The majority of us make New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of every year and many of these resolutions are health related. Now that we have passed the half way mark in 2016 it is time to take stock of how you are doing.
The following are a few health checkpoints that you can use to assess how you are doing from a health standpoint. This list is a starting point and is not exhaustive.
1. What are you drinking? Most of us know that we probably should drink more water and less soda. I frequently get questions about how much water to drink. A common myth out there is that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day. This recommendation doesn't make sense as we are not all the same size and we don't all sweat or perspire the same. There are several keys to monitor hydration. First is to simply monitor our level of thirst. Our urine is also a key indicator. Clear or slightly yellow urine indicates good hydration. It also make intuitive sense that the more well hydrated you are the more you will urinate.
2. Eat Two meals/day within an 8 hours window: Something I have done extensively is intermittent fasting by eating two times per day. The benefits of fasting are significant and many Americans eat the most in evening. By eliminating a meal or the evening meal it may be easier to lose weight and control diabetes.
3: Weight Loss/Clean up diet: Most Americans should lose weight. An ideal BMI is around 23. For the majority of my patients I also recommend checking an insulin level to see how they tolerate carbohydrates. If the Insulin level is elevated and/or the fasting blood sugar is above 85 then a lower carbohydrate diet high in healthy fats is recommended.
4: Sleep: There is a lot of evidence that we should be getting 8 hours of sleep per night. Getting significantly less or more is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
5. Sit less and walk more: The majority of us are familiar with the recommendation to stand and walk more for our cardiovascular health. High intensity exercise is also important.
6. Stress Reduction: Poor sleep and elevated levels of stress facilitate the release of stress hormones and adrenaline. These hormones are pro-inflammatory and associated with diabetes and obesity and poor cardiovascular health. Most people could benefit from learning 3 ways to help them deal with stress such as relaxation techniques and mindfulness.
7. Vitamin D/Sun exposure: I recommend that everyone get their Vitamin D level checked because the majority of us don't get enough healthy sun exposure. Vitamin D is associated with many health benefits and is associated with cardiovascular health.
In my practice I work with patients on all these items and more. Some have made tremendous progress. Of course, these are general recommendations and are not right for everyone. See your doctor if you need further advice.
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