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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Can you guess the smallest yet virtually most important factor for incredible health?

Beautiful cells - only nature can produce such beauty!

In the past weeks I've been sharing tips and strategies for improving health and Pro-Aging (let's love and enjoy every year as it passes). When it comes down to basics, the outcome of all the healthy habits is to ultimately nurture each and every one of our beautiful cells. In this post I'll review the top three investments I make in my health each day and explain why they are so important.

All of the great choices we make - eating whole foods, moving our body, hydrating, deep healing breaths (and I have 46 more for you in my Be Inspired Be Healthy program!) will have a powerful effect on the health of our cells, the basic building blocks of life. Every one of these healthy habits will benefit us in some way. You deserve a healthy body and a happy life. Giving your body the nutrition it needs to thrive is an important act of self-love.

Did you know that the human body is made up of approximately 37.5 trillion cells - and the condition of these cells is undeniably what determines our overall health. This is such an exciting topic! (or is that just me?) - the magic that goes on in our cells is so incredible.

Have you hear of telomeres? They are really important when it comes to aging. A telomere is the structure at the end of each chromosome. As cells age and divide, telomere length becomes shorter and shorter until the cell eventually dies. It’s a natural and inevitable process. So what do telomeres have to do with cellular health?

Well, telomeres don’t shorten at a fixed rate. They get smaller each time a cell divides, sure, but certain lifestyle decisions can shorten telomere length more rapidly. In other words, your diet, exercise habits, and other activities can prematurely age your cells." If you love this geeky stuff you may want to read this article on keeping your cells healthy. So, what do you think - should we work at protecting those telomeres?

My excellent health (ie the ability to take up hockey at age 54) is a result of the past 20 years of INVESTING in my health. You know that saying "you are worth it"? Yes, I am and so are you. Do not sell your health to the lowest bidder!. In other words it's ok to buy some things at a big box store, but not your vitamins. If you doubt this advice, keep reading.

Here's my Key Habit #1: I started taking a high-quality multi-vitamin in 2004. It was an surprising decision for me as I'd been raised to believe a good diet was all we needed. (a little secret - prior to the 1950's that was true!) But a little education convinced me to try it. The results honestly blew me away! At this stage in my life I had 3 teenagers at home, was running our first business, a gym, and working part-time in corporate. In my spare time I trained for marathons. Well guess what - not only did I have great energy, I never once in 5 years got sick -- not a cold, flu, nothing. This alone made me a believer! You can't always feel the benefit, but your cells cannot help but flourish. The key here though is "high quality" products - 'frugal' is my middle name but this is not where I scrimp.

The requirement of the FDA on vitamins is that “products must contain a minimum of 30% of what is on the label” - yikes that a big 70% potential gap! There is also an allowable window for toxins. Ummm, no thank you. I highly recommend that you choose a company backed by science and that voluntarily follows the guidelines of the pharmaceutical industry (this means that 100% of what’s on the label is IN the bottle!) It's no secret that I trust my health to USANA Health Sciences, one of the leaders in the field - here’s my product of choice, what I have used to support my cells for the past 17 years, and what kept me going during those crazy busy years.

The 2nd key area is bacteria - you know that microbiome everyone is talking about. It is vital in many aspects of health including immunity, mood regulation, metabolism, weight management and more. We need to protect it, but this whole Covid situation is not helping! Constant use of hand sanitizer wipes out good and bad bacteria. Other enemies of our microbiome are antibiotics, sugar & over-consumption of alcohol. What to do? Well, first we have to ensure we set consume prebiotics to feed the beneficial bacteria and then continue to nurture the system with probiotics.

Here are a few options for Prebiotic foods: Chickpeas, lentils & legumes, asparagus, apples, barley and oats. Bonus! these foods also contain beneficial fiber. Now for the Probiotic - options are fermented foods (such as kefir, kombucha, pickles & sauerkraut). I eat a lot of those Prebiotic foods and take a daily shot of Fibergy, an inulin fibre supplement so I'm good there. However I have never embraced fermented foods. If those probiotic foods aren't in your diet here's a convenient (no refrigeration required) and effective option that's been feeding my gut for years.

The third key habit for nurturing our cells is restorative sleep. While we are in deep restorative sleep our body is hard at work building, renewing and repairing cells. It's also time for our brain to recharge. Poor sleep contributes to lower immunity, higher risk of obesity, cardiovascular & kidney disease, difficulty with mood maintenance to name just a few. This article on the pros & cons of good versus bad sleep is enlightening. Are you a night hawk that stays up until the wee hours and tries to get by on 4 or 5 hours of zzzz's? Or are you like me -- off to bed with a goal of 7 or 8 hours but it doesn't always happen? Doing all the right things to ensure a good night's sleep starts early in the day; take a peek at this 17 point checklist for better sleep. I have tried them all and still have challenges! My absolute best friend for many years has been Pure Rest, a high-quality ultra pure melatonin product. I promise you -- all melatonin supplements are NOT equal; If you have tried different products with no success, give Pure Rest a try - If it doesn't work for you I will buy it back!

How do these three Keys align with your healthy lifestyle? Do we agree - or do you have different ideas? I am 100% open to discussion and feedback. I'd love to hear from you - maybe you can inspire me to find a favourite new habit!

Pat xo

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