While President Obama is working hard on his pledge to make healthcare more affordable for all, we can do our part at home by keeping ourselves well to ensure good health throughout our lives.
1. Eat right: Sugar, white flour, and factory-made trans fats wreak havoc on the immune and cardiovascular systems. Eliminate them from your diet. Eat twice as many vegetables as you do fruits. Drink water, not juice or soda.
2. Exercise: The prescription is five or more days a week. Give equal time to strength training as you do cardio. Also, step up your cardio routine with interval training.
3. Get enough sleep every night: The magic number for most is between six and eight hours a night. You should wake up feeling rested and refreshed in the morning. Not getting enough shut-eye suppresses the immune system, setting the stage for illness and higher cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that packs on fat.
4. Get some sun: While hard to do outside since summer's over, moderate use of a tanning bed can ensure adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is the "antibiotic" vitamin-especially helpful during cold and flu season. If you don't want the exposure from a tanning bed, take a daily supplement of at least 2,000 IU vitamin D3 every day in addition to your multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (trust me, there isn't enough vitamin D in your multi).
5. Get happy: We all experience stress in our lives but what is key to successful management of it is to change our reaction to it. Chronic stress not only wears us down mentally, but also wears down immunity and propagates inflammation. This clogs arteries. Commit to creating more positive life experiences and remove yourself from toxic situations and people wherever possible.