It's great when you're young, isn't it? You don't feel the need to invest in your health. In fact, you almost certainly took your health for granted: You probably ate all the wrong foods and ate as much as you liked - without gaining much weight.
But as you hit your 40’s, and beyond, this all starts to change and the life choices you've made, previously, start to catch up with you. As time marches on, you may well end up feeling battered, bruised and flattened with pain, disease, weight gain or any number of other health issues and you probably start to think about your health.
Does this sound at all familiar to you?
Do you kid yourself that it will all go away? ..... or get better without doing anything, yourself?
At this stage - and without a hint of deprivation, starvation, or grueling cardio workouts - how would you like to feel like 'a younger version of you'?
It is possible!
But first, here are 10 things to look out for that indicate a very strong need for you to start helping yourself ..... or, at least, to seek out professional help to guide you ..... towards the better health and fitness that you'd like to enjoy.
- You have difficulty falling asleep and/or waking up
Recently, a study was carried out on eleven healthy men in their 20s, who were only allowed 4 hours of sleep a night for six straight nights. At the end of the study, the young men had the insulin sensitivity of a 70-year-old pre-diabetic!
Despite the small sample size in this study, the results are powerfully suggestive. Part of the reason for this linking of eating and sleeping is the body’s cortisol rhythm (a subject that could be a whole blog post, in itself). You just need to know that, if you are not sleeping well, embarking on a course of proper nutrition can solve the problem and restore a good sleep pattern! - Not to mention the fact that your digestion is crucial to your health.
If your eating/sleeping cycle is disrupted, your digestive process will be disrupted, as well. Sleep scheduling and duration affect many endocrine, metabolic, and neurological functions that are critical to the maintenance of individual health.
Sleep disorders are associated with an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Adequate sleep is necessary to fight off infection, to support the metabolism of sugar (and prevent diabetes), to perform well in school or to work effectively and safely.
With lack of sleep, daily life function can suffer as well, including mood swings, cognition, and memory.
Going 24 hours without sleep is similar to performing with a blood alcohol level of 0.10%.
- You are failing your “tests”:
Cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, thyroid levels, and adrenal stress tests can all be indicators that changes in our diet are needed.
After all: Nutrition is the foundation for healthy living.
I think most of us probably know this. However, the challenging part is knowing how to implement changes.
I can relate to this feeling from when I was poorly with IBS. Although we are always told what we should eat and that we should have our 5 or even 7 portions of fruit/vegetables a day, it can still be tricky to implement.
- You have headaches, chronic pain, or frequently get sick.
In today’s stress filled world, having a headache, getting a sore throat, or experiencing back pain is considered as being 'typical'. These things will go unnoticed, be seen as a sign of “working too hard” or seen as being “normal everyday things”.
But this is a misnomer.
Pain and illness (dis-ease) is your body’s way of signaling that something is out of balance. If we ignore the signs our body gives us, the signals will get louder and louder, over time, until they turn in to illness and pain.
If we continue to ignore them, they may go on to become chronic and disruptive in some way - including migraines, recurring infections, and body pain.
The first step to regaining your health is to get your eating/nutrition back on track. Often, when people have chronic pain or illness, it can be remedied very quickly if we focus on self-treatment, which might include things like taking plenty of rest, giving yourself a little TLC, elimination diets, drinking immune boosting raw smoothies, corrective movement, pressure and release, and proper supplementation, where appropriate.
- You never know what to make for dinner and/or eat out often.
The afternoon comes and next thing you know it is time to pick up the kids. Then you get home, and now you have to feed yourself and your family. You are tired and uninspired.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, you probably need a little education on how to implement a plan that is fast and on track.
Americans are eating more foods prepared away from home than ever before and we're going down the same road, here in the UK.
“It takes so much time” is the response I often get when I suggest cooking all your meals from home for 30-days straight (some interesting tips here). However, constantly getting takeout food means spending lots of money and sacrificing your health along with your paycheck.
It is easier than you think!
Quite honestly, once a plan is implemented, you will probably find that it takes less time to cook at home than to go out and pick up something to eat from a takeaway (we usually underestimate the time this takes), not to mention the food that gets wasted along the way.
- You are unhappy with your body image and/or have weight to lose
Good nutrition is vital to successful weight management. In an analysis of 33 clinical trials, researchers determined that diet controls approximately 75% of weight loss (Men’s Health, April 2008). Of course, exercise and movement is vital to weight loss, as well, for a variety of reasons but nutrition is the number 1 principal factor.
If you constantly rely on low-calorie foods or restrictive eating plans to help you slim down, you will only yield poor results that will end up creating hormonal imbalances, slow down your metabolism and intensify food cravings.
It is very important to have proper nutrition, which includes variety, balance, and moderation. I became more aware and in-tune with how my body felt after I ate different macro nutrients and proteins.
Carbohydrates fuel your body but you have to be aware of how your digestive system responds when you eat them. Our bowel movements are a very important factor in our health.
- You are skipping meals everyday and/or crashing at 3 PM
If you find yourself frequently on the go or stressed for time, you may be missing meals. Whether by accident or on purpose, skipping meals is not the best way to lose weight and stay healthy. Skipping meals can promote the development of diabetes, leads to inadequate nutrition and drastically alters the way your body digests food.
If you are overweight or obese and your goal is to lose weight, it is important not to skip meals. You have to keep your metabolism fired up by eating the right foods at the right time of day.
Skipping meals tends to leave you feeling hungry later in the day, at which point, you make up for the lost calories by snacking or eating late in the day. Learning the proper way to fuel your body will completely eliminate the 3 o’clock dip. You’ll come back mentally refreshed and feel more alert.
- You have or have had cancer
Cancer is all around us, these days, and in a recent report from the BBC (click here read the article) it was estimated that the number of people in the UK, who will get cancer during their lifetime, will increase to nearly half the population by 2020.
There is nothing you can do to completely prevent cancer. It has been around since 1600 BC and there is nothing modern about that.
Whether you have a history of cancer in your family, or are currently battling the disease, lifestyle factors, including your diet, can make a huge difference in helping you fight off cancer and if you're unlucky enough to develop cancer, it will help your body to stay strong during the fight, deal better with the side-effects of cancer treatments and help prevent recurrence.
Some foods actually increase your risk of cancer, while others support your body and strengthen your immune system. By making smart food choices, you can protect your health, feel better and boost your ability fight off cancer - and many other diseases.
- You are confused about what is considered "healthy"
There is a lot of conflicting information out there, these days.
- Is dairy-free healthy?
- Should I be gluten-free?
- Is fat good?
If the information has you conflicted, consider yourself completely normal. The average person is somewhat confused as to what constitutes an optimal diet.
One source of this confusion is the overwhelming volume of nutritional information to which we are exposed. It so saturates our culture that even those who are not mildly interested are constantly exposed to it.
A second source of confusion is the fact that so much of the nutritional information we get is contradictory. Why can’t the relevant authorities keep their story straight?
While nutritional science can’t be blamed, in general, for its fragmented progress, individual scientists frequently commit avoidable errors that only make matters worse. More often than you might think, poorly designed nutritional studies and poorly interpreted data lead to false conclusions that end up being corrected, later on. Common problems include small sample sizes, faulty data collection methods, lack of adequate placebo controls and the dismissal of unexpected results.
In some cases, studies are designed or interpreted poorly with full awareness of the researchers, because they want to please the party (often a food industry corporation) funding the study. In other cases, researchers are so eager to see their hypothesis validated that, well, they make it right.
The popular media, aware of the huge public interest for nutritional information, and moving, as they do, much faster than science, frequently build up individual studies, and make it seem as though the scientific understanding of the right way to eat is changing more rapidly than it actually is. Several years ago, you may recall, the media were touting soy as the ultimate super-food. A few years later, they were hyping the dangers of eating too much soy. The truth is somewhere in-between, depending on the individual and the source of the soy.
There will come a day when our growing scientific knowledge of human nutrition will separate fact from fiction. Unfortunately, we have not yet arrived there yet and need to empower ourselves with what feels right to us.
- You have an autoimmune disorder
Not very long ago people had never heard of Celiac, Crohn’s, IBS, or Hashimoto’s. Now, I would imagine, most of you reading this know someone who has struggled with one or more of these chronic health problems - or perhaps you have had your own personal issues? Autoimmune diseases are now affecting more people than breast cancer and heart disease combined!
Toxic elements in our environment, high radiation, stress, hormonal imbalances and more chemicals in our food supply are creating a myriad of “medical mysteries”. When everything goes right, your body’s immune response is a marvelous defence mechanism, protecting against foreign invaders, injury, and infection through a complex communication system between your body’s cells and the chemical signals they produce.
In a healthy immune system, this communication is clear and specific and the body can tell the difference between a foreigner and itself. But in autoimmune disease, the immune response is flawed and the communication system breaks down. The body’s immune system takes aim at its own tissues.
Either the immune system can’t distinguish the body’s tissues from foreign cells and begins to attack itself or it’s unable to regulate the intensity of the immune response. Regardless of the response, the result is damage to the body’s tissues and the development of an autoimmune disease.
While it can be frustrating, you can create an effective protocol for autoimmune disorders that will reduce inflammation, minimize symptoms, enhance energy and activity levels, decrease overall body weight (therefore reducing inflammation in the body) and prevent other diseases from popping up.
- You think if it is good for you, it won’t taste good or it is too expensive
One of the biggest reasons people don’t eat healthily was reflected in a recent poll, where 4 out of 10 shoppers admitted to holding the belief that healthy food doesn't taste very good. The numbers are even worse for enthusiasts of fast foods.
The truth is, if your food doesn’t taste very good, it's highly likely that you’re not preparing it correctly. Although, in a small proportion of cases, where individuals have primarily eaten fast foods over a long period of time, it has been know for them to alter their sense of taste so much, that they don't accurately taste what they are eating.
Just because something is good for you doesn’t mean it has to taste bad, boring, or completely gross.
Manufacturers would like you to think that if you want to eat healthily you’ll need to pay more. While this is certainly true for many prepared products and restaurant meals, if you do your own cooking you can actually save money and reclaim your health.
Yes, you will need to spend more time in the kitchen, but if you work together and efficiently, you may actually start to enjoy this as a family activity or creative outlet.
The money and time invested in your health, now, will be more than made up for in your later years with enjoyment and participation in your life!
So, the next time you have a meal, think about what vitamins or minerals it may have that will benefit your body. Or the next time you go shopping, think about what ready-made foods you could replace with something a little healthier.
It is also very important to read labels. That way you know exactly what you are getting and it may come as a surprise to you (or a shock!) when you come to know some of the ingredients contained in many of the pre-prepared food products you buy.
So, food for thought!
Bringing healing, health and harmony in to your world