your dosage to ensure sufficiency, because requirements for omega-3 vary depending on your lifestyle, such as your intake of fatty fish and level of physical activity. The test you’re looking for is the Omega-3 Index Test,3 which is commercially available from several labs. Your index should ideally be above 8%. Find yourself lacking? Then boost your level by eating more cold-water fatty fish that are low in mercury and other pollutants, such as wild-caught Alaskan Salmon and smaller fish like Sardines, Anchovies and Herring. If opting for a supplement, Krill Oil is a good choice.
- Get Out and Move Around: There are more than 10,000 published studies confirm that sitting is an independent risk factor for illness and premature death. Inactivity carries a mortality risk similar to that of smoking. It is important to realize that the human body is designed for near-continuous movement during the day. Also, consider a stand-up desk rather than a regular one if you have an office job.
- Eat more Fish: Protein is essential for your health as it’s a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signaling molecules and a main building block for muscles and bones. That said, eating too much protein could actually be worse than eating too many carbs. Excessive protein can stimulate bio-chemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth. For optimal health, experts recommend that most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, not total body weight, or 0.5 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. One way to reduce your protein consumption is to trade out some of your beef for fish. Cold-water fish such as Alaskan Salmon and Sardines also provide healthy fats, including omega-3. Be sure the fish is responsibly harvested, wild-caught Not farmed, and is low in mercury and other pollutants. No matter what type of fish you are considering buying, look for those that have received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This certification assures that every component of the manufacturing process has been scrutinized by MSC and has been independently audited to ensure it meets sustainable standards. Other labels that signify more sustainable products include Fishwise, which identifies how the fish was caught, where it came from and whether the fish is sustainable or environmentally threatened, and the Seafood Safe label, which involves independent testing of fish for contaminants, including mercury and PCBs, and recommendations for consumption based upon the findings. Seafood Watch has a searchable database that can help you find sustainable seafood options, and they even offer a Sustainable Seafood app for your smartphone.
- Buy American Grass-fed Certified Meat & Dairy: When buying beef, dairy, poultry and pork, make sure it’s grass-fed or pastured in accordance to organic standards. Recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found clear differences between Organic Vs conventional milk and meat. Said to be the largest study of its kind, the researchers analyzed 196 and 67 studies on milk and meat respectively. The largest difference in nutritional content was its fatty acid composition, certain essential minerals and antioxidants. Organic grass-fed and grass-finished meats are also free of antibiotics and other drugs used in CAFOS (concentrated animal feeding operations). With antibiotic-resistant disease being a major public health hazard, buying organic meats is an important consideration. The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S., and the Cornucopia Institute’s egg report and organic egg scorecard ranks 136 egg producers according to 28 Organic criteria. Organic raw dairy sources can be found on RealMilk,com. Certification by the American Grassfed Association is the highest assurance you can have that the food is authentically raised to the highest standards.
- Start Peak Fasting: 1 lifestyle factor that appears to be driving not only obesity but also many chronic disease processes is the fact that most people eat too frequently. Our ancestors didn’t have access to food 24/7, and biologically the human body simply is not designed to run optimally when continuously fed. By eating throughout the day and never skipping a meal, the body adapts to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which down regulates enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. The Research has confirmed that many biological repair and rejuvenation processes take place in the absence of food, and this is another reason why all-day grazing triggers disease. The takeaway: the human body was designed to a) run on fat as its primary fuel, and b) cycle through periods of feast and famine. Most people do the opposite today. Intermittent fasting is a term that covers an array of different meal timing schedules. As a general rule, it involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily. The Key is the cycling of feasting/feeding and famine/fasting. By mimicking the eating habits of our ancestors, who did not have access to food around the clock, we can restore our bodies to a more natural state that allows a whole host of bio-chemical benefits to occur. Peak fasting involves fasting for 13 to 18 hours daily and eating all of your meals within the remaining window of 6 to 11 hours. To make this schedule work, the experts say you need to skip either breakfast or dinner. Which one is up to you, if you chose to eat dinner, be sure to do so at least 3 hours before bedtime. When you’re sleeping, your body needs the least amount of energy, and if you feed it at a time when energy is not needed, you end up creating a situation in which your mitochondria create excessive amounts of damaging free radicals. This is another important factor that can help optimize your mitochondrial function and prevent cellular damage from occurring
- Get 8 hours of Sleep Nightly: Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which helps explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases. Sleep is intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-cancer activity which is diminished by lack of sleep. Small adjustments to the daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health. Try to sleep in total darkness. Recent research reveals being exposed to even dim light during sleep can have adverse effects on brain function and cognition, even after a single night. If you are not sure how much sleep you are getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep, as opposed to the time spent in bed. If you need more sleep get it.
- Eat more Fiber: Experts say most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Researchers have also found that short-chain fatty acids produced by bacteria that feed on plant fiber are major epigenetic communicators, they communicate with your DNA, thereby providing protection against disease. When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Recent research confirms that in order to work, the fiber must be unprocessed. Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber pre-loaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are other excellent fiber sources.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live livelier in this New Year