Ten Tips to Optimize Your Health in 2013

As part of your New Year’s resolution let’s make lasting changes to our lifestyles and diet in 2013.  Let’s steer clear of that crash diet that inevitably leads to temporary results with no lasting health effects.  Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry and it wouldn’t be the hearty money-making machine that it is if there weren’t repeat customers. So, why do people fail and return for seconds, thirds, or more?  Ultimately, it is up to the dieter to take control of their health and make informed decisions.  Although many ‘diets’ can bring some level of success we need to think in terms of permanent lifestyle changes rather than the enticing gratification of immediate, yet inevitably, temporary weight loss if we intend on making lasting changes in our lives.

Here are ten recommendations to help you feel and look your best in 2013!

  1. Ensure adequate essential fatty acid consumption: EFAs are extremely important for health and vitality. EFA deficiencies are associated with many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, skin afflictions, dry skin, behavioural problems, poor wound healing, arthritis, and weakened immunity. The best plant-source of both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids is hemp seed oil. Flax is the richest source of omega 3 EFAs. Fish like salmon, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, and eel contain large quantities of omega-3 EFAs. Dark green vegetables such as spinach, parsley, and broccoli also contain small quantities of EFAs. All whole, fresh, unprocessed foods contain some EFAs.
  2. Ensure adequate intake of minerals, vitamins, protein, and fibre:  There are several essential vitamins and minerals required for human health. Their presence in our body lowers cholesterol levels, protects EFAs from free radical damage, and are needed to metabolize sugars and starches for the production of energy. Proteins are required for human health; among meats, fish is preferable to chicken and turkey, which are preferable to lamb, beef, and pork. Eggs contain excellent protein. Among plant sources, seeds and nuts are rich in protein. Fibre promotes bowel regularity, helps stabilize blood sugar, and helps eliminate bile acids and cholesterol from the body as well as reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease.  Fibre is found in many sources; especially rich sources include beans, wholegrain cereals (barley, oats, rice), fruits, vegetables and nuts.
  3. Fresh water, fresh air, sunshine: Our bodies are made up of nearly 70% water so it is essential to drink clean and fresh sources of water free of toxins such as chlorine.  You should invest in a filtration system which will eliminate these hazards. Our air should be clean and fresh. Avoid outdoor areas that are high in pollution and ensure your indoor air is of good quality by cleaning regularly (to keep down dust, bacteria, and moulds), not introducing toxic products into your home (i.e. cleaning products) and by installing an indoor air filtration system. And when it comes to sunshine human health requires full-spectrums sunlight including UV rays in moderation.  Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra.
  4. Exercise: There is irony in the fact that we live busy and hectic lives, but have never been more sedentary in human history. We are always on the go but doing it planted in the seat of the car. Exercise is an essential component to our health important for managing everything from stress and depression to healing injuries and preventing disease. Lack of exercise on the other hand results in poor digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
  5. Relax, rest, pray/meditate and network with friends and family: Enjoy life! Say no to stress. When planning your day, strike a balance between work and play. Spend at least 15 minutes per day doing something you love!
  6. Lower fat (and cholesterol) consumption: The easiest way to reduce fat consumption is to decrease our consumption of fatty foods and increase our consumption of low-fat, high-fibre foods. Avoid the obvious sources of poor-quality fats such as fried foods, burgers and other fatty meats (i.e. pork, bacon, ham, salami, ribs and sausage). Dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, milk and cream should be eaten in low fat versions. Sandwich meats, mayonnaise, margarine, butter and sauces should be eaten in limited amounts.
  7. Avoid altered fats: Humans consume nearly 10 pounds of altered fats per person per year. The main sources of altered fats are hydrogenated oil products. These are to be avoided. Shortenings, margarine, shortening oils, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils make up most of the altered fats in our food supply.  They are found in bakery products, candies, French fries, fried and deep-fried foods, and processed convenience foods and snacks such as potato and corn chip and other bagged snacks.
  8. Avoid refined sugars; reduce refined starches and calorie-rich foods: Refined sugars are everywhere. Products containing refined sugars are calorie-rich yet nutritionally devoid of valuable nutrients. White flour products such as pastas should also be avoided since they lack the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids necessary for health.
  9. Avoid toxins including drugs, pesticides, and food additives: Toxins are found in a lot of the food and drink we consume each day. Toxins are dangerous to your body and can cause a range of health problems.  Avoid artificially processed foods and drinks containing pesticides and other harsh chemicals. An important thing to remember is that although the human body has the incredible ability to detoxify itself, when it is not at optimum health this can be seriously compromised. So although organic foods can be more expensive they are well worth the extra expense. It is essential that your body receives the correct nutrients to achieve and maintain optimal health.
  10. Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the major causes of death in our country. If you smoke then you are enhancing the chances of diseases that will end up in death, such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, mouth cancer and severe problems regarding throat, kidney, bladder and pancreas. If you quit smoking then there will be considerable minimization in the risk involved due to cancer, heart disease and other deadly diseases.

This year don’t let your New Year’s resolution be “something that goes in one year and out the other”. Rather, remember each small change can add up to big results and this leads to a healthier YOU in 2013.

Happy New Year and Best Wishes in 2013!

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