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Pick Up a Couple of Healthy Habits this New Year.

By: Kathy Hubbard

Someone once said it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to make it part of your lifestyle. So, here’s the deal. If you start creating good habits today, they’ll be as much a part of your daily life as brushing your teeth before Easter! Good idea? Let’s talk about some healthy habits that just might work for you.

Start with what you drink, as in more water and fewer sugary drinks. Healthline says that several studies credit sugar-sweetened beverages for increasing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, even in people who are not overweight.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are also uniquely harmful for children, as they can contribute not only to obesity in children but also to conditions that usually do not develop until adulthood, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”

As we all know, staying hydrated is important because it ensures that your body is functioning optimally and that your blood volume is sufficient. It has no calories or additives. It’s really good for you.

So good, in fact, a registered holistic nutritionist who’s written several books on nutrition, Stephanie Kay, says that we should drink a glass of water as soon as we wake up in the morning. Yep, that’s even before your morning coffee.

“Not only is it refreshing, but it can help to hydrate the body while aiding digestion and metabolism at the same time,” she says.

Another great habit to acquire is to spend time outdoors every day. “Getting fresh air on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to improve your overall health. Exposure to the sun enables the body to produce vitamin D, which has been shown to have many essential functions in the body,” Ray said.

Healthline says, “Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels can help to optimize your health by improving bone strength, reducing symptoms of depression, strengthening your immune system, and lowering your risk for cancer.”

A simple blood test can check your vitamin D levels. Talk to your primary care provider to determine if you may need to take supplements.

As far as exercise goes, Kay says we need to make time for movement. She says, “It is imperative that you find some form of movement that you enjoy and make time for it on a daily basis.”

She also touts the benefits of walking. “Not only does walking improve fitness, and cardiovascular markers and help to prevent weight gain, but it has also been shown to improve posture, mood, circulation, the risk for chronic disease, as well as alleviate fatigue and depression.”

Healthline recommends working out with weights. If you don’t have them, you can use your own bodyweight or resistance bands to get a comparable workout.

Do you know what I’m going to say about your diet? Yeah. Eat more fruit and vegetables and less processed foods. Avoid processed sugar. The World Health Organization says to slash added sugars to five percent or less of your daily calories.

Be sure to have plenty of lean protein in your diet. However, avoid eating burnt or charred meat; it can lead to the formation of harmful compounds and increase your risk of cancer. Eat fatty fish. Eggs are good for you. And, if you keep your intake of coffee to less than four cups – without cream and sugar – it can be beneficial in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, among other illnesses.

Ray suggests always eating while sitting down. “Not only does the act of sitting down help to ensure that we are not mindlessly eating in front of the pantry, but eating while sitting down helps to support digestion.”

She also says that taking time to cook is “one of the greatest gifts you can give to your health. Not only does cooking help to control the quality of the food that you eat, but it helps to create more appreciation for your food and a connection to it.”

Give yourself the gift of a new habit, and have a very happy New Year. Oh, and while I have your attention, please let me know what health-related topics you’d like me to write about in 2024. My email address is below.

Kathy Hubbard is a member of the Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com. This article was written for publication in the Bonner County Daily Bee on December 27, 2023.

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