March 3, 2020
Spring has sprung in North Texas! The birds are out, flowers are up, and there has never been a better time to get healthy. Getting healthy isn’t rocket science, but it can be a lot of work.
Small changes to your daily habits are a good place to start. Staying healthy can help prevent and manage chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and help you feel better every day.
Here are five tips to help people feel their best every day from Kerry Gamble, Health Services of North Texas’ family nurse practitioner. Learn more about Kerry, her work experience, education, and passion for helping people live healthier lives.
1. Eat Mostly Plants
Cooking good food for yourself and your family is the best thing you can do for your health. Fast foods were designed in a laboratory to be addictive and they are! They are full of salt, bad fats, and chemicals that leave us feeling tired and sluggish. Studies have shown that people who eat more plants in their diet live longer than those who don’t. We recommend people follow the Mediterranean diet. We should eat plenty of vegetables, especially leafy green veggies like spinach and collards, good fats like extra virgin olive oil, and lean protein like white meat chicken, and fish. This diet is associated with a decreased risk of cancer, better blood sugar, less depression, and anxiety, and it is delicious. Start slowly by incorporating one vegetable into every meal and switching your oil to olive oil.
2. Drink Mostly Water
Sugar heavy drinks, like soda, energy drinks, and sweet tea, don’t fill us up, add to our belly fat, and can cause problems with our livers! Drinking even one diet soda a day gives us a sweet tooth for other super sweet things. Many of us crave a treat during the day and it’s important to be mindful about why we’re reaching for that soda. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Bored? Find a replacement drink that you find enjoyable, like seltzer, brewed coffee, tea, or plain water with cucumber or lemon. I recommend brewing your own herbal tea and putting it in the refrigerator to drink throughout the day so you have a delicious treat when you get the urge.
3. Sleep Well
Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, so getting plenty of good quality sleep is essential to our good health. Many people suffer from issues with sleep, whether it is having a hard time falling asleep, waking up throughout the night, or not feeling rested when they wake up. One thing that affects a lot of us is caffeine use during the day. Caffeine can last in your body for up to seven hours and tends to last longer as we get older. If you struggle to fall asleep, cut back on your caffeine throughout the day and never drink it after noon.
Good sleep is important. If you’re consistently having issues with your sleep, make an appointment to come talk with us about it!
4. Exercise in Green Spaces
Moving our bodies is important for our health, our moods, and our sleep. The most important thing to do to help yourself move more is to do something you actually like doing. Riding a bike, playing basketball, rock climbing, or walking are all great options. Small daily changes to increase your movement will prevent injury, help you lose weight, sleep better, and feel better. As an added bonus, spending time in nature, like parks, has been shown to increase calm and decrease anxiety. We’re lucky in North Texas to have many parks with nature trails and spring is the perfect time to explore them.
5. Be Passionate
As the poet Mary Oliver wrote,
“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
It’s rarely a question that comes up in a primary care appointment, but it should. Living with purpose helps us weather life’s storms. Find something you love to do and do it with others to live a long and fulfilling life. Join a club, go to a class, learn a new skill, or give back to the community. Learning something new helps prevent dementia and gives your self-esteem a boost. Learning new things with others helps you connect in real ways over shared interests. Make time for more experiences and more fun and you will find you have more resilience and more energy.