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10 easy ways to improve your health today

Simple, fast, effective things you can do to be healthier right now.

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10 ways to get healthier

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From this moment onward, let’s erase any preconceived notions you may have about the need to invest hours a day in the gym, working up a sweat, or perhaps even longer in the kitchen, arduously prepping eggplant and Brussels sprouts, for you to be healthy.  Contrary to popular belief, improving your health is possible with just a few basic habits that take only minutes a day. Follow my advice and try the 10 simple, fast and effective tips below – and I promise you will boost your total wellness and see a new healthy glow as soon as tomorrow’s sunrise.

1. Dose up on vitamin D3   
If you had to pick just one nutrient to dose daily vitamin D3 would definitely be your best bet as a supplement superpower. This one little tablet can reduce your risk of the flu (especially H1N1), weight gain, bone disease (osteoporosis), diabetes, cancer, heart disease, pain and inflammation, depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and autoimmune disease. The Canadian Cancer Society recently recommended vitamin D supplementation as a protection against cancer of the breast, colon, skin and prostate. This announcement surely makes taking vitamin D a no-brainer considering these are many of today’s most common occurring forms of cancer. All these findings, and more, have led me to recommend a daily dose of 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D to all my patients, even in the summer.

2. Cut your sugar intake
Obvious sources of sugar are cookies, candies, pop, cakes, pies, muffins, baked goods, brown sugar and molasses. But my guess is that you will be surprised to realize all of the places that sugar seeps into your diet. Do you think of granola bars, energy drinks, juice, jam, most cereals, flavoured yogurt, ketchup and many other prepared condiments, white pasta, white rice or certain fruit as sources of sugar? You should.  All of these foods trigger the release of high amounts of insulin, the only hormone that always instructs the body to store energy as fat. Over time, high insulin also perpetuates your risk of increased belly fat, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease. Read labels and limit your intake of these sugary foods to only once or twice a week. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

3. Say goodnight to the Late Show

Yes, this means going to bed before 11 pm. We have put sleep on the back-burner and as a result we have become a society of sleep-deprived individuals at greater risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and depression. Starting tonight, make it your intention to achieve the recommended 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night (not more and not less), in the pitch dark, and you will not only enjoy greater energy, appetite control and mental focus daily – you’ll protect yourself from just about every disease associated with aging.

4. Enjoy more protein at breakfast
Skip toast, muffins, bagels, cereals, scones, oatmeal or danishes at your first meal of the day. The old adage to eat your carbs earlier in the day has set us many of us up for failure when it comes to reducing our overall sugar or carbohydrate intake. Studies show eating these foods not only increases our desire for them later in the day, they also increase appetite overall. Enjoy eggs or a whey protein isolate smoothie for breakfast and you will increase your metabolism and energy and free yourself from your chronic 3pm cookie or muffin habit.

5. Go for omega-3 over omega-6
The most commonly consumed polyunsaturated fatty acids in the average North American diet are omega-6 fatty acids. Yet way back in 1993, researchers found these fatty acids are directly related to excess insulin and play a significant role in obesity. Sources of omega-6 include meat, eggs, poultry, cereals, breads, baked goods, vegetable oils and margarine. Natural sources of health-promoting omega-3 include oily fish, canola and flaxseed oils, soybeans and nuts. Make it a dietary must to consume olive oil daily.

6. Add exercise to your omega-3s; it’s the perfect pairing for fat loss
When Professor Peter Howe and his colleagues at the University of South Australia studied the effects of diet and exercise on the body, they found that fish oil supplements and exercise made a powerful fat-loss combination. During the study, overweight to obese adults with metabolic syndrome and a greater risk of heart disease took omega-3 fish oil daily in combination with moderate exercise three times a week for 12 weeks. Body fat stores, particularly ab fat, were significantly reduced in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not in those who used fish oil or exercise alone. Fish oils make great sense for fat loss, especially when you are exercising. Psst…did you notice that exercise is required only three times a week?

7. Have you had your hug today?
Or taken time for a deep breath? If not, better act now. It may sound cliché’, but these simple habits reduce the most harmful and destructive force on your health – stress. Keeping stress in check is truly the most important factor influencing your wellness. If you need more inspiration to reduce your worry, check this study: Dr. Dan Mroczek, an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University and his research team proved that worrying takes up to 16 years off your life simply because of the nasty, destructive effects of cortisol, the stress hormone that skyrockets when we worry!

8. Always avoid the three nutritional no-no’s: hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup
Never break this rule. Elaboration is probably not required on this point; most of us know these things are not good for us.

9. Have regular sex – no matter how old you are
Sex keeps you young by keeping your rejuvenating hormones high. Scientists have looked at 100-year-old men and women who have maintained sexual intimacy and it turns out these centenarians living in Okinawa, Japan, and Bama, China, have higher levels of testosterone, DHEA and estrogen than typical 70-year-olds in the North America!

10. Smear vitamin C serum on your skin
No matter how old you are or if you are a male or female, apply vitamin C serum to your skin after washing and before applying your moisturizer. Topical use of a product containing stabilized vitamin C can increase the production of collagen in the skin. It can also promote skin-cell growth and aid in cell regeneration, which translates to younger-looking skin and improved firmness. Really, who doesn’t want to look stay looking young and fresh?

Natasha Turner, N.D. is a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor and founder of the Clear Medicine wellness boutique. She is also the author of the bestselling book The Hormone Diet