12 Wellness Tips
1. Eat fresh fiber 1st is a great reminder that our diets must contain a large percentage of complex carbohydrates. Lots of fresh veggies and some fruit daily will keep your digestive system moving along nicely, feed all of your friendly gut bacteria as well as provide nutrient rich, caloric poor food. Even a fast food burger will be better if proceeded by a fresh carrot!
2. Did you know that up to 75% of your body is water? Every cell that makes up your body contains water. Just like any other body of water, once it becomes stagnant, it will eventually become toxic and no longer be able to support life. Our body is much like that of a mountain lake, we require regular, ongoing fresh water intake to flush out our toxins and allow for vibrant health. Many chronic conditions such as constipation, headaches, and muscular aches and pains are simply a sign of dehydration.
So, divide your body weight in half and drink that many in ounces of water daily. By the way, soda, beer, coffee, and energy drinks do not count!
3. Sitting is the new smoking. Everyone knows by now that smoking is not a very intelligent activity if you want to live an optimal, healthy and active life. The new public message now is that prolonged sitting is detrimental to our health. There is actual evidence that sitting 8 hours per day will shorten your lifespan. Add up your sitting time: meals, driving/travel, work, relaxation, and you may be up to 16 hours per day. It isn’t just the inactivity of sitting; it is how the body adapts to sitting those results in structural changes to the body which in turn develops into symptoms like headache, neck and upper back pain, low back pain, arthritis, and degeneration.
By the way, a standing desk may change your position, but it too is a “prolonged stationary posture” which will have similar affects. The key and the solution is to have constant changes in posture and activity throughout your day. We have detailed workshops on this topic on a regular basis, check out our calendar of events.
4. Avoid S.S.G.D. The one thing in common with sugar, soy, grains and dairy consumption is that they all cause a spike in your blood glucose levels which in time will lead to insulin insensitivity, Type II diabetes, inflammation, pain, and poor immune function.
We hold regular Whole 30 challenges throughout the year where we really dig into these nutritional issues. Check out our calendar for details!
5. Did you know that movement is a genetic essential “nutrient” for the body? Your brain demands oxygen, glucose, and movement for the brain to function fully. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors only sat for approximately 2 hours per day. We are their genetic offspring and function best when we adhere to this principal. Research shows that 30 minutes minimum of vigorous (for you) activity daily is a basic requirement. Get that body moving and your heart and lungs pumping because we either use it, or lose it!
6. Essential 4:
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: These are also called Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and they are essential for proper growth, development, and function of the entire body from birth ‘til death. These healthy fats are needed by the brain, heart, nervous system, hormonal system, and immune system, and they promote healthy skin, hair, and happy moods, to name a few.
This type of fat was plentiful when we are non-processed, non-farmed animal protein. Most store bought poultry, meat, and fish is farmed, pen-raised, and caged, fed an artificial diet, and therefore has no naturally-occurring Omega-3 fat. So unless you are consuming on a REGULAR basis wild elk, venison, and line-caught, WILD fish: YOU ARE DEFICIENT!
What can YOU do to provide your body the essential fatty acids needed for optimal health? Supplement with high quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil, produced from clean ocean anchovies and sardines. A great example is OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 720, available for your convenience through our Wellness Center. It tastes great (slightly lemony), has no “repeat,” and is easy to take for adults on the go as well as finicky children. The recommended adult consumption is 1 Tbs/day.
VITAMIN D3: If you live north of San Francisco, or spend most of your time indoors, you will be deficient in Vitamin D3! If you are catching colds and the flu frequently, are experiencing fatigue, aching, poor memory, “winter blues,” or thinning bone density (osteoporosis), this is a clue that you may have been insufficient for some time. Cancer is a result of a poorly functioning immune system. There are numerous studies demonstrating that women sufficient in Vitamin D have up to 70% less cancers than those who are deficient.
Regular Vitamin D tablets or dietary sources require the exposure of a significant portion of your skin, specifically the trunk, to SUNLIGHT for about 15 minutes per day in order to activate. In the Pacific Northwest, we are sun deficient for most of the year, and we have been convinced that sun exposure is “bad” and we should stay out of it when it is sunny outside. Really, the key is to not get excessive sun exposure, like sunburn. A simple blood test will determine your levels of Vitamin D, and if you have not been supplementing with the active form, Vitamin D3, do not be surprised to find you are low. Vitamin D3 is extremely inexpensive and falls into the “no-brainer” category. Studies indicate consuming 4,000 to 6,000 IU/day as an adult is ideal. I recommend Metagenics Vitamin D3 Liquid, a naturally occurring Vitamin D3 suspended in sesame oil. One drop contains 1,000 IU. This great product is also available at our Wellness Center.
PROBIOTICS: Your digestive tract contains billions of bacteria – mostly friendly, and some not so friendly. There is always a tug-of-war going on to see which ones will outnumber the others.
The purpose of bacteria is to break down and aid in the absorption of nutrients that are then absorbed into the blood stream. The vast majority of one’s immune system is found in the gut.
Back in the hunter-gatherer days, we would pull a veggie out of the ground, pick a piece of fruit from a bush or a tree, or capture some tasty protein from a field or stream and eat it. That food was covered with naturally occurring bacteria, and it was introduced into our gut on a regular basis.
Today, most everything we eat is grown in sterile soil full of pesticides and fertilizers, and is washed, waxed, irradiated, and/or genetically modified. Moreover, most kids have had their first dose of antibiotics by the age of 6 months. Our diets are heavy in sugar, caffeine, dairy, and processed grains. A good bacterium hardly has a chance!
You are probably aware of this due to the excellent marketing of the dairy industry. Many of you may already be consuming yogurt with all that “good” bacteria. The problem here is that yogurt contains only the dairy strains and is most likely loaded with sugar (read the label, 4g = 1tsp.)
What is the answer? Supplement with a good probiotic which also contains prebiotics to ensure optimal intestinal colonization on a regular basis. I like UltraFlora Balance and UltraFlora for Children by Metagenics. Both of these fine products are available through our Wellness Center.
MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL: As mentioned earlier, our readily available food sources are not as nutritionally complete as our ancestors enjoyed in years past. Add to that the increased stress we are all under with our modern lives and the choices we often make when it comes to healthy eating. Do YOU really eat your 5-7 servings per day of organic, fresh fruits and veggies?
A good “insurance” is to add a high quality, whole food-derived, non-synthetic multi-vitamin/mineral product (refer to my paper on whole vs. synthetic vitamins). I highly recommend Phytomulti, available in men’s, women’s, and children’s formulations at our Wellness Center.
7. As we know, sleep is incredibly important (not to mention we feel great when we get a full nights rest) to our lives, but it’s not just about how we feel. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night has great health benefits as well. Research has shown that those who slept for less than 6 hours per night were more likely to experience premature death. The right amount of sleep is needed to help your immune system function. Different chemicals are released during sleep to help protect the body against inflammation and infection and with a shortened amount of time for the body to release these, we are more likely to have a weaker immune system. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night also helps manage appetite, decrease your risk of disease, and improve memory. The best ways to get more sleep? Schedule your sleep by waking up at the same time every day to help your body maintain a schedule, avoid foods and drinks like caffeine and chocolate at least 4 hours before you sleep as these are stimulants and may make it harder for you to fall asleep, and exercise regularly (a minimum of 20 minutes per day!)
8. We hear the words “positive energy” a lot, but maintaining a positive outlook on life has many benefits. Negative energy can have many physical effects on the body including headaches, restlessness and body tension, difficulty breathing, and confusion. Keeping this negative energy in or trying to suppress it can keep you in a constant state of stress. Positive energy has many positive effects on the body such as greater resistance to the common cold, better cardiovascular health and better coping skills during times of stress. A few ways to increase positive energy are yoga, meditation, reading, listening to music, and spending time outdoors.
9. Maintaining good posture is a vital piece of the puzzle to sustaining a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Bad posture such as slouching can lead to poor posture, but it isn’t always putting in long hours at the office that leads to a tired body. Sometimes muscles that may be inflexible (like tight chest muscles) contribute to slouching. Luckily, your posture can be improved with a few exercises and self-awareness. If you find yourself with a tired back, remember to take frequent breaks if sitting for long periods of time. Check your posture in a mirror to ensure your shoulders are back and your spine is in a neutral position, and incorporate exercises such as planks to help increase your core strength and flexibility to support your posture. Of course spinal alignment is at the core of your posture. Regular wellness chiropractic adjustments will insure an optimal functioning of the spine.
10. Television, cell phone, computer screen, you name it, we are in front of one for most of our day. In a recent study, it was found that most people spend 10 or more hours in front of a screen each day. Looking at a screen for an extended period of time can lead to strained and tired eyes, headaches, poor posture, and sleep disturbances. If you are in front of a screen for most of your day, ensure you are taking frequent breaks (10 minute break for every hour of screen time) to give your eyes a break. Due to the light that is emitted from our phone, computer, and tablet screens, using these devices too soon before bed can lead to throwing off your circadian clock rhythm (your body’s internal clock) and making it harder to fall asleep. By ending screen time use a minimum of 30 minutes before bed (but 1-2 hours is even better!) you will have a more restful and full night’s sleep. Instead of staring at a screen before bed, try meditating, journaling, or reading a book to help you wind down.
11. Setting realistic goals and striving to reach them is beneficial for a number of reasons. Not only does goal setting provide a direction and destination for you efforts, but it also helps you to clear your mind and focus on what is really important in order to reach these goals. Clear goal setting can also help with motivation in reaching both long-term and short-term aspirations. Setting small milestones for long-term goals allows these larger goals to become more realistic and attainable, while also letting you track your progress.
12. Have you ever noticed your posture isn’t as it should be? Do you also suffer from back, hip, or knee pain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be wearing the wrong shoes. Proper footwear is important, not just for protecting your feet, but also ensuring you have proper arch support and healthy posture. Wearing shoes that come with arch support or inserting orthotics into your shoes are both good options to promote good posture. Call us to schedule a complimentary digital foot scan to see if custom orthotics is right for you.