Recently I gave a talk on my TOP HEALTH TIPS, and I thought I'd share them with you. Today I‘ll give you my tips for Body Health and in a second instalment I'll offer my top tips for Brain Health. Stay tuned!
IF you WANT the BEST, you gotta put IN the BEST
My passion is helping people understand how their brains and body are designed to function so that they work better!
The result of understanding your body better is improved performance on all levels – physical emotional and relational. Plus, you feel great (life is too short to waste feeling tired, sore, or bloated). And by paying attention to a few simple things every day, you're investing in your health for tomorrow.
These simple practices will help you get the most and the best out of your brain and your body.
I've been observing and working with patients as a family doctor for over 30 years - these tips come out of my experience. They’re also inspired by my own practices, successes, and failures, and they are, as much as possible supported by science and current evidence.
DON’T JUST READ THEM. DO THEM. LIKE, EVERYDAY
Making these tips daily practices will help you align with your biology. Instead of fighting it and demanding your body do things it is not designed to do (perform well on lousy sleep and in a state of dehydration for example) these habits make you feel better and do better.
ARE YOU READY?
BODY TIPS (in random order)
Don’t eat sugar
Move your body
Drink 1 litre of pure water before noon
Guard your sleep
The mouth is where, magically, the outside world becomes 'us' – our physical self. Think of the mouth as a vestibule or a grand hallway – a transition zone where outer becomes inner. All this transformation makes the mouth a somewhat risky place. The healthier our mouths are, the less vulnerable we are to the wrong (read dangerous, infectious, poisonous) things crossing from outside to inside. Things like bacteria and toxins.
Although everyone knows how important it is to brush and floss, let me emphasize that the impact of good oral care extends far beyond just a nice smile and a happy dentist.
Bad gums and the ICU When I was on the cardiac surgical team, we would see a few people a year who needed a heart valve replaced but we couldn’t do their surgery because their risk of whole-body infection (a condition called sepsis) from their poor oral health made the procedure way too risky. The risk of them becoming septic outweighed the risk of their critical heart condition. This is a dramatic example of the importance of dental health on the whole body. I hope you never have to face heart surgery and I hope you are reminded to do what you can to keep your mouth a healthy place:
Brushing is not enough. Please floss.
DON’T DO SUGAR
Did you know 1 in 3 Canadians have diabetes or are pre-diabetic? ONE in THREE! Geeze! Our menus and recipes (not to mention processed foods) are filled with sugar (honey, syrup, fructose, molasses, dates, etc.). Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to manage sugar in these amounts.
Maybe you think you eat well, (and I hope you put effort and thought into how you feed your body) but I still encourage you to look for the hidden sugar in what you’re eating. Read food labels, notice the sugar suggested in recipes. It’s everywhere!
Eating less sugar is good for your teeth and gums (double benefit here - see the previous tip) but the impact of less sugar is way bigger than this.
Your mood and energy levels, your digestion, your metabolism, and skin, even your cholesterol, all will improve with a no – sugar approach.
Think of sugar as ‘survival food’ And, if you are about to enter a famine or go into hibernation for a month, then eat all the sugar in sight! Otherwise – avoid it.
Sugar is bad for your body and your brain. Don't do sugar!
PURE WATER – ONE LITRE BEFORE NOON
Unless you have kidney issues or some other medical reason not to, get 4 big glasses of pure water in before noon. Pure water. Not lemonade or coffee or tea. Go ahead and drink those if you like (sugar free of course – see tip 2) but prioritize your water intake early in the day. ‘Before noon’ lessens the annoyance of those night-time interruptions to empty your bladder and it sets you up to be hydrated for the day.
Why is water so important? Adults are 50 – 60% water by weight. Body hydration affects every body system from concentration (mental) and blood viscosity (thickness) to energy levels, skin health and blood pressure.
Water intake makes a difference, so drink up! One litre. Before noon.
We are built to move. It does the body good to move (dance, climb, stretch, sing). Especially outdoors. Especially doing something that makes you smile.
How much is enough? My practical interpretation of the research is this: move with intention for at least 30 minutes (you can break this up into 10-minute segments if you like) every day.
make sure you move every hour – get up, stretch, bend over, dance to one song…
Bonus! When you move outdoors with delight the benefits double. Being in nature is good in immeasurable and measurable (vitamin D exposure for example) ways. Plus, when we like what we’re doing we’re more likely to do it again.
Move every day. Do it outside if possible and do it in surroundings (sound, beauty) you enjoy.
BECOME A SLEEP CHAMPION
My final Body Health Tip is also a Brain Tip.
Guard your sleep.
In other words, get enough good quality shut eye every day.
Want to look younger? Be happier? And get more done in a day? Sleep is the elixir that makes all this (and more) happen!
More! There are long-term benefits from getting great sleep: better memory (useful if you’re writing exams or as an antidote to the memory loss of aging) and it appears to delay the onset of dementia.
Good sleep strengthens your immune system and people who sleep well have fewer heart attacks and strokes.
This is not a quick tip (I know) but paying attention to your sleep every day is worth the effort because of the impact that sleep quality has on well-being and longevity.
‘Pay attention’ means: prioritizing sleep routines, managing caffeine, alcohol and food intake, managing schedules, and stress, and doing regular mental hygiene.
I'll sleep when I'm dead! One caveat here that is worth mentioning...
Society not only tolerates but applauds the overworked and the under-slept. So, we've learned to push ourselves and keep going until…. the weekend, the end of the project, that next vacation or until we retire.
But, may I suggest that without solid sleep habits you may not make that arbitrary end point. We need to recalibrate and recharge within a 24-hour cycle. It’s how we’re designed.
Your best is possible only when you sleep well (and enough: 7-10 hours depending on your biology) most days.
THAT'S IT - My DAILY TIPS FOR BODY HEALTH
I always wish you wellness and health. Today I've offered you more than wishes - I've given you practical ways to build health and well-being into your life - do your best to practice these tips every day for best results!
Here they are again:
Don’t eat sugar
Drink 4 tall glasses of water before noon
Move your body with joy, outdoors, if possible, for at least 30 minutes
Sleep well and for long enough within the next 24 hours
Watch for BRAIN HEALTH TIPS – they're coming soon!