Friday, 2 April 2021

MUST KNOW 5 PILLARS OF HEALTH FOR ULTIMATE HEALTH AND HAPPINESS (PLUS FREE HEALTH GUIDE & TRACKER!)

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Do you want to know how to be truly healthy in an easy, quick and holistic way?

We have all experienced numerous gimmicks and contradicting advice over the years. Sometimes we hear intermittent fasting is the solve-all solution and sometimes we hear that a ‘high fat low carb keto diet’ is the way to lose weight and prevent disease.

Therefore, it is understandable that people do not know what to believe and how to be healthy. Many people give up and believe life would be easier if they did not bother with their health. However, we know that poor health leads to a weakened immune system and a heightened chance of disease later in life.

We can tackle the basic pillars of our health right now so that we can lead a healthy and happy future. It is not difficult to take control if we stay on top of the following 5 elements.

*Please sign up to my mailing list for the FREE health tracker and guide! *

#1 FOOD – Eating a diet rich in a variety of plant based foods / whole foods

Diets do not work. Low carb, low fat, whatever it may be… they are not sustainable. The most sustainable way to eat well is to ADD things in to your diet rather than REMOVE things and label food as ‘bad’. We can make food exciting by trying new fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes. We can make new recipes using health boosting herbs and spices.

A mostly whole foods diet and in particular, a diet including a variety of plant based foods, helps reduce your chance of disease dramatically, as well as boosting the immune system. Plant-based foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds) are anti-inflammatory and therefore disease can be prevented and in some cases, reversed, by eating this way. 

The number of foods you include in your diet is important as the variety boosts the good bacteria in our gut. I could do a whole post on the gut microbiome but this book by Dr Megan Rossi explains it really well. The gut affects our brain health and mood but it also defends the body against disease and viruses. 

Please note that the only thing that cannot be obtained from a plant-based diet, is vitamin B12, so I recommend supplementing. You should be supplementing anyway, even if you eat meat, due to modern factory farming practices. I would recommend this great and affordable supplement here on Amazon or you can buy a Vitamin B12 tongue spray, which is what I use.

Personally, I have found that having a mostly whole foods diet with a lot of variety has really improved my mental health. There are studies to back this up, notably the ‘smile trial’ which has incredible results. They took people that had moderate-severe depression and for half the participants, they changed their diets to include a fully whole food, Mediterranean-style diet. At the end of the trial, 1/3 of those in the dietary intervention group met criteria for remission of major depression, compared to 8 % of those in the social support (“befriending”) group. 

ACTION POINTS:

-       Track the number of plant based foods you eat in a week and aim for 30 (its easier than you think!)

-       Make a new recipe at least once a week - I like the Eat Smart book but the Deliciously Ella books are very popular 

-       In the supermarket, buy a fruit/vegetable that you have never tried before

-       Buy a list of essentials such as nuts, seeds and wholegrains (I'm going to do a post of cupboard essentials soon)

#2 WATER – Drink at least 2 litres per day (8 x 250ml glasses)

I know this is something I struggle with but your body is up to 60% water and desperately needs water. Dehydration can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overhead and lead to constipation and kidney stones. It also makes your skin dry and therefore accelerate the ageing process.

Water helps your body keep a normal temperature; lubricate and cushion joints; as well as getting rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements.

We can track our water intake via various different apps but a much easier way is to buy a large 2L bottle (or a 1L bottle and fill it up twice). You could partner up with someone and hold each other accountable throughout the day as well as to provide reminders.

ACTION POINTS:

-       Carry a 1L bottle with you an refill it at least once throughout the day (a motivational water tracker bottle may help you or simply a standard 500ml bottle to fill up 4x a day)

-       Opt for water when eating out. You’ll save money and calories

-       Add lemon, or other fruits, to your water to make it more appealing

  Get a water tracking app such as ‘My Water’ ‘WaterMinder’ or ‘Aqualert’.


#3 EXERCISE - 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week

Whether this be walking at a fast pace, a yoga session, a game of tennis or a HIIT workout, we need to aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week.

We all know the benefits of exercise to our bodies and our minds. Doing regular exercises prevents obesity and therefore a whole host of diseases. It can make us strong and flexible hence preventing us from having mobility issues when we grow older. I recommend low impact exercises such as Yoga and/or Pilates.

Mentally, exercise is wonderful as it releases endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

ACTION POINTS

-       Find an exercise you like. If you don’t like running, don’t run. Try something new such as Barre, Pilates or a YouTube dance workout

-       Schedule in time to work out whether that is before or after work. Put it in your calendar.

-       Walk instead of taking the metro, if you have time

-       Walk fast on your way home. This is especially effective if you are walking up a hill and will really get your heart racing to that moderate level

-       Keep track of your progress


 #4 SLEEP – Minimum 7 hours every night consistently

 “Sleep is the elixir of life”, according to Matthew Walker in his book ‘Why We Sleep’. I found the information given by him so fascinating. He talks about the ‘killer cells’ in our bodies and if we have a bad sleep, the next day these cells may reduce by 80%. This means we can be susceptible to viruses much more easily. It is no surprise as after a period of bad sleep, I have found myself getting a cold.

Additionally, sleep has a significant impact on your mood and mental health. It can really change the way we perceive things the next day - whether we are going to approach things with stress or with a sense of calm.

ACTION POINTS

-       Put your phone away 1 hour before bed

-       If you have worries or are anxious, write them down in a notebook. This transfers them from your headspace to the paper

-       Read a book or do some Yin Yoga.

-       Lower the lights to let your Circadian rhythm know that it is night time and is time to sleep. I like my Lumie lamp which has a sunset setting at night. You can also wake up slower with gradual light in the morning - it's amazing!

-       When you wake up in the morning, expose yourself to the sunlight. This keeps your Circadian rhythm in balance and will actually help you fall asleep in the evening

-       Plan for minimum 8 hours in bed – this will allow for time to settle down and time to actually fall asleep

-     Buy a light that works in tandem with your circadium rhythm. I love the Lumie Bodyclock Glow lamp (click here for the link) because it has a sunset which makes me drowsy in the evening and allows me to settle down. The sunrise setting wakes me up gradually in the morning, making me feel less groggy and also has some nice alarm sounds such as waves crashing on the shore.


#5 MINDFULNESS –  Try do do at least 5 minutes of mindfulness every day

As Lao Tzu says: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Thankfully, Mindfulness is now becoming much more mainstream and we are becoming aware of the need for it due to the saddening and rising numbers of poor mental health. Mindfulness can refer to, but is not limited to, meditation.

Meditation can prevent anxiety and depression, both in the short term and long term, by framing your worries and thoughts in a different perspective. Research shows it can also make you a kinder and more compassionate person. The relaxation response from meditation helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure and improves heart rate, breathing and brain waves.

As well as through meditation, you can also practice mindfulness by the 54321 method. Stop (off your phone!) and think to yourself:

  • What are 5 things that I can see?
  • What are 4 things that I can hear?
  • What are 3 things that I can smell?
  • What are 2 things that I can taste?
  • What is 1 thing that I can touch?

This puts you in touch with the present moment. You are not depressed about the past. You are not anxious about the future. You are present and nothing matters in this moment of awareness.


ACTION POINTS

-       Download a meditation app such as 'Headspace' Insight timer' and  'Buddhify. Or find some YouTube meditations that you would like to try

-       Set aside minimum 5 minutes every morning or evening to do a meditation

-       Do not worry if you fidget or your mind starts to wander – this is normal and takes practice!

-       When you are travelling to work or walking somewhere, be present by practising the 54321 method

As you can see, we simply need to take stock of these five elements of health and we will start to notice tangible differences. You can do this with the aid of my free PDF health tracker. Alternatively, the Deliciously Ella app is amazing and contains a tracker feature as well as lots of recipes and workouts to try.

I hope this helped simplify the ever more complicated world of health and you realise that is really is this simple and always comes back to these 5 elements.

Lots of love

Alice x

 

Click here to download the FREE pdf health tracker.

If the quality isn't great, please email me at alicedickinsonx@hotmail.co.uk and I will email you the PDF over right away.



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