- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Easy Ways to Be Healthier
Let's Get Started
Is having good health suppose to be difficult? Overwhelmed with all the hoopla in the news about new scientific findings, foods that must be eaten to ward off cancer, even how much exercising that should be done? Well, fret no more. Being healthy is really not that difficult. Often just a few habits needed adjusting. Keeping it simple is paramount and will set a path of permanency . . . and fun. Let’s admit being an adult is hard enough. Let’s not make improving our health become laborious.
Fun Fact: Many argue that GMOs (genetically modified organism) is unsafe. Per an article by Scientific America, there is more evidence of safety than hazards. However, having learned our lesson on food additives – marketed as safe -- the general public remains unsold. Most of us would rather avoid GMOs than risk consuming them. See the full article here and continue to make sound judgments based on the information.
It is a known fact the U.S. has quite the obesity rate. We love our fast foods, steaks, bread and pasta, and binge-watching Netflix. Our poor eating habits have led to higher cholesterol levels and increased rates of heart disease . . . even Alzheimer’s. If one stops and examines their eating patterns much can be revealed.
- Spend at least one week writing down everything eaten and from where it came. Fast food restaurant? Prepackaged from the grocer? Vending machine? Mother?
- Spend time examining why the foods were chosen. Convenience, comfort, offered for free? Why we chose food is every bit as important as understanding what we ate. For many, stress and time restraints leave us to pick up anything and everything just to be nourished.
- Learn about food exchanges. Food exchanges are those alternative choices that can be made to pick a healthier option. Regular white potato fries, for example, can be exchanged for sweet potato fries which provide more vitamin A and fiber. Soda can be replaced with club soda, reducing sugar intake and make drinking water a little more exciting. Reducing beef and eating more soy or Tofu selections maintains protein intake with less cholesterol intake. FamilyDoctor.org offers a guide on how to make food swaps for healthier selections.
- Clear away nutrition myths. So much is out there making us feel that every time we spin around we have one more food to avoid. Ergh! Take a look at HealthPrep.com for some top misleaders. Don’t believe everything heard. Always do research which will lead to sounder decisions.
- Speaking of decisions, one must always listen to their body. What is making you feel healthy? What foods give you energy? Foods really are not one-size-fits-all. Gluten, for example, is only bad if it is stressing your digestive tract or creating other forms of havoc. There are many good grains that contain gluten but don’t mean they should be avoided by all. Become your own personal nutritionist. Pick up a book on nutrition or spend time surfing the web. Just don’t go crazy and overwhelm the brain. This is all about making healthier choices that will work for whom? For you! Try to eliminate food additives. Many are meant to preserve foods for safety but have now been linked to health concerns. As part of the research process read through DailyNaturalRemedies.com for a list of additives to avoid and guidance on those that are safe.
- Have a buddy to work with and make the process of eating more healthy and more fun. Your buddy could help discover or rediscover foods once thought to be “yucky.” Sometimes, knowing different ways to prepare can make all the difference. Certain vegetables taste better when raw than they do when cooked. Or adding new spices could generate a flavor party never thought possible. Tastes are known to change. Be willing to take a risk.
- Eating organic has been a goal of many but faces higher costs as a result. Sadly, it actually costs more to grow foods without pesticides than not. However, if one purchases organic off the Dirty Dozen list, and generically all other produce, this will help balance costs a bit better. The dirty dozen, provided by the Environment Workers Group (EWG) is a directory of produce that not only absorbs pesticides in their growing stages but tend to remain on their surfaces. Bleck! They also include a list of those vegetables and fruits that are safe to buy conventionally without risk.
- If interested in tips on making food more green, take a look at How to Green Your Food.
- Moderation is the name of the game. No matter what you decide to sustain yourself with, remember that moderation is key. Not too much alcohol, sweets, salt, or fatty foods. It's okay to enjoy favorite comfort goods, just don’t live off of them. By trying new foods that contain healthy ingredients a balance can be struck. Make balance the focus of your efforts.
Let's Get Moving
Moving our backsides is a bit daunting for many. We know that exercise is important but making it fun not so much. Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate into daily routines and without grumbling.
- Think back to childhood and try to remember what activities were most enjoyed. Think about what was done at school during recess. Tetherball? Foursquare? Monkey bars? You did know you can still do these activities as an adult, right? Roller skating, dancing, jumping rope is all great forms of exercise that we didn’t even think twice about as kids. Start a process of revisiting child-like motions.
- There are innumerable ways to add movement to one’s day with little to no effort. Parking further out at a mall or work adds walking steps to the day. Add a walk to the lunch period. Time frames add up and before you know it walking as an exercise in the normal routines of the day has been accomplished.
- Invest in simple exercise equipment. A Hula Hoop, Thigh Master, hand weights, are not only reasonably priced pieces of equipment but are fun and easy to create quick, simple routines from.
- What time of day works best for exercising? This varies person to person. Many love doing it first thing in the morning as a way to get revved up for the day. Others feel better in the afternoon. Listen to your body and shoot for the best time that is not only comfortable but a time most likely to be kept to.
- Create short, simple routines. Perhaps on a coffee break, you skip the added calories of a mocha latte and do one walk around the building. Later in the day, before going home you use five-pound hand weights to do quick arm lifts. The point is to work exercise related movements into one’s day that doesn’t feel like a sweat competition or time being stolen. This is a great way to work in exercise when time is not a friend.
- Try an activity never done before. Canoeing, rock climbing, ice skating, are all great forms of exercise but are often felt they were too complicated or scary to consider. Face that fear and build some confidence while testing the waters on a new form of exercise.
- Check out the local parks and recreation center. They often offer all sorts of dance and exercise classes that are not only interesting but one often makes a new friend who will hold them responsible for completing the course, as well as trying others.
- Look at exercise as an adventure. If haven’t walked around the neighborhood in a while begin doing so. Look at the ideas others are coming up with for decorating for the seasons or landscaping their yards. Maybe shoot to walk to the drugstore for a treat to reward yourself with. Hiking is especially a great way to be on an adventure. Again, parks and recreation centers often hold hiking excursions and even though it may only be for an afternoon or morning (sometimes evening), learning about city areas unknown of before makes for a great adventure and one worth returning too for more exercise.
- Any internet search or a trip to the library will reveal a volume of exercise routines to try. Routines can become tiresome, so having resources to spice it up when necessary not only keep you wanting to move but keeps the process so much more interesting.
- Need a resource for how to exercise with little time? Read How to Exercise When You Have No Time.
Sleep . . . ZZZ
Fun Fact: The average American sleeps 6.8 hours per night. This is a decline per night since 1942 which averaged 7.9 hours. What’s up with that?
Do you have trouble sleeping well at night? There can be plenty of factors resulting in fewer hours. Work schedule, worries, sick children, are just a few reasons we might face. Experts advise trying to get 7 to 9 hours per day. Other factors can also impact the quality versus quantity of sleep. Illness, snoring, sleep apnea, medications, pain, being on call all impact not only how much sleep we get but how well we sleep.
- If sleep is a concern, contact a doctor. Underlying health issues are not always obvious and professional input warranted. Read through Everyday Health’s article on some top disorders affecting sleep.
- Learn about the physiology of sleep. Understanding sleep means being able to contribute to its positive affects towards health. The
- Not sure if sleeping well enough? If you need to wake up with an alarm, are tired by mid-morning or early afternoon, have trouble focusing, reach for caffeinated beverages throughout the day, or are irritable and generally not feeling well on a regular basis, the subject of sleep needs further exploration.
- Keep a sleep diary. Write down the time of day going to bed and rising. Make notes if was woken up during the night and for what reason. Also, include notes about anything eaten before bedtime and how much exercise done in the day. Foods and exercise often put an impact on sleep and recognizing what has interfered or helped are important. Keep this diary for at least two weeks then review for any signs of concern.
- Design a good sleep routine. Have a routine of restful activity before bed. Lowered lights and a quieter atmosphere send a signal to the brain to prepare for sleep. Drink milk which contains tryptophan and good amino acids. This combination helps calm the brain towards falling asleep. Herbal, non-caffeinated teas also help. Spray a scent such as lavender or chamomile which has helped many to feel calm before crawling under the covers. Just be sure to use an environmentally safe source so as not to put out toxins into your sleep space. Try to go to bed and rise at the same time each day which helps with the circadian cycle of the sleep.
- Check the pillow. Is it really comfortable? Flat? Lumpy? In need of a good wash to reduce allergens? Replace the pillow if have had for a long time. A good pillow should keep the head and neck in alignment. Try a few new styles out, including firmness. What we sleep on, including the mattress, can make a huge difference in how comfortable we are while sleeping.
- Try to reduce the noise level. Pets can often disrupt sleep, cats especially are nocturnal creatures and may need to be put in a closed-off space. Spouse snore? May need to sleep in separate spaces. White noise, on the other hand, helps with distracting from other sounds. There are many products on the market especially for sleep enhancement with much success that help individuals feel calmer when dozing off.
- Keep the room temperature a little on the cool side but not too cold. Too cold or too warm of a temperature affects the body’s set temp point. This setting is individualized and will affect REM sleep if not at the right balance for you. For many, a little cooler, say 68 degrees, works well. Do some experimenting and make notes in that sleep diary to track results.
- Get enough exercise. Exercise helps to regulate that circadian sleep cycle that is built within all of us. Don’t exercise, however, too close to bedtime which in turn will act as a stimulant.
- Create energic mornings. Do some light exercising and brew up a favorite energizing drink such as Matcha green tea, acai berries smoothie, even coconut water have helped many to boost the morning energy start without the old coffee standard. Put on some upbeat music, find a source for happy news and skip the ugly going on in the world seen in the standard newspaper or TV news.
How many of us think about our teeth as being a reflection of good health? Not many. The truth is more than 47 percent of Americans have some form of periodontal disease. Bacteria building in our mouths has been related to higher incidences of stroke, Alzheimers, diabetes, and truly a host of ills. There are several ways to attack potential problems and allow your teeth to reflect signs of sound health.
1. Continue to see a dentist twice a year for cleanings and assessing any possible concerns. Many gum issues actually don't have associated pain and knowing what may be occurring means earlier attack towards stopping the progression.
2. Oil pull with sesame oil or coconut oil. Done daily, a tablespoon of oil swished around in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes provides removal of any building plaque or tarter as well as nourishment for gums. Oil pulling has also be found to retard and heal cavities. For a tutorial on oil pulling, check out 10 Facts About Oil Pulling.
3. Remineralize teeth. Remineralization is a process that rebuilds tooth enamel and helps to strengthen teeth otherwise damaged by caries, acidic foods, and/or staining foods. For an in-depth look at what remineralization is, review Oral Health Group's article on Dental Remineralization: Simplified. Amazon.com also has several products to help with this little-known treatment. Simply key remineralize teeth into their search bar. Be sure to read all reviews before choosing a product that will be a personal best for you.
3. Flouride still has a place in dental care. Be sure to use it safely and if not sure of what to watch out for please read Berkely Wellness Is Flouride Safe? Everything in moderation is always best so check local resources to see if fluoride is added to municipal water and be sure never to swallow fluoridated toothpaste to prevent a physical build up.
4. Floss correctly. Don't pull back and forth across the gums which can not only cause unnecessary cuts and bleeding but the introduction of bacteria. Gently pull floss up and down between teeth which will act as a brush to the full sides of teeth.
5. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables produces for not only good chewing exercise but healthy chemicals that prevent biofilms to the teeth which in turn cause a sticky surface for that plaque issue.
Life can catch us off guard and make us feel we are spinning out of control. Life isn’t without problems but how we handle them can affect our quality of health.
- If presently going through a difficult time, write it down. Make a list of everything that is creating a sense of stress. Begin to establish a plan to attack each point. Don’t try to be a superhero, thinking you should have all the answers. Often, the most lasting changes are those we take our time on. Work through the library or bookstore for the self-help section and comb through resources. Key into a favorite search engine “how to find happiness” and a collection of results will come up. These results may be towards divorce issues, work, marriage, and so on. Pick what pertains to you. Do periodic new research for needed answers. Recognize that by researching it will place a person in the seat of control.
- For more serious issues such as alcoholism or substance abuse, medical attention is needed. Gain help to physically deal with the impact of those toxic chemicals which in turn also impact mental wellbeing.
- When a professional is needed to help us through hard times, they can screen our health for the physical repercussions of stress and help to correct them. Someone on the outside can be of great help towards productive life changes. When in the middle of a crisis it is not easy to see our way through. Having help of a loved one, good friend, or therapist can be a huge help.
- Take time out for yourself and learn how to give self-care. Key into Pinterest “self-care” and review the many results that will come up. Read through posted articles and see what hits home. It is not selfish to take care of oneself, especially when it reduces stress and contributes to good health.
- Get involved in a fun exercise or hobby. Activities that we feel passionate about releases positive endorphins and allow the body to correct any stress chemicals. Be sure, however, to protect the time needed to continue to pursue a loved form of energy.
- Surround yourself with positive people, movies, TV shows, even books. Distance yourself from anything negative. When laughing with others instead of discussing all that’s wrong with the world also releases those powerful endorphins and perks our health.
- Need more ways to enhance mental health? Read Jon Beaty’s, licensed clinical social worker, article
- Design personal goals for you. It does not have to be New Years to do this; this can be done anytime, any day. Having goals helps us to feel productive and worthy. We were all born with a purpose and the continued pursuit helps us to enjoy life to the fullest. Society today does not require someone to work at a company for 50 years to be considered successful. Many change professions midlife. This thought process can be applied to any and everything. Build experiences and then share with others and become their muse helping them to also have good mental health.
Now that we’ve covered some simple and easy tactics to boost our health, let’s make it even simpler with a quick summary.
- Review what is being eaten. Reducing processed foods and increasing produce are two of the simplest ways to improve what is going into our bodies and allowing health to not only improve but shine through.
- Review how much physical movement is taking place each day. There literally are so many ways to sneak in exercise when days are crazy and so many ways to make exercise more exciting.
- Review sleep habits. What needs to be tweaked? Make peace with the pillow and wake up ready to face the world and embrace how sleep can improve health.
- Review mental health. Where do you stand in the areas of stress, anxiety, lack of excitement? Make plans to seek professional health where needed, but most of all make plans to change routines so your mind is respected and comforted.
- Don't forget about the power of good oral health. A bright smile is worth a thousand clues to sound health.
Five simple areas to address that will lead you on a path of greater health and, ultimately, greater joy. Don’t expect changes overnight, but remember that anything worth having, such as sound health, takes time and is worth the patience with the process.