Habits for Better Health
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.– Mahatma Gandhi
Researchers say that it takes only 21 days to develop a new habit. This is really a very short time if it can lead to life changing positive changes in our lives.
With health being a priority for most of us, especially now a days, and the world being in a stage where strong immunity and good health would be what most of us would wish for, if granted a wish for ourselves, it is imperative that we work towards developing healthy habits ourselves and in our children.
Here are some habits which will keep them in good health in the long run. The sooner they start, the better it is!
1. Exercising Everyday for 30minutes
The lockdowns are keeping us all indoors, but let it not reduce the exercise we get. Children have so much energy that it is important for them to vent it out in vigorous exercise routine. Every morning or evening, whichever time suits you and your children, exercise for at least 30 minutes. It can be a lot of fun if you exercise together as a family.
Try online Zumba classes, or exercise apps like J&J 7 minute workout, cult.fit etc. There are a lot of these apps to choose from which have exercises ranging from dance workouts to cardio and aerobic exercises to strength training.
Exercising helps in flushing bacteria out of lungs and airways, thereby reducing chances of getting a cough, cold or flu. It also increases activity of antibodies and white blood cells (WBCs) and thus helps boost immunity. Exercising reduces cortisol, which is the stress hormone and increases energy levels of the body.
2. Eating Alkalizing Foods Everyday
At least 50% of your meals should comprise fruits and vegetables
Alkalizing foods are foods which when digested increase the alkalinity of our body. Human blood is slightly alkaline (With a pH of 7.36 – 7.44). An alkaline environment in the body keeps us healthier, helps our body fight illnesses and keeps us stronger; while a more acidic environment in the body makes us more susceptible to illnesses.
Alkalizing foods include lemon juice, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, sprouts (Citric fruits are acidic but after digestion are alkalizing and therefore recommended to increase alkalinity in the body)
Acidic foods include milk, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, grains, alcohol, refined sugar.
While you cannot eliminate acidic food from your diet but it is best to reduce these and increase the alkalizing foods in our daily meals. Fruits and vegetables should comprise at least half of the meals that your children eat. A simple rule to ensure that your children get all vitamins and minerals is to give them fruits and vegetables of different colors (with the added advantage that the colorful food looks great as well)
3. Avoiding Refined Sugars
Refined sugar is highly acidic. It is also addictive. It lights up the addictive centers in our brain just like other addictive substances like cocaine. That is why we have sugar cravings. However, if we control ourselves for a few days and reduce our sugar intake, these cravings will soon disappear or reduce.
If you do need sweet things, use jaggery or honey to sweeten food (never cook honey as it can become toxic). For example, I usually use honey in place of pancake syrup with pancakes or waffles (which I usually make with ripe bananas and no added sugar). Bake cookies with jaggery instead of white sugar. Use breakfast cereals with no added sugar and add honey to sweeten it if required.
Reduce the sweet malted powders as an additive to milk – they have very high amount of sugar and over a period of time, if used continuously, they will do harm than good. It is just a matter of getting used to taking milk without these. Milkshakes with banana or mango (without added sugar) is a wonderful healthy substitute for the so-called ‘health drink powders’.
Remember that craving for sugar is a matter of habit – it can be reduced drastically if you forcibly restrain yourself and your children just for a few days.
4. Drinking Warm Water Every Morning
This one habit alone can help you get a much better digestive health. You can have plain warm water or with lemon and honey. Drinking warm water early in the morning has amazing impact on your digestive health. It clears the intestines, prevents bloating and is touted to result in weight loss as well. This is a great habit for children to develop since it keeps their stomach and intestines healthy and clean.
Avoid drinking a lot of water in the middle of a meal as it can cause indigestion, acid reflux and even increase insulin levels as per Macrobiotic counselor Ms Sabherwal. A few sips are fine but never glut down water with meals. It is best to have water 30 minutes prior or 1-2 hours after a meal.
5. Following a Sleep Routine
Try to get the children in bed at the same time everyday and wake up at the same time every day, ensuring that they sleep for a sufficient number of hours as per their age.
Sleep requirement for various ages according to webmd:
- 1-3 year olds: 12-14 hours of sleep per day
- 3-6 year olds: 10-12 hours of sleep per day
- 7-12 year olds: 10-11 hours of sleep per day and
- 12-18 year olds: 8-9 hours of sleep per day.
As per the National Sleep Foundation, establishing a sleep schedule helps to regulate the body’s clock and gives a more relaxed and better-quality sleep. Good quality sleep is required for the body to remain healthy and strong because during sleep, the immune system produces infection fighting cytokines. Sleep deprivation prevents the formation of these substances and leads to a weakened immune system.