Dr. Deb's Top Ten Health Tips
Top 10 Health Tips | My Health Formulas
1: Drink lots of water.
Let's begin with water. Yes, water is actually a nutrient. It is a necessary component of the body's metabolic processes, it moves vital substances through the blood stream and into cells, and helps regulate body temperature. Most people do not drink enough water, and don't know they are dehydrated. You need six to ten 8-ounce glasses per day: six if you eat plenty of watery fruits; ten if you drink caffeine or alcohol. (And if you choose to use these substances, limit your caffeine to tea and your alcohol to red wine, as these have some health benefits when used in moderation.)
2: Read labels and eat whole foods.
Eat fresh, whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible. These are the foods we evolved with, and each part of a food works synergistically with each of its other parts to provide complete nutrition. This includes whole grains (containing germ, bran, and endosperm), seeds - especially sprouted seeds, raw fruits, and raw vegetables. The more a food is processed, the more nutritional value is lost. Cooking destroys enzymes, vitamins are lost in canning, and packaged processed complex carbohydrates (especially crackers and chips) often contain trans fats and disguised sugars. Sugar and white flour have been so refined as to be devoid of any nutritional value. This means that when you eat sugar or white flour, you're loading empty calories into your body, requiring you to over eat in order to get sufficient nutrition. America's practice of consuming these refined carbohydrates is perhaps the largest contributing factor to our growing epidemic of Type II Diabetes.
3: Balance your diet.
Your diet should be balanced. Not only do we need foods from all food groups, but we need balance within each group. For example: although meat contains all essential amino acids in right balance, Americans tend to eat too much animal protein. This leads to too much acidity, and has been linked to higher cancer rates and poor colon and cardiovascular health. It is best to limit meat consumption to twice a week, eating only low fat types. Instead of relying on meat for protein, it is better to balance the amino acids that make up protein by combining grains with legumes. Some examples are: brown rice with black or kidney beans; quinoa with tofu; whole grain pasta with lima beans; whole grain bread with natural (non-hydrogenated) peanut butter.
4: Eat variety.
Eat as much variety in your foods as possible. This will provide the wide range of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) and phytonutrients (special health-enhancing plant-based substances) necessary for optimum nutritional health. Each food has its strengths and limits. For example: blueberries have the highest ORAC value (a nutrient's ability to fight health damaging free radicals), but they contain no ECGC (a special health-enhancing phytonutrient). Green tea has the highest amount of ECGC, but contains no lycopene, which fights certain forms of cancer. Tomatoes have the highest amount of lycopene, but contain no ECGC. You get the picture.
5: Eat more essential fats - fish and flax.
Lose your fear of fat. Because fat has gotten a bad rap in our culture due to an obesity epidemic, Americans have thrown out the baby with the bath water. Thinking all fats are bad, we've cut back too far on the healthy fats that our bodies need. Americans typically don't get enough of certain kinds of essential fats in their diet. These especially include the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in flax seeds and in deep sea cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and tuna). These are necessary for proper brain function. We also need the monounsaturates found in olive oil for heart health. Use olive oil for cooking, and flax seed oil to dress salads and vegetables. Add walnuts in your salad and veggies to balance the omega-3 fats in flax oil with the omega-6 fats found in walnuts. The fats to cut back on are the saturated fats found in animal products. Fats to avoid completely are the trans fats.
6: Eat organic.
Eat organically grown produce as much as possible. If you eat meat, buy meat from animals that have been fed organically grown chow. Pesticides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers get into the food chain and create a toxic load in the body that leads to poor health. Buying organic also insures that your food hasn't been genetically modified. Most of the soy products that aren't organically grown have been genetically engineered for higher crop yield, but made less nutritious.
7: Keep it pure and simple.
Avoid anything with chemical additives. Nitrites used to preserve freshness in lunch meats have been linked to stomach cancer. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils) found in many baked goods have devastating effects on the body's cell membranes, and contribute to cardiovascular disease by lowering the healthy cholesterol and raising the unhealthy cholesterol in the blood. Some food coloring contains aluminum, which has been associated with Alzheimer's Disease. In short, anything unnatural that has been added to your food can interfere with natural health. When you read the package label of a food product, ask yourself whether all the ingredients listed are things you would include in anything you would make at home. As Dr. Andrew Weil says, "If you can't pronounce it or don't understand it, this didn't grow from the ground." I find that, in general, the fewer the ingredients listed on the package label, the healthier the product usually is.
8: Go natural.
Limit the use of pharmaceuticals. There is no such thing as a safe drug, and all drugs have side effects. They increase the toxic load in your body, and many drugs deplete essential vitamins. If you are taking prescribed medication, work with your doctor to insure you are taking the lowest dose possible to give the desired benefits. Better still, discuss with your prescribing physician natural nutritional remedies that can be substituted for the drug. Vitamin E, flax, and garlic, for example, can keep blood fluid, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure without the stomach irritation of aspirin or the side effects of antihypertensive drugs. Work with your doctor in consultation with a nutritional consultant to find the safest, most natural, nutritional remedies possible.
Don't be afraid to supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals. Rare is the person who gets an adequate amount of these micronutrients in his or her diet to achieve optimum health. Due to over-farming, much of our soil has been robbed of sufficient amounts of the materials plants need to make nutrients. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is based on how much of a nutrient it takes to avoid a deficiency disease, not on how much is required for optimum health. Folic acid, vitamin E, and magnesium are three micronutrients that are especially found lacking in the American diet. But don't go overboard: some minerals can be toxic in high doses (especially selenium and copper). Remember, to supplement does not mean to replace. Taking a multivitamin complex including essential minerals at 100% RDA should be sufficient for most people to obtain optimum health as long as the diet is nutrient dense.
Get plenty of exercise. If you were to do just one thing to improve your health, this is probably the single greatest deterrent against illness. Exercise is necessary for optimum blood flow, and treats the entire cardiovascular system. It insures that nutrients are efficiently transported through the blood stream as well as into cells. It stimulates the brain to produce the chemical messengers needed for mood, thinking, and memory. It reduces stress hormones, and promotes healthy body mass distribution. The minimum amount of exercise you should be getting is 30 minutes three days a week. For optimum health, exercise for 60 minutes six days per week.