5 Holistic Health Hacks That Can Help You Stay Healthy For Life
Sarah Jacobs—As holistic health counselors, one of the questions we receive the most is, “what the heck is holistic health?”
This question also happens to be one of our favorites. Without sounding too “kumbaya,” when it comes to wellness, holistic health considers your whole body. It’s the idea that health is a multidimensional issue that can’t be boiled down to individual vitamins, cholesterol numbers or a goal weight.
It’s much more qualitative in nature, addressing mental and emotional health combined with physical health. And we consider many different types of healing modalities while also being of the mind that food is the best source of medicine.
We know that getting healthy can seem like a daunting task. The thought of overhauling your whole life, exercising every morning and never eating certain things again is a terribly difficult commitment to make.
Frequently the task of taking care of oneself seems so large, that we simply disregard it all together — all or nothing. But the truth is, if you focus on a few targeted things, over time these build and the little victories may even inspire larger ones.
Here are our top five holistic health hacks that you can do tomorrow (or even right now!) to improve your overall wellbeing. Try one, try a couple, try them all: it’s all worth it. Just see where it takes you.
1. Get Gutsy
The mind blowing science about the symbiotic relationship of bacteria and humans keeps rolling in. Our microbiome (meaning the bacterial colonies that live in and on our bodies) could be responsible for everything from mood and anxiety to developmental disorders, chronic illness and weight management.
Making sure that your intestinal tract is populated with a balance of bacteria and more probiotics (good bacteria) than pathogens (bad bacteria) is incredibly important to your overall wellbeing. Take a good probiotic supplement that’s refrigerated and has 5 billion CFUs or more. And eat fermented foods like low sugar yogurt and kefir, raw sauerkraut and kimchi, tempeh (fermented soybeans), miso, and kombucha (a type of fermented tea).
You’ve probably heard that you should be shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. It’s because there really is no substitute for nourishing your body with the live foods that can be found there. Vitamins and minerals are meant to work in conjunction with each other, how they’re found in nature. And that vitamin-enriched box of food-like-product in the center aisle is loaded with things like preservatives, flavorings and additives that cause anything from anxiety and hyperactivity to cancer. Eat real food. Period.
While the word, “detox,” has taken on a life of its own and been blown way out of proportion, there’s something to be said about helping your body get rid of built up “yuck” that can slow your metabolism, cause disease and impair immune function.
Not to mention an occasional “reset” is good to get back on track when you’ve strayed from healthy habits. Adding in foods that are naturally detoxifying like broccoli, kale, artichokes, onion and garlic, and drinking plenty of water is great for daily cleansing. And occasionally cutting out major inflammatory offenders like gluten and dairy, alcohol and caffeine could help reset the system. Supplementing with Milk Thistle and Dandelion can also up the detox duty.
4. Get Super(foods)
While the term has become a bit of a marketing ploy, adding in nutrient-dense foods is definitely not a bad idea. Nowadays, everything from blueberries to spirulina is deemed “super,” but learning about and trying out some of the cool kids on the market can be a great way to keep things interesting and diversify your nutrient intake. Some starter suggestions are maca root, goji berries, acai, kale and chia seeds.
5. Zen Out
Positive psychology is a relatively new science, but the importance of mental health on your overall wellbeing cannot be ignored. Finding time to invest in your brain pays off exponentially in your body. Some ways to cultivate mental health are: giving thanks (gratitude is found to increase happiness), thinking positively, and finding time to meditate and be mindful. The simple act of awareness and focusing on breath is huge for stress relief, immune and heart health, and even creative thinking.
Bonus Hack: Do you!
So, there’s one more. Every body and every mind reacts differently to things, even generally healthy things. That said, give our hacks a real go, but if it’s not your jam, that’s okay. Using brute force for anything is not recommended. That said, it can take time to adapt to change. So, if your mind is buzzing when you meditate, don’t give up so easily. Remember that holistic health is a lifestyle practice, not a destination.
Sarah Jacobs is co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC and a certified Holistic Nutritionist with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She believes that health is attainable for everyone and that food is the best medicine. She also believes in laughter. Lots of it. …You can’t be “well” without it. She occasionally swears, is usually sassy, and is always dependable.