We all have our list of errands and responsibilities that stress us out and seem never-ending, right? During which we all find it hard to fit in exercise and the right lifestyle. From our way of commuting to making healthy choices so many factors may negatively affect us. As a physician, this should be paid close attention to as these factors may determine personal risk factors to future illness and also present as mild symptoms people may even start to have. Fortunately, there are effective ways to help limit this impact by having an integrative approach. Here are some important starting points I break down which you may begin your path to continued health and happiness in 2018.
Emotional stress: the ability to be mindful is key. Once your body experiences prolonged tension from anxiety/stress/fear etc. this results in an excess in cortisol release (stress hormone) which has the potential to negatively influence your energy throughout the day, affect sleep, and slowly over time contribute to cardiovascular and another organ disease. Next time you notice yourself feeling this way or muscle tension, as a result, try incorporating the following techniques such as the breathing exercises i.e. the 4-7-8 technique. This represents the seconds to inhale, hold, and exhale, respectively. In addition to this, there is progressive muscle relaxation, anchoring and mindfulness to name a few you can find great videos on to help at the link at the bottom. This may help stem unhealthy thoughts and prevent you going down that wrong path of prolonged cortisol release. Instead, the mind stays focused at hand, helping you make the soundest and most keen decisions possible ultimately bettering your day. These techniques have all been shown in research to help with anxiety, pain symptoms, insomnia, asthma attacks, and irritable bowel as well. As you continue this practice the body begins to recognize this as a pattern and it may become muscle memory ultimately stop these negative responses people have. This is the power of mindfulness. Combining this with 30 minutes of exercise 5 times per week (or 150 minutes total) has been shown to increase your chances of living a longer healthier life.
Environmental toxins: Polluting chemicals are bountiful and exist in almost everything. So how do we stop its impact on us? The more we use these plastic bags, water bottles and such materials in close proximity to our food, water, and self the more subject we are to their harm. Some of these chemicals are called EDC’s (endocrine disruptive compounds) and just like the name sounds, they interfere with our hormonal system function. Avoid plastic bottles and using glassware for food containment are both a good start as well as understanding products that may further help detoxes such as charcoal and chlorella. You should always consult with your physician prior to starting anything to make sure this may be a good option for you. In order to limit the amount in us a good beginning is avoiding plastic bottles when you can and sticking with reverse osmosis water if you can. Using glassware for foods especially in hot/cold environments is another and trying the supplement Chlorella. In addition, a balance of B vitamins and supplements such as alpha lipoic acid and NAC may help protect you and excrete these substances from your system. If you have concerns for significant exposure or non-specific symptoms that cant be figured out it is always advantageous to be evaluated by a physician trained in this to test your levels. Treatment options are available to help remove these from your system and improve your quality of life and longevity.
Foods: While it’s easy to point fingers towards “the bad foods” it’s truly giving your body what it needs is key. With food high in calories and lacking in nutrients as studies are revealing its even more important to have the optimal balance. Fats are not the enemy but rather good in the form of polyunsaturated fats and balanced fats that come from nuts, fish, and greens also known as Omega 3’s, healthy Omega 6’s and Omega 9. These help as antioxidants and are like a lubricant for cells lowering blood pressure and helping prevent vascular disease, heart problems and most illness’ associated with aging. Sticking with the Mediterranean diet may be one of the best decisions you can make. For those vegetarian/Vegan, this works just as well provided you take pharmaceutical grade supplements to optimize your nutrient balance. In order to truly know what your diet is truly providing you or lack thereof, vitamin and nutrient analysis testing is the best option which we provide to help customize a diet right for you.
These quick tips are a great start or addition to whatever strategy you have begun. All the best, Dr. D