How to Feel Your Best: The 5 Keys to Good Health
What is your definition of healthy? When we look at media portrayals of “healthy people,” we typically see younger fitness models with blinding white teeth and too-perfect-to-be-true bodies. Good health can be obtained by people of all walks, ages and sizes, and is often a result of balancing the elements of one’s lifestyle (mind, body and spirit). Let’s look at five key indicators of good health, and what one can do to find that balance.
Vitality means having adequate energy, not getting sick often, and the ability to enjoy life along with its challenges. This may seem like a mental element but vitality largely has to do with diet and lifestyle (though certain health conditions can hamper vitality). Those with vitality tend to have a strong resistance towards disease and infection, and tend to have good circulation.
What can you do about low vitality?
-The first thing I would check is your diet. Lack of nutritious food, or not eating often enough, can leave you feeling sluggish and not very vital. Another area to check is the digestive system. Do you often have gas, bloating, pain, constipation or diarrhea after meals? There may be an issue afoot.
-A majority of folks do not get enough nutrients from food, so adding a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, along with an Omega 3, could be beneficial. No difference in 2-3 months? You may need to consult your physician for a check-up.
There are many causes of low vitality. You could be suffering from burnout, or feeling the after effects of a separation, loss of a loved one, job loss, childbirth, a traumatic event, or one of a dozen other reasons.
As a practitioner, I often see low vitality linked with hormonal imbalances. Speak with your health practitioner or your local pharmacist about hormone level testing and available treatment options.
2. Good Sleep
Good sleep is sound sleep—deep, uninterrupted, and satisfying. Ideally, you should be able to fall asleep within 10 minutes of getting into bed. Many cases of troubled sleep are labeled as insomnia, which is a disease in its own right, though it’s often part of a bigger problem. Sleep difficulties are rarely remedied with a sleeping aid or potion. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, tension, chronic stress and adrenal fatigue may be causes of not being able to sleep. Sleeplessness can also be a side effect of some medications.
What can you do about sleep difficulties?
-The first thing I recommend is eliminating or reducing all sources of caffeine, especially in the evening or nighttime. Healthier beverages like green tea are fine in moderation, but sodas, energy drinks and other high sugar and caffeine combos are best left alone.
-Check your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Turn off the TV and put away all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
-Light exercise or meditation can also be beneficial before bedtime. Even showering at night can help.
If sleep difficulties become persistent or chronic, something further will need to be done.
3. Sense of Humor
Do you enjoy laughing, even if at times it’s at your own expense? You don’t need to be The Entertainer or a stand-up comic to have a sense of humor. Having a sense of humor simply means being able to let go and enjoy life without taking it too seriously. Laughter and humor makes it easier to maintain a positive outlook on life, even when things are not so easy.
How can you fix your funny bone?
-Simply put, learn to laugh more. Laughter isn’t a weakness; in fact, it can be quite the opposite. Plus, laughter is a proven form of stress relief. It pays to laugh!
-Watch a comedy movie or TV show. Sometimes you may not feel like laughing, and all you want to do is be sad and wallow, but that will do no good. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your spirit can be lifted after a few chuckles.
4. Healthy Appetite and Digestion
A healthy appetite and proper digestion are two key aspects of overall health. Appetites vary, and people should eat for their body style and activity level, but these tips are good for everyone to follow:
- Keep an eye on your weight, and maintain a sensible weight for your body type.
- Eat fewer bad fats (trans fat) and more good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).
- Eat fewer refined carbohydrates and more complex carbohydrates
- Opt for healthier, cleaner sources of protein. Be mindful of meat sources.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Reduce your intake of potatoes, pastas and breads.
- Be mindful of alcohol consumption. If your vitality is lacking, you may want to avoid alcohol altogether.
- Stay hydrated daily. Water should be a vast majority of your fluid intake.
- Take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral to ensure against deficiencies.
- Check your bowel movements. Healthy, vital people have well-functioning bowels with little to no diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or excessive flatulence. Consult with your physician if you are having issues with bowel movements; they’re often the sign of something deeper that needs addressing.
- Eat less. Most people eat almost 30% more food than they need. Overeating can lead to various problems other than digestive issues.
5. An Active Mind
I once heard it said that we begin aging when we stop learning. An active brain continues to produce dendrites, which are the communication connections between cells. Dendrites help to store and retrieve information more easily. Healthy people are typically known for good memory and clarity of thought—regardless of age. I’ve had quite a few elderly patients over the years, some well into their 90’s, who amazed me with their mental clarity and wit. Keeping an active mind also makes it easier to keep a positive attitude, which is also beneficial to vitality.
How can I keep an active mind?
There are many ways to expand your mind and keep it active. Find something you enjoy and can do daily. Here are some suggestions: Read (but try to stay away from mindless magazines); do crossword puzzles or other word/number games; play strategic board or card games; learn a foreign language; take a course or study a trade (many community centers, libraries and groups offer free or affordable classes); join a local discussion group; take up a creative craft (like woodworking, pottery, drawing).
There are also supplements you can take that can help with cognitive function.
- Vitamin E (around 400 I.U. per day)
- Ginkgo Biloba (2.5 – 4 mls per day, standardized liquid extract form). Ginkgo helps to increase blood circulation to the brain and may help to prevent free radical damage to the brain’s neurons).
- Phosphatidylserine (around 100mg 2-3 times daily). PS has been the most studied nutrient for cognitive decline. Substantial amounts of clinical and research data are available on PS, and the findings indicate PS is very safe to take and highly effective in conserving memory, increasing learning, concentration, and other higher mental capacities.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (particularly the DHA component of Omega 3). Many people have a deficiency of DHA in the brain, particularly as they age. DHA is the building block of human brain tissue and is particularly abundant in the grey matter of the brain and the retina of the eye. Low levels of DHA have recently been associated with depression, memory loss, dementia, and visual problems of the elderly.
- Zinc (15–30mg per day). Zinc deficiencies often underpin many problems and altered cognitive functions, such as loss of taste and smell, poor vision, and immunity issues.
About the Author:
Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website: candidacrusher.com You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many YouTube videos: www.yeastinfection.org Dr. Bakker’s Blog: www.ericbakker.com