This topic is very broad and up for interpretation, depending on the diet and lifestyle you follow. If there is one thing I have learned over the years of studying health, it is that food is only one part of the equation of achieving a healthy state. It’s important to look at our health from a “whole” perspective. Here’s my interpretation of the top five practical ways to improve one’s health.
Let’s face it: We really can’t be successful or happy without God giving us the strength and support we need each and every day. Having time with God every day, reading His Word, and joining a growth group or Bible study are all necessary parts of our overall well-being. We need fellowship with both God and our friends so we can walk out life together. When tough times come, you will be so grateful to have a community of believers to lift you up. We also need to remember, from a healthy living perspective, that our bodies are not our own—they belong to God. These vessels are gifts, and we should be taking excellent care of them so that when God calls us to action, we can obey without hesitation. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.”
- Stress management
In today’s world, it has become a social status to talk about how busy you are. This “go, go, go” mentality can lead to burnout, heartache, disappointment, anger, poor time management, and more. All of this leads to stress in your life, which in turn leads to extreme stress on your immune system by suppressing it. Overworking your adrenals promotes adrenal fatigue, which, in turn, can cause depression, low energy and other hormonal issues, leading to further health problems and weight issues. Stress is a major issue in our lives and culture, so taking time to rid your life of stress is crucial to your overall health—it’s by far the single most important thing you can do to help your long-term health.
- Eat more greens
Genesis 1:29-30 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
Green plants were God’s original plan for our food as His creation. Plants are full of the micronutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals we need to live healthy, disease-free lives. Eat the food God made in its most original form, and try to keep to organic. Stay away from boxed and processed foods, and eat food the way God intended it to be. This one step alone will indeed challenge you, but it can—and will—change your health.
- Get moving
Moving and getting the right amount of exercise not only makes us healthier and more confident from an appearance perspective, but it also provides a happiness effect. Find activities you enjoy, such as walking, hiking, biking or paddle-boarding with your spouse or friends. The most common excuse people provide for not exercising is that they just don’t have the time. If this is true for you, then you need to go back to No. 2 and remove some stress from your life. You need to make time to move. To start, climbing the stairs instead of using elevators and escalators, and even parking in the farthest parking spot at the store and walking your cart back will give you that little bit of extra movement you may be lacking.
Sleep is so vital to our overall health—it’s when our bodies repair, build and refresh. Without sleep your immune system cannot fully operate and your body cannot fully repair injuries or other problems that may be present. Pay attention to the amount of caffeine you take in so that you can be assured of a restful night when you do go to sleep. Also, do not watch intense television shows or movies at night or do computer work—all of these things can stimulate your brain to the point of having a hard time turning off. People who lack sleep often suffer mild depression, anxiety and unmanaged stress.
Remember that none of the five actions above is good if viewed as a single entity—they are to be viewed in the context of part of an all-inclusive, holistic approach to overall health. If you spend intentional time making each of these a part of your everyday life, it will promote health and mitigate the risks of chronic disease and illness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roxanne Hicks is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about healthy living. She has been happily married to her husband Brian for 21 years and together they have three daughters. After years of raising a daughter with type-1 diabetes and helping extended family members battle cancer and weight issues, Roxanne decided to go back to school to learn more about how food plays a role in our overall health and well-being. She graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2013 with a certificate in health coaching. Roxanne then went on to complete the plant-based nutrition certificate program through Cornell University’s Center for Nutrition Studies. Roxanne loves to teach and help people to look at food from a different perspective, and to “see food as a way to heal and care for the amazing body God has blessed us all with.”