Editor's note: "Focus on Fitness" is a Clarion feature with healthy lifestyle advice from local and national health and fitness experts. Check here weekly great information and tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
With deadlines to meet, after work cocktails, frequent dining out, late nights and early mornings it's easy to forget how simple it is to take control of your health.
The following tips from www.NaturallySavvy.com will outline some simple ways to enhance your everyday health, boost your metabolism, maintain a healthy weight, increase brain function and start feeling powerful from the inside out:
1. Start your day off right by eating breakfast.
Eating breakfast is important for sustaining energy levels and aiding in blood sugar management. Choose a healthy breakfast that's:
* high in complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, cereals, fruits, vegetables);
* high in fiber (whole grains cereals and breads and ground flax);
* rich in protein (nuts, seeds, soy milk, organic milk and yogurt, eggs, protein powders);
* and provides good fats (nuts, seeds, healthy oils like extra virgin olive, flax and coconut).
2. Don't rely on coffee.
Excess coffee overloads your liver, dehydrates you (coffee is a diuretic) and increases the risk of blood sugar irregularities (afternoon energy dips sound familiar?). Your liver is the body's detoxifying organ and if overloaded, your chances for disease, sluggishness and weight gain will increase. Try to decrease coffee or eliminate it altogether. There are some great coffee alternatives on the market. You can also enjoy herbal teas: dandelion root (liver detox), ginseng (energy), oolong (weight loss), green tea (concentration), and peppermint (stomach ease).
3. Stay hydrated.
This step is as easy as carrying a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you. Count how many times you fill it up. At least 8 glasses of water a day will keep your energy levels high, your hunger down, your digestion smooth and your concentration sharp. When we are dehydrated, our bodies often mistake this feeling for hunger. Don't drink water before meals, as this can hinder digestion; drink 20 minutes before and 30 minutes after. Also, try and drink room temperature water because cold water increases gastrointestinal contraction and slows digestion down.
4. Decrease packaged/refined goods.
Most packaged goods are loaded with sugar, excess sodium, stabilizers, preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. If you can't pronounce even 1 ingredient, skip it! Another good rule of thumb: The fewer the ingredients the better.
5. Eat local, whole foods.
How did our ancestors eat 100 years ago? Fresh meats, fish, beans, grains, nuts, seeds and fruit and veggies topped the list. Whole foods are the key to good health. When you're wondering what you can bring to snack on during the day, try bringing a nut bar, some fruit or sliced veggies.
6. Dine out the smart way.
When trying to choose a meal to eat out, look for words like steamed, baked, poached, roasted, broiled or grilled. Do your best to avoid foods with the words fried, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sauteed or stuffed, which are good indications the foods are high in fat and calories. If an item calls for the one of these options, ask the food item to be grilled, steamed, or baked instead.
7. Limit alcohol intake.
For every alcoholic drink you have, drink a glass of water. Alcohol dehydrates you, lowers inhibitions and increases your appetite. As a rule of thumb, men should have no more than two drinks daily and females no more than one. Healthier alternatives are light beer, virgin Caesar, white wine spritzer, glass of perrier or just straight up water with lots of lemon and lime. No one needs to know your drink is non-alcoholic, just ask for it in a rocks glass.
8. Avoid anything white.
White rice, white bread, white pasta, and white sauces. White floured foods are all processed and the good fiber and nutrients are significantly reduced. Enjoy whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice and whole grains like quinoa, couscous or buckwheat instead. Go for a tomato or pesto sauce instead, because white sauces are laden with saturated fat and sodium.
9. Carry snacks with you.
No matter how long you'll be out, always have a piece of fruit or a healthy protein or nut bar with you. Eating every three hours will help keep your blood sugar steady and decrease overeating at meals.
10. Don't stuff yourself.
Eat until 80 percent full and no more. If you're still hungry after 10 minutes, then have a little bite more. Overeating not only causes weight gain, even if you're eating healthy foods, but it also slows down digestion and can lead to more series problems like irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.
11. Increase fruits and vegetables.
Eat fruits, 2-3 servings a day, vegetables 5-7 servings a day. Think colorful, fresh and local! Be sure to eat lots of greens (kale, bok-choy, swiss chard, spinach) as these are the most nutritionally powerful foods.
12. Avoid eating late.
Your metabolism slows down at night and, you can count on anything you eat within three hours of bedtime sticking to your bones! Eating before 8 p.m. will allow your body to detoxify before you rest and helps get rid of unnecessary weight.
No matter how good your diet may be, no one has a perfect nutritional profile. With environmental toxins so prevalent and poor soil quality, we are not getting appropriate nutrients in our diet. A good quality multivitamin/mineral is a must-have, along with probiotic supplementation, a B-complex vitamin (for stress, metabolism and healthy immune) and a good quality EFA (essential fatty acid/omega 3) supplement.
Look for fish oil capsules to keep brain function high, digestion smooth, stress down, inflammation down and appetite controlled. Consult a Registered Nutritionist for more information on your nutrition profile. Every person is different and needs a different supplementation plan to stay healthy.
All of the tips outlined above are relatively easy to implement in your life, regardless of how busy it might be. Just remember the key to a healthy and balanced life starts with dedication, and if you're just as dedicated to your health as you are to your busy work schedule, you're bound to succeed.
Katrina Bertol is Naturally Savvy's whole health expert. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor and Reiki Practitioner. NaturallySavvy.co is a website that educates people on the benefits of living a natural, organic and green lifestyle. For more information and to sign up for their newsletter, visit www.NaturallySavvy.com.
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