What are 3 fundamental lifestyle habits that each person should adopt for overall good health?
This is the question that the naturopathic doctors at StoneTree Clinic asked each other recently. We all agreed with water, exercise and no refined sugar. The moment of truth came when we considered whether we were each following these ourselves. Not entirely.
Solution? Do a 28-day Challenge! Here is what we did and learned...
Water makes up 70-80% of the human body yet most people aren't consuming enough. What's enough? Half your body weight in ounces is a good goal. Eg. a 160lb person should be drinking roughly 80oz (10cups) water each day. Herbal teas count as water. Keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol create a diuretic effect and need to be accounted for. Be sure to finish all fluids ~4 hours prior to bedtime, in order to limit waking in the night. If you are currently well below your goal, start increasing your daily intake slowly.
Physical activity is easy to achieve living in this community, yet if it's not made a priority it is easy for your time to be filled with other things. The prevailing observation at the clinic, after our 28 days, is that walking with one's partner/spouse each day is a great way to connect & communicate; it's amazing how easily words flow when you aren't face to face. And when doing this solo it's remarkable how many things you can work out in your head; solutions to challenges, dialogue for upcoming correspondence, creative ideas, etc. My favourite time for a walk is shortly after dinner – it helps digestion and gives me a little pick-me-up, preventing me from diving for the sofa for the remainder of the evening.
'Activity' in our challenge is any form of moving your body for 30 sustained minutes. This can include yoga, fitness class, weights, cycling, snowshoeing, XC skiing, walking, etc. I recommend doing something you enjoy.
Sugar is a highly addictive substance and many people don't realize how much they are consuming. Sugar is not just in candies & pastries, you may be surprised to find that it is in bottled sauces (curry, pasta, marinades), condiments (mayo), salad dressings, even crackers and cans of flavoured tuna.
Why avoid sugar? A few (of many) reasons include:
• it impairs your immune system for several hours
• it contributes to diabetes & elevated cholesterol
• it provokes inflammation, leading to pain
• it can trigger irritability & compulsive eating
For me, being mindful of the amount of water I consume has been a longterm habit, and exercise is a nice new addition. However, I experienced the most profound effect by avoiding sugar. My kitchen staples have been free of sugar for several years, yet sugar was sneaking in to my diet every few days (even the sugars in 'organic dark chocolate' can add up in a week!). I began avoiding sugar starting in August, and really noticed the beneficial effects after 5-6 weeks of being sugar-free; meals were more satisfying, flavours were more intense, and my mind was more calm. And after 4 months my clothing fits much better too!
If you are looking for a solution to start feeling better, I recommend beginning with these 3 habits. When you are ready to take it to the next level contact your naturopathic doctor for personalized recommendations.