Better health is built on a foundation of the 3 pillars: diet, exercise and mindfulness. These all act as the foundation for ‘self-healing’ to build a better and healthier you for the new year.
In essence you are what you eat, with the food you eat contributing to your overall health. ‘Bad food in leads to bad health out’.
Exercise allows your body to maximize your food potential and create a fine tuned machine that can extract the nutrition it requires from what you consume and fuel your body effectively. ‘The fitter you are the more energy you will feel’.
Mindfulness allows you to control how your thoughts and emotions impact on this homeostasis and protects you from losing your balance. ‘A balanced mindful person will maintain good health and well-being and be able to self-heal during times of fluctuation’.
Below are our top 10 tips to help you create your own 3 pillars and ensure you achieve your health potential this year.
It’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to try to restrain yourself from indulging
1. Empty your cupboard of tempting foods and drinks
How many times have you said to yourself, “just one piece” before devouring the whole chocolate bar. The reality is junk food is almost impossible to resist if it is right in front of you. When shopping it’s much easier to skip the junk food aisle than it is to try and restrain yourself from eating the food later. Start by removing all the processed sweets from your cupboards and begin to find healthy alternatives for rewards on days when you have exercised (eg, banana, cacao powder and coconut yoghurt, instead of a chocolate bar).
2. Choose quality over quantity
Fresh, nutrient rich smaller portions are best; shop seasonal, local and organic. Choose a varied diet, not the same things every day, to ensure you are receiving a balanced range of vitamins and minerals. In our culture we think that ‘quantity equals value’ and as a consequence many people eat almost twice as much as their body actually needs. For food portion guidelines see our Daily Planer here to give you your ideal portion sizes. One good idea is to use a smaller plate to avoid overeating. Smaller portions reduce your levels of oxidative stress associated with digestion, allow for a healthy gut and also provide better nutrient absorption from your food.
Don’t over eat, use a smaller plate to ensure you reduce you portion sizes.
Are you an emotional eater? Let your body guide you as to what you need vs what you feel you want.
3. Start to listen to your body, it will tell you when you are full, truly hungry, stressed or tired
Chemical signals throughout our body are sent to our brain to continually adjust and maintain balance. More acknowledgement of these signals can lead to a better balance and better health. For example when you begin eating it can take up to 15 minutes to send hormones to your brain to tell you that you are “full”. It is important to not leave too long between meals, control your portion sizes and eat slowly to allow your body to register the messages your stomach is sending. Differentiating between true hunger and emotional hunger is key to improving mental and physical health. Before each meal ask yourself “is this true hunger or emotional hunger?”
You feel open to different food options
Doesn’t have to be filled immediately
You stop when you’re full
You feel good when finished
Crave one particular food only
Must be eaten right now
Keep eating even when full
You feel guilty, shameful, or unsatisfied
4. Reduce or eliminate sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and coffee
Sugar, alcohol and excess caffeine are all highly inflammatory. Those who regularly eat foods rich in simple sugars (high GI) are creating an oxidative and inflammatory environment in their body. Substitute your refined carbohydrates for unrefined whole grains (low GI). Refer to our Foods to Eat and Avoid Guide for some examples to help you make better sugar choices and improve your health and well-being. If you have the following symptoms you may be suffering from sugar related inflammation:
The amount of sugar we consume is killing us, it creates an oxidative and inflammatory environment in our blood vessels and can lead to serious health problems.
Accelerated ageing (e.g. wrinkles)
Dull hair or skin
Skin disorders (acne, eczema, allergies)
Digestive problems (indigestion, bloating, IBS)
Excess weight and insulin resistance
Superfoods and supplements can help boost your energy and vitality and reduce oxidative stress.
5. Increase your antioxidant intake or supplement you own natural enzyme antioxidants
To reduce your levels of oxidative stress and ensure better health include foods rich in antioxidants (e.g. Superfoods like Maca or Cacao). In addition, consider supplementing your body’s own natural antioxidant levels for super enzymes like Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx). GPx is made naturally in your body to protect your cells from oxidative damage and enhance your energy levels.
As we age, during times of stress, disease, poor diet and lifestyle, GPx levels can become low and less effective. Low levels of GPx can leave our body feeling tired, lethargic, anxious, stressed, mentally clouded, out of balance and create an overactive or under active immune system. Supplements like GPx Cell Protect can increase GPx levels and more effectively recycle the GPx we have, therefore reducing the oxidative stress and bringing the body back to balance. Read more here.
6. Increase water intake to 8 glasses per day
Your body needs 1.5-2L (8 glasses) of water per day to function effectively. If you feel sluggish and tired often simply increasing your water intake can help you feel immediately more alert and energised. Try to avoid diuretics like coffee as these can cause your body to become dehydrated and puts a lot of pressure on your kidneys. Upon urinating your stream should be a clear to a pale yellow colour. Any darker and you may want to consider drinking some more water.
Dehydration is one of the simple causes of fatigue and the one most easily cured.
Good health all starts in your gut, if you can balance your gut bacteria (biome) you can balance you health.
7. Take daily probiotics or fermented foods and beverages for gut health
Gut health is essential to overall health. The gut is your barrier between the body and the outside world and as such it is a vitally important part of your immune system. Studies have shown links between poor gut health and chronic health conditions, poor immunity and even mental health disorders. In fact gut imbalance (dysbiosis) is even thought to be one of the main culprits in inflammatory conditions like chronic fatigue (read more here).
The best way to improve gut health is to eat an unrefined, nutrient rich range of foods (see our food guide here) and to avoid foods rich in sugar, fat and salt as these can propagate gut inflammation. Digestion starts in the mouth and requires the food to be broken into the smallest pieces possible to allow more surface area for better extraction of nutrients. Chew every mouthful properly, mixing it thoroughly with saliva. For better gut health you can introduce probiotics (capsules or yoghurt) and fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, kraut, kimchi and take a daily supplement that naturally reduces gut inflammation (such as GPx).
8. Keep a health diary
Everybody is different and every body responds to stress in different ways. To fully understand your body it is essential to start to look for correlations and triggers that cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or anxiety. By keeping a log of how you feel on a day to day basis and recording what you eat, drink and how you are exercising you can create a clearer understanding of how your body responds to exercise and eating habits. It is also essential when introducing new health solutions as it can help you keep track of positive changes. This way you can refine the right health solutions for you down to the bare essentials and save yourself time and money.
A health diary can act to personalise your health experience and teach you more about what your body needs
Find an exercise regime that works for you. The more enjoyable the more likely you are to maintain it.
9. Begin an exercise program tailored to your needs
Exercise is an important part of building and maintaining good health and well-being. Our bodies were designed to continually move and with ever increasing sedatory lifestyles our health is beginning to suffer. Exercise can reduce inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance and balance both the body and the mind. The key is finding an exercise regime that works for you, the more enjoyment it gives you the more likely you are to keep it up. Exercise is accumulative so you don’t have to exert yourself all in one block, you can space it out across the days and weeks. Small continual workouts are better for your body than long infrequent ones. Create a workout network and work with others to challenge yourself and increase your enjoyment, push each other to achieve more. It is also good to consult with a professional to ensure your workouts are enhancing your health and not worsening any health conditions you may have.
10. Practice mindfulness and learn ways to still your thoughts
All stressors, including thoughts and emotions have the ability to negatively affect the patterns of energy which influence the functions of the whole body. Over time prolonged stress can cause energy imbalances in our body that can lead to chronic health conditions. Energy therapies place great emphasis on the breath and mind to balance and direct energy within the body, to activate self-healing. Examples of these include yoga, tai chi, qigong, meditation and pilates. As such regular practice of an energy art or mindfulness has the ability to free the body and mind of internal stress and either heal or prevent future health problems. To find out more on the effectiveness of holistic energy medicine read our article here.
Holistic energy arts like yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation are amazing tools to enhance self-healing and promote mindfulness.
To help guide on on your health journey we have created a health guide and food planner to ensure you are making the right health decisions for you and your body. To download you copy visit our homepage or click on the pictures below.