Let’s face it. We all want to be pictures of perfect health. We don’t, however, want to work at it too hard! These five tips will help you improve your overall health. I can’t guarantee they will cure what ails you or prevent anything bad from happening! However, I can guarantee that the doctor will be happier at your next office visit! You might want to visit the doctor before making any of these changes so you can make sure they are appropriate to your situation. While these are simple things that will improve the health of most individuals, there are occasions when these health tips may be medically dangerous. If in doubt, check it out!
Better Health Tip #1. Drink more water, low-fat milk, and pure fruit juices.
If you regularly drink a lot of sweetened drinks, switch several cups a day of your vice for water or naturally-sweetened fruit juice (no corn syrup). Standard advice is that we need eight cups of liquid a day for good health. If you’re trying to lose weight, studies show that low-fat milk may help. Of course, natural 100% juice will help you meet your daily fruit & vegetable requirement. If you’d like to drink water but can’t stand drinking “nothing”, try adding a few drops of lemon or lime juice. You might also freeze small pieces of fruit and use them in place of ice, or add a flavorful herbal teabag to your glass.
Better Health Tip #2. Eat leaner foods and dine on fish at least once or twice a week.
I like my food Southern-style: dipped in batter, deep fried, and stuck between two slices of bread. What the food is doesn’t really matter – I’ve eaten deep-fried hard boiled egg sandwiches and deep-fried candy bars. If you can save indulging on such delicacies until it’s time for the state fair, your health (and waistline!) will thank you.
Some changes can be small and not so noticible: replace high-fat hot dogs with a low-fat version. Instead of making fried chicken, lightly dredge it in flour and bake it on a roaster pan. Trade mashed potatoes and gravy for a baked potato. Try to eat more vegetables at each meal. Bake fish with a twist of lemon and seasoning. Try shopping in a health food store occasionally – just to broaden your horizons as to what’s available and good! If you’re unsure of a new food, ask the clerk at the health food store if it’s possible to get a sample.
Better Health Tip #3. Get more exercise.
Yeah – I know. TERRIBLE advice from a couch potato to other couch potatoes. The health benefits of getting more exercise greatly outweigh the comfort of laziness, though! It’s actually not that hard to improve on a sedentary lifestyle. Take your dog for a longer walk a few times a week. Take your family along as you and your dog get healthier! Instead of riding the elevator, take the stairs. Use cans of vegetables as “weights” to get started, and work yourself up to a gallon of milk. Believe it or not, this will tone your arms – right from the comfort of your easy chair! Recreational activities like gardening, swimming, and golfing are all excellent ways to get more exercise.
Incidentally, exercise often has impact on other health-related areas. For instance, people with illnesses that lead to chronic pain are often advised to get more exercise – it really does improve the pain (just go slowly and carefully, and don’t over-do!) Also, there is a link between depression and lack of exercise. When someone who is depressed is able to get outside or to a pool – even if they don’t break out a sweat – it often improves their overall mood.
Better Health Tip #4. Limit your exposure to chemicals.
Household cleaners, toiletries, pesticides, highly refined foods… our houses can be like a toxic soup! I don’t advocate going totally earthy-crunchy organic unless you really want to become a health nut! Yet we can learn from the “health nuts” and adopt some healthier strategies. Natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda are much safer than the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart. They’re cheaper, too. If you like something scented, add a drop or two of orange or lavender essential oils. You can make your own fabric and air refresher by filling a spray bottle with water and a few drops of essential oil. (You can buy oils at the health food store. Be sure you’re getting essential oils, not fragrances.) Try natural cosmetics, especially lipstick (consider that most women ingest what they put on their lips – and men manage to ingest some too!) Natural hair dyes are much safer than the chemical processes. Try natural pesticides before resorting to bug bombs. Peppermint and pennyroyal effective against many insects, including roaches, ants, and fleas. Additionally, mice greatly dislike the smell of peppermint. However, be sure that you use them correctly (pennyroyal should NEVER be ingested by you, your kids, or your pets!) Lastly, limit the amount of food you eat which contains preservatives, colorings, and artificial flavorings. How much you limit is up to you – though if you’re having a hard time cutting back, do some searching on the web regarding these ingredients. It’s an eye-opener!
Better Health Tip #5. Get appropriate medical tests done at the right times, by the right clinicians, in the right way.
All women should get regular pap tests and mammograms. Men should get their prostates checked and have the routine testing for colon cancer. Your doctor may also want to check your thyroid or other hormone levels, particularly if you are gaining or losing weight. Some doctors want to do many expensive tests. Sometimes these are necessary and even life-saving, other times they are “just in case” measures. Be sure to ask, “Why do I need this test? What will it tell you? What is the accuracy of the test – are there false positives and negatives? What follow-up will I need?” When you schedule your testing, inquire as to the accuracy rate of the facility, and what kind of procedure they use. For example, there are several different forms of MRI testing. If you happen to be claustrophobic, schedule what’s called an “Open MRI” – no big tube! Be sure to ask your doctor how often you should get routine testing done. Some tests should be repeated yearly, others are usually performed every few years.
By following these easy tips, you’ll be on your way to better health!