How To Live Healthier: 5 Strategies to Optimal Health
Just as a car needs the right type of gas, properly inflated tires, a sturdy frame, proper maintenance and a responsive driver to run smoothly without trouble, people need a number of things and can easily learn how to live healthier. However, it is a matter of understanding what your unique needs are. No one is standard and finding out what you need to do to thrive will enable you to understand how to live healthier.
1. How to Live Healthier with a Genetic Roadmap
Genes are not your destiny, nor are they fixed. While the genes for eye and hair color will not change, most of your genes have potential to be turned on or off. For instance, think of them as a light switch. The potential for light and electricity is there but you have to do something to turn it on or off. It’s the same for genes. There are genetic SNP’s short for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, which are nothing more than typos in your DNA that makes your body respond differently from the standard. It’s your lifestyle and environment that tell your genes to turn on or off. The SNP’s are your guide to customizing your care so you can learn how to live healthier.
- Genetic testing can tell you if you are at increased risk of side effects from medication. Genetic testing saved my life. While most doctors recommend taking an aspirin a day because it may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, that holds true for about 80% of the population. The other 20% have a genetic variant that may increase the risk of bleeding into the brain or gastrointestinal tract with aspirin. My aunt, grandmother and cousin all died of a stroke from bleeding into the brain. I did genetic testing and found that I had the gene that increases the risk of bleeding with aspirin so I stopped taking it.
- Genetic testing can help you understand the best diet for you as an individual. Dietary recommendations are made for the masses. If you are insulin resistant, have sensitivity to gluten or lactose intolerant, the advice given to the mainstream population can harm you. Your genes can give you insight into how to live healthier and the best diet to follow. We now have a deeper understanding of how your genes influence the metabolism of nutrients, the response to exercise, eating habits and so much more. People who followed a genetic based diet lost 2.5 times the weight of those who did not follow a genetic based diet; they lowered their blood pressure and lost the stubborn fat around the abdomen.
Let your genes tell you how to live healthier. There are many affordable genetic panels that may give insights regarding what you can do to decrease the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease and many other ailments.
2. How to Live Healthier with Food as Fuel
Aside from individual food sensitivities, allergies or intolerances, there are some fundamental metabolic processes that age us and cause a variety of ailments that can be modified by food. One of them is oxidation.
- Oxidation is rust. It occurs continually from eating, sleeping, breathing, exercising and can break you down. If left unchecked, oxidation rusts away tissues and impairs regeneration and repair. If you are not eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you are probably not getting enough nutrients to stop oxidation. You will wrinkle on the outside and have the same effect of shriveling up on the inside. The soil has 70% less nutrients than it did 20 years ago, food is not picked ripe and it loses nutrients in shipping, storage, cooking and digestions. Therefore, if you want to know how to live healthier, eat at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables with only 2 being fruit to stop rusting and wrinkling from excess oxidation. It’s better than Botox!
Caution with supplements: What to look for
I would recommend a multivitamin and mineral formula.
- Vitamin A– beware of synthetic Vitamin A as retinyl palmitate and beta carotene, choose a formula with mixed carotenoids. The natural mixed carotenoids have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer while the synthetic forms have been shown to increase the risk of cancer.
- Vitamin E – The same is true of Vitamin E. Choose mixed tocopherols over the synthetic d alpha tocopherol.
Your body will know how to live healthier if you eat 1-2 servings of fruits and 8-9 servings of vegetables and take a natural multivitamin and mineral formula.
3. How to Live Healthier with Hormone Harmony
Stress, aging and the environment can wreak havoc on your hormones. As you age the hormones that break you down go up and the hormones that build you up go down. As a result you lose muscle and bone, and blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat increase along with inflammation and illness.
Stress and chemicals in the environment are two environmental factors that can disrupt hormones and create illness. These can be better managed and are in your control. While stress will always be present, it’s how you react to it that can make the difference in managing your hormones. You can train your mind and body to reduce the physical and physiologic reaction.
How to Live Healthier by Avoiding Hormone Disruptors
Many chemicals in the environment act like estrogen and/or disrupt the thyroid and/or immune system. Firstly, some of the things to avoid are:
- BPA’s (bisphenol phosphate) in plastics and cans. Never heat in plastic and use fewer products that come in cans.
- Herbicides and pesticides can be decreased by eating the “dirty dozen” organic. These are the fruits and vegetables that have been tested and found to contain the most chemicals. They are usually apples, bell pepper, celery, cherries, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries. Eat these organic. Check the Environmental Working Group website for yearly updates.
- Hormones such as estrogen and growth hormoneare fed to animals to fatten them up. They are excreted in milk and hence found in milk products such as cheese. Organic, grass fed or wild caught animal products are the best. However if they are too expensive you can choose hormone free and antibiotic free meat, poultry and dairy products. Excess estrogen causes PMS symptoms in women and feminization in men as well as weight gain and other symptoms.
- Personal care products such as shampoos, lotions, and cosmetics contain phthalates, parabens, sodium laryl sulphate and petroleum distillates that are all hormone disruptors. There are now many more affordable natural products that are free of these harmful chemicals.
Being aware of what you take in or put on your body and avoiding these hormone disruptors can have a profound impact on how to live healthier.
4. How to Live Healthier by Knowing Your Numbers
Oxidation, inflammation and glycation, which is sugar binding to protein are all metabolic processes that cause everything from minor ailments to major illness. Diabetics who have high blood sugar are especially prone to complications due to glycation. A cataract is a visible sign of glycation where the sugar binds to the protein in the lens and changes its structure and function. It becomes cloudy and blocks light and stiff which blocks focus. This can occur in your brain, kidneys, blood vessels and nerves and can lead to many complications. Biomarkers or blood tests that are indicators of your biological function can indicate if your body is functioning optimally. Some numbers that you should be aware of are as follows:
- Hemoglobin A1C or HbA1C is a measure of both glycation and oxidation. It measures the sugar bound to protein in your red blood cells and indicates the levels over the past 30 days. The optimal number is below 5.6. It is important for diabetics to measure response to treatment or for so called “normal” people to determine if they have high blood sugar levels that can cause damage to tissues and excess oxidation.
- C reactive protein or CRP is a biomarker of inflammation. Inflammation is at the root cause of most illness such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. The normal level is wide but good is less than 1 and optimal is less than 0.7.
If blood sugar and/or hemoglobin A1C are not optimal, a low sugar, low starch, low refined or processed food diet can lower this. Get familiar with the glycemic index of foods. This is the rate of rise of blood sugar. The more processed or refined the food and the higher the sugar or starch content, the higher the glycemic index.
- Choose low glycemic fruits (apples, berries, pear, citrus, kiwi) and low glycemic vegetables (leafy greens, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, cabbage)- cooked or raw with lean protein to lower blood sugar and glycation. This is important even if your blood sugar is normal. Examples of high glycemic fruits are tropical fruits, melons and bananas and high glycemic vegetables are corn, potato, winter squash and other starches. Both vegetables and grains such as refined cereals, white rice, rice cakes, chips of any kind, and anything with sugar or high fructose corn syrup have a high glycemic index and can raise hemoglobin A1C and accelerate glycation which also accelerates inflammation and oxidation.
- Choose anti inflammatory fats such as avocado, fish, nuts, seeds, olives and any of their oils. Decrease the amount of saturated fat such as meat and dairy and avoid farm raised or grain fed fish, meat and poultry. Grains are inflammatory and so are sugar and starches. Buy wild caught fish and organic grass fed meat and poultry when possible.
- Buy a high quality fish oil. Check the fish oil you are buying and ascertain if it has been approved by the International Fish Oil Standards program (IFOS). This will assure the purity not necessarily the quality. Purified fish oil that meets the IFOS standard will be free of mercury a harmful metal. Then add up the EPA and DHA content. These are the active ingredients and should be above 700. The fish oil must be in the natural triglyceride form to be fully absorbed. Avoid the highly processed esterified fish oils as they are not as stable and are only 50% absorbed.
Lowering the biomarkers of glycation, oxidation and inflammation is how to live healthier by slowing the aging process and the underlying cause of illness.
5. How to Live Healthier by Managing Stress
The Journal of the American Medical Association stated that stress is as dangerous to your heart as smoking. Although, there is no shortage of stress in our fast paced society. We can’t change circumstances, yet we can change our reaction to them. Studies have shown that deep belly breathing and focusing on your heart with a sense of appreciation and gratitude for anything no matter how big or how small can change your physiology and focus. This can put you in a state of coherence where your mind and body are aligned. The state of coherence also called being in the zone or flow can unleash creativity and innovation, improve decision making and allow you to move through stressful situations with greater grace and ease.
- Deep belly breathing – take in a deep breath and feel your belly expand. Release the breath slowly as the belly contracts. Gradually slow both the intake and release of the breath. Do a few rounds. This is very calming and can be done anywhere in any circumstance.
- Gratitude and appreciation are powerful tools to shift your focus. Change your physiology from the stress inducing sympathetic nervous system to the calming parasympathetic nervous system. This has been studied and put to use by athletes and major corporations to improve performance. Apps such as Heart Math are available to give you feedback on how well you are doing. You can train your brain and body to rewire from stress to success. Therefore, achieve a coherent state of alert relaxation and flow.
Changing the physiology of your nervous system from stress to success with breathing. A deep sense of gratitude and appreciation are easy ways to train your mind and body to react differently. This can lower cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. As well as decrease headaches, muscle tension and gastric discomfort.
These are just a few strategies that you can implement to learn how to live healthier. Making small changes can make a big difference. Implement one, two or more to turn your health around. Live younger longer by implementing these strategies and know your genetics and numbers to not only survive but to thrive.