1. Keep your hands clean, with good old fashioned soap and hot water. Anti-bacterial products contain toxic ingredients like triclosan, and studies show that this chemical penetrates the skin and causes hormone disruption. Most health care professionals argue that for the general population there aren’t any benefits. Due to public response, many manufacturers are quietly removing this ingredient from their products, so check the label and see what you're using!
2. Make water your main drink. Dehydration is the start of many illnesses and diseases. Nothing is water, except water! And drinking ½ your body weight in ounces is a good goal to have. It also fills you up, gives you energy (especially with fresh squeezed lemon juice), helps with digestion and metabolism, strengthens your immune system and keeps your skin looking good!
3. Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars. At the very least, cut way back. It’s no wonder that most people get sick around Valentines, Halloween and Christmas. People tend to eat more sugary and processed foods due to holiday activities. Sugar lowers our immunity, and we know conclusively that it is largely to blame for the epidemic of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, as well as obesity. Focus on naturally sweet veggies and fruits instead. A good rule of thumb to follow when choosing foods: if it isn’t a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, whole foods (and plenty raw) for snacks and meals alike.
4. Consume plenty of healthy oils and fats. Real, organic butter (grass-fed and raw is a recommended), ghee, extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oils, coconut oils, flax seed oil. As well as healthy animal fats from organic, grass-fed sources and pasture-raised eggs. Supplement with fish oil daily and cod liver oil for Vitamin D.
5. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats. These are in all processed foods, and include vegetable shortening, margarine and fake butter spreads, soybean, cottonseed, canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil - which are rancid, contain too many Omega 6s, and have inflammatory and hormonal disrupting properties. Read labels before you buy!
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” - Michael Pollan
6. The healthiest food is going to be what you prepare on your own at home, so increase these opportunities. Eat when hungry, stop when full. Become intuitive about what foods make you feel and operate at your best. Eat plenty of veggies and low-sugar fruits, like lemons, limes, grapefruit, and organic (frozen this time of year) berries. See the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen list for how to spend food dollars wisely, and what is most important to purchase organic. Especially eat those in season in your local area. Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which help thwart the development of disease and illness.
7. Drink bone broths. A lack of minerals is a big reason for illness and disease. Bone broths made from the bones of healthy animals and birds on pasture are full of easily-digested and essential nutrients which can help you stay healthy, such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, amino acids, and glucosamine (for bone health), and gelatin (muscles, metabolism, weight, skin, digestion, hair, fingernails, joint health). Experiment with different types of sea salts in cooking! Here’s my favorite and easiest Bone Broth recipe, and I would definitely recommend grass-fed beef.
8. Eat real, fermented foods like home-made yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Be certain to take a good probiotic each day, especially if you are lacking fermented foods.
9. Watch your intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months. Excessive alcohol has a negative effect on your appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight.
10. Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not over-extending yourself. Learn to say “no.” Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, and catch up. Have a family night. Go to bed by 10 p.m and get up early! You will be in tune with your circadian rhythms and be much healthier for it.
11. Set aside time for some regular exercise, and getting outdoors. In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more, but indoor environments aren’t necessarily healthy, so bundle up and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. At work, avoid sitting for long periods of time. Get up every 30 minutes and move around, or set up a standing desk!
12. Set aside time for contemplation, prayer, stress reduction, and relaxation. Whether that is a hot bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching or meditation, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge. Even 2-3 minutes of deep breathing everyday can reduce stress levels, improve focus, energy and metabolism.
13. If you do experience cold or flu symptoms, load up on probiotics, foods with healthy fats, and everything else mentioned above. Take time to pamper yourself, rest, and put off things that aren’t necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier.
14. Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. These rarely help your body to heal sooner, are over-prescribed, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that are vital to health.
Heres the deal! If you maintain a schedule of eating real food, most that you prepare yourself, avoid processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation when needed, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will notice an improvement in your health. My hope is that you will have more energy, feel more productive, and fortify your immune system.