We often ignore our health at the expense of other things — comfort, money, or social lives. We pursue our best interests in almost every area, but then forget to nurture the most foundational asset we have: our health. As the new year approaches, it’s time to flip the script and focus more energy on your health and well-being.
Try These Proven Health-Boosting Principles
We’ve learned a lot about the human body and how to maximize physical health and emotional well-being over the past couple of decades. Here are some proven principles you can apply to your own life to look, feel, and perform your best over the course of the next year.
1. Watch What You Drink
There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional glass of red wine with dinner, but overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol can have negative effects on your liver, teeth, heart, metabolism, and sleep cycle.
It’s not just alcohol and caffeine that you have to watch. You should also reconsider sugary drinks.
Sugary drinks are some of the most fattening food items you could consume. Your brain isn’t able to measure calories from liquid sugar in the same efficient and accurate way that it does solid food. Thus, when you drink a soda or sugary sports drink, you actually end up consuming more total calories.
Sugary drinks might taste good, but they leave you feeling groggy and sluggish. They’re also strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Stick to water and you’ll lessen your chances of adverse health effects.
2. Focus on Fresh, Natural Foods
Thanks to fad diets and nutritional trends, it’s not always easy to know what to eat and what to avoid. But there’s a pretty simple rule of thumb that always remains true: consume fresh, natural foods and avoid processed foods. If you follow this approach, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time worrying about what to eat.
3. Take Care of Your Teeth
Oral hygiene is something that’s incredibly important for your overall health, yet is often neglected. If you want to protect your health, you need to care for your gums and teeth.
Diet plays a particularly important role in oral health. Try eating more foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin C. Likewise, crunchy fruits and veggies are high in fiber and great for scraping away food and plaque from teeth.
4. Get Better Sleep
While both are important, your quality of sleep should be paid a much greater role than the quantity.
What does it mean to get quality sleep? The National Sleep Foundation defines it as:
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Being asleep for at least 85 per cent of the total time spent in bed
- Being awake for fewer than 20 minutes prior to falling asleep
- Not waking more than once per night
If you’re struggling to check each of these boxes, reconsider your sleep habits and environment. A simple shift in how you approach sleep could leave you feeling better rested each morning.
5. Exercise Every Day
You don’t need to spend an hour at the gym every day, but you do need daily physical activity. For best results, get your heart rate up for at least 30 to 45 minutes of uninterrupted cardiovascular exercise. This might include jogging, swimming, basketball, or Pilates. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just make sure you get your body moving! (Too much sedentary behavior will wreak havoc on your circulation, joints, muscles, and mental health.)
Put Your Health First
If you’ve ever paid attention to a flight safety presentation prior to takeoff, then you’ve heard the classic advice to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others do the same. And the reason for this is quite simple: You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
The same is true in your everyday life. If you aren’t healthy, how can you possibly help the people around you become the best versions of themselves?
It’s time to stop pushing your health to the backburner and make it one of your top priorities. From what you eat to how you sleep, the intentional decisions you make on a daily basis have a cumulative effect on your overall health and well-being.
Let’s make a pact to take our health more seriously in 2021!