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6 Pillars to Support Your Health

Improving your health can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you’re dealing with weight gain or a chronic health condition. The good news is you have more control of your overall health than you may think.

When people seek out metabolic health counseling, we discuss six different areas which are in their control. These are what we consider pillars of your health. Even small changes in each of these pillars can add up to significant improvements in overall health.

Top 6 Health Tips

1. Diet:

What we eat and when we eat determines the majority of our health.  Food really is medicine.

What to eat: Real, whole food without an ingredient list.  Prioritizing protein, having healthy, real fats, and low carbohydrate vegetables and fruits.  Eliminating processed food is the key.

When to eat: When we are hungry.  If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat.  Our bodies and metabolism weren’t meant to be processing energy all day long.  When we are frequently putting in food or drinks that aren’t water, our body has to do something with that energy, and our hormones related to eating become dysregulated. There are many different ways to have feeding and fasting times, but even starting with a 12-hour “feeding” window and a 12-hour “fasting” window is a great place to start.

2. Sleep:

Getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are vitally important to regulate our hormones, but also to help us have the energy and willpower to make good dietary decisions. Sleep should be routine, and it should be prioritized. If you are struggling with sleep or fatigue, improving your dietary quality is likely to help. If you are still struggling with sleep, please reach out to your provider for recommendations on how you might improve this.

3. Stress:

It goes without saying that stress can negatively impact our health. When we are stressed because of work, family or finances, we have increased levels of stress hormones. This can make it more difficult to lose weight, it can cause more blood sugar elevations and contributes to stress eating. Work to manage your stress, and let things go that aren’t absolutely necessary. Ask for help if you need it. Also, recognize when you are stressed, and work to soothe this emotion without eating.

4. Movement/Exercise:

We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes we aren’t sure where we should start. Work on incorporating more movement into your day. Get up every hour and walk for five minutes – just start somewhere. As you feel better, movement will become easier. Muscle is important for health, quality of life and longevity. Walking, lifting heavy things – including your own body weight – playing a sport, and many other activities are good for muscle maintenance, which becomes more challenging as we age.

5. Sunshine:

Real sunshine is good for us in many ways. It helps our brain know when it is daytime, and then can help improve our sleep. Sunshine improves our mood. It is also the best way to get vitamin D.  Try and get 15 minutes daily, even if it is through a window while you eat lunch.

6. Social Connection/Community/Spirituality:

Humans are social creatures, we benefit from community and sense of purpose. Look to spend time with people you enjoy, that make you laugh and help you feel good. Pray, meditate, feel connected with a larger purpose.

Paula Walters, MD
Paula Walters, MD

Paula Walters is a doctor at CHI Health, she is specialized in internal medicine, direct primary care, metabolic health and pediatrics.

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