1) Drink water: The average person requires 1.5 - 2 litres of water every day - even more if you are active or live in a hot climate. Water is important for many body functions including regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients throughout your body, getting rid of wastes, lubricating your joints, and a vast array of other critical functions that happen on a cellular level.
A lack of water can cause muscle spasms/cramps, headache, brain fog, fatigue and intolerance to heat. Being dehydrated also decreases your physical ability, strength and endurance. As you can see, water is important for good health. When your body is dehydrated your brain sends you signals that can be confused with hunger - so if you feel hunger, try having a glass of water instead of food.
Ways to drink more water: carry a water bottle with you everywhere, have a glass 30 minutes before each meal, add natural flavour (fresh cut fruit) or drink herbal or green teas. NOTE: Coffee does not count towards your water intake.
2) Eat REAL food: By real food, I mean food that is as close to nature as possible. Think FRESH fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and other seafood. Choose WHOLE foods - most packaged, processed foods have been changed from their original source to make them easy to prepare, convenient and to have a longer shelf life so they last longer.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy. These sections have foods that have fewer ingredients (that makes them closer to REAL). Sometimes eating real foods may see less convenient, but there are lots of ways to make quick healthy meals that your family will love.
White sugar (or some form of it) is found in most packaged foods and baked products. Check out labels and choose wisely. Sugar substitutes are added to products to make them “lo-cal” or “diet”. Most of these substitutes are chemicals that our body isn’t quite sure what to do with (because they are not natural). A diet high in sugar can cause many healthy concerns including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestion problems, intestinal diseases/imbalances, etc. Sugar substitutes have been linked to increased body weight even though they are marketed as a diet food.
If you don’t want to give up sugar completely, I recommend that you choose natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, pure maple syrup and honey or zero-calorie Stevia. These are much healthier options than plain white sugar or chemical substitutes.
4) Sleep: Sleep is when your body does a lot of its repair, digestion, detox, rebuilding, etc. The average adult should aim for 7 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mental performance, daytime sleepiness, and decreased ability to perform repetitive tasks, and affect hormones. Cortisol is one hormone that is affected by lack of sleep and it is the one that is also associated with weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
Having a regular sleep schedule is important. Try going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time (yes, even on weekends). This will help set your body’s internal clock and will result in deeper, more efficient sleep. Avoid using anything with a screen within 1 hour of bedtime. Instead, read, do some relaxation techniques before bed or take a relaxing bath.
5) Move more: Our bodies were meant to move. Think of the days before all the modern conveniences - we walked everywhere, used our muscles more for work and household chores. When we don’t move we tend to get stiff, sore and can develop an array of physical problems. There are many diseases related to inactivity: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
There are lots of different suggestions on how much exercise we require for health. It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are now - just move MORE. If you simply begin add more movement than you are doing currently, you will be begin to improve your fitness level (and health). Eventually you will feel like you can do more and can increase to regular exercise. If you are an avid exerciser, add in more movement/exercise to your routine.
Easy ways to add more movement: take the stairs, go for a walk after dinner, park farther from your destination, get up and walk around during commercials while watching TV, find a buddy & join a walking group, take a fitness class, try a new activity, play a new sport… the options are endless.
By incorporating these 5 things into your daily living, you will begin to see improvements. You will feel better physically, have more energy and have improved mood. You will be well on your way to better health.