Five Steps to a Healthier You

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STEP # 1 – Guard Your Lips (And everything you put between them).

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.

– Hippocrates – (400 B.C.)

Hippocrates offers us some very sound advice in this statement recorded over 2000 years ago. As more and more evidence is gathered and research conducted, the conclusion is clear and indisputable…Hippocrates was right. The foods we consume have the power to sustain life, prevent disease and heal disabling infirmities.

However, food can also be, literally and figuratively, the death of us. As a nation, the United States of America, along with most industrialized countries, are consuming increasing quantities of over-processed and chemically altered foods & drinks everyday. Often, the foods we consume end up consuming us. Some have referred to it as “Death on the Installment Plan”. Others call it “Suicide by Diet”. But no matter what you call it, we should probably all look at our diets as the first step in improving our health.

A variety of the right types and combinations of foods (fresh organic fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts & grains) nourish and rebuild our bodies. The wrong types of foods (highly refined, processed, artificial, fatty, contaminated foods) may sustain life, but are systematically destroying our bodies.

Remember, Life is not a dress rehearsal; it’s the “Big Show”. We live in a world of abundance for the most part. When our car gets rusty and begins running poorly, we junk it and buy another one. The same holds true with our home appliances and lawn mowers. As a result we have developed an “All things are replaceable or fixable” mentality. However, that theory does not hold true when it comes to the human body. Unless you’re Dr. Frankenstein, functioning spare body parts are very difficult to come by. When the bodies, we were given at birth have a serious melt-down, it means hospitalization, surgery, or even death. Therefore, take care in selecting the products you consume. The vehicle you’re building and maintaining is the only one you’ll get. The following diet-related measures will go a long way toward a better, healthier you:

  1. Learn to read nutritional labels on purchased food, and then look for the most wholesome choice available by comparison shopping.
  2. Choose “whole wheat” over “Enriched”, “Wheat”, or “Unbleached” flour.
  3. Avoid foods with flavor enhancers like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
  4. Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives like Sodium Nitrate.
  5. Avoid foods with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Sucralose
  6. Put back foods or drinks that contain artificial colors like Yellow 5 or Red 40
  7. Select foods that have low or no saturated fat
  8. Don’t over-do-it with products containing polyunsaturated fat
  9. Select foods that have low or no cholesterol
  10. Avoid products that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
  11. Select foods that are high in dietary fiber
  12. Select foods that state: “Whole Wheat” or “Whole Grain”
  13. Select “Organic” when available
  14. Select the Super-Foods when they are available. These foods are excellent choices that have been closely studied and selected as “Super” when it comes to healthful dietary benefits. Below are several excellent examples of Super-Foods:
  15. Mexican Red Beans (dried)
  16. Wild Blueberries
  17. Red Kidney Beans
  18. Pinto Beans
  19. Cultivated Blueberries
  20. Cranberries
  21. Artichokes (cooked)
  22. Blackberries
  23. Prunes

10 Raspberries

11 Strawberries

12 Red Delicious Apples

13 Granny Smith Apples

14 Pecans

15 Cherries

16 Black Plums

17 Russet Potatoes (cooked)

18 Black Beans (dried)

19 Red Plums

20 Gala Apples

STEP # 2 – Drown Your Sorrows (With plenty of fresh, clean water)

Proper hydration of the body can do everything from simply sustain life, improve our mood, increase joint flexibility, improve mental acuity and clarity of thought, as well as flush cancer causing environmental toxins from our systems. Proper hydration should come primarily from fresh, clean water. The best sources of water are those that are familiar to you, and that are tested regularly for pollutants. Municipal water sources, typically, are not good sources. Nor are some bottled water sources. So, what should I drink, you ask? Let’s look at a few alternatives:

  1. Filtered Water With Lemon – Some refer to it as the “King of the Drink. Room temperature filtered water with a squeeze of fresh lemon has the following beneficial properties:

•    Alkalizes the body to release toxins at the cellular level

•    Lemons are antiseptic by nature

•    Excellent digestive properties

•    Eases heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems

•    Cleanses and stimulates the liver & kidneys

•    Contains calcium, magnesium & potassium

•    Suspected of providing relief from asthma

•    When hot, it offers relief from cold and flu symptoms

•    Provides Vitamin C

•    Great for the skin

  1. Fresh, Pure, Unpolluted Water. Our bodies must have it to survive. Most of us can live without food for weeks, yet few, if any, will last a week without water. However, of our available sources of supply, some are far better than others. The best sources would be those that supply water that has been tested by a reputable testing lab to be free of carcinogenic contaminants like lead, mercury, radon, arsenic, etc.
  2. Mountain spring water with the following characteristics is excellent:
  3. Tested to be free of toxins and bacteria
  4. No plastic bottle

iii.            PH alkaline

  1. Rich in minerals
  2. Sourced from an unpopulated area (far from a major city)
  3. Sourced from a non or minimally industrialized area
  4. Well Water
  5. Deep well, tested regularly for contaminants
  6. No plastic bottle

iii.            Tested to be alkaline

  1. Non-polluted source
  2. From an unpopulated area
  3. Filtered with a suitable filter
  4. Freshly Juiced Fruits & Vegetables
  5. Vitamin & nutrient rich
  6. High in antioxidant properties
  7. Most are great for the skin
  8. Green or White Tea
  9. Rich in healthful polyphenols and antioxidants that protect against disease

STEP # 3 – Protect Thyself

Every day we are under attack and not necessarily by visible assailants. We’re referring to free-radical attack. Free radicals can physically age us, well beyond our chronological ages. Free radicals are molecules that form, due to the utilization of oxygen by the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can interact with cells in the body and damage them. Free radicals are so harmful to the body that they’ve been implicated in more than 100 serious health problems. These free radicals can damage cells and DNA, alter internal biochemicals, destroy cell membranes and even kill cells.

Just your normal body processes create free radicals, but this is inevitable. Our intent here is to teach you how to take action to avoid environmentally induced free radicals. Every one of our cells is estimated to take 10,000 hits per day and every strand of DNA is estimated to take about 5,000 a day. These hits are caused by pollution in the air, food and water we partake of each day, as well as UV rays from the sun.  Our bodies are capable of neutralizing the majority of these free radicals, but if there’s too much free radical oxidation, your body is overwhelmed. The result can be the onset of illness and serious disease. These diseases can affect our skin, heart, lungs, brain, eyes, etc.

There are a number of ways we can protect ourselves from these molecular menaces. Several good methods are:

  1. Avoid cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke completely.
  2. Limit your exposure to UV radiation in the form of sunlight and sunlamps.
  3. Wear sunscreen when you are out in the sun for more than an hour or two (less if light complected).
  4. Avoid smog and air pollution as much as possible. Leave the windows and vents closed if you’re in slow, heavy traffic.
  5. Know your water source and make sure it is tested regularly, and use a filter if contaminants are discovered (even if they are stated as being “within acceptable levels”).
  6. Check labels on consumer products for toxic substances. Change to an all-natural product if possible.
  7. Buy organic products when available. Even healthy foods and juices can be heavily contaminated by agrichemicals.

Are you buying toxic food? Typically, foods high on the food chain tend to accumulate the highest concentrations of contaminants. The most contaminated parts of nearly any animal is the fat and organ meats such as the liver, lung and kidney. The latter serves as the filtration system for these animals and tends to collect environmental toxins.

Carnivorous fish like swordfish and shark, scavenger fish like catfish, and shellfish such as clams and oysters also tend to accumulate high levels of toxins. Even fruits and vegetables are sometimes contaminated with herbicides, insecticides and chemical fertilizers. According to the Environmental Working Group, the most contaminated produce are currently:

1 Peaches

2 Apples

3 Bell Peppers

4 Celery

5 Nectarines

6 Strawberries

7 Cherries

8 Lettuce

9 Grapes (imported)

10 Pears

11 Spinach

12 Potatoes

One study found that people exposed to pesticides had a 70% higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease. Farmers who experience over-exposure to pesticides tend to have a higher risk of contracting leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, sarcoma and other forms of cancer. It is calculated that we can reduce pesticide exposure 90% by eliminating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, mentioned above, from our diet.

Consider Supplementation

Eating an excellent diet will help fight off free radical damage tremendously. However, when your diet is not so good, supplementing with a good multi-vitamin and some antioxidants is a great way to help make up for a less than ideal diet.

Antioxidants are typically plant-derived elements (phytonutrients) that reduce oxidation at the cellular level within the human body, thereby reducing the damaging effects of free radicals. Some nutritional supplements have been proven more effective than others at this task. Ask your healthcare professional if the following supplements are acceptable additions to your daily nutritional intake:

Vitamin A – In the form of 10,000 IU of beta-carotene daily.

Vitamin C – 250mg 3-4 x per day

Vitamin E – 400 IU daily of d-alpha tocopherol

Selenium – 100 mcg per day

Grapeseed Extract – As directed on packaging

Resvertrol – As directed on packaging

STEP # 4 – Get Going

Regular exercise will keep your engine running smoothly, keep your mind fresh and supply much needed energy and vitality. Physical activity burns excess calories to keep the pounds off, while toning and firming muscles. In many cases, our activities strengthen our joints and help us sustain a greater range of motion as we age.

Just a brisk 30-40 minute walk each day will help your body in a number of ways. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and decrease appetite, which is good for those of us watching our waistline. Getting aerobic (cardio) training is essential in strengthening the heart and lungs, as well as helping to cleanse our bodies of accumulated toxins. Getting some resistance, or strength training a couple days a week is important as well, and becomes even more important as we age. It helps reduce the age-related loss of muscle mass and bone density.

STEP # 5 – Learn to Chill

Stress is the great pretender. It masquerades as mandatory worry and anxiety, mostly over situations beyond our control. Stress keeps us awake at night; which causes weight gain, which stresses us out again; which brings about illness, which stresses us out all over again, and then the cycle repeats until we parish.

Learning how to relax, and the importance of adequate rest, is essential in our quest to be the best that we can be. Consider the following suggestions:

  1. Make sure you get 6-8 hours of sleep every night (8 is better). Don’t allow your life to get so out of control that there isn’t enough time left in the day to get adequate sleep. While we sleep, our bodies and minds regenerate. Damaged cells are repaired, toxins are filtered out of our blood stream and waste products make their way to the back door.
  2. Laugh it off. Laugh reduces stress, lengthens our lifespan, boosts immune function and protects our nervous system. Laughter operates on biophysical, biochemical, and bioenergetic levels. It helps move lymph fluid, while oxygenating our organs through increased oxygen intake.
  3. Have faith. Persons with a strong religious faith tend to live longer, are healthier and have a more stress-free life in general. Because they have such a strong belief, urgent situations prompt a season of intercessory prayer, versus worry and stress.
  4. Like the song say’s, “find me somebody to love”. Love is an emotion that can help stem the tide of stress and worry. Just having a shoulder to cry on sometimes is a huge blessing. Having someone to care for us, and that we can care for in return, is a wonderful thing. I’m not saying to rush right out and get married, as marriage is not for everyone. However, you should have someone special in your life that you can depend on. A close personal friend or even a dog will due in a pinch.

Don’t take life so serious that it causes you to become something, or somebody you’re not. You will have bad days, even weeks at times. So you’ll need to learn to accept the profound fact, that: “Some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue”.

In summary, simply learn to eat right, stay hydrated, be weary of our toxic environment, get some exercise on most days of the week, and learn to relax. These 5 disciplines will help you become a better, healthier you.

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