Essential Health Habits
Drink enough water
Our bodies don’t tell us to drink until we are significantly dehydrated. This hampers your physical performance and leads to all sorts of illness.. You should drink enough to keep your urine close to clear. The “official” Mayo Clinic recommendation is to take your weight in lbs, divide by 2, and that equals the number of ounces of water you should drink every day. Of course, if it is hot, or you exercise, you need to make up for the additional fluid loss. Don’t forget to make that clean water with the chlorine filtered out!
Exercise (almost!) every day
Our bodies need lots of physical activity to work well. The exercise should be vigorous. Most research indicates that it takes an average of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day to get most of the benefit that exercise can give you. A little bit is a little good. What kind of aerobic exercise is the best? Well, whatever you like is best, because you don’t get any extra points for being unhappy. Just get out there and get your heart rate up. Remember to include muscle strengthening and stretching in your physical conditioning program.
The foods you choose make you healthy and energetic, or droopy and ill. Choose a variety of fresh whole foods, and prepare them so that they look and taste good. Animal source foods really should be organic (as should everything else that you can afford). Stay away from the genetically-modified food experiment in which most Americans are presently involuntary test subjects. Your mother was right – eat your vegetables. Learn more about diet and nutrition.
Take your supplements
Unfortunately, the limited variety of foods we eat either by choice or due to limited availability do not give us all of the nutrients we need. Did you know that those cute little chimpanzees living in the jungle get over 600 mg of vitamin C a day from the leaves they eat? Generally, domesticated foods are anemic in their content of nutrients. Use moderate amounts of good supplements as a safety net. Learn more about Dr. Carlston’s proprietary formulation of vitamins with probiotics.
Avoid the things that make you sick
Remember that certain activities not only don’t help you, they damage your health. Be aware of the chemicals to which you are exposed and to do your best to limit those exposures. Tobacco use, environmental chemical exposures, and drug/alcohol abuse all have powerfully harmful effects.
Broadening the view, you can help yourself a lot by learning how what you do effects how you feel. For example, research shows that men who have one alcoholic beverage a day live longer than men who do not drink at all. However, everyone is different and if you have alcoholism in your family it might not be good for you to drink hoping to improving your health. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Take everything we experts tell you about you with a grain of salt.
Get enough sleep
One of the adverse consequences of the invention of the light bulb was making it easier for us to stay up as late as we want, instead of getting the sleep we need. Then, instead of leaving bad enough alone, we developed all of these wonderful electronic distractions to fill up the extra time. Those distractions mean we lay down to rest with our brains jangling, and then, (surprise!) we cannot sleep very well. Do your best to live your life so that you can sleep peacefully.
If you are a teenager suffering because you can’t get enough sleep to be healthy, because you live in a society that refuses to start school as late as most of you need, you have my sympathy. Keep fighting to get it changed.
Be a part of your community
We are all part of small and large communities. These relationships and environments affect our health in many ways. Did you know that research shows that the people with the most friends get sick least often? We have a responsibility to each other to help out the less fortunate among us.
Maybe the greatest gifts my 35 years of soccer have given me are the friendships with people from all over the world with an amazing variety of backgrounds. As we all appear to have our share of significant imperfections, tolerance and humility would seem to be important qualities that can help us all get along.
Enjoy a healthy sex life
Human beings are pre-wired with certain behavioral drives. Breathing, eating and sleeping are the other biologically compelling functions. Sexuality defines us in many ways, especially in the nature of our relationships with other people. It is a robust energy that brings challenges and pleasures, sometimes simultaneously. Healthy sexuality, expressed or sublimated but not suppressed, is one essential aspect of a healthy human being.
Have a purpose/spirituality in your life
This is a very sensitive topic, as it is intensely personal and so important to so many of us. Despite the potential for controversy, it would be a mistake to ignore research supporting the widely-held view that those who have a larger perspective and purpose in life are healthier and often happier. One of my favorite teachers in medical school spoke on a variety of unusual topics, including lecturing on prayer for atheists. Although he considered himself an agnostic sliding into atheism, he accepted the clear benefit of recognizing the smallness of our individual roles in the world. Believing in something is good, although putting all your faith in the stock market is probably not a good idea.
Remember…attitude is EVERYTHING!
One of the greatest blessings in being a doctor is learning from the experiences of patients. Again and again I am impressed by the resilience of the human spirit and the power we have to turn difficulties into opportunities for emotional growth. Some of us have more difficult paths, but we all face the challenge of responding to the best of our ability, working to uplift those around us instead of dragging them (and ourselves) down.
© 2018, Michael Carlston, M.D. All rights reserved.
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