There’s an overwhelming amount of advice to be found about how to live a healthy life. In our modern world, we’re bombarded with questions about which diet we should follow, which exercise routine is best, all the way down to which type of oil we should sautee our veggies in.
Even experts seem to hold opposing opinions about health, but despite all the confusion, integrative medicine can provide you these 10 tips for health in the modern world.
1. Eat Real Food
The food you eat has the power to affect your health significantly, and food is the primary way your body receives information about what genes to turn on and off, how much fat you store, the inflammation created in your gut, and so on.
There is almost infinite variation in a healthy, real food diet, but the average components of a well-balanced diet are
Plenty of plant foods–leafy greens, fiber-rich veggies, and antioxidant-dense fruit
Healthy fats–nuts, seeds, nut butter, olive oil, grass fed butter, and avocado
Quality protein–minimally processed plant sources like quinoa or edamame, or from naturally-raised animals like beef or chicken, or pastured dairy.
2. Don’t Be Sedentary
Holistic doctors see movement as medicine, much the way they do food. Benefits of healthy movement include normal blood pressure, healthy weight, pain relief, and even a more enjoyable sex life.
This is due to dozens of different hormonal and neurotransmitter processes that release feel-good neurotransmitters and anti-inflammatory molecules that support physical and mental well-being.
Instead of seeing exercise as an obligation, use your powers of movement to find an activity that you enjoy and look forward to. Whether it’s restorative yoga on the porch, or a brisk walk with a friend, or even caring for the backyard garden–movement can be anything at all you enjoy, and doesn’t need to be an intense workout at a fitness center–unless, of course, you enjoy that too!
3. Intermittent Fast
Intermittent fasting boasts an impressive benefit list such as healthy cognition, cardiovascular function, and even overall longevity (1).
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to decrease sugar cravings, aid weight loss, and improve insulin resistance through a process of ‘metabolic switching’ or the body adapting its metabolic machinery to efficiently switch from burning glucose instead to burning body fat (2).
The basic types of fasts are:
- 16:8 – Eating in an 8-hour window, fasting for 16 hours usually including overnight.
- 24-hour fast – A full day without food; normally consuming electrolyte containing fluids like bone broth.
- 5:2 – 5 days per week spent eating normally; 2 days per week (can be non-consecutive) calorie intake is reduced to 500-600 total.
- OMAD – One Meal A Day is best used short term, as it’s difficult to consume micronutrients required for proper body function in only a single meal.
4. Sleep Better and More Often
In our stressed-out modern world with all the demands of responsibility, sleep is often the first thing to be put on the back burner. This leads to seeing the negative consequences in our quality of life and our ever expanding waistlines.
Poor sleep increases risk for almost every chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even a shorter lifespan.
For better sleep, a holistic doctor’s most useful tips are: limit blue light exposure close to bedtime, stick to a routine sleep-wake schedule, clear your mind of responsibilities by writing them down to at nighttime to address tomorrow, and leverage the right botanicals (and magnesium) to help quiet the mind and body.
5. Spend Time Outside
Sunlight may be the most underutilized holistic healing method there is. An integrative medicine doctor will tell you it’s great for making the ever-crucial vitamin D, while your favorite yogi may say sunlight is great for absorbing negative energy.
Turns out, they’re both right. Not only does sunlight activate our skin to naturally synthesize vitamin D, but that vitamin D is responsible for dozens of other functions, including supporting a healthy mood, immune system, and weight!
In one study, they found that supplementation with vitamin D was as effective as light therapy for reducing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and that patients with depressive symptoms and other mood disorders have markedly lower serum vitamin D levels (3).
So, if temperatures allow, your body will thank you for a little responsible sunlight exposure and vitamin D production!
6. Maximize Your Minerals
If you’re like most people, the minerals in your life (or lack thereof) don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. Poor quality drinking water, depleted soils, and fewer nutrient-dense foods mean that our body can be starved for hydration even though we’re drinking plenty of water.
Why is this?
Electrolyte minerals, like magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride are responsible for the crucial function of retaining the water inside cells. Magnesium also plays a pivotal role in activating the body’s energy currency, ATP.
Other benefits of healthy mineral levels include better skin hydration, healthy cognition, normal insulin function, and healthy bowel movements.
Minerals are an easy addition to any routine, and these are some of our favorites.
7. Start a Morning Routine
Beginning a morning routine can help increase mindfulness throughout the day, improve mood, and even increase resilience to stress.
Morning routines look differently for different people; some include yoga and meditation, others involve a slow cup of coffee and a little journaling before tackling the day.
Whichever suits you, morning routines help to promote mindfulness, and play a significant role in our resilience to stress. By practicing mindfulness, we strengthen our ability to choose how to respond to stress, instead of merely reacting impulsively.
8. Eat More of the Right Fats
When you consider that approximately 60% of the brain is made up of fat, and fatty acids are the main precursors for hormones and cell membranes, you may have a better understanding about why the right kind of fat is so important.
Unfortunately, not all fats are created equal. Today, we consume too many omega-6 fats, which can promote inflammation within the body, and too few omega-3 fats, which can help modulate this inflammation.
Omega-3 fats have also been shown to support healthy cognition, and can even support skin hydration, and contribute to healthy weight loss.
How can you get more omega-3? Eat more fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. If fish don’t suit your palette, look for a high-quality, sustainably sourced omega-3 or fish oil supplement.
9. Touch & Integrative Massage Therapy
Our bodies are incredibly responsive to touch, and integrative medicine has shown that utilizing the right kind of massage therapy has incredible benefits for overall health.
Integrative massage can help release trigger points, reduce pain and pressure, and help you achieve optimal holistic wellness.
10. Boost Methylation
Methylation is a crucial biochemical process responsible for the proper function of almost every bodily system. It occurs at a rate of millions of times per second, helping to repair DNA, detoxify the body, clear damaging proteins from the blood, and modulate inflammation and mood.
Unfortunately, up to 50% of the population possess genetic factors which reduce the function of this crucial process. If you’d like to find out if you’re one of many dealing with these risk factors, contact a CentreSpring provider today.
Reduced methylation can contribute to poor cognitive function, autoimmune disorders, heavy metal toxicity, and more–which shows just how influential healthy methylation pathways are.
To support methylation, consume methylated B vitamins (from foods, or from a fully methylated supplement), and increase other nutrients that help methylation: NAC, sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, selenium, and prioritize quality sleep
For an individualized plan to optimize your health and address your personal risk factors, get started with CentreSpringMD today.