So, you have decided that you need to make some changes in your life and you really don’t know where to start. We have all been there. Wondering if a certain product is safe, how much exercise we should get or if the sun really causes cancer? We are so bombarded with information via the internet that we have all had that feeling of cerebral combustion slowly creeping up.
There are so many ways to be “healthy”. The most interesting and most misunderstood fact is that different things work for different people. While a high protein, low carb diet may work for your BFF, it may do nothing for you. Finding the right healthy for you, is a personal journey. It could be a long and tedious journey, but it is worth it. Once you find your healthy, you start to reap the amazing benefits and gain this euphoric feeling of accomplishment.
If you are ready to jump on the healthy living train, there are some basics that need to be covered. There are some common things that we as human beings need to function correctly while here on this earth. I have developed a list of those common things. I call them the 7 Pillars of Health. While this list is not all encompassing, it is a great list to get things going in the right direction. Pull up a seat with your cup of dandelion tea and enjoy this post.
- Pretend You Are a Fish: I am pretty sure you already know what I am going to say. Drink your water people. You need water. Plain ole water. Good quality water. Water is the main delivery system for nutrients and oxygen, is responsible for most of the waste removal in our bodies, aids in energy production and lubricates our joints. Some health benefits of drinking water include eliminating headaches, improving your mood, relieving fatigue. boosting energy levels, relieving constipation, flushing out toxins, improving digestion, promoting weight loss, preventing kidney stones, boosting the immune system, improving your skin complexion, preventing hangovers, alleviating back pain, regulating body temperature and of course, preventing dehydration. I personally drink Spring water. My favorite brand is Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water. Some tests have shown that it is a 7.2 on the pH scale. I can usually find it at Kroger for $1 a gallon. Cheap and affordable, right? The recommended daily water goal is half of your body weight in ounces. I struggle meeting this goal some days, but I do at least try to accomplish this goal. You should too. Drink as much as you can toward your ounce goal daily. Pace it throughout the day. This has seemed to work for me instead of trying to gulp 30 ounces in one sitting. Just remember that all waters are not created equal. I will put up a post discussing the different types of waters out there. In the meantime, do your research and choose accordingly.
- Understand that Vitamin D is essential to good health: Would you believe that vitamin D has been known as one of the cheapest and easiest interventions in medicine that would save the most lives in a cost-efficient manner? Would you also believe that you can get your required dose from simply being exposed to sunlight? Did you know that 42% of African American women between the ages of 15-49 are Vitamin D deficient? Well it is true and that is why Vitamin D is always part of my treatment plan for my clients. Our issue is that we are not exposed to sunlight enough. And when I say Vitamin D, I mean Vitamin D3. There are different kinds of Vitamin D but we need to make sure we are getting the D3. What is super interesting is that even though we call it Vitamin D3, it is not really a vitamin at all. It is considered a pro-hormone because it functions like a hormone in our body. So, what if you are an avid outdoorsman and get plenty of sun in your life? Whelp, it means you are getting sun exposure. However, there are several factors that block the synthesis of Vitamin D in our body. Some of those are sunscreen which blocks synthesis by 97-100%, clothing, skin pigmentation, body fat, age, medications and low cholesterol levels. Full body exposure to sunlight can produce 10,000-25,000IU of vitamin D3 per day. You can also get your Vitamin D3 from a supplement as well. Adults should get about 3,000-10,000IU per day with the average dosing being 5,000IU per day. Children should get about 2,000IU per day. So why is Vitamin D important? Well, it destroys bacteria, viruses and infections (hint, hint………..the flu), improves bone health including your teeth, aids in the proper assimilation of vitamin A, aids in calcium absorption, boosts mood and overall well-being, encourages a healthy body weight, may reduce the hardening of the arteries, increases secretion of insulin and decreases blood sugar levels, may enhance fertility, may reduce the risk of some cancers, reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, improves muscle strength, improves DNA repair, may reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases, and helps maintain healthy cell growth. Is that enough reason to understand the importance of Vitamin D3? I thought so!
- Embrace Meatless Monday: Giving your body a break from meat one day out of the week won’t kill you, I promise. What it will do is lower your grocery bill, reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, stroke and diabetes, it will save 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal, and reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds with each meatless meal you prepare. I am not saying go all out vegan. That is not my agenda here on this blog. I am simply saying that cutting out meat a couple times a week will improve the health of you and your planet.
- You Must Move: You can’t sit on the couch day in and day out and expect to be healthy. I don’t care how great your diet is. Your body was designed to move. Your muscles need movement to be strong and support you as a person. I am not saying to go out and train for a half marathon (which happens to be fun and very rewarding), I am simply saying to get some type of movement in. There are entirely too many ways to do that these days. Find what you like and keep at it. And don’t feel like you need to be stuck in the gym. You can easily get a good workout in at home. When I can’t make it to the gym, I pull up a workout video on YouTube. I really like Fitness Blender’s videos. Some don’t require any equipment and you are guaranteed to break a good sweat. They are free via YouTube and they also have videos to purchase on their site. Check them out here.
- Eat from The Rainbow: Phytonutrients are the components of plants that provide us with tons of health benefits. They also provide the color, taste and smell of our fruits and veggies. In the human body, they stimulate enzymes that help rid the body of toxins, boosts the immune system, improves our cardiovascular health and stimulates the death of cancer cells. In order to get the proper amount of phytonutrients, we must eat fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and teas. There are 6 different food color groups and the goal is to eat 1 to 2 foods from each color group per day. I plan to make a post with specific information about the food color groups and their benefits. Yes, you will feel like you are sitting in a nutrition class.
- Get to Know and Love Herbs: Ahhhhhh herbs, fresh or dried, they simply give me life, literally. They heal, protect, soothe, and destroy. They have so many functions in our lives that it would be a major disadvantage to not use them even if on an occasional basis. Herbs have truly changed how I approach my family’s healthcare. My goal here is to address 150 herbs. I want every household in the world to have an herbalist residing in it. So be prepared to learn a lot about herbs and their benefits. If you are interested in purchasing herbs, you can do that here.
- Mental Health Is Just as Important as Physical Health: We know that being physically healthy is so very important, but did you know that mental health is just as important as well? We as individuals are able to cope with different amounts of stress during our life journey. However, prolonged stress can cause mental and physical damage. There are so many different types of stress that we deal with in this day in age. They include environmental stress, pollution, noise, housing issues, illnesses, injuries, poor diet, relationship issues, financial issues, and job issues just to name a few. It seems like we are always stressed by something going on in our lives. Stress related disorders comprise 50-80 percent of all illnesses. Not saying that stress is always the only cause but it wouldn’t make sense to not acknowledge its place in the mix of things. There are so many ways to cope and reduce the stress. My favorite is exercise and meditation. The combination of the two has allowed me to get my anxiety under control (which I so happened to acquire during grad school) without the use of prescription meds. There are other ways as well which include certain herbs such as scullcap and chamomile, eating oats and pumpkin seeds, aromatherapy, and eating a well-balanced diet. Of course, there is also exercise which releases all of those feel good endorphins. Yoga is great at relieving stress while getting in some exercise. Just think Santi….Santi….Santi. Santi is a mantra in yoga which means peace. I also like practicing Pranic breathing. It is a Ayurvedic breathing exercise where you breathe in for a count of 6, hold your breath for a count of 3 and breathe out for a count of 6. Repeat for at least 10 minutes. Try it and let me know if you felt a little less stressful after.
So, there you have it. My 7 pillars of health. Again, this in no way lists the only things we should work on when it comes to our health, but it does give a running start. And we all know with starting a new regimen, make sure that you consult your doctor. So, which pillar do you plan to focus on? I need to do better with my water intake. Water challenge anyone?