We were lucky enough to have The BodyLove Project's very own Magnolia Rasak as our featured Guest Blogger for this post. Her, "10 Secrets To Achieve Optimal Health" comes from her work at holisticwellspring.com. Head on over to her site to find out more about her Holistic Nutrition services and the unique expertise she brings to the world of Holistic Health
With so many food options, diet choices, and health advertisements it can be confusing to figure out the simple steps to support optimal health. Simply going back to the basics and making small, but profound changes can have a positive impact on how we eat, what we eat, and how we feel. And, making these changes are often easier than we think. Here are 10 simple steps that will make a big impact on your health, well-being, and support your most optimal self.
1. Explore, experiment, and listen.
You are unique! No one diet fits all when it comes to nutrition. The perfect diet plan for you will require exploration and an openness to listen to your body’s unique dietary needs. Basic dietary guidelines such as: consume mostly plant-based whole foods, include a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, eat whole grains, and quality drinking water, and get regular exercise will help support you as you find the perfect diet for your body’s needs.
2. Eat a protein rich breakfast daily.
Breakfast is the meal that literally breaks your fast from a night of sleep, and provides your body with the fuel needed to start your day. There are many benefits to eating breakfast daily. Simply eating breakfast can help to increase your resting metabolic rate by 10% or more, which in turn, burns more calories. Protein is an important nutrient for the start of the day. Incorporating quality protein in your breakfast will provide energy, and also help reduce sugar cravings throughout the day.
3. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
It’s a lesson we heard as little kids, but a surprising number of adults do not thoroughly chew their food. Chewing completely and eating in a slow and relaxed manner can help you digest more efficiently, increase nutrient absorption, and minimize digestive issues. Eating slowly also allows you to more accurately gauge your level of fullness. Try to chew 20-30 times before swallowing.
4. Choose fresh, seasonal, and organic foods.
Whenever possible, buy fresh organic foods. Organic foods are free from synthetic chemicals and contain more nutrients and enzymes than their conventional counterparts. Try shopping at your local farmers market to ensure your food is local, seasonal, and fresh.
5. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables provide an array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber necessary to support optimal health. Diets high in fresh fruits and vegetables help prevent diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Color your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables which not only beautify your plate, but also provide your body with the nutrients essential to your health.
6. Choose organic and free range animal products.
Organic animal products are free of harmful antibiotics, growth hormones and medications given to conventionally raised animals. Free range and organic animal products will be the most health supportive along with a balanced diet plan.
7. Hydrate with clean water.
Proper hydration is essential for the proper functioning of every cell in our body. Clean water is key to adequate hydration, and helps flush toxins and waste out of our bodies. Aim to drink one half ounce of hydrating liquids per pound of your total body weight. If available, choose clean mineral spring water.
8. Read your labels, know what’s in your food.
Nutrition fact labels tell us what is in our food. Reading food labels help us avoid harmful and unhealthy ingredients such as artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, sugars and food coloring. If you can’t pronounce it, or don’t know what it is, then it’s probably not health supportive, and you may want to do some research before you make a purchase. Reading nutrition fact labels allows you to make informed nutritional choices about the foods you buy, and allows you to choose foods that are most beneficial for your health.
9. Be active.
Physical exercise has many health benefits and is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise supports cardiovascular health, reduces stress, and maintains healthy weight, while lowering the risk of various health diseases. Aim to get 30 plus minutes of exercise at least 4 times a week. One of the keys to exercise it making it fun! It’s hard to stick to something we don’t enjoy doing, and when it comes to exercise, the more you have fun with it, the more likely you will be to stick with it. Going for a forest hike or a jog on the beach at sunset can be a great way to be active and enjoy the outdoors. Or try an exercise class that interests you. It will be a great way to get a good work out and meet others who are passionate about their health.
In a world where stress has become more and more prevalent, it is even more important to find balance. Stress has been linked with an increased risk of a variety of diseases, and usually leaves us feeling exhausted and drained at the end of a day. Finding ways to relax and minimize the stressors in your life can have a dramatic effect on the way you think and feel. Rather than turning on the T.V. or reaching for your favorite comfort food, try a walk in nature, take a bath, or get a massage. Find the activities that work best for you!
Most of all have fun! Try new foods and new health supportive recipes. Start a health group, or weekly dinner party where healthy food is the central theme. One of the greatest gifts we can give our body is proper nutrition, adequate exercise, and a positive, stress free lifestyle. Our bodies will take car of the rest!
Go ahead and start taking these small, but profound steps today and give your body the support it needs so you can feel your best!
References: Lipski, E. (2012). Digestive Wellness. 4th ed. McGraw Hill.
Murray, M. (2000). Total Body Tune-Up. Bantam Books.