Really, getting healthy just takes one step: START!
Stop planning, procrastinating, justifying, discussing, contemplating and anything else that is inhibiting progress and get started!
But, you do have to start somewhere. If you're looking for better health, if you want to get off medications, or if you just want to feel better, there's a lifetime commitment ahead of you - a commitment that can begin in just 4 steps.
1. Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Daily Diet
No matter what meal you're having, add vegetables to it! If you refuse to eat vegetables, be creative. Study after study has shown that eating vegetables contributes to increased life span and quality of life, so add them in!
A few creative options for eating your veggies:
- Blast a small amount of vegetables with your favorite fruits for a tasty drink.
- Puree them and have them in a soup with your favorite spices and/or grass-fed, organic meat.
- Cook them in place of something else, like cauliflower steamed and mashed with a bit of cream for a tasty, healthier version of mashed potatoes, or grill strips of mushroom in place of steak.
- Make your own vegetable juice: Blast cucumber, tomato, and carrot in your NutriBullet with a dash of turmeric and a splash of Tobasco for a homemade V8.
The goal is to have 6-10 cups of vegetables each day. Getting a variety of cooked and raw vegetables is optimal. Keep in mind that the nutrient profile of some vegetables differs a lot when cooked versus raw. The raw carrot is higher in fiber, vitamin C and the B vitamins. When the same carrot is cooked, the amount of beta-carotene is greatly increased because this nutrient becomes much more bioavailable.
Additionally, make sure to get plenty of cruciferous vegetables, which include cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and cabbage, among others. They contain a greater amount of fiber than a number other vegetable choices and they're versatile in the kitchen.
Now that you have your vegetables in, get your fruits in, two to three a day! There are tons of different kinds and they all have positive attributes that contribute to your wellbeing. Berries allow more volume with fewer calories and a lot of antioxidants. Bananas offer about 2 grams of prebiotic fiber, which is a great fiber that optimizes the environment of the gut to help probiotics (good bacteria) thrive. Apples and pears are higher in fiber than most other fruits. Melons are very easy to juice for sweetening recipes, but contain very little fiber. Always try to get at least one serving of berries.
2. Add Suplemental Fiber
Next, additional fiber is absolutely necessary. Fiber helps your digestion, can lower cholesterol levels, helps maintain blood sugar levels and aids in weight management, among a number of other health benefits. Two optimal supplemental fibers can make a big difference in your numbers.
Psyllium Fiber - A plant fiber with 7-times more binding ability than any other fiber. Found in a puffed cereal and in Metamucil and Konsyl. Starting slowly is a good idea to avoid gas and bloating as the good bacteria in your gut need time to reproduce and build up adequate numbers to carry out good digestion instead of fermentation. I recommend a teaspoon a day for a week to start, then 2 teaspoonfus for another week, then 3 (equal to a tablespoon) for a month or so. If you weigh under 200 pounds, 1-2 tablespoons a day is likely adequate. If you weigh more than 200 pounds, 3-4 tablespoons each day is likely more appropriate.
Oat Fiber - All types of oats have been shown to help stabilize blood sugar numbers and cholesterol levels. Instant oatmeal products usually have very small amounts of fiber. An adequate fiber goal for a single serving of oats should be at least 5 grams of fiber. Adding plain oat bran to any food is a great way to increase oat fiber.
3. Avoid Bad Fats
Animal, or “saturated” fat, causes insulin resistance. If you compare a meal with fat to one without fat, the one without fat will keep blood sugar more normal because insulin will be able to carry the carbohydrate load into the muscles and brain much easier than if fat is present.
But don't rule out healthy monounsaturated fat! In the appropriate amounts, these fats are heart-healthy and can help reduce cholesterol levels, lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Even bursts of exercise as short as 10 minutes have been shown to improve blood sugar levels. This means if you get up from your desk, walk away from it for 5 minutes and then walk back, you have already helped meet your goal of improving your blood sugar levels and burning a few calories.
Always look for a reason to stand; stop looking for a reason to sit!
Corporate meetings are an excellent time and place for standing instead of sitting. Challenge the status quo! There is no reason to sit during these meetings, you can even take notes standing up. And try a standing desk; standing can do a lot, burning calories and increasing blood circulation.
When it comes to getting healthy, the individuals who look for opportunities to move, breath deeply and try a new healthy snack or meal are the most successful!
As you improve your healthy habits, work with your health care provider to monitor your lab numbers. Your positive nutrition and exercise habits are reflected in your labs. Therefore, it may be prudent to consider getting a set of baseline numbers if you don’t already have them. And, of course, always work with your health care provider to ensure you are making changes as he/she sees fit.