A friend recently asked me for 10 health tips.  I believe in fully exploring a person’s health history and creating a targeted approach, however there are some things that everyone can do for better health, they are as follows:

Ten Tips for do it yourself health:

  1. Obtaining better health is like steering an aircraft carrier, you turn the wheel and then wait patiently as the ship turns over the course of the next TWO MILES! Set intentions and support yourself as you stick with it.  Go for long term efforts over short term bursts.  Consider what you would like to be different, and then research and choose healthy lifestyle changes that will get you there.  Check in with your progress every 2 weeks.  Get support.
  2. At every moment we are the culmination of all our previous decisions. If we are making 20% good decisions about our health then we won’t feel as good as if we are making 80%.  Start to shift the count in your favor throughout the day, make a salad from the farmers market rather than the gas station microwave burrito.  Take the yoga class rather than the TV marathon.  Applaud yourself and feel the difference as you up the percentage.  Check in with your progress every week.
  3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, if your condition isn’t extreme, try (safe) folk remedies before pharma. Pharma should always be the last choice.  Old + New = Great.
  4. Herbs are powerful and they work. For that reason, remember to take some time off of herbal therapy, your body can become irritated by any stimulation good or bad.  Herb usage should be in short bursts, such as 2 weeks on 1 week off (or as directed by your doctor).
  5. Shifting your metabolism from sugar burning to fat burning takes an effort (and at least a few days), but will result in a profound shift in quality of life, health and how you feel. Choose (healthy) fats and proteins over carbs and sugars, and choose foods with the lowest glycemic index.  Leafy greens are the best carbs.  Stevia or sugar alcohols (maltitol, xylitol, etc.) are much better than sugar, corn syrup, or agave (if you must eat sweetened foods).
  6. Be in charge of your health. Buy yourself a nice organizational system and get copies of every test you do through a doctor.  Bring your file to every appointment and continue to fill it.  A good doctor will be interested in this comprehensive history.   Keeping a record of how blood (and other) tests change over time is very valuable.  Keep track of your health patterns and how you are addressing them, don’t rely on Dr’s to remember.  Get copies of tests at the time you do them, it may get harder to get them down the road.
  7. Brain health relies on a number of factors. Some you can control are: 1. Blood sugar regulation, meaning don’t go too long without eating, and limit glycemic foods.  Always balance every meal and snack (a good rule of thumb is 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs, the carbs should be healthy carbs like leafy greens, not chips and candy carbs). 2. Vitamin B, or Iron anemia can starve the brain of much needed oxygen.  These are very easily tested for, ask your doctor.  Hormones, thyroid and vitamin D (25 hydroxy), should all be tested as well due to their supporting roles in brain health.
  8. There are 4 types of treatment that should be considered when improving health, they each work in conjunction. 1. Replace what is lacking. 2. Stimulate for a curative response. 3. Calm what is hyper-aroused. 4 Eliminate what is harmful. If your body is not able to get what it needs from diet and lifestyle factors it has to get it from somewhere. Those needs depend on your genes, your condition, and your environment. Work with your health care practitioner to determine your needs.
  9. Sometimes we know more about our car and appliances than about ourselves because we have owner’s manuals for those things. As you learn about your health over the years start to compile your own personal owner’s manual.  If something goes out of balance (for example hormones), and we see a practitioner who helps fix it, we now know that is an issue we may be prone to.  Going forward we can pay attention to managing the issues that tend to go out of balance for us, and support those systems periodically.  This is one reason that record keeping is important.
  10. No list of mine would be complete without an entry on gluten. To limit inflammation and flare-ups of any issues in the body, removal of gluten is key.  It plays a role in starting and encouraging numerous auto-immune issues, and we can’t always “feel” its effects.  How we test for gluten sensitivity is important, many Drs rely on the wrong types of tests that give false negatives and positives.  Cyrex lab is the gold standard at the moment (although these things change), Entero Lab is an inexpensive test that does not require a Dr, and tests for 4 genes, any one of which means you should not eat gluten.  In my opinion gluten is difficult and a negative factor on health even for those who do not test positive for sensitivity.  Remember also, even 1 molecule of gluten can cause inflammation for up to 6 months, so limiting is not effective or useful, it must be complete removal which requires much diligence in label reading and elimination.  A Paleo/Mediterranean diet combo is best and helps in the effort to go gluten free.