1. Eat breakfast. How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It is, especially if you have low energy, headaches, and are stressed. What you eat for breakfast is important. Skip products made with white flour and white sugar – they will make you tired and more stressed. Make sure that you eat some form of protein – eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, leftover supper, protein smoothie, etc.
2. Stay regular. Many health problems begin in the colon. Constipation is epidemic in America due to the processed nature of the typical diet. There are many natural solutions for constipation. One of the least well known is magnesium, which helps hydrate the colon and encourage regularity.
3. Take in at least 25 grams of fiber per day (you really need 30-40 grams, but you’ve got to start somewhere). This relates to #2 – however, fiber isn’t just a factor in regularity. Fiber is important for overall health. It helps absorb and carry waste such as excess cholesterol out of the body. It helps keep the colon healthy and reduce the incidence of diverticulitis. Read labels and add up the amount of fiber in your typical diet. If you are not close to 25 grams daily, supplement and/or change your diet.
4. Drink water – not coffee, tea, sodas, sports drinks, etc. Water is the only effective liquid for properly hydrating the body. When it is combined with coffee, tea, sugar, etc., it loses its ability to hydrate the body. The average adult body uses between 2 and 3 quarts daily. Most adults need to drink at least 2 quarts per day at a minimum. Note: Drink water without chlorine, a known carcinogen that disrupts the balance of beneficial flora in our intestines.
5. Eat a salad or other raw vegetables at least once per day. Our bodies need the alkaline forming minerals from raw veggies to help us metabolize protein from meat and dairy.
6. Take a digestive enzyme. Our bodies have a limited ability to make enzymes which are necessary for many metabolic functions, not just digestion. The amount of cooked and processed foods that we eat exhausts our limited enzyme supply and causes our metabolic processes to malfunction which, over time leads to health problems.
7. Fast and/or cleanse periodically. Your body will thank you. Cleansing and/or fasting helps our organs and glands function better by removing accumulated toxins. There are many conditions that can be alleviated by periodic cleaning. There are many kinds of fasts and cleanses. Some are for the whole body and some are for specific organs and glands such as liver, kidney, etc.
8. Identify food sensitivities and avoid those foods. This will solve many health problems over the long run. Food sensitivities contribute to digestive problems, arthritis, allergies, diabetes and many other conditions. Everyone has food sensitivities. The most common are white flour, white sugar, white potatoes, coffee, sodas and peanuts.
9. Avoid chemicals and processed foods. One of my favorite book titles is “If God Didn’t Make It, Don’t Eat It”. Although I’ve never read this book, it makes me think about all kinds of “foods” that just aren’t natural. Read labels. If there is a paragraph of ingredients with long chemical names that you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it. Opt for things that don’t require labeling – like an apple (organic if possible).
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas