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Did you know that the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight? Number 5 on the list is staying fit and healthy. Health is usually on the top of the list for most people as they start a new year, but these resolutions are quickly put on the back burner as the schedule fills up and stress mounts. How can you keep your pledge to be healthier? Instead to lofty goals (like losing 50lbs) try applying these time tested, simple principles to be truly healthier in 2015.

See a natural health expert – You have all these health related goals but have you gone to see a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or holistic nutritionist? If you haven’t, that’s like trying to rebuild your house without getting an architect to make or at least look over your plans. These experts can help you focus on what really needs to be done to achieve your goals and maybe even uncover some underlying obstacles (such as food sensitivities, spinal misalignment, or hormonal imbalance) to wellness.

Take the No-Processed food challenge – Instead of doing a super intense diet to lose weight or detox, do not eat any processed foods for 2 weeks. It’s actually more challenging then you think, and it’s a simple way to avoid foods and additives that make you gain weight. No processed food means that if it contains more than 3 ingredients then you don’t use it. Yes, this mean you are making almost all of your food. For example, you make simple apple cider and olive oil vinaigrette instead of using the pre-made dressing from the store. A sample meal plan is: oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, almond milk, hemp hearts and blueberries for breakfast; a salad with roasted chicken for lunch; and lightly steamed veggies, sweet potato and wild salmon for dinner.

Cut the sugar and carbs but beware of gluten-free – We should all know by now that sugar (and not fats) is the true culprit of weight gain, diabetes, cancer and almost all other diseases. Refined sugar is very damaging to many systems in the body, but what about gluten? Gluten is a protein from wheat that is highly allergenic (if you are sensitive or celiac) and promotes inflammation. It seems that gluten-free is the trendiest thing in the food industry, but is it really healthier for you? Not necessarily! Many gluten-free products are made with corn and rice that are not much healthier either. Eating gluten-free may be just replacing one evil for another. I suggest you choose whole foods and alternative grains. If you are not celiac or very gluten sensitive then try an heirloom or artisan grain bread that is made with wheat that has not been over-processed and uses a traditional baking process.

*Ever wondered why gluten has become public enemy number one when our grandparents ate bread and never complained of digestive upset? It really comes down to how the agriculture and food processing industry has altered the wheat plant over the last 50 years to contain more gluten (since it gives more yield for bread). Plus, you find wheat in almost every processed food. If you don’t believe me, check the ingredients in your favorite sauce. If you couple that with an environment that is loaded with chemicals and pesticides that impact the delicate bacterial balance you have in your digestive system, you have the perfect food allergy/sensitivity storm with gluten leading the charge.

Ditch your one-a-day multi – Multivitamins got a bad rap in 2014. While the research was controversial, the fact remains that many people feel they are being healthy by taking a gummy (full of sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners) or a super compressed tablet. The doses of vitamins and minerals are so low in one-a-day supplements that it’s really as if you were taking nothing at all.
Healthy Alternative: Instead of taking a supplement all year long, consider taking a higher potency multivitamin or B-vitamin complex for 2-3 months and then take a break. It’s better to get right amounts of these nutrients, re-build your stores and then maintain your levels through a healthy diet. If you know you are going to have a super busy month, then that’s when you start taking them again.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – When it comes to your supplements it’s so much easier to prevent getting sick or run down than trying to deal with an infection or fatigue. Unfortunately we  live in 

a “reactionary” culture; but this year, resolve to be preventative with your nutrition and supplementation. Want to prevent getting the cold or flu? Then vitamin D and probiotics are the top immune system fortifiers. Need some extra energy? Then a B-complex or a ginseng formula are evidence-based ways to give yourself an extra boost. Do you get tight muscles after you exercise? Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer that most people are actually very deficient in.

Get your vitamin D levels tested – We try to eat well and exercise, but one factor has been correlated with so many health benefits, independent of your diet and activity level. You guessed it: vitamin D boosts the immune system, prevents autoimmunity and cardiovascular disease, strengthens bones and prevents cancer just by being in the optimal range independent of your diet. Experts will agree that the optimal range for Canadians is 100-200 nmol/L to get all these benefits. Most of us are below that range and need to supplement extra. Testing is not covered by most insurance, but the $75-100 is well worth the massive health benefits of knowing the right amount of vitamin D you need to take. If you are low, then a 2000 IU daily dose should be good, but if you are deficient then a higher dose is needed. As an FYI, a number of studies have shown that doses of more than 5,000-10,000 IU daily are safe and effective at raising vitamin D levels.





Dr. Paul Hrkal

About The Author

Dr. Paul Hrkal is a board-certified Naturopathic doctor with a passion to apply innovative and evidence-based nutritional, biological, and supplemental interventions to address underlying metabolic, endocrine and immunological dysfunctions. He is strong advocate of integrative medical education frequently writing and lecturing to both healthcare practitioners and public audiences. He also is the medical director for Advanced Orthomolecular Research, a leading Canadian natural health product company, and maintains a clinical practice in the Toronto area.

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