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Top 5 Ways to Get Healthier Right Now

Written By OLUSEYE AJAYI on Saturday, October 5, 2013 | 9:00 AM

Every New Year we celebrated by making a sincere commitment to get healthier and lead a better lifestyle. Unfortunately, many of the resolutions we made either fell by the wayside or have less of an impact on our health than we’ve been led to believe. With all of the information out there on healthy living, it’s easy to be confused and overwhelmed as you try to prioritize your lifestyle changes. We’ve made it easier for you by collecting the top five ways to get healthier now.

Not all of these will apply to you and some of them may be things that you’re already doing. If so, pass them over and focus on the things you do need to do. These are not in any particular order and they’ll be more essential for some of you than for others, depending on your lifestyle, medical history and current health.

Stop Smoking

Very few people need to be told that smoking will kill you. But did you know that the act of quitting has an almost immediate effect? Within days, your lungs will begin to clear and that morning cough will stop. Within a few weeks, most of the several hundred addictive toxins will have been cleansed from your system, taking the most serious cravings with them. Within five years, your lungs (and your life expectancy) will be as though you never smoked. As a bonus, you won’t collapse into a coughing spasm when attempting the next item on our list.

Get Moderate Cardio Exercise 3x per Week

Cardio sounds too exhausting, you say? Finding the remote is exhausting when you’re overweight and out of shape. So is trying to stuff that muffin top back down your pants.

We’re talking about twenty short minutes of moderate cardio, such as walking, dancing, swimming, biking or anything else that strikes your fancy and suits your health. How moderate is moderate? Walk faster than if you were killing time but slower than you would if being chased by zombies. More seriously; set a steady pace that raises your heart rate and leaves you able to talk but not that interested in doing so.

If you hate standard cardio exercise, play a game of kickball with your kids, go skating with some friends or try that hip-hop dance DVD you got for Christmas. Just get moving. You’ll burn calories, lose weight and improve your heart and lung health.

Drink More Water

It’s boring, but true. Most people are far more dehydrated than they know. And most of us need a minimum of 64 fluid ounces of water per day; more if you’re in a hot or cold climate, work out regularly, live at a high altitude or have high blood pressure. You need sufficient water to digest your food, rid your body of toxins, lose weight, think clearly and maintain your blood supply.  Within a week of drinking at least your minimum requirements, you’ll notice steadier moods, less bloating, more mental focus and younger looking skin.

Ditch the Processed Foods

Highly processed foods such as fast food and packaged snacks are loaded with trans-fats, salt, sugar and empty calories. They clog your arteries, add bulk to your butt, promote fatigue and are actually addicting. Switch out fast food for a healthy brown bag lunch, chips for healthy nuts or veggies and candy bars for fruits and or a healthy smoothie. You’ll lose weight, speed your metabolism, lower your cholesterol, improve your digestion and notice a lot less bloating, heartburn, fatigue and cravings.

Get Plenty of Vitamin C

Most people think that Vitamin C is only good for preventing colds, but Vitamin C is the superstar of micronutrients. Yes, it does boost your immune system, but it also does much more. Vitamin C is one of the building blocks for every single cell in your body and since your body makes new cells continuously, you need plenty of it.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to pay close attention: Vitamin C is your very best friend when it comes to preventing or getting rid of abdominal fat. Vitamin C reduces the amount of stress perceived by your brain. Because it does, it also reduces the amount of cortisol released into your bloodstream. Cortisol is a stress hormone whose sole purpose is to store belly fat.  Less cortisol means less new belly fat is stored and more is burned as energy. But there’s another part to this.

Vitamin C is also one of the main components of a friendly little compound called L-carnitine. You can think of L-carnitine as the taxi driver for stored fat. Once your body decides that you don’t need that fat, it needs to transport it to the liver, where it can be turned back into glucose and burned as energy. L-carnitine is that transportation system.

The problem is that Vitamin C is a soluble vitamin; our bodies only store a small amount of it, and first dibs go to cell renewal and your immune system, so you have to a healthy supply of it every day. Get enough, and your brain releases less cortisol and signals your body to get rid of fat. Then zippy little L-carnitine will swing by and haul it off for you.

Do These Today and Reap the Benefits as Soon as Tomorrow

These five ways to get healthier may seem somewhat unrelated, but they all address the most dangerous and pressing health problems we’re facing today. Overweight, high blood sugar, smoking, high cholesterol, dehydration and compromised immune systems result in heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure; all of which are in the top ten reasons for death in this country.

The good news is that making these changes will result in a positive impact on your health as soon as tomorrow. You really can’t ask for faster results than that.
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