Now that our shopping lists and gift exchanges are done, and most of our holiday decorations are tucked away, we only have one thing left to do: Make a list of our New Year’s resolutions. Many of us leave our guilt trip at home when we go on that Christmas dinner binge or make promises that we will eat healthier tomorrow but how many of us really keep that promise? I don’t scold my patients for gaining a few pounds after Christmas dinner but I do recommend that they make better choices.
Why is eating healthy and exercising so important? Well, who doesn’t want to grow old gracefully and healthy? Who doesn’t want to be traveling around the world even in their 80’s? The secret to having a good quality of life is not a big secret. In fact, these are practices that other societies have done for decades! Scientific studies have identified that our DNA components contribute to our biological clock. It is more important to determine our physiological age rather than our biological age. We may have been curious how some 30 year olds look like they’re in their 50’s or 80 year olds look like they haven’t had wrinkles! It is very easy to hasten our aging process by smoking, eating fast food, not exercising and being exposed to psychological stress. So, here is a list of things we need to add to our resolution this coming year:
- Exercise – doing any sustained physical activity like walking, dancing, swimming, etc for 150 minutes per week will go a long way. No need to enroll in an expensive gym (unless you were given a membership last Christmas)
- Avoiding tobacco – easier said than done for most people but tobacco has been proven to cause several chronic diseases
- Eating a Mediterranean diet – consisting of nuts, fruits, vegetables, lean meat and olive oil that are all baked, broiled or grilled
- Red wine – no more than 1 glass with the evening meal (but you have to be at least 21 years old and make sure you don’t drive)
- Green tea – at least 3 cups a day (and it has to be pure without sugar or cream)
- Omega-3 fatty acids – which are found in cod liver oil and fish oil preparations
- Vitamin D supplements – especially for Northwest Missouri where we don’t get plenty of sunshine. It is recommended to have at least a supplement of 400 to 800 IU per day.
- Sleep – at least 7 to 8 hours per night and find time to have 10 to 20 minute naps in between. For most of us who work, trying to squeeze a quick nap during our lunch hour may be helpful.
How easy it is to look at that list and say, “Hey, I can do that!” Well, let’s start the New Year right and make better, healthier choices! Have a blessed New Year everyone!
Dr. Jayne Opeña