This is the second post in the series of explaining my personal top 10 tips for a healthy life. In the first post I talked about the importance of drinking enough water, consuming loads of fruits and veggies, and exercising regularly. As I mentioned in my previous post, I try to follow these rules and achieve as many of them daily and weekly. It doesn’t always happen, but the more of them I do apply in my life, the better I feel, look and perform. Below I explain three more healthy tips:
4. Get enough sleep
When we sleep our bodies recover, rebuild, rest, and detox. Many important physical needs are met when we sleep, but even more important than that are the crucial effects sleep has on our minds. Even though our bodies benefit from sleep tremendously, making us feel refreshed and stronger than the night before, it is actually possible for our bodies to function non-stop (without sleep). It’s our minds that need sleep more than our bodies do (although of course our bodies would be chronically tired without sleep as well). Without sleep the mind cannot function properly. We all know that lack of sleep makes us foggy, unable to focus and inhibits our ability to process information quickly. With chronic sleeplessness the mind will shut down, drastically alter behavior and even go crazy! (science knows that from known cases of torture that involves keeping a person up for as long as possible until the point of mental dysfunction).
When it comes to sleep and a healthy lifestyle, it’s important for both the body and the mind to receive proper amount of sleep. The body will not be able to work efficiently without sleep, which means decreased physical performance in daily life and exercise from lack of energy. If the mind is deprived of sleep, energy levels are also decreased, a person may become depressed or unable to motivate themselves to be active during the day. To summarize, sleep is important for proper functioning of the body and mind!
Aim to get 8 hours of sleep. It may vary per individual, some of us may need more or less sleep depending on our age and activity level, and a good way to know if you’re getting enough sleep is to be able to wake up to the alarm and be ready to get up, without the overwhelming feeling of tiredness we are all familiar with. It is challenging for most of us to get this much sleep, but setting a goal of trying to go to bed 10 minutes earlier than the previous week might be a useful way to trying to reach that goal.
Fun fact: It is more difficult to lose weight and easier to gain weight if one doesn’t sleep enough due to imbalance in two hormones: leptin and gherelin. In other words: if you’re trying to lose weight get enough sleep!
5. Properly manage social life, spiritual needs, and mental state
Studies have been consistent in showing that having good social life, access to a like-minded community or possessing a sense of belonging contribute to our happiness, and as a result to our overall health. Tim Van Orden, a well known health and wellness speaker, calls it Vitamin P. We all need to get our vitamin P (P for people). As humans we are social beings and we need to be able to relate and interact with others, exchange ideas, learn from each other, rely on each other and serve each other. Without others around us we would be lonely, possibly depressed and even physically unhealthy.
Spiritual needs are also important to our overall health. We often hear the expression “Body. Mind. Spirit” in regards to health and wellness. The mind and the “spirit” are closely connected with the body, and they all fuse together to create one healthy being. Spirituality is known to improve one’s mental state: spiritual people are on average more positive, hopeful and confident.
Whether one chooses religious, philosophical, or even agnostic approach to spirituality, that spirituality is going to help them become more peaceful and happy beings.
Fun fact: A 2005 study showed that individuals who meditated 40 minutes a day showed thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. Cortical walls are associated with slower aging of the brain, as well as improved memory, attention, and decision making abilities.
6. Eat a plant based diet
Eating more plants doesn’t mean everyone should be vegetarian, although there are countless benefits to vegetarian and vegan diets. It simply means that increasing plant foods in our diets will improve our health. I’ve been eating a plant based diet for over 5 years now and I’m not looking back! Immediately after adopting this lifestyle I increased my physical performance (for example, I was able decrease my 200m sprint time from 31 seconds on a Standard American Diet to 27 seconds on a plant-based diet), I decreased mucus in my airways, lost weight, gained energy, increased strength and improved my endurance. Those are just some of the benefits that I’ve noticed, although I will not know for sure what other invisible benefits I received (such as increased antioxidant intake, thus possible reduced risk of cancer).
Of course no one should base their beliefs and make drastic changes to their diet or lifestyle just by hearing one person describe their experience. Good news, though! Research all over the world confirms that a balanced plant-based diet is healthy and healthful (again, animal products are ok on a plant based diet as long as portions are controlled and a person consumes more calories from plants than from animal products in an average day). It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, prevents and helps fight diabetes, prevents and reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases, prevents obesity and helps to maintain a healthy weight, provides more energy, helps prevent cancer and may even help treat cancer, provides more variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes than animal products, to name a few.
Replacing one meal a day or few meat-based meals a week with beans, tofu, or grains (such as quinoa grain which is very high in complete protein) can be a good way to start increasing your plant intake. Also, try adding a salad to each meal, alternate between animal milk and almond or soy milk for your cereal, add veggies to your pizza or snack on fruit and veggies instead of chips.
This meal pictured to the left is an easy 15 minute dish consisting of (per serving) 1 tbs olive oil, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup zucchini, dill weed and spices. It has 368 calories, over 10 grams of protein, 44 grams of yummy carbs, and a whole lot of nutrients, fiber and vitality your body will love.
Fun fact: Did you know that former President Bill Clinton eats a vegan diet? (A diet that excludes all animal products such as meats and dairy). President Clinton enjoys this lifestyle and was able to reduce his cholesterol, lose weight, gain more energy and improve his blood tests.
Do you have your own health tips you’d like to share? Email me or comment on this post. I’d love to learn from you!
Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for this year?