Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were blessed with family, close friends and good cheer.
With the new year brings thoughts of ways to better ourselves - making us stronger, healthier and happier. I came across a great article posted by Dr. Joseph Mercola from his website mercola.com. I vist his site a great deal and I find his site very informative. I encourage you to read this article on action steps to take in 2016 and be sure to visit his site for other useful information. Here's a link to his site. mercola.com
Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.
This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.
10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016
It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?
Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.
It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.
And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.
Give Up SodaObesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.
If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.
When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.
Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour WindowYour body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.
As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.
Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.
This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.
Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each NightI used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I've since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.
What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn't just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.
Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,3 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.
Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4
Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.
This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.
The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.
If you're not sure how much sleep you're getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you're asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).
If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene
Eat More Healthy Fats and FiberPublic health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like butter and full-fat dairy, and recommend whole grains and cereals — the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy.
The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats.
That’s right; butter need not be shunned and, in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it's raw, organic, and grass-fed. In addition to eating more healthy fats, most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.
Eat Fermented VegetablesFermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.
In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2. They may also play a role in:
- Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
- Lowering your risk for cancer
- Improving your mood and mental health
- Preventing acne
The solution is simple — in addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods will give your gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out pathogenic varieties and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.
Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. You can even start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together.
Sit Less and Walk More, Work on Your FlexibilityOn average, a U.S. adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting, 6 which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout can’t counteract its effects.
While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature. Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day.
Your body is made to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead.
Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have.
In addition, stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. Meanwhile, make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are options to help increase your flexibility.