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Six Healthy Habits You Can Start TODAY!

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Everybody wants to be healthy, right? Although there are some things we can't control about our health, there are many things we can. By developing healthy habits that we practice on a daily basis, we can tip the odds in our favor for living a long and vibrant life.

1. Drink more water. Most people don't drink nearly enough water to properly hydrate their bodies. If you simply consider the fact that the human body is about 75% water, it helps to understand the importance of drinking the recommended daily amount of 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses. The problems associated with improper hydration and the benefits of proper hydration are too many to list here, but consider this one: Inadequate fluid intake and dehydration increases the risk of developing kidney stones. If you've ever suffered the pain of a kidney stone, that knowledge alone could be enough to prompt you to drink up.

2. Eat less food more often. Many people believe that the best way to lose weight is by skipping meals and eating less often. The truth is that when you skip meals, the metabolism slows down and you burn less calories and fat. It's better to eat five or six small meals and snacks (eat every three hours throughout the day) to keep the metabolism going. Include a protein (cheese, fish, lean meats, nuts, eggs, milk, etc.) with each meal or snack to help prevent glycemic (blood sugar) spikes that can lead to weight gain.

3. If it's white, don't bite. White bread, white rice, white sugar--these are all processed (refined) carbohydrates that have been stripped of their natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Stick with more natural foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and stevia (a natural sweetener). Processed foods that contain limited amounts of natural fibers and nutrients may fill you up, but they can still leave your body malnourished. Natural foods contain the fibers and minerals your body needs to function properly.

4. Give your liver a daily cleansing. For most of us, our livers are working overtime to filter toxins from the air we breathe, the foods we eat, and the things we drink. Like any filtering system, the liver needs to be cleaned occasionally to help it operate properly, so another good healthy habit to develop is periodic detoxification. For a good natural detoxification, squeeze half a lemon in 8 ounces of water and add stevia to taste first thing every morning. The lemon juice helps clean out the liver and also balance blood sugars naturally.

5. Get moving. There’s no way around it—if you really want to get and stay healthy, exercise is a key factor. Research has proven that consistent aerobic exercise prevents obesity and insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Exercise has proven to be just as effective as a particular oral diabetic medication in sensitizing the insulin receptor sites to allow glucose into the cells—and you don’t need a prescription! Of course, the benefits of exercise reach much farther, including cardiovascular health, stress reduction, muscle toning, and sleep enhancement.

6. Get your sleep. Sleep rejuvenates cells and helps in the healing process and also helps to maintain and boost the immune system (e.g., the chances of catching a cold increase if you haven’t had a sufficient amount of sleep). Lack of sleep also leads to stress, which leads to increased cortisol release, which leads to weight gain. How much is enough? For most adults, approximately 7-8 hours of sleep a night is about right.

As we all know, there's no time like the present to start on the road to better health. Start these healthy habits today and in no time they will be a natural part of your daily routine!

Dr. Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic doctor practicing in Gilbert, Arizona. For more information about her practice and to read many more articles by Dr. Marcantel, please visit her Web site at http://www.drmarcantel.com.

Add a Comment46 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Banning white rice? Just as an FYI, Asian diets exist on white rice and have for thousands of years. Certainly balanced with great produce-vegetables-leaner foods, i.e.fish, poultry, PORK. Certainly Asian cultures have been healthier than there Western counterparts.

September 11, 2009 - 11:06am
EmpowHER Guest

As for the water comments: Your body knows what it's doing people. If you're thirsty, you need to drink water. This does not include soda, coffee, tea, etc. Within reason, it won't hurt you if you drink more water, just don't go overboard and waste your time. When you're THIRSTY! It comes from the brain, you know!

Yes...I am a Dr.

August 29, 2009 - 4:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

If it's white don't bite?
Chicken, pork, white beans, butter beans, onions, garlic? let's be a little more precise here

August 24, 2009 - 12:06pm
(reply to Anonymous)

"White" in this case means - precisely - enriched, bleached and refined sugars and flours, also known as "bad carbs" in processed foods. What part of this did you not understand?

August 24, 2009 - 6:22pm
EmpowHER Guest

i'd just like to add that there's no proof eating less more often is any better than eating a lot less often.

August 11, 2009 - 10:05am
(reply to Anonymous)

Really? Are you a nutritionist? I would be interested in any supportive documentation for your statement.

August 11, 2009 - 4:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to alysiak)

I would be interested in any supportive documentation saying that eating less food more times a day is better. Oh wait..there isn't any? Thats because it's what we refer to as "bro-science" in the fitness world. (never proven, yet passed around like it has been)

Just like drinking 8 glasses of water a day. The American people are the most over-hydrated people in the world.

November 16, 2009 - 8:11am

Wow! Who knew that advocating water consumption would stir up such an interest! It's true, as the Snopes article points out, that there is no scientific research prescribing a specific amount of water per day per person--hence my original article comment about the "recommended" amount, not the "required" amount. That recommendation can certainly vary depending on who you talk to: 8-10 glasses, half your body weight in ounces, clear urine, etc., etc. The point I'll stand by is that water is necessary to hydrate the cells and promote liquid and solid waste elimination and most people could drink more--especially here in my climate in the Arizona desert. Bottoms up!

July 24, 2009 - 9:34pm
EmpowHER Guest

If your going to say you can improve your audience's health, you should have research backing up the validity of your suggestions...


"The origins of the 8-10 glasses per day figure remain elusive. As a Los Angeles Times article on the subject reported:

'Consider that first commandment of good health: Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This unquestioned rule is itself a question mark. Most nutritionists have no idea where it comes from. "I can't even tell you that," says Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher at Pennsylvania State University, "and I've written a book on water."'"

July 22, 2009 - 4:09pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I agree with anonymous. Citations are needed. If one does some research you'll find that 6 meals a day is not the ideal way to "increase your metabolism".
Here is a good link that list it's sources on this matter:
Simply eating less and moving more is the best method to maintain a healthy weight. Next time do more research.

May 12, 2010 - 12:08pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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