Thirty Ways to Live a Healthier Life

Ways to live a healthier life
Dr. Geoffrey Harris, MD

There are many simple things we can do to live a healthier life. Take a look at this list of 30 behaviors that will help to optimize fitness and well-being.

1. Know the SuperFoods–and their Sidekicks–and try to include as many as you can in your diet. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday. Try to include 3 to 5 servings a day of fruits and 5 to 7 servings of vegetables.

2. Choose fresh foods and avoid processed foods. Start reading ingredient labels before you buy, and stay away from foods that have extensive lists of complicated ingredients and chemicals.

3. Be sure to eat a little healthy fat with your salads as well as with your fruits and vegetables to improve the absorption of fat-soluble phytonutrients like carotenoids. Try a little avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, or low-fat yogurt with fruits or vegetables to optimize nutrient utilization.

4. Choose to include the important fiber in fruits and vegetables by eating the skins of fruits and vegetables when appropriate. Also, if you like juice, choose high pulp juices that retain some fiber from the original food. Furthermore, place fresh or frozen produce in a blender or food processor to create a smoothie that retains all the nutrients and fiber of the original fruit or vegetable.

5. Use spices liberally and enjoy them, but avoid salt and soy sauce which are high in sodium. Cook with garlic and onions when appropriate.

6. Eat fish often. Try to eat a serving of oily fish, like wild salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, sardines, herring, sea bass, oysters, or clams, at least twice a week. And, of course, avoid fried or breaded fish.

7. Choose whole grains that retain their powerful vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, instead of processed carbohydrates and simple sugars.

8. Skip fried foods. They typically contain trans fat and excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids that prevent the body from being able to absorb and use omega-3 fatty acids that are critical to brain and eye health.

9. Steer clear of foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. If an ingredient list contains hydrogenated oils, then it contains trans fat which raises bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, and accelerates the formation of plaques on blood vessel walls that lead to heart attacks and strokes. Watch out for the zero grams trans fat labels. If a serving of a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, it can claim zero grams trans fat on its label.

10. Pay attention to serving sizes so as not to lose track of the calories and fat you are consuming. Sometimes small bags of chips and candy can contain multiple servings.

11. Limit the amount of corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oil that you eat and use with cooking. Because of their high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids they limit the amount of the important omega-3 that the body can absorb and utilize.

12. Cook with monounsaturated oils like extra virgin olive oil and canola oil. These oils do not contain a large amount of omega-6 that can compete with omega-3.

13. Use non-stick pans to limit the amount of cooking oil used to prepare foods. Avoid cooking food at high-heat to prevent damaging the oils and creating trans fat.

14. Take an omega-3 supplement with 500 to 1000 mg of DHA or EPA daily. This can be a fish oil or marine algae supplement.

15. Make a daily multivitamin part of your routine. Choose a complete vitamin and mineral supplement that also includes phytonutrients like alpha-lipoic acid, lutein, mixed tocopherols, lycopene, tocotrienols, carotenoids, and choline. A supplement augmented with a whole food component is preferable.

16. Adults should try to get 800 to 1000 mg daily of vitamin D as cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) through supplementation and/or fortified foods like yogurt and dairy products.

17. Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays that age the skin and can lead to skin cancer. Apply an antioxidant serum to the face daily after cleansing. Use a daily moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30 on the face every morning. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum ultraviolet protection that includes UVA and UVB. If you are going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period, apply the sunscreen before you go out and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming.

18. Wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses that block ultraviolet light when out in the sun.

19. Alcohol is okay only in moderation. At SuperFoodsRx we recommend limiting alcohol to 3 drinks a week for women and 8 for men. Be sure not to drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

20. Drink 8 to 10 cups (8 ounces each) of water throughout the day.

21. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.

22. If you need to sweeten your tea or coffee, choose a dark, raw honey that is sweet and packed with antioxidants.

23. Eat a single serving of dark chocolate that is made with at least 72%, non-alkalinized cocoa daily. Try it divided up during your day for a small morning, afternoon, and evening antioxidant boost.

24. Limit red meat consumption to one serving a week or less.

25. Try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking, everyday.

26. Perform muscle strengthening exercises (resistance or weight training) with flexibility, stability, and balance training at least twice a week.

27. Try to spend 15 minutes everyday practicing a quiet, stress reducing activity like yoga, meditation, prayer, writing in a journal, enjoying a hobby, or listening to music.

28. Be active and try to get outdoors when possible. Minimize time spent watching television, and turn the TV off if no one is watching.

29. While coffee is okay in moderation, avoid high-calorie coffee drinks and excessive caffeine.

30. And, last but not least, maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke.

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