Small things you can do to improve your health, now!
September 6, 2010 § 5 Comments
Hey guys, gals, other;
Spring is finally here! I weep tears of unfathomable gratitude, for I was starting to feel, how you say, gangrenous in my extremities. Not to mention the one respectable winter jacket I own was getting a little samey and I was starting to worry that I would never be able to chisel myself out of my trakkie daks. Never fear! Spring has sprang! My legs were liberated on my run today, free to feel the wind in their shamefully un-tended winter mane (TMI?) and blinding unfortunate passers-by with their pearly white luminescence. But enough about my cringe-worthy post-winter self, let’s get down to the business of health!
If you’re looking for ways to improve your energy, vitality and well-being, and perhaps engage in a little unintended weight-loss while you’re at it (if that’s your bag), these are some tips that I have found useful:
- Ditch the low-fat dairy: As you know, I have given up on dairy completely and have never felt better, but if it is something that works for you (and it does for many people), it is better to eat smaller portions of the quality, full-fat gear than buying skim, reduced fat, ‘lite’. Why? Vitamins such as vitamin D & A are fat-soluable meaning they are not absorbed properly by the body if the fat in the product is removed. These are the very constituents we need for adequate bone mineralization, and without them, calcium may go instead to the soft tissues, and that my friends, is not where it’s at (awww hell no!).
- Another consideration with reduced-fat goods is that people may in turn, eat significantly more of the product to compensate for it’s wholly unsatisfying nature – rendering the act of eating ‘low-fat’ virtually redundant, and instead fostering a kind of addiction whereby your body wants to eat more, more, MORE! in order to obtain nutrients that simply aren’t there. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.
- Consider alternatives to homogenized milk (whilst i’m on the dairy warpath). But homogenization kills the harmful microorganisms! you cry. Why yes, yes it does. But it also kills most of the goodness that was in the milk to begin with. Also, the process of homogenization produces spheres of fat called xanthine oxidase (XO), a crazy-powerful digestive enzyme that is teeny tiny and passes into the blood and lymph systems, attacking inner walls of vessels and generally making a nuisance of it’s microscopic little butt. The wounds it leaves are constantly ‘patched-up’ by cholesterol and badda bing badda boom you’ve got yourself some hardening of the arteries! So, what to do? Why not see if you can source some credible raw milk, that is certified not to contain harmful bacteria. If in doubt, you can apparently bring raw milk to a boil and cool quickly for minimum nutrient loss. What about goats milk? It is considered more healthful than cows milk in general, and the organic, free range variety may be more easily digestible for you, and pack a greater nutritional upper-cut.
- Limit fluid intake with meals – water can dilute digestive juices meaning that you’re not absorbing your food properly, so instead try to drink 10-20 minutes prior to eating and wait at least half-an-hour afterwards to give it a chance to go doooooown.
- Squeeze exercise in to your daily routine – the more you can work-in a work-out to suit your routine, the more likely it is to stick. I try to walk/run to one of my jobs most of the time; it takes about 1/2 an hour each way, so instantly means i’m getting an extra hour in without even thinking about it. I also find it’s really relaxing before starting the mind-numbing manual labour my delightful job to take some time out and get much needed fresh air. Can you walk a longer route to your bus stop? Can you walk to the shops instead of driving? Think about it.
- Eat whole foods! I’m talkin’ whole grains; unrefined, un-sweetened, un-messed-with goodies. I read the other day that it takes 10% more energy for the body to burn wholefoods than it does refined crud – the part of this equation that makes me the happiest is that, this means you can eat more! Gluttony aside, by eating whole foods your body is receiving the proper spectrum of nutrients, and will probably be less inclined to crave processed foods, chocolate, take-away and the like. I’ve said it before, but now that I pretty much tell myself, “go for gold on the eating, as long as it’s from my shelf in the pantry/fridge” (ie. beautiful organic, simple, super foods) I have found that I can eat a lot more, and not notice any weight gain. It constantly baffles and amazes me, because I remember a couple of years ago at my peak of dieting desperation, feeling like I had to restrict myself so much in order to achieve results. Not so; what I didn’t realise was that if you give your body the right fuel, it will do its thang and you will end up where you need to be in a healthy, natural manner.
- Be wary of low-fat, high-sugar foods – My flatmate was making jelly the other day and proudly declared that one serving only contained 7 calories. 7! Oy. Yes, sounds appealing, but check the sugar content. Or worse still, the artificial sweetener content. I firmly believe that refined sugar is enemy #1 on the road to health – it is empty, devoid of any nutritional meaningfulness and is of no use to the body. It is also addictive – receptors on the tongue that signal ‘sweetness’ have a much higher threshold than that of, say, ‘bitterness’, ergo you need to eat much more of a sugary substance to get that pleasure sensation to your brain. Bitterness is detectable in much more minute amounts, as our ancient physiological mechanisms adapted to recognise bitter toxins as poisons, which is why we are predisposed to have a sweet tooth.
- Don’t be afraid of fats – We need them. They are vital! Healthy fats are necessary for so many functions in the body, and without them you would be a dried up, malfunctioning old mess. Think almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, nut butters, coconut oil/products, extra-virgin olive oil. Glorious! The right amounts of fat will not make you get fat! Sugar is much worse in my opinion. Just make sure you’re avoiding trans fats which are found in fast-foods, commercial cookies, cakes, savoury biscuits etc. These are the artery-clogging culprits!
- Plan meals in advance – This is a little on the narky, anal side, but truth be told it’s important to scope out your eats for the day. I am mostly concerned about getting a good variety of veggies, fats, proteins and whatnot, so I try to change things up and maintain a nice balance. Being the student that I am, I am also concerned for the welfare of any leftovers, and aim to make use of them so that the horrible event of having to throw them away does not arise. Planning will help your healthful endeavours though, and packing meals in advance will especially shield you from having to buy something in a pinch that is less than desirable.
- Be happy! – Stress may just be the most destructive force in our bodies. Cortisol is the hormone we release in response to stress, and it’s responsible for that stubborn belly fat some people find hard to shed. How can you reduce your stress? Little things like exercise, social interactions and long, hot sojourns in the tub, bathed by the glow of softly flickering candlelight…will engender a relaxed frame of mind. Stress may be underscored by a larger issue, and if you’re game you could prise open that ‘am I happy with my life/career/home?’ box that is incredibly scary and one you have to do some epic soul-searching to grasp. But heck, there’s no time like the present, right?
Well, I hope this has given you a little bit of food for thought – I’ll be back soon with a delicious seaweed recipe that has taken up residence in my heart. Oh holy deliciousness!