We all have good intentions of getting more exercise and eating right, but then life happens and we find our well-meaning goals have been laid aside. Sometimes with everything else there is to do, it just isn’t easy to take your health to the next level even though you know it will give you more energy to get things done and leave you feeling better. Maybe it’s time to get off this merry-go-round and give yourself a break. You don’t have to do it all at once. Baby steps are a way to start improving your health by picking just one or two simple things to commit to and then doing them. Pick something that will fit with your lifestyle and your schedule and you’ll be more likely to succeed. Once you have these first baby steps worked into your day, then go back and pick another one or two. You can slowly build up to better overall health and healthy lifestyle habits without putting so much stress on yourself this way. Here’s a few simple healthy improvements you can add to your daily routine that can help you get started making a difference in your health.
Get Some Extra Sleep
Not only do you not perform your best when you haven’t had enough sleep, research also indicates that you are at increased risk of heart attack. A study out of Norway found that those waking up still tired were 27% more likely to be at risk for heart attack than those waking up rested and refreshed. They also found a 30% increased risk for people prone to waking up throughout the night and 45% increased risk for those that had trouble going to sleep in the first place. One theory experts believe explains this is the release of more cortisol associated with insomnia that can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes and thus to cardiovascular disease. We also tend to make poorer health choices when we are over tired. For example, if you are exhausted it is easy to skip exercise or opt for a take-out meal instead of cooking. If you have trouble winding down before bedtime, try starting a night routine that will signal your body that it is time for sleep. Some people find meditation helpful in clearing the mind and winding down and others find journaling a way to get out the stresses of the day and be able to relax. Whatever works for you, make a goal of getting to bed at a certain time and waking up at a certain time each day to get your body into a regular rhythm. You can also try a more relaxing way to wake up in the morning instead of being shocked awake by a noisy alarm. Leave your window blinds up so the sun can shine in on you. This will signal the brain to switch from producing melatonin to adrenaline for a slower more relaxed wake up call.
Boost Your Immune System
When we feel good, we have better days and get more done. When we are sick or feel drained the opposite is true. This is one good reason to give your immune system a boost since it is in charge of keeping sickness and germs at bay. Here’s an easy tip for an immune system boost. Drink a glass of red wine as it has resveratrol and polyphenol antioxidants that can help reduce risk of chronic inflammation that can lead to heart disease and that help keep bad bacteria and viruses from taking over. You can also get resveratrol from the skin of red grapes, blueberries, and peanuts.
Get a Vitamin D Boost
Research is finding that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is essential to health and that most of us are not getting enough. Getting enough vitamin D can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes, make asthma symptoms better and can even help reduce the risk of getting some cancers. Vitamin D is also needed for strong bones as it helps the body absorb calcium. It has been recommended that you get between 600 and 800 IU a day of vitamin D, but newer research is suggesting we may need as much as 4000 IU daily. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, but the most common way we get it is by exposure to sunlight. If you aren’t getting outside enough, make a goal to spend some time outdoors or if that isn’t possible you may need to consult your healthcare provider about supplementation.
Your entire body needs to stay hydrated to work right and drinking water throughout the day increases your metabolism which helps you burn off calories. Water is calorie free and helps you feel full to avoid snacking on unhealthy foods. Your immune system also performs better when the cells are hydrated, your skin benefits when you drink lots of water, and drinking water helps your body flush out toxins and keeps your circulation going well. If drinking plain water all day doesn’t appeal to you then try adding natural sugar-free flavorings like a squeeze of lemon, orange or strawberries or even some herbs like mint.
Healthy Joints Keep You Going
If your joints and muscles are aching, you are less likely to exercise or get out and enjoy yourself. It also makes it harder to just perform basic tasks and work that you need to get done. Using a natural anti-inflammatory can help if this is an ongoing problem for you or just for those times when you physically overdo it and are paying for it the next day. Curcumin, turmeric, boswellia, and ginger have all been found as effective as some prescription medications for pain relief. You can get these as herbal remedies or from food sources. Enzymes like bromelain found in pineapple have also been found to be effective at reducing inflammation. An easy way to get not only bromelain, but also the enzymes papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, and some wild AFA bluegreen algae for extra nutrition, is with this algae and enzyme supplement.
Make Time for a Massage
Getting a massage may sound frivolous to some, but according to research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, you can increase white blood cells to help fight off germs with a 45 minute massage and reduce inflammation, allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms. A massage can also help you get some relaxation time and reduce stress which is detrimental to your health. So taking a little “me” time in the form of a massage is an easy health benefit boost to make.
Make a Weekly Meal Plan
If you plan out your meals for the week, you will be more likely to eat healthy and be in control of the nutrients you get. Without a plan, when life gets busy or stressful, it is too easy to order out for pizza or drive through for fast food. Include a variety of color in your meals when you are planning and go heavy on the veggies, fruits and whole grains. Add in lean protein that will also give you omega-3 fatty acids as they help with reducing inflammation, are heart healthy, and good for your brain. Think fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel or adding seeds or nuts to your meal as in walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds or hemp seeds or go for adding leafy green veggies to your meal. Also include a lunch plan that lets you take healthy foods from home instead of eating out at work. You may find chopping up lettuce and veggies ahead of time for the whole week will help you stick to this type of lunch plan. And don’t forget breakfast. Your mom was right, it is the most important meal of the day. Eating a good healthy breakfast in the morning helps curb the appetite the rest of the day and starts your day out with a boost for physical and mental energy. Good breakfast foods include yogurt, fruit, whole grain cereals, eggs, and try adding seeds, nuts and lean proteins in for an extra boost.
Add Some Protein To Your Diet
Lean protein added to your meals can help you take off some unwanted weight as protein builds muscle and your body burns more calories from muscle than it does from fat. A study at the University of Sydney reported that those eating low amounts of protein showed around 2 pounds extra weight gain a month compared to those eating more protein. Protein foods also many times have zinc and B vitamins that help you fight off colds and flus and boost the immune system. If you want to start getting more protein into your diet, start thinking of foods you eat now that you could switch. For example, instead of cereal with fruit, switch to low-fat cottage cheese with fruit, or switch out your mashed potatoes for baked beans.
Add Some World’s Healthiest Foods to Your Diet
Whole Foods has a list they call the World’s Healthiest Foods. They base these choices on criteria such as the foods being nutrient dense (nutrients compared to calories), organic if possible, not containing synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients, their availability in most places and their affordability. Some of the top choices are asparagus, avocados, beets, Bell peppers, Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots in the vegetable category, apples, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, figs, grapefruit, grapes, and kiwi in the fruit category, nuts and seeds that include almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts, grains that include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, rye and whole wheat and the beans and legumes category that includes black beans, dried peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans and lentils. If any of these foods are ones you’ve never tried or that are lacking in your diet, pick one or two new ones to try adding on a regular basis to your meals.
Supplements For Extra Nutrition
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get in all the home cooked meals and lunches packed from home. This is when some wholefood supplementation can really help you out with getting the nutrients your body needs to function well with the convenience and ease of taking some supplement capsules. The easiest way I’ve ever found to get all the great nutrition that AFA bluegreen algae has to offer along with probiotics and digestive enzymes is with these convenient daily packets that I can grab on the go. For some extra energy I like to add in this algae ubiquinol supplement with pure ubiquinol (which is the active form of Coenzyme Q10 known to be especially good for heart health), reishi and oyster mushrooms, polyphenols from olives, and some wild AFA bluegreen algae. Then to make sure I’m getting the antioxidant protection my cells need I throw in this antioxidant algae supplement. Then I know that I have all my nutritional bases covered when life gets extra busy.
All of these suggestions are easy, affordable and can make a big difference in your health. So pick one or two and get started taking those baby steps towards improving your health and living a healthier lifestyle.
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