It’s the New Year, when many of us make New Year’s resolutions related to improving their health, like working out more, losing weight, eating better, or reorganizing our home. These 10 tips will help us keep our body and mind strong this New Year, so we can reach all of our health goals.
- Keeping our brain and body nourished properly with healthy foods is crucial to overall health. Choosing nutritious proteins, fruits, veggies, fermented foods, complex carbohydrates, beneficial fats and consuming no or scant amounts of caffeine, sugar, fast food, and salty foods is ideal. Prepping foods ahead, batch cooking, and keeping healthy snack options available helps us choose better for those on-the-go moments, and some find that keeping a food log or using an app is helpful for accountability. Consider certain supplements like fiber, chromium, and ceylon cinnamon, which assist helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels and controlling cravings for sweets.
- Staying properly hydrated is important for mental ability, skin integrity, eye moisture, joint lubrication, quelling hunger, and more. If we're not into drinking just plain water, we can add natural flavoring through cut up lemons, limes, strawberries, cucumbers, or mint to make it more appealing. I love sparkling water, and my SodaStream has helped me increase my water intake tremendously. We can keep track of consumption by using an app to log how much water we drink throughout the day.
- Maintaining activity and a healthy weight is important throughout life. Exercise increases blood flow and balances hormones related to a healthy mood. We should choose activities we enjoy, so we'll stick with them. With weather changes and colder days, we may want to change our activity or bring it indoors. For instance, if we were planning to head outside to cycle, we could look for a local spin class. For weight and activity tracking there are apps, logs, and alarms available. We can support our fitness routine with supplements like: ribose, MCT oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, and various amino acids (L-glutamine, L-glycine, L-arginine, L-lysine, L-taurine).
- As we age, our tendons, ligaments and fascia can become stiffer and less pliable, which allows more opportunity for injuries. It is vital to maintain a stretching routine. There are simple ones to follow on YouTube or through an app, which can also remind us to stop and stretch daily.
- Keeping stress levels in check is crucial to healthy living. Taking breaks through the day (listening to music, going for a walk) and unplugging from technology are good for overall stress levels and mental health. Meditation and breathing exercises can also assist at quieting and focusing our mind and decreasing cortisol levels. There are many websites, apps, and books available on meditation and breathwork. Any of these can easily be incorporated into our day. Alarm reminders on a phone or app can support keeping us on track. Also, many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year. Vitamin D3 levels also dip during winter months, so we should get our levels checked and supplement if needed. Other supplements to consider that assist with promoting a healthy mood include omega-3s (higher DHA), GABA, 5-HTP, L-theanine, B-vitamins, and magnesium.
- It has been proven that being outside and communing more in nature decreases stress levels and balances the hormones that regulate our mood. This is crucial for this time of year, where the days are still short. If we can do our exercise outside, such as a daytime hike, we're getting a 2-for-1 benefit!
- Sleep is such an important time for the body and mind to rest and repair from daily tasks. There are several tips we can try for achieving better sleep, and one main point is keeping a consistent sleep routine. Our sleep patterns can be added into our logbook, or we can use a watch or app to track them. Also due to the days being shorter, sleep can become altered and irregular, which can affect our mood and energy. Supplements that support healthy sleep include: melatonin, magnesium, CoQ10, and the B-vitamins.
- To help our brains with focus, concentration, retention, and memory, there are several options. Exercise increases blood flow oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body, which aids the brain immensely. It's important we reduce stress levels because stress and stress hormones can affect our mood. Learning a new activity like dancing activates the brain to form new neural connections and forces the brain to learn and grow. And learning something new like a language or an instrument can help with mental stimulation. Specific supplements can support brain health: omega-3s with higher DHA, DPA, MCT oil, vitamin D, and phosphatidyl serine.
- Along with healthy food choices, we should add in additional supplements. First start with a high-quality daily multivitamin/mineral to fill nutritional gaps. Then I’d recommend extra vitamin D3, omega-3s, and probiotics. We can use an a.m. and p.m. pill box placed near our bedside or bathroom sink to help us remember to take these daily. Or we can put them on the kitchen counter and set a reminder on our phone.
- Also, we should arm our immune systems by supporting immunity throughout cold and flu season with a variety of healthy foods and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, zinc, and antioxidants are great for supporting immune health. Supplements for additional immune support include: omega-3s, vitamin D3, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, black elderberry, and astaxanthin.
- Continuing routine check-ups for vision, dental, skin, general, and gynecological (for women) are a MUST to know baseline labs and health status. Blood work can help us understand if we're deficient in any nutrients or if we need to alter our habits. Setting reminders on our phone or writing them in our organizer/calendar can help.
These are just a few tips to help get you started toward a healthier mind and body in the New Year. Change can be difficult, so be sure to choose options that work best for your lifestyle and schedule.