9 Keys For Optimal Health – A Guide To The Good Life
What are the keys to optimal health? There’s a lot that goes into a healthy lifestyle. Here are my 9 keys.
I’m not exclusively including food choices, cause there’s more to that in order to feel super healthy.
Mediterranean, Pescatarian, Keto, Vegan w/ OMAD, or 5:2 fasting, or maybe vegetarian, semi-vegetarian…Paleo?
There are way too many options!
I think the best thing you can do when trying or deciding whether a “diet” is right for you is to simply ask yourself the question:
“Can I really see myself doing this every day for the rest of my life?”
If you’re struggling to make a choice, maybe you shouldn’t make one!
Just stick to the here and now, your common sense, and use it to make intelligent and self-sustaining decisions.
But there are some universal principles which work and as a trainer I believe the following nine are fundamental for good health long-term.
Between 7–9 hours is best, this will balance and regulate your cortisol levels, increase your growth hormone levels and allow your body and mind to repair and function at its best. Sleep is extremely underrated.
Follow a plant-based diet:
This doesn’t mean exclusively plants, just make sure they’re the foundation for your diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (duh).
Reduce your meat consumption:
You don’t have to cut it out (or you can if this is in line with your ethical beliefs), but reduce it to what is necessary, stick with lean cuts, preferably grass-fed.
Be sure to exclude processed meats completely (they have been labelled as a carcinogen [cancer causing] by the WHO).
Don’t overdo it with the water:
8 glasses per day is a MYTH if you’re including copious amounts of whole-foods. 3-4 is enough. But always take strenuous exercise into consideration.
Pro tip: Hydrate well before you go for a jog or a workout, sipping on water the moment you start working out will not have you adequately hydrated in time.
Eat healthy fats:
DHA and EPA are key for our health. We know that countries with higher fish consumption tend to have lower rates of depression, compared to others with similar or even greater socio-economic status (e.g Japan vs New Zealand).
Yes, I understand population studies aren’t always perfect for the countless variables we have to control for. But the correlation is strong worldwide.
You can also get healthy fats from nuts (flaxseed, almonds) which has ALA that converts into DHA, but only about 1-5% (maximum) converts into DHA and so marine sources of polyunsaturated fats are generally a better option.
Try intermittent fasting:
You don’t have to fast every day. For 2 days per week (e.g Wednesday, Friday) skip breakfast and eat from 12- 8 pm.
This will allow you to firstly gain psychological control over your food intake as well as increase your insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, develop a stronger immune system and decrease the chances of type-2 diabetes.
Furthermore, a longer life due to fasting is becoming increasingly more frequent to see in today’s scientific literature.
Intermittent fasting increases your growth hormone by more than 2000% for men (generally the ideal time-frame for this occurring is between 18-24 hours).
The most obvious and commonly cited benefits is the decreased insulin levels.
This is why fasting becomes a great solution to people’s type 2 diabetes, cushing’s disease and many other metabolic diseases.
Fasting increases insulin sensitivity, improves insulin resistance and allows your body to use the hormone insulin more effectively (which is important for fat loss).
Yeah, this is just common sense. Get a mix of aerobic and anaerobic, they both have their pros and cons cognitively and physiologically and one shouldn’t be prioritised over the other if general health is the goal in mind.
Practice some form of mindfulness:
Whether this is through meditation or other spiritual practices like yoga. Find a way to be mindful for at least 20 minutes per day.
It literally changes the shape of your brain.
We know experienced meditators have more grey matter in the various part of the brain.
These areas include: (such as the connective tissue between the left and right hemisphere), the pre-frontal cortex and a reduction in a size of the amygdala (stress centre).
Spend time with friends and family:
Health isn’t exclusive to what you eat, or how you move, true health is reflective of your lifestyle.
We’re social creatures and this reminder becomes so important as we (ironic of me to say, I know) spend more time online.