Getting healthy is someone that’s on nearly everyone’s radars these days. We all have so many “voices” telling us what to do, that it can often be overwhelming. Taking care of your body, however, really boils down to making simple choices every day that lead up to big benefits over time. You needn’t go on a crazy diet, take a lot of pills, or exercise for hours to become healthy, achieve the right weight for you, or improve your longevity. So what can you do? Easy, day by day choices that will provide major benefits for your heart, brain, digestion, weight, and longevity.
Here are 10 to start with:
1. Add Soluble Fiber to Your Diet
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that’s been shown to dramatically improve heart health, improve blood sugars and enhance digestive health. The soluble fiber in oats, apples, pears and barley have all shown to reduce cholesterol and help keep you full. No chalky fiber supplements needed here! Add whole food sources of soluble fiber instead. This type of fiber gels up in the intestines that digests more slowly. As it does, two things happen: it regulates digestion and also whisks away cholesterol that clog your arteries and toxins that weaken immunity at the same time. Other good sources include: oranges, bananas, artichokes, blackberries, beets, onions, carrots, asparagus, pumpkin, potatoes, squash, and chia seeds to name some of the best.
2. Go With Greens Every Day
If someone wanted to know one food that could change their health above others, it would be greens. Spinach, kale, collards, and even others like romaine, turnip and mustard greens are all packed with chlorophyll to reduce inflammation, improve liver health, high amounts of vitamin A (beta-carotene) that improves immunity and fights cancer, and high amounts of vitamin C and fiber. They are also very low in calories (if that’s a concern) and keep you satisfied a long time. One other benefit of greens is their high amount of magnesium, which reduces blood sugar, aids in energy, reduces stress, and helps you sleep. Raw or cooked, greens make a good choice.
3. Have a Smoothie a Day
No hitting up any fancy smoothie joints with sugary or dairy-based smoothies here; make your own smoothies at home using real, whole foods. Why? Because this works in at least 3 or more fruits and/or veggies into your day (like those greens above) all in one serving. This prevents people who are busy (or don’t like a lot of kitchen duty) an easy way to get in these necessary foods for good health all in just minutes. It’s also much more filling than breakfast cereals, processed snacks, and is anti-inflammatory unlike animal-based choices. A high speed blender is life-changing for making smoothies, but even a household will do in a pinch. Here’s how to make a healthy, filling smoothie if you’d like some other special tips.
4. Kick the Sugar to the Curb
We know, this is no fun to hear. No cake or donuts, you’re thinking? Not so! You can still enjoy these foods in a healthier form, without all the added sugar. Sugar is pretty much one of the easiest way to gain weight and improve your risk of Type 2 diabetes – something I doubt anyone here is aspiring to. It’s also inflammatory, highly processed, and it doesn’t keep you full. Learn to make raw desserts using just dried or whole fruits instead, or use naturally sugar-free stevia (see how to pick the best forms here). Here’s 10 raw cake recipes, a raw donut, and a raw cookie to get you started! And obviously, nature’s healthiest sugar – fruit – is the best choice of all. Avoiding sugar is also one of the best ways to reduce acne, ward off aging, and improve your overall taste buds.
5. Eat a Plant-Strong Diet
If you haven’t made the choice to eat a full vegan diet, do what you can to eat a plant-strong diet as much as possible. Not only is this a beneficial choice for the planet and animals, it’s also one of the most clinically proven ways to improve your longevity and keep your weight and heart healthy for the longest period of time. There are many variations you can choose on a plant-strong diet. It’s not black or white; choose a soy-free, lower carb, gluten-free, or a simple, whole foods vegan diet. They all work wonders! (See more food ideas and meal plans here.)
6. Choose Water-Rich Beverages
Water is necessary to maintain a healthy body and dehydration can lead to a host of health issues, many of which you might not be aware of. Plus, reaching for water means you’re not reaching for sugary drinks or caffeinated energy drinks that hurt your adrenals. Drink water several times through the day, or consume herbal tea, which is also rich in water naturally.
7. Eat a Fresh Piece of Produce with Every Meal
Aside from making smoothies, make it a point to include a fresh piece of produce with every meal. This is pretty simple; if you do this three times a day for a week, you’ve consumed 21 fruits, veggies, or greens all without thinking about it. This choice means you won’t be turning to chocolate bars, sugary snacks, or high fat animal-foods to keep you full; produce can do that so long as you are sure not to forget it!
8. Seriously, go to Bed Earlier
Aside from your meals and drinks, please – go to bed earlier! Everyone preaches this, but many of us (guilty as charged here) don’t do it enough. Getting at least seven, preferably eight, hours will ensure your hormones are healthy, which equates to lower stress and a healthier weight that are key markers of good health. (Here are some foods and drinks to help you sleep in place of that milk you might be drinking.)
9. Consume Anti-Inflammatory Fats
Plant-based sources of omega 3 fats are important for reducing your risk of heart disease, they improve brain health, they can help you reduce your risk for obesity and they reduce inflammation. Good sources include walnuts, chia, flax, cashews, almonds, hemp, avocado, sacha inchi seeds or protein, and acai berries to name some of the best.
10. Don’t Cut Calories
Your body needs calories to not just stay full, but also to keep GOING and stay strong. The less calories you eat, the more you tell your body that it needs to slow down to conserve energy. While you don’t have to pile heaps of calorie-rich foods like oil into your diets, you should be sure to eat a variety of complex carbs, healthy proteins, fats, and all the produce you can get your hands on. Your metabolism, brain health, and energy will all thank you for it – promise!
Lead Image Source: Everjean/Flickr
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