Tips for Good Health During 2018

by Diane, M.P.H, M.S.

  1. Follow a healthy diet: Include more naturally colorful, plant foods (in-season, when possible), like green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish and lean meats in moderation.
  2. Add vegetables to meals where they weren’t included before.
  3. Pick one day to cook enough dried beans, lentils or whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, farro, etc.) for the week: These foods are high in fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals and delicious for any meal or snack.
  4. Watch portion sizes: Swap your large dinner plate for a smaller one. Fill half your plate with vegetables and/or fruit, 1/4 with protein and 1/4 with whole grains. When eating out, share your main course or order an appetizer portion for a main meal.
  5. Chew food slowly and carefully, to reduce your risk of choking, eat less, give your stomach more time to signal your brain that it’s full, and improve digestion.
  6. Roast, instead of fry, your food, for flavorful, crispy foods with fewer calories and less saturated fat.
  7. Eat non-processed snacks (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds) to reduce your intake of calories, salt, sugar, artificial dyes, preservatives and other chemicals.
  8. Eat more prebiotics: Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber, non-digestible parts of food, that promote growth of beneficial microorganisims in the intestines. Prebiotics, like garlic, onion, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, leeks, soy beans, wheat bran, whole oats, whole wheat, apple, and banana, help probiotics to colonize good gut bacteria, may help the body absorb calcium, maintain bone health and play an important role in satiety.
  9. Add nutritious, fermented foods to your diet: Probiotics (healthy bacteria) in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha tea are good for the digestive tract and immune system.
  10. Sit less and stand more: Walk around every 30 minutes, to focus better and improve your health.
  11. Get up and move every 60-90 minutes: Physical activity, whether a quick walk around the block or to fill a water bottle, can improve your energy, reduce stress/tension/negative emotions and boost positive emotions. Current guidelines call for at least 150 minutes/week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes/week of vigorous activity to improve blood flow, help you stay healthy and reduce mental stress. Join a gym, exercise at home, and do more to stay active (cleaning, taking frequent walks or stairs instead of an elevator, jogging while watching TV, gardening, dancing).
  12. Add resistance exercise: Keep muscles and bones strong with at least two days a week of moderate or high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities that include all major muscle groups.
  13. Stop smoking, to help your body become toxin-free and reduce your risk of respiratory disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer.
  14. Follow a consistent bedtime routine and get enough sleep, 7 to 8 hours (even 9 sometimes): Sleep is crucial to feel fresh and energized when you wake up; less tired, irritable, overwhelmed and stressed throughout the day; to stay focused longer; maintain good immunity, metabolism, memory, judgment, learning and more. A lack of sleep can lead to the development of physical and/or psychological problems, like anxiety, depression and insomnia. Follow a simple routine: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet, put down your smartphone at the same time each night and do something tech-free, like taking a bath or reading a book. Screens can stimulate your brain, making it harder to fall asleep! Being stressed may also make it harder to sleep, which in turn triggers even more stress.
  15. Be proactive with your health: Schedule regular checkups, screenings and follow-ups with your doctor and dentist, to obtain updates on your health and guidance, if any problems seem to be developing. Prevention is always better than the required cure.
  16. Form bonds and a support system (with close family members, friends, colleagues or a favorite place of worship), to unburden your emotions, troubles, and for physical well-being, especially during times of stress.
  17. Stay hydrated: Drink fresh, clean water, eat juicy fruits, vegetables, broth, soup, and limit caffeinated drinks. Water is one of the best choices for staying well-hydrated. While coffee or herbal tea may provide some hydration, people with caffeine sensitivity should avoid caffeine after 12 p.m., so it does not disrupt sleep.
  18. Practice mindfulness (be aware of your thoughts and feelings in any given moment, to keep emotions from spiraling) and gratefulness (recognize the things and people you’re thankful for) to reduce stress. Mindfulness helps people manage negative emotions, and gratefulness helps people boost positive emotions. Showing gratitude can be as easy as thanking your friend for listening to you vent, or treating a helpful colleague to a cup of coffee. When you feel stressed, try to shift your perspective and view the world in a positive way. It’s natural to think of stress as debilitating, but seeing it as an opportunity for growth has benefits. People who view stress as “enhancing” show greater performance at work and fewer negative health effects. Changing your perception of experiences, can help change the level of risk you interpret them as having.
  19. Count your blessings: Appreciate the good things you have, what you’ve achieved in life, and be grateful for your life experiences. Feeling grateful can improve both your physical and emotional well-being. People who routinely count their blessings report better moods, healthier coping behaviors, fewer physical symptoms and overall more life happiness than those who don’t.
  20. Develop a hobby: Go to a dance, cooking, sewing or painting class, wood workshop, or do gardening, to spend some free time doing something that makes you feel good about yourself.
  21. Take a break from Facebook and other social media: Many people find that the less time they spend on social media, the better their ability is to de-stress, be less critical, anxious and more present in the moment.
  22. Volunteer to help others less fortunate than you.
  23. Meditate and listen to what your body is really experiencing: Meditation has been credited with helping to reduce stress, improve sleep and lower blood pressure, among other health benefits. Join a yoga class, take a few minutes from your schedule to just sit down, relax, and concentrate on your breathing.
  24. Be patient and understand that all good things come in time.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy New Year!

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