10 Tips for a Healthy 2017
Happy New Year! I’ve had a dicey few years and looking forward sometimes seems scary. Who knows what the future holds? But I can’t help but think of the new year as a perfect time to reflect on habits that don’t serve me and create new intentions. I am always looking for ways to improve my health so I thought I’d share my Top 10 Tips for a Healthy 2017.
1. Eat more greens like kale, chard, spinach, and bok choy.
Most Americans don’t eat enough green leafy vegetables and they are so good for us! In addition to being high in antioxidants, vitamins A, B and K, iron, lutein and omega-3s, dark leafy greens help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and protect the immune system. Although making salads and eating them raw seems easiest, many of these leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, collards and mustard greens are actually better for you after they’ve been cooked. Consider my Membership Club if you need some recipes for greens!
2. Eat real whole food.
Americans typically eat a lot of packaged, processed and prepared foods in our busy lives. We need to eat more whole foods: vegetables and fruit and whole grains, meat, fish and eggs that provide good wholesome nutrition. Cook from scratch. Avoid bar codes.
3. Drink more water—especially if you want to lose weight.
Most of us are dehydrated. Experts vary on the actual amounts we need but a good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half for the number of fluid ounces you should drink. So if you weigh 140, you should drink 70 oz or 8.5 glasses of water. Remember that caffeinated beverages actually deplete our hydration so we need to drink more water to make up for those drinks.
4. Cut back on sugar—especially if you want to lose weight.
Over consumption of sugar is the number one reason Americans are unhealthy, in my opinion. The evils of sugar are too numerous to mention here (see my previous blog post) but it might help to think of sugar as a poisonous, addictive substance like cocaine. Would that reference get you to avoid it? Included in this category is high fructose corn syrup which in my opinion is worse than sugar.
5. Quit addictive habits.
I know this is a lot easier said than done, but curbing unhealthy addictive substances like tobacco and drinking more than 3-5 glasses of alcoholic beverages a week can do wonders for your health. The sooner you quit the better to give your body a chance to heal.
6. Get 8 hours of sleep at night.
Sleep is incredibly important for overall health. Lack of sleep affects our immune system, our stress levels, our emotional state, all of which can contribute to health problems, not to mention the fact that fatigue affects the food choices we make. Getting enough rest will benefit all aspects of your life. If you’re struggling with sleep, read my blog post on how to sleep blissfully.
7. Be active every day, preferably outdoors.
There are a lot of different theories on what method, how much and how often we should exercise. One thing is clear–the health benefits are many. I think what is important is to find an activity that you enjoy and make exercising fun. If you can exercise outdoors then all the better—getting fresh air and being outside has the additional benefit of restoring balance to our busy lives.
8. Get Vitamin D.
If it’s a sunny day then you can do this while doing number 7 above. But if not, you may need a supplement. Most Americans are Vitamin D deficient especially at this time of year. Be sure and take Vitamin D3 as it is considered a more potent form of the vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium and phosporus, helping us maintain healthy bones. It benefits our immune system, our brain function, and decreases our risk of arthritis and cancer, among other benefits. New studies are coming out all the time on the many health benefits of Vitamin D.
9. Focus on your gut health.
Also known as the human microbiome, the billions of bacteria in our gut and the balance of those bacteria are being shown to affect our moods, our immune system, our digestion and more. If you have any sort of digestive issues (gas, bloat, not so regular, heart burn), taking a probiotic, eating probiotic rich foods as well as the foods they like (probiotics), and seeing a health coach to determine if you may have a food intolerance would do you wonders. The connection between these little bacteria and our immune system make them fundamental to our overall wellness and disease prevention. Keep these little guys happy!
10. Keep a gratitude journal.
I have found this to be very grounding and beneficial and was really helpful during my cancer treatment. Writing down, on a daily basis, what I am grateful for gets me present to how much I have and helps me keep things in perspective. I see the big picture and dwell less on the small, petty irritations of everyday life. And studies show that writing down three things that you are grateful for before going to sleep at night, provides more restful sleep.
Tell me in the comments below what you are going to take on this year for your health. Happy 2017! May it be your healthiest year yet.