This past week I had an extensive conversation with someone regarding the best type of salt to use – iodized table, kosher, sea, Himalayan or Celtic. She was very convinced that one particular type of salt was the best, had great health benefits and that you would be foolish to use anything else. Although the conversation was interesting and you should consider your health in any choice you make, the whole encounter left me feeling a little frustrated. I think the reason I felt this way was because I knew that this pleasant young woman was neglecting her health in other more important ways.
In Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” the third habit is to “put first things first”. This simply means to do the most effective, most worthwhile things first before anything else. When it comes to our health there seem to be endless things we can do to improve our health. Most of us can only do some of these things but not all. We have to choose what is most important.
I would like to submit that the following are foundational practices that are firmly established when it comes to your health. Not that you shouldn’t consider other ways to improve your health, just that you begin with these:
- Stay connected – Your degree of health is intertwined with the health of your family and your community. Cultivate healthy relationship with family and friends. Lonely people are at greater risk for heart attack, ulcer, stroke, infectious disease, depression, mental illness, diabetes, some types of cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
- Eat for Health – The average American consumes 200 pounds of meat, 57 gallons of soda and 170 pounds of refined sugar per year. Healthy people consume considerably less of these. Other common characteristics of healthy individuals are that they consume more vegetables, more water, fiber, nuts, whole grains and unprocessed foods. Healthy people tend to eat more meals at home and less at restaurants.
- Movement – Healthy people spend less time sitting and more of their day moving. The benefits of regular exercise are immense. Get moving. Do whatever you are able. If you have a specific area of your body or specific joints that are not moving well – it’s probably time to get chiropractic help to find out why and see if correction is possible. Protect your ability to move at all costs. Loss of movement = loss of health.
- Keep Your Mind Active – Keeping your mind sharp is one of the powerful ways to improve your health and stay young. People with higher levels of education and those that continue to be involved in activities that stimulate the mind undergo less mental aging.
- Rest – Less than seven hours of sleep a night increases the chances of colds, decreases rates of well-being and adds to the risk of obesity.
- Have hope, optimism and purpose in your life – Find something bigger than yourself in which to believe. Self-centered, egotistical and materialistic people score lowest in any test measuring happiness. Feeling down or depressed promotes higher levels of a type of inflammation that promotes heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and osteoporosis.