Posted by: firstdescentsblog | January 21, 2011

12 Small Changes for New Year and Healthier You

Happy New Year everyone!

I wanted to write a brief piece on some simple things that can go a long way in improving our health over time.  Although the list includes 12 things, keep in mind it is probably best to try to do, or incorporate, just one or two things at a time.  This will help to ensure that the change becomes more of a lifestyle, and that you don’t get overwhelmed trying to make too many changes at once.

If you have any questions or would like any advise on any of the steps, feel free to email me anytime at lisa.nielsen@firstdescents.org

Good luck!

1) Increase the amount of water you drink!– Most people don’t drink enough.  Aim for 80 to 100 oz/day.  Ideally try to drink filtered water since many unwanted chemicals are found in most tap water (even in many bottled waters).  To make it even tastier and healthier, add lots of squeezed lemon.  A great way to start the day is with a glass of warm or room temperature water with lemon!

2) Get plenty of sleep at night.- Most people don’t get nearly enough and have no idea how much this can negatively affect your health.  Shoot for 8 hours!

3) Chew your food thoroughly!– This is something most of us do not do well.  Much of our health and immune system start in our gut.  Simple chewing our food well can make a huge difference on the health of our digestion.

4) Decrease or omit sugar, sweets,  and sugary drinks.– This can be difficult because most of us have a sugar addiction that we are not even aware of.  If you crave something sweet often, then you are probably addicted.  Try to cut out all processed sugars for a week or even two and you should find that those sugar cravings disappear.

5) Do something “active” everyday!–  This can be anything from a walk to a rigorous hike or bike ride.  It can even be cleaning the house or doing yard work.  Just stay active and try not to be too sedentary, especially if your job already puts you in that category.

6) Eat more veggies!–  Most of us do not even get the daily recommended amount of vegetables of the course of an entire week.  Think about veggies as your focus when planning a meal.  Then add some whole grains and good proteins and fats around it.  Vegetables are truly the way to health!

7) Decrease processed/refined carbohydrates.– This is similar to #4, but many of us eat way to many breads, crackers, chips, juices, sweets,etc.  Even those that we think are healthy are typically not.  As a society we eat way too many easy carbs because they taste good and are easy to get.  Most of the time they provide very little nutrition, empty calories, and even things that are toxic in our bodies.  Aim for real, whole food rather than food that comes in wrappers and cans!

8) Get plenty of Vitamin D.– Ideally, if we can get it naturally from the sun, this requires about 20 minutes per day of noon time sun on most of the body.  However, going over 20 minutes can put you at risk of burning and skin cancer.  Yet Vitamin D is an important part of keeping our immune system strong.  Therefore sometimes supplementing with Vitamin D3 can help us get there, or better yet, natural food sources such as cod liver oil and wild salmon.

9) Incorporate plenty of healthy fats into your diet.- Don’t be afraid of fat as long as it’s the good stuff.  This means looking for ways to add monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids, such as avocados, walnuts, wild salmon, extra virgin olive oil, virgin unrefined coconut oil, and seeds.  Studies show that people eating a diet high in these types of fats even lose weight because they tend to eat less overall since the fats are more satiating.   And, they have great health benefits, too!

10) Use body care products free of chemicals.– More and more products such as lotions, soap, body wash, shampoo, laundry detergents, and even cleaners are coming out with lines that are paraben free, chemical free, and phthalate free.  Other products to look twice at in regards to the chemicals are toothpaste, deodorant, dry cleaning, bug spray, cookware, plastic left over containers and water bottles, perfumes, and dryer sheets.  For more info on what’s in your shampoo, check out http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/.

11) If eating meat, eggs, and dairy…go organic!– It may be even more important than choosing organic produce.  Most commercial meats, eggs, and milk products are loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals.  If you want more info on this idea, check out the movie Food,Inc.

12) Floss daily!– Truly a simple thing that can go a long way to improve our health and reduce our risk for disease.  The bacteria and chemicals that get into our bloodstream via our gum line is amazing.  Once you start and make it a habit, it’s no different than wanting to brush your teeth each day.

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