As a practicing physician, I always look for ways to help my patients live healthy, active, and productive lives.
Here are 5 of my top suggestions to bring you better health and increase your well-being in 2023:
1) Get your daily dose of healthy fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the “healthy fats” that make up the wall of your cells. Since your body doesn’t produce enough Omega-3s to stay healthy, you can only get them from the food you eat or supplements you take. Try to get at least 2000 mg (or 2 gm) of Omega-3 fatty acids every day.
Benefits of Omega-3s:
- Promoting bone and joint health by increasing calcium absorption and decreasing inflammation.
- Helping lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels, thus improving Metabolic Syndrome.
- Improving heart health – multiple studies show that regular Omega-3 ingestion can lower triglycerides and decrease arterial plaque formation.
- Improving eye health by decreasing the risk of dry eyes and macular degeneration.
- Balancing emotions and mood – studies show that regular consumption of Omega-3s can decrease depression and anxiety.
Sources of Omega-3s:
- Seafood – mackerel, wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines.
- Grass-fed beef – locally sourced, if possible.
- Eggs from pasture-raised chickens fed a high quality diet.
- Seeds – adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin or hemp seeds in your food increases your Omega-3 intake.
- Nuts – Walnuts have the highest concentration of Omega-3s.
Fill in your dietary gaps with a high quality, toxin-free Omega-3 rich fish oil supplement.
2) Start benefiting from intermittent fasting.
Metabolic flexibility is the body’s ability to adapt and use whatever fuel is available (carbs or fats), whether it comes from ingesting food or utilizing fuel stored in your body. Improving your metabolic flexibility can impact your overall health with sustained energy, fewer blood sugar elevations, fewer food cravings, improved brain function and better burning of fat, while lowering overall inflammation.
The easiest method I’ve found to incorporate intermittent fasting is “Time Restricted Eating” (TRE), where you decrease your “eating window” during the day to 8-12 hours, and increase your overnight fasting time to 12-16 hours. So you consume all your meals and healthy snacks in an 8-12 hour window, and then don’t eat for the rest of the day.
This prolonged overnight fast gives the body enough time to start burning stored fat for fuel and release a healthy level of toxins. It’s also good for digestion and for people who struggle with irritable bowel symptoms.
Combining TRE with a nutrient dense, whole food, colorful diet can result in glowing skin, fat loss, improved brain function and increased health span. It’s a free, readily accessible way to improve your metabolic flexibility right now.
3) Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is crucial to maintain both your mental and physical health. Poor sleep affects your energy, your appearance, your ability to lose weight and your brain function. Adults should strive for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Ways to improve your sleep:
- Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol. If you drink caffeine, stop before noon to allow your body time to metabolize and get it out of your system. And while alcohol can initially make you drowsy, it can also act as a stimulant that causes you to wake up after you’ve fallen asleep. If you plan on drinking, try to finish several hours prior to bedtime and flush out your body with several glasses of water.
- Exercise regularly and get the benefits of natural light. Daily aerobic exercise can improve your sleep as well as being good for your overall health, with outdoor exercise especially beneficial. Exposure to natural light helps regulate your sleep cycle, and keeps our internal clock on a regular, healthy sleep/wake cycle. Let in sunlight first thing in the morning, and get out of your office or home for a sun break during the day, if possible.
- Take a walk at sunset. A sunset walk helps your mind unwind from the day and signals the brain that it’s time to start settling in for the night.
- Create a sleep-inducing routine and environment in your bedroom. A relaxing bedtime routine and a quiet, cool, dark environment can promote sound sleep. Keep the temperature comfortably cool and well ventilated, and use ear plugs or a white noise machine, if needed, to block noise.
- Turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed. Devices including your phone emit blue light which can reduce melatonin levels in your body. Melatonin is the hormone your brain produces in response to darkness, and when your melatonin level dips it can be difficult to fall asleep. Keeping your phone next to your bed can disrupt sleep from messages, buzzing and light coming on in the middle of the night.
4) Track your metabolic health.
You can track metabolic health with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) prescribed by your doctor. This disposable device syncs with an app on your phone to give you continuous glucose readings throughout the day and night for about 14 days. The CGM shows exactly how your diet affects your blood glucose levels so you can adjust what, when, and how much to eat for better mental clarity and athletic performance.
Knowing how to fuel your body properly can help you stay energized when needed. The biofeedback from the device teaches you best food combinations and best time to eat for stabilizing blood sugars, preventing them from spiking too high or falling too low.
The benefits of stabilizing your blood sugars include:
- Sustained energy, exercise endurance, and enhanced performance.
- Improved fat burning ability and weight loss, if desired.
- Improved fertility and sexual health.
- A highly functioning immune system and a lower risk of chronic diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more.
- Sharper memory and recall.
- Improved sleep and more stable moods that can reduce anxiety.
Finally, improved metabolic health and blood sugar balance can help prevent and potentially reverse metabolic syndrome.
5) Prioritize mental health and reduce anxiety.
Physical and mental health are inextricably intertwined and impact each other. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your mental health:
- Schedule downtime – with a few 30-minute gaps in your day for mindfulness exercises that incorporate breathing exercises, guided meditation, or simply a walk outside in fresh air.
- Eat in a relaxed environment – Try to sit down and slowly chew your food, paying attention to and taking time to enjoy the tastes. Eating slower allows your body time to create digestive enzymes, resulting in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. You’ll also feel more satisfied and be less likely to overeat.
- Learn to say “no” – If you’re feeling overwhelmed with obligations, now’s the time to give yourself permission to say “no” on certain occasions. Reevaluate your priorities, and if what someone is asking you to do does not line up with your priorities, say “no thank you.” You can also delegate tasks to free up some of your time and energy.
- Engage in a hobby you enjoy – Do you remember things you liked doing as a child? As an adult, you can engage in the same kinds of activities, whether arts and crafts, gardening, playing sports, or simply spending time with friends. These kinds of activities are good for both body and mind, and can help relieve the stresses of everyday life.
- When needed, change your relationships – Try to get out of toxic relationships that are no longer serving you.
It is my hope that you’ll find my suggestions helpful during the coming year, and I wish for each of you a prosperous and healthy 2023.
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9555 Lebanon Rd, Ste. 701
Frisco, TX 75035