When it comes to living your best life, many people are left thinking that they have a mountain to climb and no idea how to start. When you assess your health and daily habits, you will find that your road to health is built on a foundation of these four pillars
1. DIET & GUT HEALTH
Diet and gut health are two of the most important factors that determine our health. The quality of the food we eat is what determines whether we simply survive, or thrive. But if our gut health is impaired, we are unable to absorb any of the nutrients from a well balanced diet. Unfortunately, over 50 percent of the calories the average person consumes on a westernised diet comes from flour, sugar and industrial seed oils; foods that have almost none of the nutrients our bodies need to function properly and lead to impaired gut health.
The ideal human diet is one that emphasises real, nutrient-filled, wholefoods that come directly from the earth and have a short-lived expiration date due to being closest to their most natural state – in other words: WHOLEFOODS. It further eliminates processed and refined “factory-foods” that have become the mainstay of the industrialised diet with incredibly long shelf lives. Start by removing all of these items from your household and replacing them with fresh produce. My number 1 rule: If you shouldn’t be eating it, don’t bring it into your home. This is the first place to start: sweep your pantry of all refined foods, cereal boxes and sweets and replace with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other naturally sourced wholefoods.
Humans are designed to be physically active. Yet in the modern world many of us sit the entire day at work and most of the evening too, as we browse social media, watch TV or check our email.
The key to overcoming our sedentary lifestyles is integrating more physical activity throughout our days, by sitting less, standing and walking more, performing our own chores, housework, and gardening, and finding opportunities to move whenever possible. So even if you do not have time in your day to do some form of exercise, remember to move. Even if this means taking the stairs or parking a little further from the grocery store.
Science has conclusively shown us that most people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Yet statistics are showing that people are now getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep each night. Any mother can relate to this point. And while lack of sleep as a parent can be somewhat unavoidable at times, it is important to remember that not getting sufficient sleep consistently can be nothing short of catastrophic for your health, because sleep deprivation affects literally every cell and organ system in the body. Sleep is the time our body needs to repair itself. Insufficient sleep can be associated with the following:
• Drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.
• The inability for the body to effectively regulate hormones. For example, poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite and those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
• Impaired brain function.
• Increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
• Drastically impaired immune function.
• Impaired inflammatory responses. Poor sleep is strongly linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase your risk of disease recurrence.
The bottom line is that it’s impossible to reach your healthiest self if you don’t get enough sleep.
The keys to improving your sleep are making it a priority, reducing your exposure to artificial light at night, creating an environment conducive to sleep, exercising and eating high quality foods.
4. STRESS MANAGEMENT
Chronic stress is often the elephant in the room: it’s a factor that profoundly affects our health, but that many of us simply ignore. This is unfortunate, because no matter what diet you follow, how much you exercise and what supplements you take, if you’re not managing your stress, your body is not able to function optimally. Furthermore, when you are stressed, you produce cortisol, which has an effect on your entire body while encouraging both water retention and weight gain.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
• Make it a priority to find time to yourself, where you are able to de-stress and calm your mind.
• Movement – getting your body moving is a way to increase blood flow and release endorphins, while doing something for yourself.
• Meditation & Yoga – a way to silence the mind, move your body and focus on yourself in the present moment.
• Removal from outside stress factors, whether it be a toxic relationship, friendship or habit.
• Get outside! Fresh air and a little Vitamin D never did anyone anything but good!