Health and Wellness

Enara’s Top 5 Strategies for Optimal Health

Sharon Cebik, MD | Medical Provider
/ August 1, 2023
Women on a walk | staying active is one of Enara's top 5 health tips

Navigating the world of health and wellness can sometimes feel overwhelming. With countless tips and advice out there, it’s difficult to know where to start. But don’t worry! We’ve distilled it down to five key areas that can dramatically improve your overall health. In this article, we at Enara are going to share our top recommendations for a healthier you. From nourishing your body with plant-based foods and keeping active, to ensuring quality sleep and maintaining a healthy weight, these practical tips are designed to boost your wellbeing and assist you in your health journey. Read on to discover how you can implement these habits into your everyday life and reap the benefits for your overall health.

1. Eat your plants.

Adopting a diet rich in unprocessed plant-based foods has been proven to enhance health significantly. Consuming these foods in their natural state is linked with a decreased likelihood of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Furthermore, such a diet can aid in weight reduction and management, bolster gut health, and diminish inflammation levels. This healthy eating plan should emphasize the consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, along with nuts and seeds.

The plate method is a great strategy to ensure that you are getting the right balance of all the healthiest food. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, or fruit), and the last quarter with protein.

When choosing fruits and vegetables you can use all sources such as fresh, frozen, and canned if it helps with convenience. However, when selecting canned fruit, steer clear of those containing added sugar. Incorporate a color variety in your food selection, including leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, squash, and bell peppers.

Whole grains (especially ancient grains such as quinoa, farro, bulgur, and teff) and legumes (such as beans and lentils) serve as excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. They offer prolonged energy, and are rich in fiber. Legume-based pasta, like chickpea pasta or edamame spaghetti, although slightly more processed, are also suitable options.

As for lean proteins, aside from animal foods, consider plant-based options, which offer the bonus of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These include beans, lentils, and soy products like tofu and tempeh. Nuts and seeds not only contain protein but also beneficial fats. However, it’s advisable to steer clear of most vegan or plant-based meat substitutes as they are often overly processed and contain higher amounts of saturated fat and sodium. Our Nutrition Specialists at Enara are here to assist you in making optimal choices aligned with your health goals, providing personalized nutrition guidelines that cater to your specific targets and preferences.

2. Stay physically active.

Physical inactivity contributes to nearly one in every ten premature deaths across the globe. Elevating one’s level of physical activity can generate a host of health benefits. It’s not just about preventing and reversing disease; exercise can also enhance mood, sleep, and energy levels.

The current guidelines for adult physical activity suggest 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This could be split into 30 minutes across five days, for instance. If you prefer more intense exercise or have a limited amount of time, you could opt for 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, possibly spread across three 25-minute sessions.

Moderate intensity exercise is any activity that slightly increases your heart rate and breathing, but still allows you to complete full sentences. In terms of heart rate, it’s typically within 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. A straightforward way to estimate your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220. Examples of moderate physical activity encompass brisk walking, leisurely swimming, biking, and even yard work.

On the other hand, vigorous physical activity pushes your heart rate above 70% of its maximum, and you’re only able to utter a few words while exercising. Running, lap swimming, uphill cycling, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are typical examples.

Additionally, it’s recommended to engage in resistance or strength training for at least 20 minutes, twice a week. If you’re striving for more extensive health benefits, aim for 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent blend of the two each week. However, for those just starting on their exercise journey, light activity of any duration can prove beneficial to your health.

At Enara, we have Exercise Specialists ready to work with you one-on-one, helping you achieve your physical activity goals.

3. Decrease your amount of sedentary time.

While this tip may seem redundant, leading a sedentary lifestyle poses its own unique risks separate from a lack of exercise. Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting, are associated with increased mortality risks, independent of how much physical activity you engage in.

For example, even if you regularly exercise outside of your working hours or on weekends, spending your workday seated can still pose additional health risks. These include a larger waist circumference, a lower level of HDL (the “good” cholesterol), heightened inflammatory markers, and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It’s crucial to integrate movement into your day. Heed the reminders from your smartwatch to stand or move about. If your workplace permits, contemplate requesting a standing desk or even a treadmill desk. Just stepping outside and walking for five minutes can confer some health benefits.

4. Get an adequate amount of sleep.

While the precise amount of sleep needed can differ from person to person, most experts suggest a range of 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked with physiological changes that heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders. It also increases the likelihood of certain types of cancers, and can diminish immune function, impairing the body’s ability to combat infections.

Conversely, individuals who consistently attain sufficient sleep experience enhanced cognitive function, mood, and energy levels. A few strategies to promote a restful night’s sleep include adhering to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Establishing a soothing bedtime routine that excludes electronic use can also be beneficial, as the blue light emitted from these devices can disrupt normal sleep onset.

A tranquil, dark, and quiet bedroom environment can contribute to better sleep quality. If anxiety or stress about the upcoming day is troubling you, consider making a list of your concerns and setting it aside. Techniques like deep breathing or meditation may also be useful for relaxation.

Certain daytime habits can influence sleep quality too. Regular exercise is beneficial, and brief naps during the day can be restorative if kept to 30 minutes or less. Try to avoid consuming large meals or sugary snacks before bedtime.

If you are having a difficult time getting adequate sleep, it may be time to speak to your Medical Provider.

5. Maintain a healthy weight.

The concept of a “healthy weight” isn’t always clear-cut. Much of the medical community uses the Body Mass Index (BMI), a calculation derived from an individual’s weight and height. For many, a BMI over 25 is classified as overweight, while over 30 is considered obese.

However, the BMI doesn’t account for the distribution of fat or the amount of muscle mass. For instance, a heavily muscled football player might technically be classified as obese, while an individual with normal BMI but high abdominal fat could be mistakenly labeled as healthy.

A potentially more accurate measure might be waist circumference, but the best indicators of health are likely found through body composition machines. These devices can ascertain your body fat percentage and the amount of visceral fat, which is the fat stored deep within the abdomen.

At Enara, we’re equipped with technology that can measure your body fat percentage, visceral fat, and skeletal muscle mass. We’re here to assist you in setting the most effective goals to enhance your health.

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