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Opinion: Good Health Practices #2

Drinking water throughout the day is essential to good health.
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Drinking water throughout the day is essential to good health.

1. Move it or lose it - literally.  If you want to maintain your mobility, you need to practice mobility. If we don’t get some form of exercise our muscles atrophy, our joints seize ups and our bodies will stop working in the optimal way they were designed to. Even exercising 3 times a week will help burn fat, build muscle, boost mood, and help reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Exercising helps you sleep better too.

2. Getting enough sleep will help your brain, your energy level, reduce stress and keep you youthful looking. Some suggestions to promote sleep: shut down screen 1 hour before bed, use lavender essential oils, have a warm shower, cool down your room, do breathing exercises (like the action of blowing bubbles), listen to non-beat soft music or an audio book (with a timer). The “Insight Timer’ app has some excellent free meditations to help promote sleep. 

3.   Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. If you don’t like water add lemon or a bit of organic juice but our bodies only want the water (coffee & other caffeinated beverages don’t count). Be careful with carbonated drinks as they can irritate our esophagus and contribute to acid reflux. Water helps our body digest food, regulate temperature, transport and absorb nutrients, create saliva and blood circulation… We need to regularly replace water because we are continually losing body fluid through breathing, urine, stool, skin evaporation, exercise (sweating) etc. As we age we lose our sense of thirst so we need to make sure we are rehydrating even though we may not be thirsty. We can live a long time without food but without water we can get dehydrated very quickly which adversely affects our health.

4.   Watch your sugar intake. With the incredible increasing numbers of diabetic people in our society, we have to look at what we are putting in our bodies causing the spikes in blood sugar levels and the stress it puts on our pancreas. Type 2 Diabetes is one of the greatest health concerns in modern western society and is directly related to diet and lack of exercise. If we cut way down on high carb grains and eat fruit when we have a craving for something sweet, we can help to avoid this disease that often leads to other terrible health issues. Eating on the Glycemic Index is one way to prevent or reverse Type 2 Diabetes, and very important to do if you have been diagnosed with this disease.

5.   Take care of your teeth. Neglecting dental hygiene ALWAYS has negative long-term effects on our teeth and can also impact general health. According to the Mayo Clinic, gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, and poor dental hygiene increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream.

6.   Stop smoking and cut down on excessive alcohol consumption. This is nothing new and why it is one of the first things addressed by our doctors and insurance companies.  Smoking and excessive drinking are risky behaviours that always negatively affect us in the long run. We all have vices that are hard to give up. If we know what they are, why we have them (how we benefit short-term) and we are willing to get support in quitting them, then we have a better chance eliminating the health hazards they cause. The first step is to come out of denial about our addictions. If we are self-medicating, then there are always healthier options including counseling, exercise programs, life coaching, mindful practices… There is lots of support available if we are willing to change and choose long-term health over short-term comfort.

To your choices for a healthy lifestyle.

Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca