The following are my top non-negotiables when it comes to health. In order to age well, maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit, check out the following pointers and see which areas of your life may need some restructuring:
- Be proactive – don’t wait until you’re diagnosed with a disease to take action. Realize that no one else will look after your body better than you, so a) go for regular check-ups, b) get annual physical exams, c) follow the recommended screening exam schedule (gynecological exam which includes a PAP smear and breast exam, mammogram, or, better yet, thermography, colonoscopy, prostate exam, etc.) and d) request that regular blood work (once a year for most people is sufficient) be done by your medical or naturopathic doctor.
- Follow a sound nutritional eating plan – indulge once in a while, but try to maintain healthy eating habits on most days. The Mediterranean and anti-inflammatory diets tend to be the best for decreasing the incidence of degenerative disease, protecting the heart, reducing aging and maintaining cognitive function. Find ways to incorporate more veggies into lunch and dinner (e.g. mushrooms, onions, and green peppers in chili; cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and romaine lettuce in Greek-style wraps with hummus, tzatziki and feta cheese crumbled on top; stir-fries with carrots, broccoli, snap peas, cauliflower and free-range chicken in a teriyaki sauce, etc.) Fruits and veg are loaded with cancer-protective phytochemicals and antioxidants to help counteract cellular damage.
- Soil depletion and poor eating habits have led us to become a society with a chronic vitamin and mineral deficiency. Grab a high-potency multivitamin and mineral complex from your local health food store and ensure you’re getting the proper dosages to support optimal functioning. Avoid drug store brands that have a tendency to sell lower quality supplements with fillers, dyes, and nutrients that have poor bioavailability.
- Disease stems from the gut. Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine, knew this and taught it widely. If you have any digestive complaints, including loose stool, constipation, excessive gas, cramping or bloating – make an appointment with a naturopathic physician to get the bottom of the issue. When healthy, you should have a bowel movement once or twice a day with no straining; it should be well-formed, brown in color, and not disperse in the toilet. Consider the use of probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive tract, and a higher therapeutic dose to correct any imbalances in digestive flora.
- Body movement. When you look deep inside the body, it’s hard not to notice the constant state of flux and movement, such as blood, immune cells, the lungs, lymph and digestive fluid, peristalsis, excitation of nerve cells…everything moves constantly, even when we sleep! When we move our body, it aids in movement at the cellular level. This has been studied and found to play a huge part in healthy aging. Get movement on a daily basis – even if it’s just a twenty minute walk in nature while breathing in fresh air. As a general rule of thumb, we should be aiming for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Stay tuned for Part II…