Health and, ultimately, longevity are very much influenced and shaped by many small choices we make. Long lasting health is the summation of the food we eat, environmental influences, the level of activity, the quality of your sleep and the social/ personal relationships we create and maintain.
Most experts agree that reaching the goal of optimal well-being beings with starting small. Successes build on themselves. Healthy changes over time lead to increases in energy, confidence, clarity which power you on the create new healthy habits. Additionally, your personal successes inspire and motivate others.
1. Eat Right
Choose high quality whole-foods. Aim for organic, non-GMO foods. Eliminate or minimize refined sugars and processed foods. A well-balanced diet might include the following:
50-70% non-starchy vegetables ( dark leafy greens, crucifers, squash, onion and garlic). These provide vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients, build energy and support detoxification, reduce inflammation and reduce cancer risk. Fermented vegetables help build and support a balanced microbiome.
10-15% high quality proteins (grass fed beef and organic poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, organic dairy, nuts, seeds and bone broth). These proteins contain amino acids – building blocks for the body, muscles and support immune function.
20-30% healthy fats ( coconut oil, olives, avocado, nut butters and grass fed butter). These fats balance hormones and absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. They support skin, brain, help in digestion and support satiety.
During sleep our bodies and brain detoxify. The brain’s glymphatic system is similar to the body’s lymphatic system. This process only happens during sleep. The removal of proteins help to maintain normal neurological function. Build up of these proteins has been linked to brain fog, poor memory in the short term. Long term effects suggest a link to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sleep is not a luxury but rather a necessity. Regular sleep helps to balance your circadian rhythms – expose yourself to early morning light, get outdoors throughout the day, turn off devices 2 hours before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool and dark.
Our bodies are designed to move and built for many different activities. It’s also designed to be stimulated by changing physical planes ( pivoting, turning, lunging, pushing, pulling and hoisting). These activities keep muscles strong, joints and tendons robust. Movement also has a protective purpose has muscle tissue to produce proteins called myokines that have important disease-preventive and anti-inflammatory functions.
– Move as much as possible at work. Walking meetings, standing desks, etc.
– Take frequent walks, pick up a new sport, try yoga. Find a friend or training partner to join you in your activities.
– Walk before lunch each day ( get some natural light, decompresses your digestive system, helps reset your nervous system in prep for eating and builds alertness and reduces cravings for sugar).
– Try mini sessions ( 10-15 minutes of any kind of exercise or movement)
4. Address Toxicity
Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins – chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, cleaning products, chemical based skin and health care products.
– Avoid GMO’s and processed foods.
– Epigenetics: The environment around your cells directly influences whether disease causing genes get switched on or stay turned off. Toxins and an inflammatory diet create the worst of conditions. A healthy diet and lower toxin exposure help the body to keep the disease-causing genes turned off.
5. Mindfulness And Deep- Breathing.
Learning to unwind and turn off the stressors is essential to good health and longevity. Most of us live in the “on” state – demands of work, relationships, pressure to perform, produce and succeed,etc. It’s challenging to find quiet and down time away from our devices and the above demands.
One way to find stillness and shut off the noise and down-regulate our nervous system is to adopt a meditation or mindfulness practice. As one expert suggests: “just as night follows day , stillness should follow activity – they are 2 sides of one whole.”
– Try deep / diaphragmatic ( belly) breathing
– 4-7-8 breathing ( Place tongue behind your front teeth at gum line, exhale through your mouth making a whooshing sound, close your mouth and inhale though the nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale though mouth for 8 counts). Repeat 10x.