Following the lifestyle of a low-calorie diet and moderate exercise are commonsense. But in 2020, making healthy decisions has never been more confusing with the influx of chemically-processed foods and beverages at our fingertips. Even worse, they are often deceptively marketed as being a healthy solution.
There is something to be said for our nutrition playing a major role in our overall health; “we are what we eat,” as the saying goes. Published studies, including those from Harvard Medical School, have uncovered that chronic inflammation is a leading cause and common denominator for illness — from autoimmune diseases to digestive disorders, to cardiac conditions such as coronary artery disease.
Here are our top 4 health tips to help heal yourself from the inside and out!
1. Eat Whole Foods
While supplements can play a valuable role in our overall health, they cannot replace the priceless benefits of eating whole foods. Many supplements are not bioavailable, meaning our bodies aren’t able to fully utilize or absorb all of their ingredients. Some nutritionists like to refer to them as producing “expensive urine.” So if your vanity looks like a make-shift pharmacy full of potions and pills, you should switch to a more nutritious diet instead.
Additionally, it is important to try and eat food in its original form. Anything that is processed does not hold the same nutrients that your body craves. Try to primarily shop on the perimeter of the grocery store — where you’ll find the best choices, including fresh produce, proteins, and dairy. By avoiding the center aisles as much as possible, you’ll steer clear of heavily processed foods meant for shelf stability.
Now, where it can get even trickier is when companies wrongly market their food as healthy. One example is the latest craze for plant-based burgers that taste just like a meat-based burger. But when you dive through their ingredients, the list often includes genetically modified organisms and other inflammation-inducing ingredients (e.g., unhealthy oils).
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
The benefits of drinking water cannot be overstated. Our body make-up is around 60% water and our muscles about 80%, so if we don’t regularly replenish ourselves our health is compromised. Dehydration impacts our body’s ability to control its temperature, reduces motivation, increases fatigue, and makes exercising much harder. Hydration also plays a major role in our brain function and energy levels.
Some folks don’t care for water because of the taste. Adding flavor like juice from fresh lemons, mint, or cucumbers can help make the experience more enjoyable. If you can not seem to remember to drink water consistently throughout the day, carry around an extra-large BPA-free bottle, and you won’t have to worry about filling it back up as often. Still, need more help to get the water down? Invest in a tech-savvy bottle that will remind you to drink so you won’t have any excuses.
3. Slow Down on Sugar
Sugar puts a significant strain on our liver and shifts it into fat storage mode. The worst type of sugars is “refined,” which includes white sugar and brown sugar. Refined sugars have no nutrients and are processed with damaging ingredients. “Unrefined” sugars such as coconut sugar, turbinado, and natural sugars are a better choice since they are not highly processed. There are also alternate sugars such as monk fruit, stevia, xylitol and erythritol that won’t significantly spike your blood sugar.
By cutting out white sugars as well as fake chemically-created sugars, you will be saving your health one teaspoon at a time. The American Heart Association suggests consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily for women and 9 teaspoons daily for men. For context, a 12 oz can of Coke has nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar, that’s more than an entire day’s worth of sugar-based on the AHA’s recommendation.
4. Eat Organic Whenever Possible
Sadly, pesticides, GMOs, and synthetic ingredients have infiltrated kitchens around America. Buying organic is more expensive for consumers since it is more costly for farmers and distributors to produce natural food. For this reason, it can be overwhelming to make the shift to organic products in your shopping cart. Start slow and begin the transition in areas that will make the biggest difference to your body by reducing toxic burdens. For example, if you’re a coffee or tea drinker, consider purchasing an organic version as they are one of the most sprayed crops sitting on store shelves.
Another example — when buying fresh produce, a general rule of thumb is that if it has a peel on it that you don’t consume (e.g. bananas, oranges, etc.), it’s safer to eat those as non-organic. But foods that do not have a peel (e.g. broccoli), or a peel that you do consume (e.g. apples), chances are that they were probably drenched in pesticides so grab those items from the organic section instead. Additionally, any food that is certified organic automatically means it is non-GMO.
To continue the conversation on improving health, come back to our blog later this month and learn about the healthy benefits of bacteria, the difference between ‘good vs. bad’ bacteria, and how to implement good bacteria into your diet.