While these holidays may not have looked like any other before, many people see the end of the year as a fresh start – a renewed opportunity to break old habits and focus on what’s important. For some, this means making a list of promises or resolutions, detailing the good practices they want to carry over to the next year or the new habits or goals they want to achieve over the next 12 months. However, many others, aware of how prone people are to abandon them (more than eighty percent over the first 30 days, research suggests!), choose to skip the tradition altogether.
But whatever you decide to do, the end of the year is always a good time to look at what’s going on in our lives, especially given everything that has happened this year. Now may be a good time to evaluate what’s going on around us and consider how it has impacted us so that we can make adjustments and move towards what matters to us. To help you get started, here are six simple health habits that you can easily adopt in 2021.
Build a Resilient Immune System
Over the past year, we’ve been presented daily with evidence of the immune system’s amazing strengths and also heartbreaking vulnerabilities. Now is the time to take a proactive role in your health to build and maintain a strong immune system, starting with getting quality sleep. Deep restorative sleep is where your body’s internal systems regenerate themselves. We can’t say it enough… Establishing healthy sleep patterns is the most powerful tool you have to maintain good health and EXTEND YOUR LIFE. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar, and taking an immune-boosting supplement containing ingredients at the proper doses (shown to be effective in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies) will go along way to helping you build a resilient immune system. Remember, your immune system is what stands between you and your fight against disease and infection. (Download our free sleep e-book for tips to fall asleep faster, reach deep sleep, and stay asleep longer)
“Being present” is not just another catchphrase or meaningless buzzword. It is about paying attention to our day-to-day activities instead of rushing through life mindlessly. Research shows that being more mindful and present rather than worrying about things that happened in the past or might occur in the future may improve life satisfaction and increase happiness.
Some easy ways to be more present can be taking a few minutes every day to do a guided meditation, writing in a journal, stretching, or going for a walk and noticing the environment around you.
Get more fresh air
Since we have spent most of 2020 cooped up inside, we are all eager to go out and enjoy the great outdoors as soon as we can. Fresh air contains higher levels of oxygen and lower pollution levels, which helps dilate blood vessels in the lungs and promotes cellular and tissue reparation in the airways. Fresh air can help your immune system fight off disease more effectively due to healthier white blood cells. It also supplies your immune system with the oxygen it needs to kill and destroy bacteria, viruses, and germs. Fresh air is good for the heart and will help you heal faster. Breathing stale, polluted, or recirculated air makes our bodies have to work harder to get the oxygen they need to rejuvenate our bodies and minds.
Spending time outdoors – especially in green spaces – has also been associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders. A 2019 meta-analysis of studies comparing indoor and outdoor exercise found that just a few minutes of exercising outdoors in a green space resulted in improved mood and better self-esteem.
Take care of your teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly not only prevents bad breath and cavities. A growing body of evidence suggests that gum disease, which is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene, may be associated with severe health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Visiting your dentist at least every six months is also important to catch potential problems early and save yourself the literal and metaphorical pain of an emergency dental procedure.
Try a new way of eating
In January, the Mediterranean diet was named the best overall diet for health and wellness for the third time in a row.
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan based on traditional foods from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Spain, and Italy. It involves plenty of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, kale, and cucumbers, among others, always emphasizing color and variety. Fatty fish like sardines and salmon make up a significant portion of the diet’s protein intake. Whole grains, like quinoa, brown rice, oats, should be consumed daily in moderation. Red meats should be eaten only rarely, and highly processed foods should be avoided.
Some science-backed health benefits of the Mediterranean diet include:
- Reducing inflammation
- May reduce the risk for heart disease
- May help lose weight and maintaining it
- May protect against type 2 diabetes
- May help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
- May help delay cognitive decline
Cut back on soft drinks and diet drinks
Some studies have linked soft drink consumption with neurological problems, including an increased risk for dementia and stroke. In fact, a study published in 2017 in the journal Stroke suggested that drinking even one soft drink a day may triple a person’s risk of developing dementia.
Unfortunately, diet soda may not be a better alternative. A new study found that artificially sweetened drinks may be just as harmful to cardiovascular health as sugar-sweetened sodas. And if these risks aren’t enough to put down the soda, consider these benefits of cutting back on soft and diet drinks:
- Fewer headaches and migraines
- More sanative taste buds
- Healthier relationship towards food
- Improved kidney function
- Whiter teeth
- Decreased cardiovascular disease risk
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can have big payoffs when it comes to your health and happiness.
Best wishes from all of us at Akeso Health Sciences, for a safe, happy, and healthy new year.
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