Taking Control of your Health Destiny
Are you in charge of your health destiny?
Do you feel confident you are doing everything in your power to prevent or perhaps even reverse the Western World’s most dreaded chronic diseases?
Or do you feel helpless? Resigned to suffer a future plagued with family-related genetic diseases that lead to an early death?
80-90% of chronic diseases in the United States are preventable with diet and lifestyle. 80-90%! Take a moment to really absorb this. Think of 10 family members, friends and acquaintances who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, even auto-immune disease. Eight to nine of those people NEED NOT SUFFER. They are a victim of their diet and lifestyle choices.
You don't have to be a victim! You have the POWER to control the path of your health and well-being. Although many people fear their genetics, it is not your genes, but your habits that make the ultimate difference. Your genetic makeup loads the gun, but lifestyle choices pull the trigger.
Taking control of your health is something that you can start doing today. Here are 3 simple habits you can start integrating into your life that could significantly decrease your risk of disease and increase your likelihood of health and longevity.
1. Center your diet around whole plant foods. Plants include fruits, vegetable, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Whole foods are foods that are consumed in their least processed form, like they are found in nature. For example, an apple is a whole food, whereas apple juice is a processed food. There are many reasons why eating whole plant foods is a key to health, but there are two beneficial properties of whole plants that I want you to remember today. The first is fiber. Fiber is one of the greatest deficiencies in the American diet. We need fiber for proper digestion, but it also provides the ability to bind with excess hormones and cholesterol and eliminate it from our bodies. This is the body’s natural way to protect us from heart disease as well as cancers and other diseases associated with excess hormones.
In addition, fiber leads to satiety. Because all whole plants (and only plants) have fiber, the calorie density of these foods is lower, and in turn we consume fewer calories while feeling more satisfied. Over time, this allows us to lose excess weight or comfortably and effortlessly maintain a healthy weight. Fiber is an essential part of our diet, but it should not come from a bottle or pill, it is already plentiful in nature to be enjoyed and consumed liberally.
The second special property of whole plants is antioxidants. All whole plants have antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our bodies from damage from free radicals, and therefore decreasing the risk of infection, cancer, and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
We know that people who consume a plant-based diet have a significantly reduced risk of many diseases. But it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, even flexitarians (those that mostly eat plants, but occasionally eat animal products) will experience measurable protection from disease. Regardless of whether you choose to eat animal products or not, the more whole plant foods you eat, the better protection you will have from chronic disease and the greater chance you will have for health and longevity.
2. Move your body. Exercise does not have to be a chore, and it should never be a punishment for your body. It is recommended children and adults get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, but it doesn't have to be all at once. There are two ways that I suggest you approach exercise. Purposeful movement is using your body to accomplish day-to-day tasks such as getting to work or running errands. Instead of using a car, you use your body and naturally integrate movement into your day. Pleasurable movement is when you exercise your body by doing fun and enjoyable activities such as dancing or taking nature walks. Although many people think of exercise as a way to“lose weight” or “get in shape”, many of the benefits of exercise are much more impactful to your wellbeing such as the prevention of depression and osteoporosis, improved cognition, stress reduction, and feelings of happiness.
3. Rest your body and mind. The latest studies show that adults require between 7-8 hours of sleep per night on average. The latest Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours and 15% get less than 5 hours of sleep each night! We are also, on average, sleeping one hour less now than we did in the 1940’s. Sleep is not only restorative for your brain, but also for your body. Even one hour of sleep deprivation leads to measurable cognitive impairment. Our bodies require rest to repair damaged cells. When we don't allow our bodies enough sleep to pause and repair, we increase our risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases, even metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Today you have the power to take charge. Consider eating a delicious plate of beans and brown rice for lunch, taking a long relaxing walk with your friend, and when you are tired tonight, instead of parking yourself in front of the television or surfing Facebook, be kind to yourself and go to sleep! You may not appreciate it now, but your body will thank you when you feel young and vibrant 10 years from now. Remember, YOU are in control of your health destiny.
How are you going to take control of your health destiny today? Comment below, leave me a like, and share this blog post. Thanks for reading and have a plantastic day!