6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health
Let’s face it, healthy is the new sexy. We see advertisements all over the place promising various ways to get fit and healthy in no time. Our social media feeds are entirely filled with images of people with incredible body transformations, low calorie recipes, or high intensity workout regimens. Many of us have experimented with all sorts of diets and workout plans in an effort to become healthier but still don’t have the results we want. Becoming healthier does not have to be a challenging feat. Below are ILYNSI’s top 6 simple recommendations for improving your health.
1. Get More Sleep
Sleep is absolutely crucial for improving your health. Sleep has been correlated to weight changes, hormone regulation, chronic diseases, brain function and productivity, and emotional wellbeing. People with poor sleep are at a higher risk of obesity than those who receive adequate sleep. One of the symptoms of sleep deprivation is disruption in appetite hormones including higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. This causes people to consume more calories leading to weight gain.
Sleep is also essential for cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. Various studies have shown the differences in brain function in those with good sleep vs those with poor sleep. One study showed that moderate sleep deprivation impairs the brain in a way similar to being intoxicated by alcohol. Contrastingly, studies of good sleep show improvements in problem-solving skills and memory performance of both children and adults. Moreover, sleep deprivation is strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea.
Poor sleepers are also at a greater risk of various chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Sleep deprivation drastically affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. Other studies have linked poor sleep to inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract. One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well.
Meditation is a helpful tool in managing our mental and emotional wellbeing by training the mind to focus and redirect our thoughts. There is an increasing body of research studying the effects of meditation on the overall wellbeing of individuals with various conditions such as pain, high blood pressure, and certain psychological disorders. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce symptoms of various chronic conditions although evidence of it being a treatment option is still uncertain.
Various large scale studies have shown that meditation can be used to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study including over 3,500 participants showed that after eight weeks of mindful meditation, inflammatory responses in the body normally caused by stress were reduced. Meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related terminal conditions such as cancer as well as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia. It also reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and panic attacks.
Meditation studies have also found that it improves sleep quality by calming the mind and relaxing the body prior to going to bed. In a randomized-control study, researchers found that participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn't meditate.
To listen to ILYNSI's guided meditations click here
3. Drink More Water
Drinking enough water is crucial for improving overall health and wellbeing. Around 60 percent of the human body is made up of water and in order for the cells and organs to function properly they need to be well hydrated. Fluids are excreted from the body simply from everyday function including perspiration, urination, and breathing.
Proper hydration lubricates the joints and reduces joint pain, delivers oxygen throughout the body through the blood, and regenerates the skin. It also cushions the spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues. Staying well hydrated prevents kidney damage, kidney stones, stabilizes electrolytes, and eliminates excess fluid in the body.
Drinking enough water is also a helpful way to lose weight. By trading in your sugary drinks for water you will substantially reduce your calorie intake and burn more fat. Drinking water before meals can also help prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness. Additionally, it helps to eliminate waste in the body and improves digestive problems such as constipation or heartburn.
The amount of water intake necessary varies from person to person depending on a number of personal factors including gender, weight, activity levels, and perspiration levels. Although there is no fixed amount of water that must be consumed daily, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, recommend an average daily intake of 3.7 liters or 15 cups for men and 2.7 liters or 11 cups for women.
4. Be More Active
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Many of us have very sedentary lives from driving to sitting at work all day and often do not find the time to exercise. However, being physically active does not require an intense workout to be considered exercise. Physical activity can include any of your favorite hobbies such as dancing, walking, hiking, yoga, cycling, or anything else that interests you. The idea is to keep your body moving.
Studies show incontrovertible evidence that regular physical activity contributes to the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases and is associated with a reduced risk of premature death. In fact, even a small amount of physical activity is associated with a significant reduction in risk. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as depression and anxiety. Moreover, it strengthens the bones and muscles thereby reducing the risk of bone density loss that occurs with age. Physical activity coupled with proper nutrition plays a critical role in weight loss and weight management.
5. Eat More Raw Foods
Incorporating more raw foods into your diet is an excellent way to improve your health. Raw foods are loaded with enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients necessary for improving cell and organ function as well as provide additional hydration. Raw foods also contain few calories, are nutrient rich, and the density helps to satiate hunger faster. Their low glycemic loads prevent blood sugar spikes that can increase hunger.
Many people are often intimidated by raw foods because they are unsure how to prepare them. However, with a little bit of creativity you can find ways to serve fresh, raw vegetables at every meal. In fact, we recommend loading at least half of your plate with vegetables and opt for fresh fruit, instead of cake, for dessert. We also recommend eating a variety of types and colors of fruits and vegetables in order to provide the body with the mix of nutrients it needs. This not only ensures greater diversity of beneficial plant chemicals but also creates eye-appealing meals.
By improving your nutritional habits you will begin to experience noticeable transformation in your body. These include improved heart health, weight loss, increased energy, and improved digestion. Visit our Healthy Foodie blog for inspiration on delicious plant-based recipes.
6. Surround Yourself with Positivity
Surrounding yourself with positivity fosters better health by encouraging better choices. Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Having a more positive outlook on life helps you to cope better with stressful situations and become more proactive about the necessary changes to improve your situation. There is also a significant correlation between positivity and intelligence suggesting that a more optimistic outlook on life enables better choices leading to improved quality of life and health. By making better choices you are able to substantially reduce negative experiences in your life that create stress and other harmful effects. It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they are active, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
Practice positive thinking by reciting positive affirmations daily, demonstrating gratitude, and eliminating negative self-talk. Also spend less time with negative people who tend to engage in self-deprecating behavior. You will notice a major shift in your mood and become more motivated to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
What are some of your top recommendations to improve your health? Leave a comment below.