Are you looking to feel healthier, happier, more rested and more energetic in 2017?
Follow these 6 simple health habits that I recommend to all my patients who live busy lives.
1. Take an adaptogen to support your stress response: We all live very busy lives, we’re always on the go and worrying about the next thing we have to do. Taking a medicinal botanical extraction with “adaptogenic” properties shifts your stress response away from constantly being in overdrive. An over-stimulated stress response can have very harmful long-term consequences on our health:
- Lowers our immune function and our ability to fight off pathogens
- Lowers our metabolic function and decreases our digestive abilities
- It makes us more prone to food sensitivities because of a decrease in production of an antibody called IgA, which protects our gut.
- Causes us to feel sluggish, tired and foggy because high levels of cortisol decrease our thyroid gland’s ability to function optimally.
- Negatively impacts the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which make us feel happy and motived.
- Causes us to gain weight especially around the mid-section, due to the effects of high levels of cortisol and insulin resistance.
For this reason, I recommend supporting your system with an adaptogen, especially if you are anticipating a stressful period at work or even in your personal life. When used correctly, at the right dosages and when using professional grade therapies, adaptogens can be a great adjunct to your daily self-care routine. They help prevent disease and help restore your body’s optimal function and they can even help reverse disease. They help your body adapt to stress and do so by normalizing the chemicals that get secreted at high concentration during the adrenal stress response. They help your system adapt and cope with daily stressors such as being over-worked, constantly worried and always on the go. Adaptogens induce a sense of sustained calm yet give you a boost of energy, boost your immune system and help calm down the stress response. They balance your blood sugar, decrease cholesterol storage and decrease insulin dysregulation. They also help to keep inflammation at bay, decrease pain and resolve brain fog. My favourite adaptogen is called Ashwagandha. Therapeutic dose is between 500-600mg daily, however, this may vary from product to product based on the botanical extraction ratio and the individual’s clinical manifestations.
2. Exercise 3-4 times per week: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. Regular exercise helps prevent chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, it helps to increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This will allow for healthy blood flow in your vasculature decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure. Regular exercise helps prevent and at times reverse a wide range of health conditions including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and depression to name a few. Exercise improves mood, it supports the production of various brain chemicals that make you feel happy and calm. Regular exercise also boosts your energy levels, improves muscle strength, stamina and endurance. When you’re first starting to get back into an exercise routine you want to focus on movement, walking/stretching/yoga. Incorporate resistance training/weights (lower body) 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. Include an hour of cardio on alternating days when you don’t do weights/resistance training.
3. Consume green tea on the daily: Use a green tea extract to boost your metabolism, help kick start weight loss and ensure that you are getting a healthy dose of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health. Green tea is loaded with pylophenols, which increase fat oxidation (ie fat break down and metabolism). Catechins found in green tea reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals play a major role in the development of chronic illnesses. One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant epigallacatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been evidenced to have anti-cancerous effects. Green tea can help regulate glucose levels and will help with wrinkles and has anti-aging effects because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Green tea also helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. You want to aim for 6-8 cups of green tea per day. Additionally, a professional-grade EGCG supplement can be extremely beneficial if indicated in your specific case.
4. Support a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome: take a good probiotic. Stress, bad dietary habits and inflammation all influence your gut flora and cause the “good” gut bacteria population to die off. Our “good” gut bacteria are extremely important for the prevention of chronic disease, immunity, gastrointestinal health, weight loss and mood. Dosage and strains are prescribed based on the individual case. Different strains are characterized in the literature to have different therapeutic benefits. Research has also established the benefits of different dosages being beneficial for different types of clinical issues. As a rule of thumb, however, I do not recommend taking a product that contains any less than 10 Billion CFU per strain for therapeutic benefit, in practice, I may go up to 450 Billion CFU depending on the case.
5. Drink Water: 8-12, 8oz glasses (2-3L) a day minimum and add lemon slices to support liver detox. Staying hydrated is essential for our health. Keep a bottle of water with you during the day, if you sit at a desk all day keep it at your desk in front of you and you’ll automatically drink more water. If you don't like the taste of plain water, try adding a few slices of lemon, a few berries or mint leaves to your water. Be sure to drink water if you’re a coffee drinker, coffee is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. You want to avoid fluids-water/teas 2 hours before bedtime in order to avoid interrupting your sleep.
6. Sleep: aim to be asleep between 10-10:30pm. Keep your room as dark as possible. You should get between 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. When we sleep our body repairs itself, protein breakdown slows down and the rate at which fats and carbohydrates are being broken down increases. Studies show that a good night's sleep helps to optimize learning and problem-solving skills. Studies have also shown that sleep helps you pay attention, make decisions, be creative and lose weight. Additionally, getting a good night sleep will help you control your emotions, as well as your behaviour and help you cope with change. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression and anxiety.
By Dr. Nadine Khoury, ND