| LINDSEY WILSON
With so much information accessible to you about the best exercise programs and diets that can help you get into “the best shape of your life” or “make you lose ten pounds in five days”, it can be difficult to know where to start and who to believe.
At OWL, we’re not into gimmicks and quick solutions. We believe in practices that support your overall health and contribute to the health of your whole body. We’ve compiled a list of areas on which we find it most important to focus for a long, healthy, and prosperous life.
For an easy transition into healthy living, find one or two that you feel confident you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Once you have a good handle on these, slowly add in another area focus as you feel appropriate and achievable. Before you know it, you’ll be living your best life in a body that operates at an optimal level.
Support Your Liver
The purpose of your liver is to remove toxins from your body. It also produces the bile which helps you digest your food.
Coffee lovers will be excited to learn that drinking coffee is one of the best ways you can take care of your liver. Coffee has the ability to prevent collagen and fat build up in the liver. These are two of the biggest signs of liver disease1.
Multiple studies show that coffee can protect the liver from certain diseases. For instance, it lowers the risk of cirrhosis, may help reduce the risk of a common liver cancer, and is associated with lower risk of death in people with chronic liver disease2.
That being said, you should still focus on getting plenty of water. This gives your liver a rest from the daily grind and keeps it ready for whatever is next.
Green tea improves liver enzymes, reduces fat deposits in the liver, and lowers the risk of liver cancer. In people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, multiple cups of green tea improved liver enzyme levels and helped reduce fat build up and oxidative stress in the liver12.
Other foods that keep your liver operating at the optimal level include:
- Beet juice
- Fatty fish
- Brussel sprouts
Support Your Body’s Digestion and Elimination Process
Staying hydrated is a great place to start when it comes to helping your stomach do its job. Your body draws water into the contents of your intestines which keeps everything moving smoothly. In addition to water, you can add more fiber and healthy fats to your diet which adds bulk to your stool and lowers inflammation in your intestines.
Bitter greens and bitter supplements, like our Digestive Bitters, stimulate the production of bile and digestive enzymes. This is a signal to your body that it’s time to start the engines in your digestive system. Apple cider vinegar prior to meals is another option to stimulate stomach acid production, which aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Daily exercise helps move food through your digestive system. In fact, one study showed that people who participated in moderate exercise like jogging or swimming increased their gut movement by 30 percent3.
Get Plenty of Protein Every Day
Proteins are the foundation of your body. Not only does protein contribute to building and retaining muscle, but it comprises your skin, tendons, organs, neurotransmitters, and important enzymes as well. As we age, the importance of protein increases. A sufficient amount in your daily diet can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia - both common health risks among the elderly4.
A higher protein intake can also protect you against high blood pressure5 and fight diabetes6, both of which can lead to kidney disease. The best sources for protein include:
- Black beans
- Green peas
- Chia seeds
Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels
Keeping your blood sugar in check can solve a lot of health problems at once. It can increase your insulin sensitivity, lower your risk for diabetes, help maintain a healthy body weight, and help you sleep better. We recommend two practices to maintain the balance.
Drinking enough water daily helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar and can lower your diabetes risk7. Eating plenty of fiber can help slow carb digestion and sugar absorption8. Be sure to monitor where your foods fall on the glycemic index.
High fiber foods with low to moderate glycemic index:
- Non-starchy veggies, especially leafy greens
- Fruits, like berries, apples, and avocados
- Legumes, such as beans, peas, & chickpeas
- Whole grains, such as oats, barley, or wheat pasta
Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods
Antioxidants help prevent free radicals from harming the brain and other organs, and will prevent premature aging. Free radicals can form within your body through a number of different stimuli including everyday stress, a harsh lifestyle, and environmental factors like:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Sun radiation
- High blood sugar levels
- Alcohol consumption
Free radicals are linked to multiple chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Your body has natural antioxidant defenses, but by fortifying these defenses you can help your body sustain a long-lasting regenerative cycle.
To add to your antioxidant defenses, you’ll want to look for foods high in Vitamin C and E, both very effective antioxidants.
- Red peppers/green peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sunflower seeds
Exercise can also impact the effect that stress has on your body in the long run. Your overall cortisol levels are lower when you exercise and your endorphins receive a boost. Moderate exercise can also improve your sleep quality which helps in lowering stress levels and repairing the body from daily stressors.
Consume Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Foods
Inflammation can be problematic for many people because most of the time, you can be unaware that it even exists inside you. Chronic inflammation can lead to a number of different diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods and natural herbs into your diet can help control silent inflammation in your body.
- Green tea
- Berries (also high in antioxidants)
- Fatty fish - mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines
- Red peppers
Add Probiotic Foods to Your Diet
The healthier your gut is, the healthier your entire body becomes. Probiotics help the good gut bacteria flourish which supports superior digestion and boosts your immune system. This good bacteria also turns soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids that strengthen your gut wall.
When you have a healthy gut wall, your bloodstream stays free of unwanted substances that can make you feel less than stellar9. Additionally, your body can fight depression and anxiety10, lower your bad cholesterol11, and stave off digestive disorders like IBD, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Ideas for probiotic foods to add to your menu:
- Plain yogurt
- Flax seeds
Prioritize Your Health
It all boils down to what makes you feel good each and every day. Whether it's thirty days from now, or thirty years. Your future self will not regret the decisions you make today in order to flourish later down the road. Here's to you and healthy practices for the sake of a life that is whole and well lived.
- Coffee and liver health - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Coffee and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: brewing evidence for hepatoprotection? - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of moderate exercise on bowel habit - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Dietary protein and blood pressure: a systematic review - PubMed (nih.gov)
- An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia - PubMed (nih.gov)
- The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the immune system - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Gut brain axis: diet microbiota interactions and implications for modulation of anxiety and depression - ScienceDirect
- The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol: A meta-analy... : Medicine (lww.com)
- Green tea with high-density catechins improves liver function and fat infiltration in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients: a double-blind placebo-controlled study - PubMed (nih.gov)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing