Five fundamental health resolutions for 2014

Ryan Hunton

A new year brings new opportunities. With this New Year, choose to live and make positive decisions to better your health. The following five resolutions are fundamental steps that anyone can take to better health and better quality of life.

1) Care about your health: A positive view of health is a pre-requisite to the other four resolutions listed below. With a negative or indifferent outlook, the rest of what is written here will not register. Likewise, health is a pre-requisite to whatever a person enjoys in life. Whether it is work, family, sports, shopping, or video games, a healthy lifestyle can increase one’s energy level, improve emotional and mental well-being, and extend one’s lifespan. Take small steps forward toward a healthier future by incorporating the following fundamentals into your respective lifestyle.

2) Drink more water: Water is unquestionably the purest beverage around. The human body is about 60 percent water, so drinking water is one of the first steps that a person can take toward a healthier future. Water is present in many foods and drinks. However, drinking enough pure water each day can improve digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, blood circulation, appearance of skin, and excretion of waste from the body. Not drinking enough water, on the other hand, is associated with headaches, kidney stones, and decreased alertness. Make water the most important drink during this New Year.

3) Take a deep breath: In many ancient languages, including Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the words for spirit and breath are the same. Normally, breathing is an unconscious act; yet becoming conscious of one’s breathing is one of the oldest forms of meditation. Deep breathing is one of the most effective and easiest ways to lower stress in the body. It activates the parasympathetic response, the branch of the nervous system in charge of ‘rest and digest’ activities, which slows the heart rate, and reduces the amount of stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine, in the blood stream. So, when stress comes, take a deep breath. Then take another.

4) Exercise your body: Exercise, however a person gets it, is a step in the right direction. Although it benefits several areas of the body including the joints and the heart, the brain and memory, in particular, show functional improvements in people who exercise regularly. For students, this could mean better grades (assuming that one studies before or after exercising). Since aerobics and resistance training have different physiological effects across the body, it is best to utilize both. Other positive effects of exercise include increased resistance to stress; decreased risk at a genetic level for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease; and increased efficiency in oxygen uptake and energy production.

5) Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables: There are hundreds of plant foods to choose from, many of which are central to ancient systems of medicine; choose ones that you like and choose variety. In general, studies show that plant foods contain hundreds of compounds that produce positive effects in humans. These compounds include vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients, and essential oils. Each vegetable and fruit is a unique container of life and nutrition. Meats also contain valuable nutrients; however, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits provides benefits, such as lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers,