We are busy and most of us don’t have the time to dial up our health another notch. Here are four simple ways to help you on the journey to feeling your best without a huge time or resource commitment.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Sleep may be the most important thing in our health arsenal. It plays a vital role in our physical and mental well-being. Getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep gives your body more time to heal, repair, and detoxify from the day and can revitalize your brain, allowing your brain to form new pathways and perform better the following day. Ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to increased risk of heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity. To help you get to sleep earlier, try cutting your screen time short and unwind with light stretching, meditation, or a good book.
- Drink more water. I know you hear this message a lot, but are you really drinking enough water given your activity level and lifestyle? The general rule of thumb for daily water consumption is to drink half of your body weight in ounces plus an additional eight to 12 ounces for each diuretic beverage you consume. Diuretics include juices, coffee (even decaffeinated), most teas including some herbal teas (i.e., peppermint), and alcoholic beverages. One way I’ve found to easily get in all that I need is by drinking at least 12 ounces of water right before bed, another 12 or so upon waking, and then splitting up the rest throughout the day, especially between meals. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and track how many times you refill it. Spruce up plain water with lemon (which is especially great served warm in the morning for better digestion), sliced cucumber, mint, or berries.
- Chew your food longer. This one isn’t entirely obvious but is so important. Chewing your food well not only ensures that the entire digestive process gets kicked off but also allows you to absorb more nutrients from your food. It makes digestion easier and reduces digestive issues like gas and bloating. Chewing slowly will also lead you to eat slower, providing your brain with the time it needs to register that you are starting to feel full. This simple act may keep you from overeating and help you to maintain your weight. As an added benefit, eating slower may actually allow you to enjoy your food and taste it better.
- Incorporate more fermented foods into your diet. Many cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for generations – think sauerkraut in Germany and kimchi in Korea. Studies have shown a strong link between probiotic-rich foods and overall health. Sadly, with advances in technology and food preparation, these traditional foods are not as prevalent in today’s society. Not only are fermented foods rich in immune and gut-boosting probiotics, but they also contain beneficial digestive enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals making them quite nutrient dense. Sauerkraut, for example, is rich in iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, and the lesser known vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Aim to eat or drink something fermented 2–3 times per day as a condiment. Try my easy sauerkraut recipe to get started.