April 7th is World Health Day. This annual observance brought to us by the World Health Organization is a golden opportunity to take a close look at your health. Are you merely getting by, or are you thriving? Here are 5 wellness questions to ask yourself today.
Do you eat whole, unprocessed foods?
A healthy diet boosts wellness and helps prevent disease. Many health issues-including heart disease, arthritis, and cancer-are associated with chronic inflammation in the body. Fresh, natural foods-rich in nutrients and protective antioxidants-help minimize inflammation. Target organic fruits and veggies, clean, lean proteins like whey protein powder, egg whites, organic poultry, and low-mercury fish, as well as low-glycemic carbs like brown/wild rice and oats. Include nuts and seeds for crucially important omega-3 fatty acids.
Do you supplement essential nutrients?
Even if the majority of meals you eat are unprocessed whole foods, you still may fail to obtain optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and phytonutrients from your diet, especially if you’re highly active and/or under stress. Supplements can help bridge the gap. Many health professionals recommend taking a high-quality, full spectrum multi-vitamin/mineral supplement daily, along with at least 1 gram of high-quality fish oil for brain and heart health.
Do you hydrate consistently?
By now you know that drinking enough liquid is vital for your body to function properly. Pure water should be your go-to beverage, but clear soups, herbal teas, and even water-dense produce like citrus fruits, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers also contribute. Enliven your water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or try cucumber or fresh ginger slices for a unique taste. Be sure to add a glass of water for every alcoholic drink, soda and cup of coffee too, since these are dehydrating fluids.
Do you exercise 3 times per week?
If you care about your wellness, you simply can’t escape this question. The good news is that when it comes to exercise, a little goes a long way, provided it’s consistent. If you love the gym, you’re dialed in. If not, a nature hike, yoga class, tennis lessons, bike ride with your kids-even walking your dog for a half hour each day-all count. Exercise not only improves your mood, alleviates stress and helps lift depression, it also strengthens your heart and lungs, promotes weight loss, builds lean muscle mass and boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Do you get enough sleep?
Although healthy sleep is essential for overall wellness, insomnia affects up to 10% of Americans. Why is restful sleep so elusive at times? Stress, caffeine, alcohol, and other factors all play in. However, deep sleep is necessary to repair daily wear and tear on the body and dreaming is important for brain health. While sleeping pills can be dangerously habit forming, natural sleep aids can help-as can regular exercise, healthy diet and proper hydration.
Do you see how all these questions connect? It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers right now, just pose the questions and action will likely follow. Wellness is a journey which-like all others-starts with a single step.