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Habits for Healing

Supplements and strategies to reach your health goals

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There are certain fundamental steps that are needed to reach any goals. Most of us know these things, but a reminder is sometimes necessary to get us back on track.

These essential strategies—eating a healthy diet rich in colourful produce; exercising; getting plenty of sleep; drinking plenty of pure water; reducing harmful foods such as fast food, fried food, and processed food; and eliminating habits that sabotage your best efforts, such as smoking and excessive drinking or eating—form the foundation for other health goals.

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Improve brain and mental health

Nutrition and lifestyle choices play a large role in the health of your brain and your mental health.

·         Following the Mediterranean diet—rich in fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains, as well as fish, poultry, and eggs—is linked to a reduction in the risk of cognitive decline and depression.

·         Supplementing with saffron may help protect the brain from memory loss.

·         Drinking green tea may help reduce the formation of harmful amyloid-B plaques in the brain, believed to be a causal factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

·         Exercising improves memory, so head out for a brisk walk on your lunch break, hit the gym after work, or pick another activity that suits your interest and lifestyle.

·         Adding mushrooms to your diet at least twice a week may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

·         Supplementing with vitamin D3, if deficient, may significantly improve cognitive performance.

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Boost cardiovascular health

Not surprisingly, the journey toward cardiovascular health also involves following healthy diet and lifestyle habits.

·         Engaging in regular activity—defined as moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activities with an accumulation of at least 150 minutes per week and muscle-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week.

·         Following a Mediterranean diet is linked to a reduction in stroke risk.

·         Drinking two to three cups of green tea on a regular basis may help prevent fat buildup in the arteries.

·         Sleeping seven to nine hours nightly; insufficient sleep may increase the risk of heart disease.

·         Managing stress by practising self-care, connecting with loved ones, taking a bath, practising yoga or meditation, journalling, or participating in a favourite hobby.

·         Eating a diet high in anthocyanins (berries, cherries, and purple cabbage); these phytonutrients have been linked with a significant reduction in heart disease risk.

·         Supplementing with or consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids—including wild salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds, and walnuts—may help reduce heart disease risk.

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Live a longer, healthier life

When it comes to extending your life, what you don’t eat is as important as what you do.

·         Engaging in caloric restriction, or fasting, while maintaining optimal nutrition can be an effective way to extend your life and ward off illness.

·         Striving to maintain a healthy body weight and reducing excessive abdominal fat through an active lifestyle helps improve longevity.

·         Eating at least three servings of nuts per week has been linked in research to a significant reduction in mortality risk.

·         Supplementing with curcumin has been linked to improved brain, heart, and lung health, as well as protecting against age-related diseases.

·         Drinking green tea regularly has been linked to significant reductions in the risk of cognitive decline.

·         Finding purpose in life has been shown to lower inflammation, which is a factor in many conditions that may potentially affect lifespan.

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Sleep better

Getting sufficient amounts of deep, restorative sleep on a regular basis is fundamental to great health. Here are some strategies to ensure you’re getting the sleep you need for overall health and longevity:

·         Try to follow a regular sleep schedule by having a routine bedtime and rise time.

·         Eliminate sources of noise or light that may disrupt your sleep.

·         Cut down on caffeine and avoid heavy meals before bed.

·         Avoid alcohol, as it interferes with deep and restorative sleep.

·         Exercise daily, preferably not immediately before your bedtime.

·         Avoid using devices too close to bedtime; they emit a blue light that has been found to suppress the secretion of melatonin.

·         Inhale lavender essential oil within an hour of bedtime, as it has been linked to improved sleep quality.

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CoQ10: Health that starts with the cells

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), or ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble nutrient that may help reduce symptoms in congestive heart failure, reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, aid the treatment of diabetes, improve physical performance, and support the growth and maintenance of cells.

While studies have not, so far, produced definitive benefits for CoQ10’s use in the prevention or treatment of Parkinson’s disease, there is enough promise to motivate continuing research. CoQ10 has, though, been found to regulate multiple genes, including those linked to inflammation.

CoQ10 is available in capsules, lozenges, and syrups. Blood-thinning drugs may interact with this nutrient, so check with your doctor prior to use.

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Brain-boosting foods

·         beans—to regulate blood sugar and energy to the brain

·         beetroot—to provide betanin, which has shown promise in preventing plaques in the brain

·         blackberries—to provide the mineral manganese, which helps with healthy electrical transmissions in the brain

·         flaxseeds—rich in brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids

·         green tea

·         nuts and seeds—rich sources of brain-protecting vitamin E

 

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of alive magazine.

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