For the last several decades, the health food movement has shifted from fringe to mainstream.
Health, healthy and healthy-ish have pervaded our collective consciousness. Organic options and products marketed as “better for you” have a larger market than ever. Restaurants options of all types—even fast food—have expanded healthier choices while it seems that just about everyone has self-labeled their eating style. Flexitarians are flexing their marketing muscle, perhaps the smartest of all. They’re all-inclusive unlike their pescatarians, vegan and paleo counterparts.
The advent of COVID-19 may have expanded the waistline of America—blame it on nationwide boredom and excessive eating during shelter-in-place orders. But more importantly, novel coronavirus’ devastation is disproportionately singling out the health-impaired. Maintaining health, as a result, is worth more than ever. In fact, it’s the only currency that matters.
Because when you’re healthy, the options to live an ideal life are limitless. Any illness—acute or chronic—can be controlled by natural remedies or pharmaceuticals, but they still can limit your choices and pose challenges mentally physically.
So how can you grow your health currency and keep it, well, healthy? Here are six words to heed.
- KNOWLEDGE. Arm and protect yourself with knowledge from reputable sources. Reputable means experts in the field of study, not political mouthpieces with an agenda. Researchers say it will take several years for the medical community to fully understand the novel coronavirus but for now, know how to protect yourself. Separate fact from fiction, not just about Covid-19, but any topic related to your health. Research studies, while often bogged down with statistics and medical language, can be helpful but always back up findings with other interpretations.
- LISTEN. The phrase “listen to your body” is overused and often misinterpreted. Listening doesn’t mean eschewing science or applying self-care (another overused catch phrase). It simply means paying attention to how you feel everyday, from the time you wake up until you go to bed. This includes thinking about how certain foods make you feel after eating them. If your inner voice says to exercise more or to eat certain foods less, listen and take action. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or a proclamation that involves the perfect workout-gear or new running shoes (unless these actions motivate you). It means listening to your inner voice and trying one step at a time to gain momentum.
- INVEST. Nothing grows a health portfolio better than investing in known commodities. Add more raw foods (unprocessed or uncooked) to your diet while reaching for fewer processed foods. Focus on foods high in nutrients you don’t get enough of; most Americans need more iron (dark leafy green vegetables); B12 (wild salmon and clams) and Vitamin D (sun and cod liver oil). Also consider foods known to help with overall health such as fruits and vegetables and even honey which contain antioxidants that help with cell repair.
- MOVE. It’s not revolutionary to recommend exercise. Yes, for heart’s sake, the exercise should be aerobic. But it’s worth noting that some movement is better than none at all, such as short walks a few times a week. Mentally moving also is important: deep-breathing to clear your mind daily or simply turning off computers and mobile devices for a few hours a day.
- SLEEP. It’s worth repeating that sleep is truly the best bet for banking on your health. Adequate sleep is directly linked to good health, from healthy skin and hair to memory and aging. Research showing that adequate sleep can guard against Alzheimer’s disease is overwhelming. Think of getting enough sleep as your brain’s way of flushing out toxins. No one needs to reiterate what happens when you don’t flush.
- MODERATION. Increasing your health currency isn’t about depriving yourself. Instead think of Julia Child’s take on moderation as having your cake and eating it, too,—just not every day. That said, moderation ensures value in your health currency. But you may need to improve your health’s worth before practicing moderation.
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