We asked top naturopath, Sarah Bowles Flannery for the ten things superhealthy women do – and hurrah! – they’re simple and do-able by the rest of us.
Healthy people pay attention to the basics of good health first – sleeping, eating and exercising. They consistently do the following:
1. THEY PRIORITISE SLEEP I could go on all day about the benefits of sleep – a better immune system, happier mood, clearer thinking, more energy, less dependence on stimulants, easier weight management. Does that all sound like time well spent? I like to think of sleep as a therapy all by itself and make it a priority in life. Healthy women know everything else will fall into place more easily if they are well rested. I tend to advise people to try and get to bed by 10pm for the most rejuvenating slumber and to sleep in a completely dark room, clear of electronics (TV, smart phone, computer.)
2. THEY EXERCISE MOST DAYS Healthy women won’t wait until a day they have an hour to exercise. If they only have five minutes, they will make their workout fit their lives by using that time. And they move more throughout the day, taking the stairs and keeping active at the weekends. Yoga is my absolute favourite. It is life changing, working on the body and mind all at the same time in the way yoga asks us to do. Even a few sun salutations each day and a little cardio such as 20 minutes of high intensity interval training three times a week is all that is needed. Doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
3. THEY EAT WELL taking time for proper meals, opting for a high fresh vegetable intake and finding creative ways to make healthy foods interesting and tasty. I tend to advise people to add raw nuts and seeds and a little animal protein to their diets such as eggs, oily fish, organic chicken, grass fed organic meat and to avoid of gluten and cow’s milk to health. Most healthy women tend to avoid excesses of anything: whether that’s of caffeine, sugar, junk food or alcohol.
4. THEY HYDRATE prioritising water over soft drinks, juices or caffeinated drinks. I would opt for a good quality spring or filtered water at room temperature or even warm. Approximately two litres daily is a good starting place but this varies depending on the rest of the diet, exercise, body size.
5. THEY CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY and focus more on the positives in their lives. Healthy women find ways to laugh everyday; find time for friends and loved ones and read uplifting and inspiring books or watch comedies to make sure fun is a big part of their everyday lives. This is because they know being happy and optimistic is a choice you make everyday. There’s tons of research to show that a positive outlook can dramatically boost health and longevity.
6. THEY’RE GROUNDED and look for ways to feel connected to the earth and natural world. The electrical polarity of the earth balances the body reducing stress and inflammation. Healthy people spend time in nature, walking on grass, sand or earth or even simply spending time in their local parks, green spaces or seasides. Nature is energising and calming at once.
7. THEY OPT FOR SUNLIGHT AND FRESH AIR even if it’s only a 10 to 20 minute walk outside at lunchtime as they know it will help their mood and overall wellbeing so they make time for it. This is even more important in the winter months when the light is less intense and daylight hours are shorter – the pineal gland in the brain is made of crystalline tissue much like that found in the retina of the eye – it is light sensitive and needs natural light to function. Sunlight enables us to make vitamin D (for immunity, mood, bone density), and helps regulate circadian rhythms. Most professionals can spend all day inside during the week and so may not get any natural light exposure for five days a week in winter!
8. THEY USE PROBIOTICS More and more healthy people are recognising the need to include fermented foods in their daily diets – homemade yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha – and to top these up from time to time by taking a healthy bacteria supplement for proper digestion, immune function, certain vitamin production.
9. THEY’RE GREENIES A diet high in alkaline forming foods is an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer diet. Raw leafy green vegetables are easy to digest and the best alkalizers and juicing or blending them is easy and convenient. I find once women get a taste of how easy it is and what a difference it makes to how they look and feel, they’re hooked. Gwyneth Paltrow is right! So find a good juicer and/or powerful blender and get juicing and blending your fruit and vegetables daily. Fresh leafy green salads are great for alkalising too.
10. THEY DON’T FEAR FATS fats have been given such a bad reputation, but look at the way healthy women eat and you won’t see them avoiding foods such as avocados and nuts. We need healthy fats – for cell repair, brain function and hormone balance. Include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, raw coconut oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils such as olive, flaxseed and hemp. Used in your meals such fats also help satisfy the appetite, reducing cravings for sugars and carbohydrates.
Sarah Bowles-Flannery is a naturopath, medical nutritionist and herbalist. Find out more at sarahbowlesflannery.com
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