I’m 27. How do I stay healthy?
Question: Dr. Dan, I’m still quite young, 27, and want to stay healthy as I age. What can I do today to stay healthy? What healthy habits do you recommend?
I would recommend you begin by first redefining your definition of health.
If you grew up in North America, chances are you and many others define health as simply the absence of disease. This assumes that if you don’t take medications or haven’t been diagnosed with anything, you’re healthy. But health goes far beyond this very limited definition.
If you instead begin defining health as a state of harmony, a state of balance, where your body is functioning as optimally as it can, you can begin adopting habits that will reap true health down the road. Look at it as sowing seeds of health now and reaping the harvest of health in the future.
Here are three things you can start doing today to stay healthy as you grow older: become conscious of what is going in and out of your body, start meditating, and don’t ignore small aches and pains in your body.
Become aware of your body’s input and output
In short, this is all about consuming nutrients that are natural and easy to process, and then allowing your body to easily get rid of them.
The North American diet includes too much processed and fried foods, fats, and meats. So the first thing you can do is cut down on the amount of meat, dairy, gluten, and processed food you’re eating. Become conscious of what is going in and going out of your body. Natural foods better support your body and help you feel better.
To ensure everything is moving properly and exiting your body properly, drink enough water so you’re urinating regularly and consume both soluble and insoluble fiber to maintain good bowel health. If your bowels are moving once a day, or at least once every other day, and what you’re passing is solid and well formed, you’ll be giving your body an opportunity to stay balanced.
In addition to having poor diets in North America, we are far too stressed out. To make sure you are in a balanced mental state and not overrun by stress, begin learning how to use and command your mind.
The easiest way to do that is to take five minutes twice a day and do a simple, guided meditation. Be warned, this is not an easy habit to adopt. I had a hard time believing in the ROI of meditation until experiencing it myself.
Take time to detach from the world, turn off the phone, the computer – I promise your email, Facebook, and Instagram will be fine – and give your mind an opportunity to decompress. The simple step of turning off your electronics and spending five to six minutes meditating will do wonders for your mental health.
If meditation is hard for you, a good meditation app like the Cleveland Clinic Stress app can help make building the habit easier.
Manage body aches and pains
Once your body and mind are allowed to work less and thus find balance, I recommend you begin to heed the call from the small aches, pains, and strains that you will inevitably experience as you grow older. These are signals from your body. Don’t ignore them!
The more you let these strains accumulate over time, the less your body can function optimally. This accumulation and thus deterioration process is typically called aging. But getting older doesn’t have to mean your body falls apart. If you can put in place habits today that eliminate aches, pains, and strains before they begin to accumulate, the structure of your body can maintain itself quite well over the decades to come.
The best way to do take care of these aches, pains, and strains is to find a good osteopathic physician with knowledge of osteopathic manipulation. If you don’t have access to an osteopathic physician, a chiropractor or physical therapist with knowledge of osteopathic manipulation will suffice just fine.
These three habits are small. But if you can implement them, they can help plant the seeds of health that one day will reap a harvest of true health, where balance and harmony rule.
Thank you for reading!
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Dr. Dan Williams is an internationally trained doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) and a certified acupuncture practitioner. Dr. Dan is based out of Indianapolis. You can find more information by visiting drdanielwilliams.com.
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