Updated: May 3, 2021
My maternal grandmother had breast cancer. She didn’t die from her cancer, and in fact she lived until she was 96 years old. She did have macular degeneration, though. My maternal grandfather had Alzheimer’s, my sister had breast cancer, my mom has fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and my in-laws had type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as cancer. I am fairly certain this list of my family’s reported illnesses is not much different than yours. I would venture to guess that each person reading this could agree that someone they know and love, or even perhaps you yourself, have been touched by at least one of these illnesses. Seeing all of my family live with these chronic diseases changed my view of how I wanted to live my life and the quality of life I want to have as I age. I decided in my early 30s that I was going to learn what I could about how to take control of my health, and do what is in my power to prevent those chronic diseases. While I recognize that there are no guarantees, the one thing that has truly given me hope and empowerment is the knowledge that my DNA and family history do not have to be my destiny. I actually have the power to control my genes and my health by my diet and my lifestyle. It has become my greatest passion to empower others with this same knowledge, because I have seen the landscape of our nation’s health actually decline over the last 20 years, not improve, and there is still a decidedly limited absence of common knowledge and education around this fact. We have been made to think that we are victims of our DNA and that there is nothing we can do to stem the tide of a disease, prevent illness, or turn it around.
This is not about being perfect, but it is about applied knowledge. When we know better, we can do better. My first five blog posts will outline my five favorite health hacks; simple ways to powerfully change your health outcomes, based on science.
Here is the first:
1. Hydration: how much water do you drink? No, REALLY. This first tip may not be a new one to you, and I am sure you have had plenty of admonishment to drink water and stay hydrated, so why am I bringing it up here? First, it is probably the simplest one to implement. We are so fortunate in the US to have access to clean, drinkable water. Secondly, it is really true that this can be the first and most powerful way to almost instantaneously impact our health. Headaches, muscle aches, joint aches, blood flow, energy, awareness, focus, hunger, and thirst, among many other things, are almost immediately helped by hydrating the body with fresh, clean water. Our body’s cells are made primarily of water, and need water to function. Our blood, responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrient portability and detoxifying our body, requires water in our body, to do it’s job.
So, how are you REALLY doing? I recommend you drink at least as many ounces as half your body weight each day. That means, if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water each day. Find a bottle you like to drink out of, and measure how much water it holds. Decide how many times you need to drink a full bottle of water each day. There are fun apps to help you keep track of your hydration, and water bottles that measure your consumption as you go, if that makes it easier, so find a way to make sure you add 5-8 oz each day to your total until you get to the point that you are drinking half your body weight in ounces of water – and I mean pure, clean water – not soda, coffee, tea, lemonade or any other beverage. Those are fine, but in addition to your water. Try it and see how different you feel! Will you spend more time in the bathroom at first? Yes! Celebrate that! Your urine should be almost clear, not yellow. If it is yellow, you are dehydrated. Keep drinking water!
Stay tuned, and I will follow with the remaining 4: Gut health, plant nutrition, sleep, and dairy, and how these can either help or hinder your health.
While there are many factors involved in a diagnosis, these are some of the few very simple and easy things we can do to lessen our risk, and make our body as healthy as possible whether we are going through treatment, are in remission and recovery, or just want to prevent a diagnosis. In addition to all of these, mindset is probably the most powerful weapon we have. Practicing gratitude is key- we cannot be in fear, scarcity and negativity when we are in gratitude. We may not be grateful FOR a diagnosis, but we can be grateful IN a diagnosis. What are 5 things you are grateful for? What are 5 things you are looking forward to? Who are 5 people you love? Who are 5 people who love you, whom you are looking forward to seeing soon? What are 5 things you can do to bless someone else? If we can stay in this mindset, and practice the 5 above, we will all be on our way to thriving health!