1. Take water seriously. The body is approximately 70% water and most of our body parts are largely composed of water. The brain and intestines are approximately 75%, our tissues are 70-80%, blood plasma is over 90% and even the bones contain 25% water. So to compromise in this area is to significantly impact on your health. When the body is dehydrated it overproduces cholesterol in an attempt to regulate the water balance in the body. This has an unfortunate side effect because waste products sit inside the cells longer than is beneficial and nutrients remain outside of the cell unable to get in because the cell membrane is not sufficiently permeable. So, as simple as it sounds, plan each day how you can reach your minimum of 2 litres. Make your own chart or use the many apps that will help you to keep a track of your water intake. Get into the habit of always carrying water with you. If it’s about your person, there is a greater chance of you remembering to drink it.
2. Celebrate the 4 Ss – smoothies, soups, stews and salads. These are amongst the best ways to acquire the minimum of 90+ nutrients we need each day. Liquid meals offer easy digestion and also allow you to incorporate a wider variety of food stuffs, which can be amalgamated in one meal. Salads are probably the best representatives of the rainbow diet. The more colour we have on our plates the more we can achieve optimum health… if possible find a way to have one a day – either as the centre of a meal or complementing something else you are having. Smoothies are a great way to start the day and there is an infinite number of options you can experiment with. They also make very good lunches. The best smoothies are those which are dominated with vegetables. A ratio of 75% vegetables to 25% fruit offers the best nutritional profile. Soups and stews are a wonderful way to bring all that is best about food into one dish. There’s the opportunity to use the two most important food groups as the basis of a good soup or stew – these are vegetables and the pulses. The options for variety here are endless, each culture being rich with its own specialities. The advent of the slow cooker has made cooking these options easy and time efficient.
3. Cardiovascular exercise is not only good for the heart, body and health, it’s very good for the brain because the latest research has now demonstrated that neurogenesis (renewal of the neurons within the brain), which had been thought to be impossible, is indeed a fact. Several hundred new neurons a day can be generated through diet and exercise. This may not seem a great deal in a community of 100 billion neurons but over the course of a lifetime the impact is significant. So find an activity that you like as you’re more like to maintain it. If you don’t feel you can do this on your own, find a partner to walk with, cycle, swim – whatever your chosen activity, make a commitment to dosomething today.
4. The body is quite simply the most incredible organism. The more we respect it, the more it will respond in kind. Make a regular appointment to get some kind of pampering. This could be massage, yoga, Pilates, tai chi – something that responds to the body’s needs, improving structure, function and detoxification. There isn’t a definitive list and what will feel right for one person won’t necessarily feel right for the other. But whatever you choose it should be something that makes you feel good. Treat this appointment with your body as you would any important meetings you have. Do not cancel it because it’s the easiest thing to displace. Make it a priority, otherwise this sends the wrong message back to the body.
5. Getting waste products out of the body is absolutely critical for health. We produce approximately 30 billion cells of waste each day. This waste is excreted through breathing, perspiration, urine and faeces. If we are to ensure good health, we need to keep all the pathways of elimination clear. There are many things we can do to help this. Drinking water is where the whole process should start, but added to this are activities such as skin brushing, epsom salt baths, which are very good for removing lactic acid and other waste compounds from the body. Massage, especially manual lymph drainage, is good for keeping the lymphatic system mobilized, facilitating greater excretion of waste products. All forms of exercise aid this process too. Please find and commit to those activities, which will lead to the removal of waste.
6. Take supplementation seriously. Don’t just buy a supplement based on the most recent advert or article you’ve seen or read. Taking supplements unfortunately has become necessary because we can no longer guarantee getting all that we need from our food choices. However, it’s important to stress that taking lots of supplements does not equal greater health. Choice of supplements should be matched to your age, lifestyle, bodily needs, genetic predispositions etc., so it’s worth investing in getting some good advice from a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner. In this way you can be taking the right nutrients for your needs. This is probably something to review annually or alternatively if something changes in your circumstances/health.
7. Find some time, three or four times a day would be a good start, when for two to three minutes you simply stop what you are doing and practise some deep breathing. One, two, three, four as you breathe in… pause for a second and then one, two, three, four, five, six as you breathe out. Hyperventilation and stress are inseparable. Where there is poor breathing, there is also a reduced ability to cope with stress. Breathing should not be from the chest it should always be from the abdomen. The less tension there is around the heart the better it functions. Shallow breathing – characterised by our chest moving excessively creates tension around the heart. Stress around the heart is relayed to the brain, which stimulates the release of various toxic hormones. Breathing properly releases this stress and allows the person to relax, therefore producing an array of healing hormones. Take conscious breathing seriously. It’s arguably your best portable friend.
8. Chewing. We quite rightly place an awful lot of emphasis on what we put on our plates but without chewing, the most important part of digestion (absorption) is undermined. Nutrients cannot be fully imbibed by the body where there is an absence of chewing. We need to drink our foods and chew our liquids. Practise liquidising every mouthful you eat and this will allow the enzymes to perform their wonders. Equally important when chewing is to avoid drinking liquids at that time, which will serve to dilute and in some cases wash away the digestive enzymes. Liquids are best imbibed, 20 minutes or so before or after your meal. The more you practice this the better digestive health you will enjoy and your overall health will dramatically improve.
9. The pH of the body is arguably the most important biological marker with regards to human health. Our blood needs to be slightly alkaline – somewhere between 7.35 and 7.45. In contrast, the pH of the gut needs to be very acidic (1 to 3). So on the one hand we need to eat an alkaline diet, whilst on the other had, our gut cannot perform optimally, especially keeping unhealthy pathogens at bay, if the pH is too high. In this context, alkalosis (being too alkaline) is actually a problem. A great way of ensuring your gut maintains the right pH is having one or two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar in a little bit of water at least once a day. This can be taken approximately an hour before going to bed and if necessary half an hour or so before breakfast each morning. Assessing the pH in the gut is difficult to evaluate, however, a good way to know if the pH isn’t low enough is after you’ve taken apple cider vinegar, if you burp within 5 minutes this is a very good indicator that your gut is not sufficiently acidic. This product has many other health benefits – as it’s good for heartburn, acid reflux, blood sugar regulation and much more.
10. Sleep hygiene is critical to the quality of sleep you are likely to have. There is no doubt that deep restorative sleep is vital to mental and physical health. There are an increasing number of studies that illustrate the damage that long-term sleep deprivation can cause. The things to consider making part of your regimen are: avoid doing something stimulating in the hour or so before bedtime. There are a number of essential oils that you can either burn in your bedroom or place a few drops on your pillow which will help relax the brain and the mind. Amongst the options are: lavender, marjoram, orange blossom and rosewood. Experiment and choose the one you most like. Listening to white noise is also very beneficial. There is a vast choice… again you should choose that which most appeals to your senses. Relaxation music of all kinds works well, so does classical music and the sounds offered up my nature are another wonderful tool for taking our brainwave frequencies into the right bands (theta and delta). It’s worth saying at this point that if we are struggling with sleep for any reason, by creating the right conditions for relaxation, even if we don’t sleep but focus on remaining relaxed we can achieve at least 90% of the benefits of sleep. It’s our worrying about not sleeping that perpetuates the vicious cycle.
Also see: Matters of the Mind and Environmental Insights