5 Simple Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Health

1.  Drink Lemon Water. Start the day with warm water and lemon juice (from ¼ lemon). Even though it is acidic, once digested, lemon juice has an alkalinizing effect on the body and blood. Acidic blood is vulnerable to disease; alkaline blood allows the body to heal. Lemon water can relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, bloating, gas, and cramping. Drinking lemon water regularly can aid in cleansing the bowels and stimulate the elimination of toxins and waste products in your liver, helping to purify your digestive system. Add lemon juice to room temperature or warm water rather than very cold water, which can shock your stomach when you drink it.

2.  Fast for 12 Hours a Day. At first glance, this might sound really difficult, but simply means not eating from a few hours before bedtime until breakfast. So, for example, not eating from 8:00 pm until 8:00 am. That doesn’t sound too hard. Giving your body a break for those 12 hours can help you live longer. Twelve-hour fasts can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and increase both HDL “good cholesterol” and beta-hyroxyburyrate, a brain-protective chemical. Twelve-hour fasts give the brain a chance to fight the chemical byproducts of stress and also trim down the figure by decreasing bloat and swelling.

3.  Chew Well and Eat Slowly. As Marilu Henner says, “your stomach doesn’t have teeth!” Chewing is one secret to a long, healthy life. Digestion actually starts in the mouth, especially for carbohydrates. When you chew, you incorporate alkaline saliva. Thorough chewing can help with weight loss, improve your health, and allow your body to get more nutrition from your food. The goal is to chew your foods so thoroughly that you can no longer identify what the food is, based on its texture. Eating slowly gives your brain a chance to realize you are full so you will actually eat less. You should even chew soft food like yogurt. At least one meal per day, sit down, slow down, and chew. Take the time to savor the colors, flavors, and textures of food and enjoy the health benefits of chewing.

4.  Sleep. Your body heals itself while you sleep. Your body produces extra protein molecules while you’re sleeping that helps fight infection and mend your body at a cellular level. Sleep helps reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in your body and can help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that control your appetite. When your body is deprived of sleep, normal hormone balances are interrupted and your appetite increases. For adults, 7-8 hours is ideal. Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule and create a bedroom environment that promotes relaxation. TV, computers and cell phones can be too stimulating close to bedtime. Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice the health benefits as the hours after midnight.

 5.  Walk. The benefits to this simple exercise are endless. Walking can help you lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, raise HDL “good” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of or manage type 2 diabetes, manage weight, improve your mood, and stay strong and fit. Regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise. It helps protect the brain by increasing blood circulation and the flow of oxygen and glucose to your brain. Walking boosts cardiovascular fitness and can increase longevity.  All it takes to reap these benefits is a routine of brisk walking—aim for 30 minutes a day.  

And the best part is that these 5 simple steps that can positively affect your health are FREE (with the exception of a few lemons.) So why not try one of these steps for a week? And maybe add another each week? Before you know it, you will have some very healthy habits.

 Here’s an easy, tasty recipes for you to practice your chewing skills!

 Marinated Black-Eyed Pea Salad

-2  15-ounce cans black-eyed peas (make sure no chemical preservatives–organic is best)
-2 carrots, diced small
-1/2 – 1 cup red onion, finely diced
-1 clove garlic, peeled
-Optional: 1 cup greens, like kale or collard greens (leaves chopped/stems sliced very thin)
-1/4 cup pure maple syrup (organic grade B is my favorite)
-1/2 cup vinegar (like red wine, brown rice, umeboshi, apple cider)
-2 teaspoon natural vegetable oil
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)

    Rinse and drain black-eyed peas. Place in a medium bowl along with carrot, red onion, and greens. Cut the garlic clove in half, stick a wooden toothpick through and add to the bowl.
    In a small bowl, add maple syrup, vinegar, oil, sea salt, and hot sauce and whisk dressing until well-combined. Add dressing to bowl of vegetables and toss lightly to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours, stirring every few hours. Remove the toothpick and garlic before serving. Enjoy!

 I hope you have a healthy day!

 Jill

 “Having good health is very different from only being not sick.” – Seneca The Younger, 50 AD