Sure, most of us have a pretty firm grasp on how to stay mentally and physically healthy. They're the basics you've learned over the years: eat your peas, brush your teeth, floss, etc. But, now that grown-up life is in full swing, it’s time to do more for your body — and mind. Ahead, the five tiny tweaks you can make to your daily routine to guarantee you live
forever a longer, more fulfilling life.
Illustrated by Naomi Abel
Eat An (Organic) Apple A Day
...To keep the cardiologist away. 'Tis the season for apple picking, as orchards are pouring with crisp, sweet variations on this yummy "white" fruit (deemed as such by docs because it’s not dark like, say, raspberries). Recent research shows that there is a connection between eating one a day
and a decreased risk of having a stroke.
“The nutrients in apples help make blood less sticky, while the pectin fiber in the skin helps detoxify the body,” explains Jeffrey A. Morrison, M.D., owner of Morrison Health Center in New York City
. Why organic? Not only because you’re biting right into it, and it’s exposed to chemicals, but because the amount of pesticides used on apples tend to be higher than other fruits.
Just Beet It
Conquer colds, viruses, or any immune-busting illness by piling your plate with this red-colored root veggie. “Beets help improve liver function and detoxification as well as strengthen the immune system,” says Morrison. “And in traditional Chinese medicine, during the winter, your liver is thought to warm your body — and beets contain nutrients that help in liver function.” Love them raw and shredded or roasted? You choose. Nutritionally, both are equal. For an even more mega-immune boost, add one raw garlic clove into the mix — it’s all you need to help kick a virus to the curb or keep it from creeping up.
Take A Time Out
Maybe getting in trouble when you were little and sitting in the corner was not as much of a punishment as your parents thought. “I always advocate my patients to spend at least 10 minutes doing something for themselves,” says Morrison. “Anything from sitting quietly to doing a yoga posture or even watering plants.” Why is quiet time so crucial? “Most people are running on adrenaline all the time, so their bodies are in a constant fight or flight response, never resting and relaxing, so it can’t heal,” he says.
Initiating the calming side of the nervous system can teach the body to repair and rejuvenate (a.k.a. stay young and healthy) not only when you’re chilling out but also long after — even when you get all worked up again. The best time to Zen out? As soon as you wake up, right before you go to bed, or while you commute (obviously if you take a train or bus — not drive). “In the morning, when the mind is just waking up, you are clearing the conscious mind first thing, which sets the stage for the rest of the day — the same thing as you are on your way to work,” says Morrison. “While before bed, get calm to have a more restful, more reparative sleep.”
Dream A Little Dream
What you think about while you’re asleep may have more to do with what you do (or how you feel) while you’re awake than you realize. “For many people, dreams are a chance to interpret what’s happening in their lives,” says Morrison. Obviously, pleasant dreams suggest things are going good, while nightmares might be a disguised red flag or call to action. “Nightmares could be a sign that something in your life may not be appropriate either externally or internally,” he says.
Don’t go and buy that dream book on Amazon just yet. “You don’t have to interpret every detail, but you should pay attention to them and how they make you feel about your life — as well as look at what’s going on in your life and how that makes you feel to see if there’s any correlation,” Morrison says.
Just Do It
Nike knows what it’s talking about. “Just like the body needs to rest, it also needs to move,” says Morrison. The problem: office jobs, countless conference calls, plus reality TV. “Most people forget that the human body was meant to be farming the fields or chasing after food,” says Morrison. “Plus, our society has made us very sedentary.” Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hit Barry’s Bootcamp daily. “From a very basic health perspective the body needs to move to increase circulation, and it also improves lymphatic drainage, which helps the body detoxify,” Morrison says. Every day, do at least one exercise: Do 20 sun salutations, hold a plank for two minutes, or lace up your sneaks and go for a light jog.