By Dr. Mercola
Four Other Critical Factors for Achieving Optimal Health
Choosing which foods to eat is important, but other lifestyle factors must be addressed as well. Besides making better food choices, there are four other key factors you must consider if you want to achieve your optimal level of health.
- Exercise: Exercise creates the same mood-elevating chemicals that sugar does—but with positive metabolic effects. Exercise helps metabolize your stress hormones, reduces hunger, improves sleep, strengthens bones and joints, and causes your body to release growth hormone—and many other health benefits.
- Detoxification/Cleansing: As you burn off body fat, you must also detoxify, because most chemicals are lipophilic (fat-loving) and are lodged in fat cells. If you don’t do something to remove these toxins from your body while losing weight, toxins can be reabsorbed into your bloodstream and potentially cause health problems.
Fortunately, your body will detoxify itself if there is no toxicity coming in. Chlorophyll-rich foods such as organic green vegetables, gelatinous plant foods like aloe and chia seeds, seaweeds, chlorella, cilantro and parsley can help with this. Make sure to drink plenty of pure water, as this is essential to your body’s cleansing processes. Juicing may also be of benefit. Avoid all chemicals, additives, and preservatives. If a product’s shelf life is longer than your life, don’t eat it!
- Sleep: Sleep allows your body to repair and rebuild. Deep sleep is a great way to neutralize stress hormones. Stress increases fluid retention—you can gain two pounds in body fluids just from one night of poor sleep due to stress.
- Stress Management: Stress changes your body chemistry, and will prompt you to eat, out of your body’s not knowing what else to do. It’s one of your body’s ways of protecting you. Stress raises your levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which can result in weight gain. If you don’t believe this, just talk to anyone taking prednisone, a pharmaceutical steroid similar to cortisol. They often gain 20 to 30 pounds, no matter what they’re eating.
My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which is like acupuncture without the needles. It’s a handy tool for unloading emotional baggage quickly and painlessly, and so easy that children can learn it. And it’s FREE! Also free, laughter is great medicine because it decreases stress chemicals and pain.
Another powerful tool for creating positive change in your life is visualization, which is the “language” of the subconscious. When you create a visual image of how you’d like to look or feel, your subconscious will understand and begin to help you by making the needed biochemical and neurological changes.
These are just some of the suggestions that will help you along your way. I recommend taking the time to watch Hungry for Change, which offers you even more information than what I’ve presented above. Remember that if you treat your body well, it will return the favor.