10 Jan 3 “Resolutions” for Lifelong Health
I’ve never liked the word “resolutions,” but I do think it’s important to set intentions that will help shape the direction of our lives. Whatever you want to call them, if you are like most Americans, then re-evaluating your health and nutrition is probably somewhere near the top of that list.
Whether you wanted to lose weight, cut back on the junk food, or work out more, you’ve gotta start with the basics. So here are three health goals to set you up for long-term success.
1. Get Your Gut in Check
If you haven’t heard, digestion is everything! Your digestive tract is responsible for taking everything you consume, breaking it down into its most basic form and converting it into the cells and tissues that make up your entire body. It’s a pretty magical process if you think about it. However, due to poor diet, stress, food allergies, infections and many other factors, many people have compromised digestive health. If you don’t address it, poor digestion could lead to bloating, constipation, hormone problems, more food allergies, lack of energy, acne, mood swings and much more.
So this year (and every year), your number one health goal should be to make sure all those organs (stomach, intestines, colon, etc) are healthy and running efficiently. Chances are, if you can get your digestion working well many other issues may clear up as well.
The number one cause of digestion problems I’ve seen in my clients is food allergies, so eliminating the major allergens like wheat, dairy, corn and soy may be a good idea to see if one of those may be the culprit. Drinking enough water, eating enough fiber, including probiotic-rich foods in your diet are also extremely important. For additional digestion support, taking apple cider vinegar or aloe juice, and cooking with a lot of herbs like ginger, garlic, rosemary, fennel etc will all help as well.
2. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep Every Night
If 7-9 hours looks like a mythical creature to you, then this is a really important one. Although you may think you can “get by” on less, that’s really not the case. It is true that our bodies will get acclimated to sleeping less, but it does so at the expense of your health. Besides feeling well-rested, getting 7-9 hours helps your body detoxify, heals and repairs (cells, tissues, bones, muscles), prevents aging, boosts the immune system, and improves memory and cognitive function. It is also a vital step in keeping hormones in check which affects your mood, weight loss, and so much more…are you convinced yet?
So what can you do? First, make sure to stay away from the light of a phone, computer or TV at least 30 minutes before bed as they can disrupt your melatonin. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake will also help. There are also many herbs that are useful for sleep: passionflower, skullcap, valerian, and lemon balm to name a few. If it is a constant struggle, it may be important to determine what the underlying cause of your sleep issue is, whether it’s a hormone imbalance, blood sugar problem, improper nutrition or something else.
3. Detoxify Your Body on a Regular Basis
If you are asking “doesn’t our body cleanse itself on a regular basis?” The answer is yes; however, our bodies were never meant to take in the large amounts of industrial and environmental toxins, pesticides, processed sugar, additives, alcohol and caffeine that most people take in on a regular basis. And if you are constantly exposed to all of these things and not cleaning them out, they can in turn lead to some serious health problems.
The good news is that cleansing your body doesn’t require drastic measures. There are many detoxifying foods you can easily incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water (at least half your weight in ounces), sweat on a regular basis, and think about incorporating herbs like milk thistle to strengthen and cleanse the liver. Eating a diet rich in whole foods (especially greens) and limiting processed foods, sugar and alcohol can also have an enormous impact.
If your goal for this year is to be healthier, hopefully those three actions will now become part of your focus if they weren’t already.
Cheers to another happy and healthy year!