Written by : Dr. James Rouse and Dr. Debra Rouse 

8 Simple Ways to Take Charge of Your Health

Americans today consume too much fast food and sugar, are under too much stress, don’t get enough sleep or exercise and are disconnected from others. These deficiencies can promote inflammation in your body. Inflammation increases the risk of chronic pain, being overweight or obese, and can disrupt healthy sleep patterns. These strategies will help you turn this trend around and take charge of your life.

1. Stress Management 

This doesn’t have to mean 30 minutes of meditation every morning and every evening (although wouldn’t that be great!). Managing stress may be simply taking five minutes out of every hour to sit quietly with eyes closed and just focusing on your breath. It could also mean getting outside for a five- or 10- minute walk around the block. You may prefer an hour-long yoga class, biofeedback or guided meditation. Whatever you prefer, make it happen.

2. Adequate Sleep

There isn’t necessarily a magic number when it comes to how much sleep everyone needs, but experts generally agree that somewhere between seven and nine hours serves most adults very well. And this means uninterrupted sleep in a peaceful environment (as much as is possible). Keep your room at a comfortable temperature if possible; when your room becomes either too hot or too cold, it can disrupt your sleep.

3. Make Your Food

When we cook our own food, we take greater responsibility for what we are eating and are more likely to make wiser choices. If you are someone who doesn't cook, it’s time to begin to turn that around. Even if you begin with crafting a simple salad with some store-bought roasted  chicken, nuts and/or seeds with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of salt and pepper, you’ll be off to a great start.

If apathy and a true lack of motivation keeps you from cooking, then just start by preparing things you can handle. Hard boil a half dozen eggs on a day you’re not working. Wash and chop vegetables so they will be ready when you need them. Soak some steel cut oats overnight and they’ll cook up in no time the next morning. Keep plenty of raw nuts, seeds and fresh fruit on hand when you want a healthy snack and begin to act like a person who enjoys cooking.

4. Exercise

Get your head in the game. No more excuses. You are no longer someone who “just doesn’t exercise.” Begin anytime, anywhere. Go for a walk. Take a swim. Hop on a bike. Give Stand Up Paddle (SUP) a try. If you fail to move your body regularly, your body will fail to thrive. Move daily, no excuses.

5. Community Involvement

People who volunteer, people who attend spiritual community (church, synagogue) on a regular basis, are shown, on average, to live longer compared to those who do not get involved. Shared connections, selfless service and a sense of belonging extends our lives and our happiness.

6. Veggie Time

Make vegetables the center of your meal. We prefer vegetables over fruit because vegetables tend to be lower in sugar and a bit higher in nutritional value (more antioxidants, fiber, minerals, for example). Aim for 7 servings daily. Write down throughout the day what you’ve had and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal.

7. Sugar Needs to Go

The average sugar consumption per person has increased by a ridiculous amount over the last fifty years. Today the average American consumes approximately 25 to 50 teaspoons (=100 to 200 grams) of sugar daily. The recommended consumption is no more than 6 teaspoons (about 25 grams daily). Increased sugar increases inflammation in the body.

8. Gratitude

Gratitude and positivity encourage greater health and longevity. We recommend the practice of keeping a gratitude journal in which you record at least five things that you are grateful for every single day (we like to do it at night before going to bed).

Dr. James Rouse is a naturopathic doctor, entrepreneur, certified yoga instructor, speaker, author, radio talk show host and Ironman triathlete. Dr. James is best known for his highly engaging "Optimum Wellness" TV segments that highlight all areas of a wellness lifestyle, balancing mind, body, and spirit.

Dr. Debra Rouse is a naturopathic doctor with extensive clinical experience in nutrition, botanical medicine, women's and children's health, homeopathy, lifestyle medicine, and physical conditioning. Dr. Debra is dedicated to educating and inspiring others to take charge of their health through community outreach seminars, articles, retreats, radio, and creating healthy recipes.

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