I love the holidays, but hate the expectations that come with the New Year. But, as my friend and colleague Dr. Jillian Murphy, ND points out, if we don’t take time to think about resolutions would we ever think about change and how to make ourselves better?
So, I thought I’d make things a bit easier for those of you who are hoping to make a resolution (or two) and need some help sticking with it! Here’s a quick list of small things that can make a big impact on your overall quality of life and health.
1. Take a multivitamin. This basic step is such a great insurance policy. A good quality supplement will be free of fillers, come in capsule form and ideally be taken in divided doses (ie. 2-3x/day). One-a-day vitamins are convenient, but you won’t absorb as much as you will from a multi-dose vitamin. And, if you have any concerns about the risks and benefits of a daily multi-vitamin, have a look through this report from the Harvard School of Public Health. It does a great job of explaining why you’re better off taking one!
2. Eat a reliable source of probiotics. Good bacteria like those found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and saurkraut are proving to be more and more important to overall health than ever before. Not only are they involved in maintaining a healthy gut, they also play am important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. For example, a Cochrane Review found that those who took probiotics were less like to suffer with upper respiratory infections. These “good bacteria” are also important for those with autoimmune conditions, allergies and eczema. Diet should be sufficient to maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria, but you may need to supplement if you’ve taken antibiotics, recently travelled, take certain medications or have a GI illness. In these cases, we’re happy to help.
3. Eat your Greens! Yes, I know you’ve heard this before, but do you know why? Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard and the like are loaded with phytonutrients. Dark leafy greens are a rich source of vitamin C, K, E, and B, as well as iron, calcium (must be cooked), and fiber, which are essential for good health. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin K plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Vitamin E has been shown to prevent skin cancer. Greens also contain beta carotene (converts to vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin which are powerful antioxidants.
4. Get rid of “white food”. Most people know that white bread isn’t the best choice, but other white foods like white potato and white rice should also be limited. Choose sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa or millet more often! Insulin resistance is on the rise, and “white foods” should be a “less often” choice.
5. Have your Vitamin D status assessed. There’s a growing body of evidence about the role of vitamin D in maintaining health, and it’s very far reaching (read www.vitamindcouncil.org for more info. In Nova Scotia, the minimum level required to maintain bone health is 75 nmol/L, and I can’t tell you the number of patients I see with numbers well below that. If you haven’t had this simple blood test, ask your doctor to check it for you at your next appointment. And, if you are found to be deficient, touch base with us on how best to optimize your levels.
Hope 2012 is full of peace, health and wellness for you and your family!