New Year, New You!
7 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health in 2009
Kick off the new year with these healthy habits
-Dr. Elizabeth Korza, Elephant Pharmacy
Welcome to Betty’s New Year, New You Series! All month long we’ll be bringing you a series of informative, inspiring and motivational articles – from health to relationships, from career to beauty and style – all geared toward making your 2009 your BEST YEAR YET!
What better way to start than by making your health your number one priority?
Here are seven natural steps to help you kick of the new year on a very healthy foot:
1. Boost your Vitamin D levels. Despite its importance in helping to prevent osteoporosis and a growing number of cancers, the majority of us are deficient in Vitamin D. A simple blood test can evaluate your status and supplementation is remarkably safe. Be sure to either take your supplement with a source of fat (Vitamin D requires fat for absorption) or in an oil-based form.
2. A spoon full of sugar? Not quite. How about a spoon full of cod liver oil? Rich in omega 3’s, Vitamin D and Vitamin A, cod liver oil is a remarkable supplement to take this winter. Cod liver oil? Doesn’t it taste disgusting? Actually, a good quality supplement will taste pleasantly like oil and not like fish. Try lemon flavored and be surprised at the refreshing lemony oil taste.
3. Get your thyroid checked. Year after year many of us put weight loss at the top of our new year’s resolutions. Your thyroid gland regulates the rate at which you can burn calories. If it is slow, you can diet all you want and never attain your desired weight loss goals. Ask your doctor to test TSH, free T4 and free T3 (all different stages in thyroid hormone production). Be sure that the lab is using the new values for TSH as recommended by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists to ensure the most accurate interpretation.
4. Eat broccoli every day. Broccoli belongs to a family of vegetables that also includes cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, radish, turnips and rutabagas. All of these vegetables are incredible rich in a wide range of nutrients essential to balancing hormone levels. Having the proper balance of hormones is crucial to reducing your risk of ovarian, uterine and breast cancers. Enjoy small amounts of cabbage and radishes raw, but at least lightly steam all the other members before you eat them.
5. Take millions and millions of probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that line our digestive tract. They are incredibly important in regulating our digestion as well as our hormonal and immune systems. These bacteria also produce vitamins and help our body to detoxify. There literally are millions and millions of them inside of us and they need to be replenished on a daily basis. Find a probiotic supplement that provides 10-30 million live bacteria per capsule. Lots of debate exists around when we should take probiotics: with food or without. These bacteria come to us naturally on the surface of our food so my vote is to take them with a meal. Which products actually have live bacteria on the date of purchase? Call the company and ask for a copy of the independent quality control evaluation (known as an assay). Not available or not done? Find a different product.
6. Eat more vegetables. Vegetables are an important source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, water and much more. Slowly increase your vegetable intake over the course of few weeks until you are eating 6-8 servings of vegetables every day. What’s a serving? 1 cup raw vegetables or a half cup cooked vegetables. Try to eat a rainbow of colors every day and fill at least a half of your plate with these vibrant vegetables every time you eat.
7. Move your body every day. Yes, parking farther away from your destination really can make a difference! Do everything in your power to move your body more and to move it every day. Exercise is crucial for preventing heart disease, reducing your risk for certain cancers, helping stave off diabetes, loosing weight, keeping your thyroid functioning optimally, reducing stress and much more. If you can actually exercise, commit to 30 minutes every day and balance cardiovascular workouts with strength training workouts. If you can’t make it to the gym, then take the stairs, walk farther, buy ankle weights, carry a heavier back pack – do something to increase your heart rate every day.
Dr. Elizabeth Korza is licensed as a primary care, Naturopathic Medical Doctor. Her practice at the Berkeley Integrative and Naturopathic Medical Group focuses primarily on issues related to women’s health including gynecology, endocrinology, fertility, gastroenterology and chronic disease, as well as preventative medicine.