Here is part two of my Top 10 Healthy Habits for the New Year. Catch up on the first five Healthy Habits in part one, then finish here. I tried to keep it to 10 but that was impossible so I've listed bonus tips at the end.
If you're overwhelmed by this list, just choose one to work on. Just one. Step by step, change is made and progress comes. It's about progress, not perfection. Each day, we are all a work in progress. If you need encouragement, please le me know. You can do this! Please comment and share what you are tackling first and what your goals are.
#6 Go With Your Gut
Healthy Habit number six is about gut health. Be good to your gut and your health will be rewarded. One of the hottest areas of health and nutrition research is about the gut microbiome, the community of 100 trillion bacteria that live in your gut. An explosion of research shows that a healthy gut is critical to the body’s optimal functioning and best health, and it starts with what you eat.
A healthy gut leads to a healthy brain and a strong immune system, a strong cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system. It supports a healthy weight and good energy levels. The importance of gut health, especially as we age, cannot be understated. Gut health drives good health, and good food drives it all.
The best foods to eat for a happy gut microbiome are high-fiber plant foods called prebiotics, and probiotics. Prebiotics provide fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Think apples, dandelion greens, oats, garlic, onions and asparagus. Probiotics are are like reinforcements for the friendly bacteria in residence. Find them in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and tempeh. Of course you can take probiotics as supplements too. Simply put, probiotics are the bacteria and prebiotics feed them.
#7 Scrap the Junk
Healthy Habit number seven is scrap the junk; fast food, processed food, unhealthy fats, foods that have unpronounceable ingredients and all kinds of preservatives, added sugar, chemical additives and toxins. Stick with fresh, whole foods as close to their natural state as possible.
#8 Tackle the Toxins
Healthy Habit number eight ties in to number seven. To reduce toxins and pesticides in food, buy organic as much as possible. Use the EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to help navigate what to buy. But beyond buying organic, here are a few toxins to search and destroy in your diet:
- Bisphenol-A (BPA)
- Hides in the linings of canned foods and plastics
- Check cans and plastics bottle for BPA-free labels, buy products in glass
- Sodium nitrite and nitrate
- Preservative found in deli meats
- Read labels to avoid
- Artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colors
- Read labels to avoid
- Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST)
- Given to cows to increase milk production
- Choose only organic dairy or at least rBGH/rBST free
- Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)
- Found in sodas and fruit flavored drinks
- Read labels to avoid and drink more water
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and
- (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- Preservative common in foods, read labels to avoid
- Mercury in fish and seafood
- Skip large predatory fish like swordfish, tuna, grouper, orange roughy, and read this seafood guide
- Many farm raised fish are contaminated with Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's), so buy wild when possible.
- For farmed salmon, check the Seafood Watch page for what is the best choice
For a fantastic read on where toxins hide in the air, water, food and health and beauty products (even your bed), get a copy of Dr. Joseph Pizzorno's book, The Toxin Solution. It's a must read! And check out the from EWG.org
#9 Eat Low, Not High
Healthy Habit number nine is about eating foods that are low the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) scale. They classify the impact of carbohydrates in foods on blood sugar. The GI measures how quickly carbs are digested and raise your blood sugar, while the GL takes into consideration the food as a whole. To maintain steady blood sugar, choose foods lower on the GI and GL. Here's a great article that explains it in understandable terms and more in depth than I have room for here.
Low glycemic foods keep your blood sugar, energy, and appetite stable, and reduce your risk for diabetes and other diseases. Choose non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, green vegetables like broccoli, green beans and Brussels sprouts, nuts, beans, seeds, legumes, low sugar fruit like berries and healthy whole gains like quinoa. Pass on foods that digest quickly and spike your blood sugar (simple carbs) such as refined flour products (pasta, white bread, cookies), candy, white potatoes, sweetened drinks and processed breakfast cereals.
#10 Detox Daily
The last of the list is Healthy Habit number ten. It's not really the end, but I had to cut this post off somewhere!
Today we are exposed to more toxins on a daily basis than in any time in history. Because toxins are everywhere, avoidance is nearly impossible, but we can do a lot to minimize and eliminate them. That means detoxing our diet and eating foods that help our bodies detox naturally, every day. Detoxing foods include beets, asparagus, artichokes, cucumbers, lemon and lime, raspberries, strawberries, spirulina and chlorella, ginger and many others. All tasty and terrific at help you get rid of nasty toxins.
What else helps you detox:
- Drink plenty of fresh, clean filtered water. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day.
- Put your whole house on a filtered water system for better water, showers, cooking and laundry
- Eliminate the toxins: see those listed in Healthy Habit #8 as a start
- Get up a good sweat at least a few times a week, as your skin is a critical detox organ
- Take epsom salt baths to help detox (and add magnesium back into your body)
- Try infrared saunas
- Be nice to your liver, kidney's and lungs as they are the major lines of toxin defense
- Dry brush your skin with a natural brush, brushing towards the heart and lymph glands
Bonus Healthy Habits
So that's my list of Top Ten Healthy Habits for the New Year. What else is on the list? Here are a few bonus tips:
- Calm the Flames - eat an anti-inflammation diet, as inflammation is at the heart of many chronic lifestyle diseases
- Say no to GMO's - Genetically Modified Organisms are not safe. If you need more information, please check out these two organizations: GMO's Revealed and The Institute for Responsible Technology. The best way to avoid GMO's is to buy organic and understand what conventional crops are GMO. Proponents will tell you they are safe. They are not. Check out this site too, the Non-GMO Project.
- Start juicing! Read my post on why you should start a daily juice habit
- Keep moving