Today I’m writing about health factors that you may have never considered. We all know that food and exercise affect our health. What we miss are some of the other factors. These are factors that we don’t think matter, but they could be a major detriment to your overall health.
I would consider myself very healthy. I eat very clean and exercise nearly every day, but lately I have been struggling some aspects with my overall health. I’m hungry far more than I should be. I’ve noticed muscle cramps and gas pains on occasion. Some days on my workouts I feel inflammation in my knees or shoulders. These are all signs that something isn’t quite right.
1 Sleep Deprivation
If you aren’t consistently getting 7-9 hours of sleep, you are sleep deprived. Don’t think that you are the exception, that is what I have done for years. All sorts of issues spring up with a lack of sleep.
Have you ever noticed how you are hungry more often when you had a bad night of sleep? That is because your hormones aren’t acting correctly. Most importantly your hunger hormones, gherkin and leptin, are off. These hormones control your body’s ability to determine hunger and satiety. Insulin is also affected when you are sleep deprived, which leads to irregular blood sugar levels and weight gain.
2 Burdened by Stress
Stress can hinder your health quickly. Yet, just like sleep, we think we are okay in the stress department. “I don’t feel stressed,” you may say. Take a little quiz and determine your stress level:
- Do you have trouble getting to sleep or wake frequently in the night?
- Do you work more than 40 hours a week and/or bring work home with you?
- Do you live paycheck to paycheck?
- Do you get along well with your boss? With co-workers?
- Do you “need” time in front of the television every night to “unwind”?
- Do your kids annoy you more than you enjoy being around them?
- Do you and your spouse fight more than you have good, meaningful conversations?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are stressed. Even a little bit of stress has a negative impact on your body and health. It’s time to find a way to deal with the stress. Read more here.
3 Food Allergies/Sensitivities
Even if you are eating clean and have eliminated most of the inflammatory foods, you still may be experiencing some food sensitivities. Your body is likely telling you this. I know that when I have too much dairy in a day I feel some gas pains and just won’t feel 100%. Many experience sensitivities to dairy, especially cows milk dairy. Try switching to goat cheese or goat milk and see if you notice a difference.
I hope you have given up wheat and grains altogether. Even you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac disease, you are likely sensitive to gluten. I advice everyone to stay away from gluten for the sake of your gut.
If you aren’t sure about certain foods, work to determine which foods are causing the problems. Start documenting everything you eat. Then look for patterns for the days that you don’t feel as well as you should. Eliminate the questionable foods. After a few days, add them back one-by-one and note how you feel.
4 Nutrient Deficiency
You could be eating an excellent, clean diet and still experience a nutrient deficiency. Common deficiencies are vitamin B, vitamin D, Omega-3’s, magnesium, and potassium. Look for foods rich in these nutrients and add more of those into your diet. I encourage nutritional yeast for a vitamin B deficiency. You may need to consider a supplement to bridge the gap.
To determine a nutrient deficiency, consider your symptoms. For instance, muscle cramps usually point to a deficiency in magnesium. Sometimes a blood test is necessary to determine what nutrients you are deficient in.
5 Lifestyle Factors
Certainly stress and sleep would fit into this category, but there are other factors here as well. Do you sit all day at a desk? On the flip side, do you work a manual labor job for 10-12 hours a day? Lack of regular movement throughout the day is terrible for your health, but so is over-exercise.
What is your social life like? We are relational creatures and when we fail to live in community with others, our health is affected. Usually, this causes unnecessary stress, but having regular contact with others can be a tremendous release and has positive impacts on your health.
Steps to Take for Optimal Health
- Make sleep a priority. Maintain a regular bedtime routine, including time to bed and time you wake.
- Eliminate stress. Find a new job, begin a hobby, pray, seek counseling, play with your kids, date your spouse.
- Determine foods that don’t work for your body and eliminate or greatly reduce them.
- Request a blood test to determine nutrients you may be deficient in. Alter your diet to include foods rich in those nutrients or consider a supplement.
- Adjust your lifestyle. If you sit all day, set rules for yourself. As an example: every 45 minutes get up and walk a lap around the office, do 10 squats and 10 push-ups. You should also consider a standing desk.
Your health is too important to accept little challenges. You have worked hard to eliminate dangerous foods from your diet, you should expect to be as healthy as you can be. Don’t let these factors continue to have a negative impact on your health. Take action today!
What other factors have hindered your pursuit of optimal health?