"Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it"-Lolly Daskal
How do you define health? Do you look at it as a singular thing? Can you pinpoint what makes a person “healthy?” It’s easy to define health and wellness as an individual thing, but there are a ton of different factors that go into each. Health is made up of dozens of variables including diet, exercise, mental health, sleep, stress, and water intake just to name a few things. If you’re trying to get as healthy as possible, it’s not as much about what you add into your lifestyle, as what you eliminate from it. Before you make any new changes, get rid of these 6 things to set yourself up for the best health possible.
1. Sugar This is probably the best thing overall you can do. White refined sugar is one of the biggest curses of our time. The rates of obesity and diabetes that have arisen over the years are staggering, and sugar is right at the forefront in creating havoc in the body. Its most detrimental form is in high fructose corn syrup. This is taking a natural substance (fructose), refining it, and concentrating it into extraction that the body does not recognize and has trouble processing. High fructose corn syrup was invented in the late 50s and introduced in the early 70s as a substitute for fat during the low fat craze. Trade restrictions were making sugar more expensive, and corn was cheap and plentiful. High fructose corn syrup was something that could give lost texture and flavor to food. It also had a longer shelf life and was cheaper to produce than using those high tariff/imported cane sugars. Sugars spike blood sugar which can lead to body fat storage as sugar that is not used by the body is converted to body fat by insulin. Over time, this constant insulin release can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.
2. Trans Fats Trans fats are also known as ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on ingredient lists — but are now classified as trans fats. Trans fats are things like vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated, so they remain solid at room temperature. They also provide more flavor and texture to foods. Trans fats have been around quite a while, most notably in 1909 when Procter & Gamble patented and gained the new technology of hydrogenation. In 1911 they introduced Crisco to the market. They made Crisco from cottonseed oil and is where the name Crisco comes from: “crystallized cottonseed oil.” However, studies into trans fat correlation with cancer didn’t start until the 1940s. It was not until 1988 when a connection was made to coronary heart disease. In the mid-90s, trans fats were causing 30,000 deaths a year from heart disease. The USDA continued to promote trans fats all the way until 2005. In 2006 they estimated that that death count was approaching 100,000 a year. The problem with these fats is they are unfamiliar to your body and turn into sludge in your arteries. Trans fats can therefore lead to coronary heart disease and can increase the risk of:
infertility in woman
Trans fat has no place in the human diet. The problem is, they can hide it in a lot of things — especially processed foods. Be careful reading labels because it’s a good bet you can find trans fats in the following “foods.”
cookies, crackers, cakes, pie crusts, pizza doughs, and some bread
various margarine and shortening
pre mixed items such as cake and pancake mixes
pretty much all fried foods
microwave and movie popcorn
3. A Lack of Exercise If you’re part of a gym and already exercising or playing recreational sports; perfect. If not, this is the time to get out there and get moving — and it doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Exercise is free. Whether it’s walking, hiking, biking, jogging, running stairs, swimming, rollerblading, etc. You can do a burpee or pushup anywhere. A gym or workout equipment in the home definitely makes it easier, but if you’ve been inactive for a while, now is the time to start moving. And don’t worry if you feel you are not ready for a gym yet. If you follow an exercise program, try to do at least what you did during the workout before with a bit extra. Did you do 11 reps on an exercise? Try for 12 the next time. Did you run 25:30? Try for 26 minutes next time. Just allow your body to progress slowly but surely. Exercising is key to providing us tremendous health benefits and here are just a few of them:
increases HDL and lower triglycerides
increased bone density
boosts energy along with enhanced cardiovascular function
promotes better sleep
stronger joints, ligaments, and muscles
This list can just keep going, but I want to show you some significant effects. If you haven’t been active, make sure you consult with your doctor to make sure you’re ready to exercise. But just 30 minutes 3–4 times a week can help you get the benefits listed above. People complicate exercise too much, it can get more specific and advanced, but if you’re new to getting healthy, just remember to move.
4. Gluten Gluten is everywhere, literally and figuratively. So here’s a quick rundown to sum it all up: Gluten is a sticky protein found in the seeds of grass — aka grains. It's primarily in wheat, barley, and rye, but wheat is the form most everyone encounters daily. Gluten makes bread fluffy and dough stretchy.
Ancient wheat — the wheat of the bible, or even what your grand and great grandparents used — differs vastly from the wheat of today. Today’s wheat has been hybridized and genetically modified so that an original strain of wheat which contained 14 chromosomes now has 42. Modern wheat was genetically altered in the 1960s, so it was possible to grow even more of it in the same space. They did this out of noble intentions, as there was the threat of hunger issues because of an alarmingly increasing world population.
This new form of high yield wheat — which makes up 99% of the wheat you can purchase — has a MUCH higher gluten content. It is this higher gluten content that has led to a 4 fold increase of celiac disease over the last 60 years, and increasingly high rates of gluten sensitivity. Gluten can lead to the breakdown of the intestinal walls, which can lead to things like celiac disease and autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is when the body has got used to attacking foreign particles (such as gluten) but has then turned on itself. It mistakes its own tissue for that of the invader it has become used to fighting off. This can lead to issues like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues, and celiac disease itself. Wheat and gluten have also shown to have addictive properties, which is why you crave it under times of stress in the form of comfort food. They have also shown gluten to block the absorption of nutrients, stimulate appetite, and spike blood sugar. This leads to crashes and cravings for more carbohydrates and sugar. One must not confuse whole wheat bread, or whole-grain bread, with actual physical grains. When you are eating bread, you are eating pulverized ground flour. This flour is digested rapidly by the body, causing blood sugar to rise and then eventually fall.
5. Artificial Sweeteners Aspartame is the most recognized artificial sweetener, but artificial sweeteners exist as many brands and varieties, including
Sweet N’ Low
So what does an artificial sweetener do in the body? Aspartame, they make it up of ingredients that include methanol. That converts to formaldehyde in the body, which has been linked to retinal damage and birth defects. The combination of these ingredients acts as ‘excitotoxins’ in the body and can cause potential nerve damage in the brain. There are connections to long-term illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, brain lesions, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Simply put, an artificial sweetener is a chemical creation unrecognized by the body and capable of creating some concerning issues. When it comes to weight loss, that diet drink you reach for may cause additional harm. When your body consumes an artificial sweetener, the sweet taste signals that some amount of calories are on the way. When your body doesn't get these calories, it craves what it feels it was teased with. This can lead to carbohydrate and sugar cravings which can cause havoc in your weight loss pursuits. Artificial sweeteners also have addictive properties and lead to craving another diet drink not long after consuming one. Put all this together and you have a vicious cycle of addiction and cravings that go round and round.