Plus Be Happy by Paying Attention to “5 Wellness Clues”

A patient says to his doctor, “Doc, when I twist my head hard to the right, I get a sharp pain in the neck.” To which the doctor replies, "Then don’t twist your head hard to the right!”

RU (29K)You’ve likely heard this joke, or a variation, before, but it bears repeating because it is SO true! When you learn to pay attention to your body’s signals, you will find it lets you know when you are making positive or negative choices for your health and well-being.

Ultimately, by listening to your body and leading a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid much of the “sick care” system that will try to solve your solution with medications and surgeries. Often, these sick-care “solutions” will lead to side effects that require even more treatments because they are not addressing the underlying causes of your problems.

For instance, studies have shown that over one-third of cancer cases in the United States could be prevented by better eating, more exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

Unfortunately, as it becomes increasingly clear that a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent disease, fewer Americans are taking the advice.

According to a comparison by investigators from the Medical University of South Carolina of results from two large-scale studies of the U.S. population, the number of people adhering to five healthy habits (exercising 12 times a month or more, not smoking, eating five or more fruits and vegetables daily, moderate alcohol use and maintaining healthy weight) has decreased from 15 percent during 1988-1994 to 8 percent during 2001-2006.

But you have a choice right now. Will you listen to the following “wellness clues” to stay healthy naturally and help prevent disease or rely on others “sick-care” once you’re repeating what caused the sickness thereby incurably sick and you have no other choice?

You may also have wonderful good friends or loved ones who too need to read, consider and pass-along these “well” intended and useful insights.

Wellness (13K)Wellness Clue #1: Energy

What makes you feel energized? What makes you feel like you’re carrying a load of bricks on your shoulders? Feeling fatigued is often the result of taxing lifestyle habits such as:

  • Not sleeping enough (getting even one hour less sleep than you need can leave you feeling drowsy, according to the Mayo Clinic)
  • Eating poorly or drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Inactivity
  • Stress (trying to do too much, worrying about work or finances, etc.)
  • What Is the Stress Level of Your Household?

If this applies to you, “take two to three weeks and clean up your act -- get more sleep, trim your social obligations, eat better, drink more water, take a high-quality mutlivitamin and cut back on caffeine and alcohol,” Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, of Atlanta recommended in Prevention magazine.

Though we often don’t like to hear, diet and exercise really are the keys to your health, longevity and energy. A healthy diet with fresh, minimally processed foods will give you drastically more energy than a diet of mostly processed food. Make sure to include plenty of protein as well -- your body needs it to keep organs functioning and energy levels up.

You should also make a point to eat foods in a minimally processed, lightly cooked or raw state. Acclaimed raw chef Angela Elliott shows how to whip up mouth-watering spaghetti marinara, stuffed mushrooms, broccoli in cheese sauce, apple pie, decadent whipped cream and strawberries, chocolate shake, and more - all in about five minutes, with easy-to-find ingredients and just a blender or food processor. She shares her personal wellness journey and her playful enthusiasm to make the book an enjoyable and inspiring guide to delicious living.

Exercise is also incredibly important. Though it sounds ironic, putting out the energy to work out will give you more energy and make your daily tasks easier. While doing a cardio workout, alternate several minutes of high-intensity movement with several minutes of lower intensity. This will get your energy levels up without wearing you down.

You can also incorporate a workout that’s good for your mind AND your body.

WellnessClue2 (13K)Wellness Clue #2: How You Feel After a Meal

Do you feel great after you eat? Or does your stomach become bloated and gassy, and your energy levels tank?

If you don’t feel energized and satisfied after your meals, it’s a clue that your food is probably not meeting your body’s nutritional needs. Try this test to see if your food is causing you undesirable symptoms:

  • List what you ate after a meal.
  • One hour later assess how you feel ... More energized 0 to 10? Same? Less energy? Weak or even sick?
  • Next several meals in a row eliminate several if not all the items you ate when you felt bad.
  • If now feeling better with more energy, add one item at a time back in your meals.
  • Note the time you ate and what the food item was you added back in.

If you feel worse with less energy one hour after eating, take that item out of the next meals again and see if you feel more energized and better.

This test is a simple way to monitor which foods are causing you to feel bad. This is empowering for many, and you can even make a list inside your pantry or cupboard to reference which foods make you the most energized and what sucks the energy out and causes you to feel sick.

Your diet really has a major influence on your health and your mood. For instance, according to Food and Behavior Research, a charitable organization trying to advance scientific research into the links between nutrition and human behavior, diet can play a role in preventing and managing the following conditions:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
  • Schizophrenia

So if you’re not feeling at your peak, it makes sense to try to eat a healthier diet. Some simple healthy eating tips include:

  • Cut out excess "empty" calories like those from soda, candy, cookies, sweetened drinks and chips first.
  • Avoid eating too many processed carbs (white sugar and white flour, etc.). These extra carbohydrates are easily converted into fat.
  • Bake, grill, steam or broil food instead of frying it (fewer calories and better for health and energy).
  • Include a healthy protein like lean meat, yogurt, cheese, nuts or beans with every meal to preserve muscle mass and satisfy hunger.
  • Eat a variety of whole fruit, rather than fruit juice.
  • Eat a wide variety of vegetables, including dark greens. Along with the many outstanding nutrients, the fiber in vegetables (and whole fruits) will help you feel full.
  • When choosing grains, pick items that have whole grains listed as the first ingredient on the label.
  • Limit added sugars in your diet in foods like soft drinks, candy, cake, cookies, pies and fruit drinks.

WC3 (12K)Wellness Clue #3: Can You Breathe Freely?

Americans suffer from 1 billion colds a year, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There are also nearly 32 million cases of chronic sinusitis reported by health care providers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year.

Among the top symptoms experienced by those suffering from the 1 billion colds a year include:

  • Mucus buildup in your nose
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Swelling of your sinuses
  • Headache

Millions more suffer from allergies that also can wreak havoc on your sinuses, leading to facial pain, clogged nasal passages and headaches.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s a sign that you could not only likely benefit from increased rest and a healthier diet to help boost your immune system, but also that you could benefit from simple and inexpensive nasal irrigation.

Remember, over-the-counter cough and cold remedies do not cure your sinus pressure; they simply provide symptom relief. However, you can get similar results without risking any negative side effects using all natural options.

If you’re experiencing cold, sinusitis, allergies or any other ailment that’s leading to sinus congestion, etc., get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Applying warm packs to your face can help relieve pain, and be sure you don't bend over with your head down, as this can increase pain.

Inhaling steam from a kettle or pot of boiling water (being careful not to get burned) or using a humidifier can also provide relief.

However, one of the best options for sinus relief has been around since ancient times and still holds true as one of the most effective, safe, and soothing options for sinus health.

Nasal cleansing, also known as nasal irrigation, involves using a neti pot to pour a lukewarm saline solution (pure water mixed with natural salt) inside one side of your nostril while tilting your head sideways so the water runs out of your other nostril.

There are many neti pots on the market.

WC4 (11K)Wellness Clue #4: Your Skin

Your skin ages with you, a process known as the "internal aging process." In terms of your skin this means that as you get older you'll likely experience:

  • Collagen production slowing (collagen contributes to skin’s firmness)
  • Elastin production decreasing (elastin contributes to skin's elasticity)
  • Fat cells beginning to disappear (which can lead to sagging skin)
  • Your skin losing its ability to retain moisture
  • Frown lines and "crow's feet" appearing due to small muscle contractions
  • Dead skin cells not being shed as quickly
  • Slightly less turnover of new skin cells

Understandably, most people are not thrilled with the results of all of these changes, which tend to be wrinkles, sagging, dryness, thinness in the skin and perhaps discolorations such as "age spots." However, your diet and lifestyle play a major role in how your skin looks, and can even help to keep your skin looking younger, longer.

Without the proper fuel, your body does not have the nutrients it needs to even function properly, let alone devote to keeping your skin firm, moist and blemish-free. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide you with plenty of antioxidants that will help to protect your skin and overall health.

Exercise is also important, as it tones muscles and helps promote blood flow --necessary for healthy skin and body.

Further, anyone who's been through an extremely stressful event knows how it seems to show up all over your body, including on your face in dark circles under your eyes, dull skin and new wrinkles. Managing your stress, along with getting enough sleep, is key to retaining a youthful face.

WC5 (11K)Wellness Clue #5: How Long do You Sit?

The human body requires active lifestyle movement and water to flush out toxins, to stay strong and for ridding itself of illnesses to sustain and survive. So in today’s modern lifestyle, in which much is spent sitting in cars, at work and in front of computers, video games and televisions for leisure time, it’s putting Americans’ health at risk.

People who sit and watch TV for more than four hours a day are 80 percent more likely to die much sooner from heart disease than those who limit their TV watching to two hours or less.

Numerous studies also show rates of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and adult plus childhood obesity are doubled and even tripled in people who sit for several hours every day.

Sitting stops the circulation of lipase, an enzyme that absorbs fats. So instead of being absorbed by your muscles, when you’re sitting fat recirculates in your bloodstream where it may end up stored as body fat, clogging arteries or contributing to disease.

John Dearlove the former CEO of and CEO of Health Realizations, Inc. titled this disease-causing behavior "Sittosis".

If you currently sit for long hours during the day, it’s time to make an effort to sit less.

Sitting less is a different type of goal than trying to fit in an hour to go to the gym; it involves learning new habits that you incorporate into most activities throughout your day.

So rather than sitting behind your desk all day at work, get up and walk around as much as possible (while you’re on the phone, or mulling over a problem, for instance). While you’re at home, look for opportunities to stand instead of sit, such as while helping your child with her homework or watching your kids play at the park.

Every morning when you first awake you can also make a routine of stretching for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, same stretching every evening at a set time for a 30-minutes.

Researchers believe that as the health risks of prolonged sitting become more widely known, health campaigns will begin that advertise limiting your sitting time, just as they recommend limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke.

How High Do You Really Prioritize Your Health?

Making an effort to listen to these five wellness clues, and make specific changes to your lifestyle habits, is one of the simpler ways least expensive to perhaps drastically improve your health and long term happiness to ideally avoid the need for “sick care.”

© 2014 Health Realizations, Inc.

Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Dr. Soram Khalsa is an internist in Beverly Hills, California and is affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He specializes in Internal Medicine and Integrative Medicine combining diet, nutrition, acupuncture, herbs and nutrition.

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