When it comes to health care, there is a lot of uncertainty. For starters, the very nature of illnesses can be unpredictable. We’ve probably all been around someone coughing up a storm and not caught what they had. Other times, it seems like we get sick out of nowhere. For many others, political uncertainty and rising costs are another cause for concern.
But there is good news! There are important things for your health that you have control over. You have the power to make healthy choices. With a healthy lifestyle, concerns over costs are less impactful and a better immune system helps you prevent disease before it starts.
Here are 5 things you have the power to control for your health.
What you eat
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is truly sad. A few years back Americans were obsessed with a fat-free diet. Now we are learning this move to fat-free may be contributing to heart disease and obesity epidemics. Our bodies are designed to utilize fats, carbs, and proteins. We need all of these components for a balanced diet, but consuming the right ones are critical.
As a general rule, you should cut back or eliminate four things from your diet: grains, pasta, sugar (including artificial sweeteners) and dairy products.
Consume a diet primarily high in healthy fats like avocados, coconuts, olive oil, and raw nuts like almonds. The best source of carbs are raw vegetables. Good proteins such as grass fed meats, wild salmon (also a good fat) and free range eggs. Eat fruits moderately, as they contain fructose but whole fruit is much better than fruit juice.
What you drink
Water. There is no substitute for water. Water is needed in every cell in your body. About 60% of your body weight is water. Do not be fooled by healthy sounding names. A 20 oz. bottle of Vitamin Water contains over 30 grams of sugar. That is equal to three Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts.
How you move
Get moving. Movement is life. Americans are becoming increasingly more sedentary with 25% sitting for about 8 hours per day and 40% not bothering with physical activity. When we sit for long periods, our bodies’ metabolic systems essentially go to sleep. We expend less energy and therefore store more energy as fat on our body.
If you do sit all day, mix things up by getting up at least once per hour. 10 minute breaks can help keep you healthy, in addition to restoring your focus. Research also shows that just 30 minutes of exercise after a sedentary day lowers risk for things like heart disease and obesity.
How you Sleep
Not sleeping well or not sleeping enough can increase your risk for many diseases. Research shows that a well-rested person’s immune system may launch a stronger response to an invading virus than that of a sleep deprived individual.
Setting a proper sleep schedule is critical to being well rested. Even on the weekends, your bed time and alarm clock should remain consistent. When it’s time for bed, the room should be as dark as possible. TV and phone screens emit blue light that can inhibit your sleep hormone, melatonin. If you’re not quite tired yet, reading a (non-digital) book can help due to the repetitive eye movements.
How you fight stress
We know that chronic stress can have a severe negative impact on your health and immune system. This may be the hardest part of the health related things because life and other people are unpredictable. But we can control it to some degree by managing it and our emotions responsibly. This includes getting plenty of sleep, relaxation techniques, meditation and yoga.
Trying to change everything all at once is difficult. Smalls steps and SMART goals can help you succeed. Start by changing just one of these things. Once you’ve mastered it, move onto the next one. You can ultimately improve your health, your ability to maintain it, and your resistance to disease by choosing a healthier diet, drinking more water, moving, getting more sleep, and not sweating the small stuff.