I have finally sat down and created a post containing all the advice that I want to give people every day regarding healthy lifestyle choices, how to safely and healthily lose weight, and eat better for mind and body. This information is a combination and a summary of all of the main principles that I have researched and studied and read about over the last four years from healthy eating to positive thinking.
My goal is to inspire and teach people about their lifestyle choices and how they can have a positive or negative impact on our physical and mental health. No matter what age you are, or what size you are or how rich you are, you can use this guide to make positive changes in your life, whether you take value from one point or twenty. A lot of what I’ve written here I’ve taken from Dr. Michael Greger – who is, in my opinion, the most hard-working and giving doctor in the world. He’s the author of How Not to Die and the creator of the website nutritionfacts.org. All of the profits from both go back into the non-profit charity nutritionfacts.org. I hope that this list enlightens you to make healthier choices for yourself, and your family.
These lifestyle changes are not supposed to be boring or difficult, or take the “fun” out of your life. As soon as you discover the immense array of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds that you can create decadent and luxurious recipes with, you’d wish you took the health route sooner! The foods are more vibrant, colourful and more flavourful – if anything, your life will become more interesting after adopting some of these important changes.
1. Stop eating processed and red meat
Study after study after study has proven that red meat and processed meat have a seriously detrimental effect on our health. It has been known by certain doctors, and researchers, such as T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) and Dr. Gerson (The Gerson Therapy), for years that there was a link between meat and cancer, but, only recently has it become more accepted by the wider medical community. This culminated last year with WHO confirming, after reviewing 800 studies, that processed meat is a carcinogen, and red meat is a probable carcinogen. As well as being noted as a risk factor for cancer, eating meat also causes weight gain and heart disease. It’s full of saturated fat and is very calorically dense. The only way that meat-eaters ever lose weight is if they go on a diet and cut the amount of food they eat in half, or less. This is depressing, difficult to maintain and stressful on the body and the mind. Even lean cuts of red meat have a high fat content with an average portion of lean steak having 31% of calories coming from fat. There are almost no plant foods with that high a percentage in fat except for nuts and seeds. This is why following a whole foods plant based diet is a far easier way to lose weight that your standard diet. You can eat huge amounts of food without getting too much fat or calories.
2. Cut out ALL meat
Even the leanest cut of chicken has 31% of calories coming from fat! Yes, the blessed chicken that fitness gurus and body builders and gym rats praise for being a weight loss food! Recent studies have actually shown that chicken is more fattening than red meat. “The EPIC-PANACEA study, which found that meat consumption is associated with weight gain, even independent of calories, identified poultry as potentially the most fattening meat….“. (Dr. Michael Greger, How Not to Die) People usually pat themselves on the back for choosing the chicken instead of the beef but really it’s no different! For optimum health and weight-loss, choose the chickpeas, and not the chicken (or the beef).
3. Elimate eggs.
Another favourite of fitness gurus and body builders. But, again, this obsession with eggs is misguided. Eggs are extremely high in cholesterol and completely devoid of any antioxidants. For some reason the egg industry has promoted the fact that eggs contain some of the vitamin choline, but, there are studies that actually demonstrate choline as being a risk factor in developing colon cancer. “…the same Harvard team found that men who consumed the most choline from food also had an increased risk of cancer death.” (Dr. Michael Greger, How Not to Die) I like to call eggs cholesterol bombs. Every egg has approx 373mg of cholesterol. The RDA for dietary cholesterol is 300mg. This is already too high because we don’t even need to consume dietary cholesterol. So for a healthy heart, stop eating eggs! There are far healthier sources of protein! Watch this rant video by me to hear me give out about cholesterol in eggs!
4. Ditch the dairy
There are too many reasons to stop eating dairy but Dr. Klapper explains it entertainingly in this concise video. To put it bluntly, milk is the milk produced by a pregnant or lactating cow to feed their new born calf and grow it into a massive cow in a short time frame. For that reason, it is high in hormones, animal protein, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. It is not human food and for that reason millions of people who consume dairy suffer from obesity, lactose intolerance, psoriasis, asthma, eczema, IBS, acne and many other ailments and diseases. It’s not natural for us to consume it at all. The high fat content means that leaving dairy out of your diet is a guaranteed way to lose weight and be healthier. Especially considering cheese has a whopping 70% of calories coming from fat! And if you’re wondering if all your teeth will fall out and your bones will break from lack of calcium, that is the dairy industy’s biggest marketing tool. Make people believe the dairy industry ads and drink milk for calcium or protein, but, those ads are exactly that. Advertisements. Made for the purpose of selling a product. Think about that.
5. Limit saturated fat.
All animal products contain some amount of saturated fat. The consumption of saturated fat is the biggest cause of heart disease, and, heart disease happens to be the number 1 killer in the Western world. This is very easy to avoid – just go plant-based! But, some plant-based foods even contain saturated fats. Foods such as coconut oil, margerine and many processed vegan foods contain saturated fat too so I would recommend limiting oils and treats to special occasions. Coconut oil is nearly 90% saturated fat, there is no need for that in the diet, especially if you are trying to lose weight!
6. Do not add salt to your food
One of the most interesting things I learned from Dr. Greger’s book was that a high-sodium diet can lead to stomach cancer. Apparently, there is a very high instance of stomach cancer in South Korea, where part of their staple diet is kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish high in sodium due to the brine and/or fermentation process. If this isn’t enough reason to pass on the salt, then what about high-blood pressure? According to Dr. Greger’s research, “The number-one risk factor for death in the world (The Global Burden Of Disease Study) identified is high blood pressure.” Consuming salt causes water retention which in turn causes your body to raise your blood pressure to push the excess fluid and sodium out of your system. I find it very easy now to cook without salt. I use spices, herbs and lemon or lime juice to flavour dishes. It takes time for your taste buds to adjust, and you might find food tastes slightly bland at first but your taste buds do adjust over time and after a week or so you should be able to taste the true flavour in the food.
7. Stop using oil
Oil is a processed food and it is pure fat. This means it is very calorically dense. There are 9 calories per 1g of fat, and God knows how may grams of it we drizzle over our salads and into our stir fries. And this could be 2 to 3 times a day! Even the highly thought-of extra virgin olive oil is 100% fat. This is not food! In the past they used olive oil to light lamps – and we eat it! Any benefits of oil touted by the makers of the oil (omega 3’s and the like) can be found in nuts, seeds, flax, chia and other whole-food, healthier alternatives. Use vinegars, citrus juice, mustard, tahini, and other alternatives when making salad dressings. One of my favourites is a combo of maple syrup, dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. As Dr. Greger puts it: “(Extra virgin) Olive oil has nutrients, but the calories you get are relatively empty compared to those from the whole fruit….One tablespoon of oil can contain more than one hundred calories without filling you up.” And that’s the “healthiest” kind of oil there it! To fry without oils you can use wine, stock, cider vinegar or wine vinegar etc., or just plain water. It’s so doable yet hardly anyone does this!
8. Limit processed foods
Processed foods can be classified as foods that have been changed or turned into something else using unhealthy ingredients, or taking away the goodness of a whole food (like olive oil – the fibre and nutrient content of the oil is removed, and fizzy drinks, which have all the fibre and nutrients of the fruit removed, and horrible chemicals and sugar added). Most processed food is very high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat. They are all red light foods that contribute to cancer, diabetes, high-blood pressure and heart disease. Processed food should be limited to special occasions or times of great desperation!
9. Reduce your intake of refined flour
Refined flour is the grain with all the goodness removed i.e. the fibre and the nutrients. For that reason it is considered a processed food. It has a high caloric density and very little fibre. If weight-loss is your goal, cutting out the bread and biscuits will definitely help because of this. But, it’s not the devil, and if you need to put your salad and chickpeas between two pieces of bread to get you to eat it then OK – we can let you away with it! But always try and choose whole-grain breads. Snacks like doughnuts and croissants and other pastries should definitely be avoided though. Not only do they contain refined flour, but they also contain a high amount of saturated fat.
10. Reduce your intake of refined sugar
As well as being a source of hidden calories, refined sugar has had the fibre and the nutrients taken away from it – making it a processed food. These empty calories should be avoided for optimum weight loss. When baking choose coconut sugar instead. It’s far less refined and still has some nutrients in tact. Here’s a delicious chocolate square recipe that uses no processed sugar at all! When it comes to diabetes, most people believe that sugar is the biggest risk factor because high blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes. But, thanks to the fantastic work by Dr. Neal Barnard, we now know that diabetes is actually caused by fat cells in the blood disrupting the insulin that is supposed to help the sugar be absorbed by our cells. This causes the sugar to build up in our blood, i.e. high blood sugar! Don’t take this as a free ticket to Fanta Town – refined sugar should still be avoided. But natural sugar such as fruit should not be feared.
11. Eat legumes and beans.
Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, even baked beans! These are all extremely high in fibre, healthy plant-based protein, phytates, and low in fat. Phytates are natural compounds found in the seeds of all plants so they are present in beans, seeds, nuts and wholegrains. Before reading How Not to Die I was unaware of the importance of phytates, or even beans themselves. But, I know now that phytates help detoxify iron in the body and protect us from colorectal cancer, one of the most common types of cancer. We are encouraged by Dr. Greger to consume 3 servings of beans a day. That’s how much goodness is in them! They have been shown to be a major factor in the prevention of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, if not more. Here’s a delicious Mediterranean recipe using a few different types of beans that can be thrown together in one pot – handy!
12. Eat wholegrains
This is one of my favourite bits of advice from Dr.Greger. It turns out that wholegrains make people live longer, reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke. So don’t let anyone tell you grains are unhealthy – the exact opposite is true. But, make sure that they are whole, unrefined grains like brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, oats etc. My favourite way to use grains is to make a big grainy salad with beans, veggies, and maybe some nuts or dried fruit or seeds. I make a large batch and portion it out for my lunches for the next few days. Having porridge for breakfast in the winter is a great way to get your grain quota up for the day too!
13. Eat fruit.
“Nearly five million people appear to die every year as a result of not eating enough fruit.” (How Not to Die) Forget 5 a day – there should be no limit to your intake of fruit. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and water which are all beneficial in the fight against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, the list goes on! Cancer is caused by oxidation in the cells, fruit is full of antioxidants – it’s a no brainer! Eat big fruit smoothies for breakfast, snack on fruit, put fruit in your salads, squeeze lemon juice over your dinner – just eat all the fruit!
14. Eat vegetables and greens
I don’t need to explain why here – it’s a given that vegetables are good for us. But how good for us are they? Just like fruit, they help your body fight disease, reverse disease in many cases, and they make you look good (young and healthy is a good look!). The thing is you probably already think you eat enough vegetables. But, unless you already follow a whole-foods, plant-based diet, you need to eat more vegetables. Vegetables should be the bulk of your lunch and dinner. And if you can snack on them too – great! The traditional meat and 2 veg dinner does not cut it. It needs to be all veg – no meat. Check out the recipe section of my blog for some delicious and nutritious veg based recipes. Greens are the king of vegetables, and, according to Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen list, we need to be eating 2 servings of leafy greens a day – that is a cup of raw greens, or a half a cup of cooked. This is easily done if you just make sure to have a side of greens with your lunch and dinner. I always top my lunch with a handful of leaves, dinner too, unless I have greens in the recipe already. This recipe has rainbow chard through it as well as herbs, veggies and grains – try it and see how many of your daily dozen you can check off with it.
15. Use herbs in your cooking
I was surprised to see a whole chapter dedicated to herbs in Dr. Greger’s book, but I’m delighted to learn how important herbs are in leading a healthy lifestyle. Herbs are fragrant and flavourful and there’s a reason why. It’s a sign from mother nature that makes them attractive to us because that’s where the antioxidants are! Herbs are very antioxidant dense, but guess which common herb has the most antioxidants? Peppermint! How exciting! Well I find that exciting anyway…mint is so easy to grow at home. If you plant it in your garden it nearly grows like a weed! But you could just have a little pot of it on your kitchen windowsill and cut some off anytime you need it. I absolutely love mint tea. I just pull a few leaves off the mint plant that we have in our garden and pour hot water over it (do I have to explain how to make tea?!). It’s amazing! By the way, dried supermarket herbs are fine, don’t worry if you don’t have access to fresh herbs!
16. Use spices in your cooking
One of the biggest nutritional breakthroughs, or discoveries, in the last few years is the discovery that turmeric is the most powerful food on the planet in the fight against cancer. “We have seen how curcumin (the pigment in turmeric that gives it the bright yellow colour) may play a role in preventing or treating lung disease, brain disease, and a variety of cancers, including multiple myeloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. But curcumin has also been shown to help speed recovery after surgery and effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drug of choice. It also may be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.” (How Not to Die) This is groundbreaking. That yellow spice that you throw into curries is basically the champion of food, and, the reason why the rates of cancer are massively low in India compared to the United States. So get your curry on and make it as yellow as can be! You can also use turmeric to add a yellow colour to your rice and you can put it in tropical smoothies too. All you need to get is a quarter a teaspoon a day to get the benefit from it. My favourite way to use turmeric in Winter is to make golden turmeric milk – sounds strange but it’s actually delicious with the warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg and the sweetness of dates (or maple syrup). All the other spices are extremely healthy as well so make sure to have variety and include spices in your cooking often. But, when it comes to turmeric, we are advised to get a quarter teaspoon a day. My dad just takes it mixed in with a bit of water! Each to their own…
17. Take 1 tbsp of flax seed every day
Flax is another nutritional powerhouse that has recently been discovered by the mainstream nutritional community. Flax seed (or linseed) comes whole or milled, but the milled version is more bio-available than the whole version as the whole seed cannot be digested. It usually comes in bags and is sometimes mixed with other healthy goodness such as seeds and goji berries (this mix from Linwoods Healthfoods is delicious!) Lignans are a phytoestrogen and they are concentrated in flax seeds. According to Dr. Greger’s research, lignans have been found to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells in a petri dish, and, populations of men with low rates of this type of cancer have been found to have much greater levels of lignans in their prostate fluids. They continued to study the magic seed and found it to be extremely effective in reducing the size of tumours and even preventing prostate cancer! The evidence is clear, flax seed is a safe and cheap way to fight and prevent cancer (How Not to Die). Flax seed has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure and is a great plant-based source of omega 3’s. I sprinkle flax over my porridge, into my smoothies, over my salads, and even over my toast! Easy! My favourite brand at the moment is Adora Flax. It is an Irish brand, and therefore local, who grow their own flax – organically! How amazing is that. We should all aim for buying organic if possible, and if you can support local – fantastic!
20. Sprinkle cinnamon over your porridge
Another surprise from the How Not to Die book (for me anyway) was that cinnamon is packed full of nutrition and rates a silver in the “most antioxidants per pound” competition! Amazing! Cinnamon is delicious sprinkled over porridge or chopped apple. However, make sure – if possible – that the cinnamon you are using is ceylon cinnamon, as opposed to cassia cinnamon. Too much cassia cinnamon can be toxic to the liver so be careful. A sprinkle here and there will be fine though and it is encouraged! More than a teaspoon of cinnamon would be too much on the taste buds anyway.
21. Take wheatgrass
Wheatgrass is the young wheat plant, or grass, and is consumed as a juice. You juice the wheatgrass and drink it as a quick shot daily. It’s extremely green in flavour but extremely green in nutrition levels! It has more nutrition in it that a days worth of vegetables. I am recommending it because, sometimes, it’s hard to get in as many greens as you would like. Wheatgrass shots shouldn’t be an excuse not to get in your veggies, but, they are a good back up plan for bad days. There are loads of companies around these days that sell bags of frozen shots which you can keep in the freezer. You take one out the night before and by the morning it should be defrosted enough to take as a liquid shot of nutritional gold.
22. Eat berries
There are 562 pages in Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die, and berries are mentioned in nearly every chapter because of their dense antioxidant content, their cancer-fighting ability, along with their ability to boost the immune system, and protect against liver and brain disease. Furthermore, studies have shown that women who eat more berries are less likely to die from heart disease. That’s a lot of benefits! Basically, where greens are the healthiest of the vegetable kingdom, berries are the healthiest of the fruit kingdom. They are so nutritionally powerful that they make Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen list. The recommendation is 60g of fresh or frozen berries a day. As I live in Ireland, this isn’t as easy as it would be in warmer climates. I can have smoothies and fruit salads in the Summer, but come Winter time, I tend to go for more warming foods (I’m sure we all do). So, some ways to get the berries in then is maybe sprinkling goji berries over porridge, or, making a berry coulis with frozen berries and maple syrup and having that with porridge. It’s really simple just heat the berries and maple syrup over the hob until warmed and stir or mush the berries slightly to combine. The addition of chia seeds makes it conjeal like a jam.
23. Eat nuts and seeds (sparingly)
Another from the daily dozen list. A lack of nuts and seeds in the diet is said to be the third biggest dietary risk factor for death and disability in the world (Global Burden of Disease Study). Nuts have fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are the healthiest according to the research. You can add nuts to salads, curries and stir fries. Or, have nut butters on toast or with fruit. Or, even better, try this healthy “Nutella” recipe. The recommendation is 30g of nuts or seeds, or, 2 tbsp of nut butter a day. Nuts and seeds are both high in calories so try not to go overboard!
24. Drink tea
The research on teas is fascinating. “Drinking tea may protect against gynecological malignancies such as ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, as well as lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body fat. It may protect the brain from both cognitive decline and stroke. Tea consumption is also associated with decreased risk of diabetes, tooth loss, and up to half the risk of dying from pneumonia.” (How Not to Die) Can you believe that? After reading this I never made a cup of tea so fast in my life! But bear in mind, adding cows milk to your tea will negate all the goodness. The green leaves of the tea plant (or green tea) are more antioxidant and phytonutrient rich than the black tea that we all know and love, and, white tea, which is made from the young leaves of the same tea plant, is even healthier again (if you add lemon to it that is). I got myself some white tea recently and it resembles black tea more than green tea. It is weaker, however, and slightly sweeter – but delicious all the same. Another very healthy tea is hibiscus tea which came first in a study that measured the antioxidant levels of 300 beverages! All herbal teas are highly recommended by Dr. Greger though, as they all contain phytonutrients and healing properties.
25. Drink green juice
This isn’t one of the daily dozen, but, as with the wheatgrass shots, there’s no harm in drinking the odd green juice when you feel you’ve been slacking in the salad department! Green juice is full of nutrition – but it lacks fibre – and therefore it should not replace the greens in your diet. But, when you’re out and about and you’re feeling thirsty, always choose the green juice over the fizzy drink. It’s a no brainer. It’s an extremely healthy beverage that will benefit you if you drink it. There is no positive outcome from drinking a fizzy drink.
26. Take vitamin D supplements
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where the sun shines all day then you may disregard this (unless you’re hiding in the shade). Nearly everyone in the Northern latitudes do not get enough sun, especially in the Winter, and this leads to vitamin D deficiencies – even in meat eaters! Vitamin D helps your bones absorb calcium and therefore is a major player in protecting bone health. However, good vitamin D levels has also been shown to be a factor in overall mortality, protecting against different types of cancers and heart disease. It’s extremely important that we get enough vitamin D so look into getting supplements if you’re not getting enough sun. According to this Nutrition Facts video, we should be getting 2,000 IU a day.
27. Take a vitamin B12 supplement
Vitamin B12 is a funny old vitamin! We need it for healthy nerves and blood. B12 deficiencies can lead to physcosis, paralysis, blindness and even death. It is not easily available from plants because we buy our veg so clean and sanitised, but, it is found in animal products because the animal from where the meat is sliced would have produced it in his/her gut. However, the risk factors associated with eating animal products far outweigh the benefits of being a source of B12. Instead, doctors like Neal Barnard recommend taking a supplement. All health food shops carry B12 supplements, but, the confusion lies in the type of supplements to purchase. There are two main types of B12 supplements: cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Dr. Greger recommends cyanocobalamin due to the extensive research conducted and available on the benefits associated with this type. However, there are many people who do not have the intrinsic factor in their gut to which helps the body absorb B12, and these people will have to be tested by the doctor and given injections. And this is very common! But the main lesson here is that B12 is extremely important, and meat and dairy sources are not enough (or safe). Everyone should be taking B12 supplements.
Seems like an obvious one but I think far too many people overlook exercise. Thankfully, however, in recent years there has been a major surge in interest in the fitness and exercise world with CrossFit and Couch to 5k in nearly every town, if not village. This is fantastic and I encourage it! But something people might not know is that intense exercise like that is not the only type of exercise that will make, and keep you healthy. For the people who have an injury, or don’t have the time to dedicate to intensive training sessions, gentle exercise is also considered extremely beneficial to health and wellbeing, and, has a significant effect on longevity. Moderate exercise includes activities such as walking, gardening, dancing, hiking, leisurely swimming and more. Anything is better than nothing and for optimum heart health and overall health Dr. Greger recommends that we get 90 minutes of moderate exercise a day (or 40 minutes of vigorous activity). This may seem like a lot but we can all make better choices in our day to day lives and incorporate exercise into times we wouldn’t have expected exercise to fit. Such as a bit of yoga in the mornings, or walking to work, taking the stairs, doing a 15 minutes HIIT session after work, taking the dog for a walk, going for a morning swim, going for a hike at the weekend, going for a gentle jog before work or in the evening, hoovering the house etc. Proper fitness nuts probably find it so easy to get in their daily recommendation of exercise but for the couch lovers there’s always a way to fit it in! I personally try to walk to work as much as possible. I also do a Pilates class and try to fit in a bit of yoga. I also like to run, or walk, or climb mountains in the summer! Do what you enjoy and it won’t become a chore! But don’t underestimate the power of exercise – pumping the lymphatic system and releasing those endorphins is a powerful tool in maintaining physical and mental health.
29. Get fresh air
Not only is clean fresh air great for our lungs and skin, it’s also great for the mind. Get into nature and breathe deeply! Modern society has all too many of us breathing in air conditioning while looking at artificial light. We need to spend some time in nature and breathe in the natural elements of the earth. Modern day pollution is actually on the WHO carcinogen list so getting fresh air has a genuine place on this list! Concrete, traffic congested roads and polluted cities are toxic for the mind, body and soul. This excellent article from the Huffington Post states that breathing in the scents of certain trees can relax us and reduce stress, another major cancer risk factor!
12 minutes of daily meditation can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lessen depressive symptoms. As well as that, this study showed a reduction in stress-induced cellular aging. Yes, meditation can slow aging! Stress is an invisible killer because it’s hard to measure something intangible, but we do know that it is a major risk factor in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and aging in general. Meditation was always believed by Buddhist monks to be beneficial in reducing stress and increasing longevity, but now, the science actually proves it. A great app to help introduce you to meditation is Headspace. It makes it very easy for you to start and continue to incorporate the practice of meditation into your daily routine.
31. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment, being aware of what you are doing and thinking, and observing it without judgement. Unlike meditation, it can be practiced anywhere and any time. The practice of mindfulness has exploded into the mainstream in the last few years and there must be a reason for it. Scientific studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and I think we can all agree that having good mental health is paramount in modern day society. Too many families are broken by depression induced suicide and it’s terrifying. These calming and natural methods of relaxing the mind have played a massive role in reducing anxiety and alleviating symptoms of depression for so many people. It’s something we all need to learn about and start practicing. Me included!
32. Practice Yoga
Yoga is an ancient Indian tradition that incorporates spiritual, physical and mental practices or exercises that we Westerners have fallen in love with in the 21st century. Yoga practice involves stretching, strength, poise, balance, meditation and breath, and this combination of slow movements can improve both mental and physical health. The strength and balance exercises improve core strength, muscle tone and function, the stretching aspect is great for flexibility, mastering the movement with breath improves energy, vitality and respiration, and the meditation is another way to combat anxiety, stress and depression. Yoga is a powerful mechanism in improving all around health and I believe it should be practiced in schools and work places. If every single one of us practiced yoga, would we still have wars?
33. Do Pilates
I started Pilates last year and have gotten untold physical benefit from it. The class I go to is more like rehabilitation Pilates so our instructor works with us to undo the damage of years of sitting and walking wrong, working out too much and in the wrong way, car crash injuries and more. I would highly recommend finding a good, qualified Pilates instructor and doing even just a 6 week course to start off with. You might discover that you have an underlying issue that you didn’t even realise you had. Pilates works on forgotten and underused muscles in our body to try and get the overworked, and tired, bigger muscles to release tension, and reduce physical stress. Practicing regular Pilates can alleviate tension in the body, it can aid in realignment, improving core strength, halting back and neck pain, and improving all over balance and strength. I will continue going to my weekly Pilates classes for the rest of my life – they have been massively beneficial to my overworked body.
34. Go for regular massages or rubs
Dr. Greger recommends that we do some form of exercise every single day. This is going to be strenuous on the muscles if one is not used to engaging in physical activity, and those who are experienced athletes should know that this point is an important factor in maintaining healthy muscles. Going to sports massage therapists is fantastic for tight and exhausted muscles. Getting a good rub improves circulation, it stimulates lymphatic flow and relaxes and destresses muscles which aids in pain relief. As well as being great for the body it is also great for the mind. We should allow half an hour every so often for a pampering massage to relax and unwind and remove ourselves from the constricting environments of our offices and classrooms. Our bodies and our minds deserve it.
35. Do not buy chemical-laden cosmetics
Nearly all mainstream and conventional cosmetics brands are formulated with a large number of unnatural and synthetic substances. The skin is the largest organ in the body and the biggest eliminator of toxins. The pores that eliminate these toxins also absorb anything that is applied to it and anything that we massage into our skin. If we wouldn’t eat it, then why do we smother ourselves in it? In recent years the effects of these hard-to-pronounce chemicals have been studied and documented and many have been linked to certain cancers and diseases (such as benzoate and parabens). These toxic ingredients combine to make cleverly marketed products that do more harm than good. Start reading the ingredients list on your most used cosmetics and research what those ingredients actually do to our bodies. Look into brands that try to only use natural and safe ingredients in their products like 100% Pure, Anneco, and Kinvara, and learn how to make your own cosmetics with everyday items such as coconut oil. Watch this video to see how you can whiten your teeth with coconut oil and charcoal, and, watch this video for a simplistic and minimal, but natural, make-up tutorial.
36. Exfoliate and dry body brush
Exfoliating involves massaging a scrub or clay into your skin while in the shower to dislodge dirt, encourage lymphatic circulation, and remove dead cells. This rejuvenates and brightens the skin leaving it feeling clean, soft and smooth. My favourite facial exfoliator is this almond based cleanser from Lush: Angels on Bare Skin. I have yet to find a body exfoliator but I am considering making my own like this one. Dry body brushing is similar in principal to exfoliating but you use a dry brush and rub your skin, dry – not in the shower- in circles and long strokes. This too brushes away dead skin cells and stimulates the lymphatic system. It is a calming and meditative practice and is said to be a good stress alleviator.
38. Keep a tidy home/bedroom
If any of my family or friends read this they will probably laugh because I take on psychotic tendencies when I am surrounded by disorder and dirt. But this is backed up by science! Studies have shown, clean and tidy environments reduce stress and have a calming and relaxing effect on the brain. It’s also critical for clear thinking and ability to concentrate. I 100% concur to this! There is nothing more satisfying that coming into a clean bedroom with hoovered carpets and clean sheets and dust-free dresser tops. Tidy bedrooms have been shown to cause improvements in sleeping patterns too which is important because lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on our health.
Continuing on from the previous point: sleep is critical for good health. While we are asleep our bodies use this time to heal and repair. If we get less sleep than what is recommended, our bodies have less time to repair, and we are then in a state of disrepair when we wake up. There is a reason the day is bright and the night is dark – it’s God, or Mother Nature’s signal to us to close our eyes and rest! But modern society dictates that we go dancing, drinking, or partying at night, or watching TV, films or Netflix – all very stimulating and not relaxing practices. Diminished sleep not only affects our physical bodies, it also had a severe impact on our ability to function in daily life, as a lot of us will have experienced from time to time! Another surprising result of sleepness nights is weight gain! There is increasing evidence arising that says people who get less sleep tend to put on weight due to the body’s natural hormone production being disrupted, and exhaustion causing us to make bad food choices. So for optimum performance at work and in life in general, and for improved health and weight loss, get up them stairs and get to bed!
40. Think positive and be positive
You may think of this as wishy-washy bull manure, but, studies have actually shown that positive thoughts have energy waves that cause positive events and circumstances in our lives. Not only does positive thinking project good energy into the universe, it also has a good effect on our minds. Positive thinking uplifts us and reminds us of what we can be grateful for, we feel inspired to get up and out into nature, to go and work out and take care of our bodies. And if you believe in it, the Law of Attraction states that positive thinking and visualisation can bring about anything we desire. It’s a lot of mental gymnastics and power lifting but even a small bit of positive thinking has an effect. I’ve heard of so many instances of people’s lives improving through positive thinking and practicing gratitude, and I’ve even seen it in my own life. I can’t see anything wrong with it, and have only heard good things about thinking positive, so I believe it should be adopted into our everyday mentality and attitudes. Imagine if we all thought positively and practiced gratitude, would we have wars then?