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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
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Why argue this water is life and it is good for you ! In medicine, body water is all of the water content of the human body. A significant fraction of the human body is water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight. Blood contains 95% water, body fat contains 14% water and bone has 22% water. Skin also contains much water. The human body is about 60% water in adult males and 55% in adult females.
So dont drink it lol

July 24, 2009 - 2:24pm
(reply to Anonymous)

I personally prefer to cite a recognized and respected medical source than a newspaper article, but the point is still the same: the 8 glass rule is arbitrary.

Everyone is different, therefore has different requirements. You're right - it seems no one can pinpoint where this 8 glass rule came from (perhaps the USDA food pyramid creators?).

At the same time, I'd be willing to wager that most people drink junk fluids. I have a filtered water pitcher at work that I refill at least 2-3 times/day and have been trying to wean my co-worker off her diet sodas (she could stand a healthful eating regimen). I don't just drink clear water, either - my daily morning lemon or ginger tea and the occasional French pressed coffee count as fluid intake, too.

As a marathoner and coach, the only "rules" we teach are that you should drink enough to pass relatively clear urine; that all your fluid does not have to be clear water (there are water-rich foods, too) to drink when you're thirsty and before you feel parched; and hydrate well before, during and after a long run or hard workout.

Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?

On other points, I do agree with the "if it's white, don't bite" idea. We really don't need to be consuming refined, enriched or bleached anything. Eat real food!

July 22, 2009 - 4:35pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to alysiak)

I forgot to mention... Coffee and alcohol should NOT count as water intake as the are diuretics and promote urination (literally dehydrating the body). Herbal teas are OK, and juices too (watch the sugar!), but of course water should comprise the majority of that fluid intake

October 13, 2009 - 11:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

More nonsense - yes, coffee has a minor diuretic effect, but it has a net positive on the overall water balance in the body.

January 21, 2010 - 10:33am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to alysiak)

Unless someone has (moderately advanced) kidney disease or a propensity for a mineral deficiency (uncommon), there's really no reason people shouldn't be consuming at least 1.5 - 2 L's per day. I've seen so many people who overeat, are "chronically fatigued", or even constipated because of a lack of water (and also fibre, in the constipation case). The average person should be drinking around 2 L's in my opinion, larger and more active people often need more, men typically require more than women, etc; but I think it's a good GENERAL rule.

October 13, 2009 - 11:22am

Great list of your top 6 - definitely advice to live healthily by! My three top pics are more water, exercise, and quality sleep. This third point, sleep, is especially timely now. I've been reading that the economic stressors have affected our ability to sleep well and really rejuvenate, and stress levels are way up as a result of this combination. On the plus side, exercise can be a great stress reliever!
- Anna M

July 13, 2009 - 8:11am
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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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