The Healthy Habits Challenge
This week we talk about the importance of increasing our fruit and vegetable consumption; practicing gratitude and setting a social media curfew. If you would like to boost your overall wellness pick any of the following healthy habits and gradually start to integrate it into your daily routine.
Healthy Habit #4
How much should we eat?
A study from 2014 found that consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Specifically, they found that daily consumption of 5 servings of vegetables and fruit reduced this risk.
Interestingly, consuming more than 5 servings of vegetables and fruit did not additionally reduce the risk (Wang et al., 2014).
Dr Wahls, an American doctor and researcher, recommends in her protocol for the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disease like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) 9 cups of vegetables per day!
Dr Wahls recommends
- Three (3) cups of leafy greens; which are rich in minerals and vitamins.
- Three (3) cups of coloured fruit and vegetables. The blue/purple pigment also known as anthocyanin has neuroprotective properties and can reduce systemic and vascular inflammation (Fallah, Sarmast, Fatehi, Jafari, 2020).
- Three (3) cups of sulfur-rich foods.
- The cabbage (Brassica) and garlic/onion (Allium) families improve detoxification and are also neuroprotective.
- Mushrooms have a positive impact on our immune system (immunomodulating) and also help us better manage stress (adaptogenic).
To sum up, the minimum intake to reduce our all-cause mortality is five cups of vegetables and fruits per day.
Of the 5 cups, 3 cups should be vegetables and the other 2 cups can be fruits. The optimal amount of fruits and vegetables per day is 9 cups.
A few additional notes
First, conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s may worsen with increasing fibre. Be sure to talk to your health care practitioner.
Second, it’s best to slowly increase your vegetable and fruit intake. A rapid increase in your fibre intake can cause some gastric discomfort like gas, bloating and constipation. Your digestive system may require some time to adapt to the higher amounts of fibre in your diet.
Lastly, some individuals may experience a die-off of “bad” bacteria as they increase their fibre intake. This is largely due to the fact that you are starving the “bad” bacteria and nourishing the good bacteria. Again a slow and gradual intake should avoid this issue.
If you do experience issues, contact your healthcare provider. They may have some recommendations to help ease the transition into a high fibre diet.
Healthy Habit #5
What are you grateful for?
Gratitude can be defined as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself.
Various studies have found that gratitude is linked to improved overall wellbeing including:
- Greater happiness and optimism.
- Higher self-esteem.
- Increased kindness and empathy, even when exposed to negativity from other people.
- Improved physical health such as increased physical activity. improved sleep, and better nutrition.
- Stronger relationships – romantic and platonic.
- Improved ability to deal with hardships (Croke, 2019).
Authors Randy and Lori Sansone (2010) suggest the following strategies to enhance feelings of gratitude:
- Journaling about things for which to be grateful.
- Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful.
- Writing/sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful.
- Meditating on gratitude.
- Undertaking the “Count your Blessings” exercise – at the end of the week, writing down three things for which you were grateful.
- Practising saying “thank you” in a sincere and meaningful way.
- Writing thank-you notes.
You can also integrate a gratitude practice with your family. It can be as simple as going around the dinner table and saying what you are grateful for and why. It can be done nightly or weekly.
Healthy Habit #6
Implementing a social medial curfew is something that I’ve been wanting to integrate into my regular evening routine!
Social media is an amazing invention. It allows for the exchange of so much information so quickly.
With social distancing, many of us are likely spending way more time on social media than usual.
For all the good that social media has brought us, excessive exposure to social media can enhance feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness and can contribute to low self-esteem.
My goal is to start turning off my wifi and data on my cell phone starting at 7:00 pm.
To remind me of my intention I’ll be putting an alarm on my phone that reminds me of this.
Will you be joining me in disconnecting?