How do you define health? Do you look at it as a singular thing?
Can you pinpoint what makes a person “healthy?” It’s easy to define health and wellness as an individual thing, but there are a ton of different factors that go into each.
Health is made up of dozens of variables including diet, exercise, mental health, sleep, stress, and water intake just to name a few things.
If you’re trying to get as healthy as possible, it’s not as much about what you add into your lifestyle, as what you eliminate from it.
Before you make any new changes, get rid of these 6 things to set yourself up for the best health possible.
This is probably the best thing overall you can do. White refined sugar is one of the biggest curses of our time.
The rates of obesity and diabetes that have arisen over the years are staggering, and sugar may be right at the forefront in creating havoc in the body.
Its most detrimental form is in high fructose corn syrup.
This is taking a natural substance (fructose), refining it, and concentrating it into extraction that the body does not recognize and has trouble processing.
High fructose corn syrup was invented in the late 50s and introduced in the early 70s as a substitute for fat during the low-fat craze.
Trade restrictions were making sugar more expensive, and corn was cheap and plentiful.
High fructose corn syrup was something that could give lost texture and flavor to food. It also had a longer shelf life and was cheaper to produce than using those high tariff/imported cane sugars.
Sugars spike blood sugar which can lead to body fat storage as sugar that is not used by the body may be converted to body fat by insulin.
Over time, this constant insulin release may lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.
2. Trans Fats
Trans fats are also known as ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on ingredient lists — but are now classified as trans fats.
Trans fats are things like vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated, so they remain solid at room temperature. They also provide more flavor and texture to foods.
Trans fats have been around for quite a while, most notably in 1909 when Procter & Gamble patented and gained the new technology of hydrogenation.
In 1911 they introduced Crisco to the market. They made Crisco from cottonseed oil and is where the name Crisco comes from: “crystallized cottonseed oil.”
However, studies into trans fat correlation with cancer didn’t start until the 1940s. It was not until 1988 when a connection was made to coronary heart disease.
In the mid-90s, trans fats were causing 30,000 deaths a year from heart disease. The USDA continued to promote trans fats all the way until 2005.
In 2006 they estimated that that death count was approaching 100,000 a year.
The problem with these fats is they are unfamiliar to your body and may turn into sludge in your arteries.
Trans fats can possibly lead to coronary heart disease and may increase the risk of:
- Alzheimer's disease
- liver dysfunction
- infertility in woman
Trans fat has no place in the human diet. The problem is, they can hide it in a lot of things — especially processed foods.
Be careful reading labels because it’s a good bet you can find trans fats in the following “foods.”
- cookies, crackers, cakes, pie crusts, pizza doughs, and some bread
- various margarine and shortening
- pre mixed items such as cake and pancake mixes
- pretty much all fried foods
- microwave and movie popcorn
- frozen/packaged dinners
3. A Lack of Exercise
If you’re part of a gym and already exercising or playing recreational sports; perfect.
If not, this is the time to get out there and get moving — and it doesn’t have to cost you a thing.
Exercise is free. Whether it’s walking, hiking, biking, jogging, running stairs, swimming, rollerblading, etc. You can do a burpee or pushup anywhere.
A gym or workout equipment in the home definitely makes it easier, but if you’ve been inactive for a while, now is the time to start moving.
And don’t worry if you feel you are not ready for a gym yet.
If you follow an exercise program, try to do at least what you did during the workout before with a bit extra. Did you do 11 reps on an exercise? Try for 12 the next time.
Did you run 25:30? Try for 26 minutes next time.
Just allow your body to progress slowly but surely.
Exercising is key to providing us tremendous health benefits, and here are just a few of them:
- weight control
- increases HDL and lower triglycerides
- mood enhancement
- increased bone density
- boosts energy along with enhanced cardiovascular function
- promotes better sleep
- stronger joints, ligaments, and muscles
This list can just keep going, but I want to show you some significant effects.
If you haven’t been active, make sure you consult with your doctor to make sure you’re ready to exercise.
But just 30 minutes 3–4 times a week can help you get the benefits listed above.
People complicate exercise too much, it can get more specific and advanced, but if you’re new to getting healthy, just remember to move.
Gluten is everywhere, literally and figuratively. So here’s a quick rundown to sum it all up:
Gluten is a sticky protein found in the seeds of grass — aka grains. It's primarily in wheat, barley, and rye, but wheat is the form most everyone encounters daily.
Gluten makes bread fluffy and dough stretchy.
Ancient wheat — the wheat of the bible, or even what your grand and great grandparents used — differs vastly from the wheat of today.
Today’s wheat has been hybridized and genetically modified so that an original strain of wheat that contained 14 chromosomes now has 42.
They genetically altered modern wheat in the 1960s, so it was possible to grow even more of it in the same space.
They did this out of noble intentions, as there was the threat of hunger issues because of an alarmingly increasing world population.
This new form of high yield wheat — which makes up 99% of the wheat you can purchase — has a MUCH higher gluten content.
It is this higher gluten content that may have led to a 4 fold increase of celiac disease over the last 60 years, and increasingly high rates of gluten sensitivity.
Gluten can lead to the breakdown of the intestinal walls, which may lead to things like celiac disease and autoimmunity.
Autoimmunity is when the body has got used to attacking foreign particles (such as gluten) but has then turned on itself. It mistakes its own tissue for that of the invader it has become used to fighting off.
This can lead to issues like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues, and celiac disease itself.
Wheat and gluten have also shown to have addictive properties, which is why you crave it under times of stress in the form of comfort food.
Gluten may also block the absorption of nutrients, stimulate appetite, and spike blood sugar. This leads to crashes and cravings for more carbohydrates and sugar.
One must not confuse whole wheat bread, or whole-grain bread, with actual physical grains. When you are eating bread, you are eating pulverized ground flour.
This flour is digested rapidly by the body, causing blood sugar to rise and then eventually fall.
5. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame is the most recognized artificial sweetener, but artificial sweeteners exist as many brands and varieties, including
- Sweet N’ Low
- Sweet Twin
- Sugar Twin
- Sweet One
So what does an artificial sweetener do in the body? With Aspartame, they make it up of ingredients that include methanol.
That converts to formaldehyde in the body, which may have links to retinal damage and birth defects.
The combination of these ingredients acts as ‘excitotoxins’ in the body and may cause potential nerve damage in the brain.
There may also be connections to long-term illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, brain lesions, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.
Simply put, an artificial sweetener is a chemical creation unrecognized by the body and capable of creating some concerning issues.
When it comes to weight loss, that diet drink you reach for may cause additional harm.
When your body consumes an artificial sweetener, the sweet taste signals that some amount of calories are on the way.
When your body doesn't get these calories, it craves what it feels it was teased with.
This can lead to carbohydrate and sugar cravings which can cause havoc in your weight loss pursuits.
Artificial sweeteners also have addictive properties and lead to craving another diet drink not long after consuming one.
Put all this together and you have a vicious cycle of addiction and cravings that go round and round.
At the moment, 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and the American Medical Association observes that stress causes 60% of all illnesses and disease.
Stress makes up a huge part of our lives, and it has developed over the centuries. Stress thousands of years ago would be from not having adequate shelter. Today it’s societal and psychological issues.
Stress today ranges from significant to trivial — but it all has the same effects in your body.
There are good kinds of stress, such as the type that keeps you alert and helps you avoid danger.
Then there is the stress that continually challenges us without allowing breaks or relaxation in between.
What is stress?
Stress is how your body reacts to potentially harmful situations, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s real or perceived stress — your body reacts the same way.
Your body releases chemicals and hormones that are helping prevent injury or trauma: aka your fight-or-flight response.
This is helpful for jumping out of the way of a car running a red light, but gradual, long-term stress can have some serious effects on the body.
Ready for a long list? Here it goes…
- headaches & dizziness
- irritability and anger
- panic disorders
- grinding teeth and tension in the jaw
- increased heart rate
- heart disease
- Diabetes type I & II
- digestive disorders
- upset stomach
- weight gain and obesity
- muscle tension
- lack of energy
- immune system dysfunction
It’s clear stress is something we need to eliminate, but how?
3 things that put stress on the body are:
- Your environment
- Your body
- Your thoughts
Psychologists say one of the first things you need to do when dealing with stress is to find out where the stress is coming from. This allows you to decide what stress is in or out of your control.
Getting into the mind frame of realizing that some things are out of your control can put you at ease.
This mindset can make a world of difference according to the American Heart Association. They state that changing your thought process can have real stress management benefits.
Getting in the habit of saying “I can’t do this” to “I’ll do the best I can” can set you up for success.
Other mindset changes can be telling yourself you can handle things by taking it one step at a time instead of “everything is going wrong.”
Here are 5 Practical Things You Can Do to Cope With Stress
- count to ten before reacting
- deep breathing- inhale for a count of 4, hold it for a 2 count and slowly exhale- repeat 4–5 times
- long walks/exercise are incredibly effective
- Don’t be afraid to vent to someone willing to listen
- SLEEP- sleeping helps metabolize those stress hormones. So do not deprive yourself during times of stress, in fact, make it a point to get even more sleep.
Wrapping it Up
Before you add in things in the pursuit of getting healthy, make sure you remove those things that are causing you to stumble.
Some you might know, while others from this list might lurk in the shadows.
The fact is, the sooner you eliminate what could impede your health, the sooner you get control of it.