- Clean up your diet. Eat organic where you can. The Environmental Working Group in the USA has produced a list of their clean fifteen and dirty dozen foods. These lists give recommendations of which food are least likely to be impacted by pesticides, and which foods are most impacted, so are best to be sourced organically, or at least spray free. There isn’t a similar list in Australia, but these are useful guides to help us know which foods are most likely to be heavily sprayed. Eating clean also involves eliminating processed foods, and eating a plant-based whole food diet. (with or without meat). Many people comment to me that eating ‘healthy’ is expensive. I have a post sharing ways to eat better, without breaking the bank that you might like to take a look at.
- Pay particular attention to meal timing, allowing at least a 12-hour fasting window between dinner and breakfast. This can substantially ramp up the process of autophagy. Autophagy is the cellular clean-up process our bodies undertake when in a fasted state. Cleaning up the environment our genes exist in, leads to more beneficial epigenetic expression.
- Remove foods that may be causing inflammation. These foods will likely be different for everyone, but there are a few culprits that come up again and again. They are gluten, dairy and sugar. An elimination diet is a great way to ‘illuminate’ which foods are causing trouble for you. In the longer term, the focus should be on an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Get the right amount of exercise. Not too much, but not too little. We need to keep our bodies moving, but this doesn’t mean we need to become gym junkies. Walking is a great form of exercise that has proven health benefits. For some, this may be aiming for 10,000 steps or more a day. For others it may be much less. Just start! And slowly build up your capacity. Once comfortable with that, add in some strength training and maybe some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Don’t overdo it, though. Too much can lead to inflammation, just as not enough can lead to inflammation. There is a goldilocks-like sweat spot with exercise.
- Get enough sleep. Get to bed by 10 pm if possible, and work on improving your sleep quality. If you need more help to improve sleep, check out my blog on sleep tips.
- Learn ways to manage stress. We can’t eliminate stress altogether. We live in a busy, complex world. Meditation is one way we can positively impact our ability to cope with the challenges of life. There are some great app’s available now that talk you through the process of learning to meditate in a mindful way. These include CALM, Insight Timer and Headspace. Movement meditation is another form that includes yoga and qi gong. It’s best to find a form of meditation that you enjoy, and then keep at it. Research suggests the stress-busting benefits come from creating a regular meditation habit. Even as little as 10 minutes a day, like most of the app’s provide, can have profound effects on how we feel.
- Work on improving detoxification pathways. Our liver is the key to detoxification, and we need to support it by turning off the tap of toxins coming in. We also need to provide good levels of nutrients through a healthy diet to act as cofactors for many of the processes our liver needs to carry out. This is best done through food, but supplementation can be of benefit too. One of my favourite supplements is Sulforaphane, a phytochemical obtained from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. This compound stimulates a number of health benefits, including up-regulation of the detoxification pathways, improving antioxidant status, lowering oxidative stress and gut healing.
When we understand how our genetics may be playing a role in our health challenges, it gives us something practical to do, to turn things around. But remember, our genetics are only one piece of the health puzzle. Gut health and immune system regulation play significant roles too.
If you want to learn more about genetic testing, or the use of diet and lifestyle practices that can improve health, please book in for a complimentary 15 minute chat on the phone.