6 Simple and Sustainable Steps for Better Health￼
Here are 6 simple and sustainable steps for better health as we transition into the New Year. These suggestions are easy to implement and to maintain in the long run.
This is a time of year when many of us start thinking about making changes for the better. We might set new year resolutions that are not always easy to stick to. If change is not sustainable, we can easily become demoralised and think that as we have failed in our intentions, there is no point in continuing.
By following these 6 simple and sustainable steps, you are likely to increase your energy levels, improve your digestion, boost your immune system, balance your mood and sharpen your mind.
Don’t feel overwhelmed at the prospect, just take it slow. There is a wonderful Chinese proverb:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
This proverb motivates us to be determined but also points out that we do not reach our destination in one leap, rather it is small steady steps that take us to where we want to be.
If the following suggestions seem too much to begin all at once, start with whichever one feels most achievable. Focus on that for a week, before adding in the next. This way you will gradually build strong foundations for your future health.
6 Simple and sustainable steps for a better health
- Eat a good source of protein with every meal including breakfast. Protein breaks down into amino acids which can then be used for various functions in the body. It is the building blocks for tissue growth and repair. We need it in order to manufacture hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and antibodies in the body. Protein supports the immune system to identify and neutralise bacteria and viruses. Getting enough protein slows down the rate at which glucose is released from carbohydrates thus preventing fluctuating energy levels. Focus on the following:
- Fish and seafood
- Lean meat
- Tofu and tempeh
- Pulses and beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Protein powder
- Challenge yourself to eat a rainbow. Every colour and type of fruit and vegetables has different nutritional gifts to offer us. By including all the colours, we are ensuring that we get a broad range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fibre.
- Aim to eat a minimum of 5 vegetables and 2 fruits daily.
- Vary the range of vegetables and fruit, including those you haven’t tried before.
- Increase your fibre intake. Fibre promotes the clearance of toxins via the bowel and supports healthy weight management. It also balances blood sugar, supports heart health and the immune system.
- Eat whole grains e.g. brown rice, whole grain rye/millet/spelt bread, oats, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, millet, whole barley, spelt and quinoa; beans and pulses, root vegetables, leafy greens, fruit and berries.
- Include prebiotic fibre for a healthy gut microbiome: garlic, asparagus, leek, Jerusalem artichokes and onions.
- Eat real food. Processed and ultra-processed foods are often devoid of any real nutrition and are full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and other nasties that can negatively affect our health and mood.
- Wherever possible cook your own food from scratch.
- Batch cook for when time is short.
- If you do need to resort to ready-made food, buy those with the shortest list of ingredients.
- Reduce your stress level. Chronically high stress levels mean that the body is in constant fight or flight mode. Long-term, this can have a negative impact on our overall health.
- Take up practices that counteract stress by promoting the rest and digest aspect of the nervous system. Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong are all wonderful for this.
- Adopt a regular meditation practice.
- Learn how to use breathing practices to manage stress level.
- Connect with nature as much as possible.
- Take regular moderate exercise.
- Focus on sleep. The importance of a good night’s sleep for your overall health cannot be underestimated.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and black tea after 4pm.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake.
- Eat your evening meal at least 2 hours before bed.
- Get out into the light during the day to promote the sleep/wake cycle.
- Sleep in a room that is as dark as possible in order to promote the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Turn off all screens an hour before bed and leave your phone outside the bedroom.
If you’d like my help to implement positive changes in your life so that you can experience good healthy, steady energy and vibrancy, then do get in touch with me. I provide a free 20 minute initial chat to discuss where you need the most support and how I might be able to help you.
Great list Anna – I particularly liked/found useful the point around increasing fibre intake and the section on sleep.
I wonder if in a future post you might touch on the problems and possible solutions for disturbed sleep? For example waking up in the early hours or being woken by someone’s snoring 🙂
I’m glad you found it useful Sam. And thank you for the suggestion for a future post – it’s a great topic and I’ll defintely include it.