As I mentioned yesterday, I spend all year thinking about simple ways to live a healthier, happier life.
It’s not as drastic – and it doesn’t take as much work – as you might think. I’m not suggesting you start running marathons or drinking kale smoothies. And even if you start doing just one of these things this year, I’m confident it will improve your life.
Yesterday, I shared six of my top 13 health tips. Today, we’ll cover the rest of the list…
7. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol: Whether it’s beer, liquor, or wine, drinking alcohol is good for you (as long as it’s in moderation). Regular Retirement Millionaire subscribers have heard me tout the incredible benefits of wine… Wine lowers blood sugar, decreases your risk of dementia, and protects your prostate.
The benefits of beer and liquor are lesser-known. Beer is packed with vitamin B, which helps maintain healthy insulin levels. Liquor has similar benefits to wine and beer, although to a lesser extent.
Again, moderation is key… I strive to drink one to two four-ounce glasses of wine per day. Much more than that can disrupt your sleep cycles.
6. Breathe clean air: All around you is polluted air. You can’t see it, but it can cause cancer, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, and damage your respiratory system. Having too much dust, dirt, or smoke in your home leads to chronic inflammation… which can result in more colds, aches, and even asthma. That’s why breathing clean air is an essential part of having a healthy year.
There are several simple steps to improving the air quality in your home… When you come from being outside, take your shoes off. Keep a clean pair of slippers by your front door or just walk around in socks. This means less dirt in your home.
Also, keep your furnace air filter clean. The air filter is meant to trap particles in the air, but a dirty filter means that less air gets filtered efficiently. That leaves more dust floating around your house. Do what I do… Keep a portable air filter system in your bedroom. After all, we spend at least one-third of our lives in bed.
5. Get a massage: A massage is a great way to relieve aches and pains and stimulate the immune system. The effect of physical touch relieves stress, lessens depression, and lowers blood pressure.
I try to get a massage at least twice a month. In the past, I favored a Swedish-style massage. But in the last year, I’ve enjoyed a different sort of massage called Thai yoga massage.
The problem is, massages can be expensive. But if you can afford to get just one a month – or even a couple times a year – I recommend doing it. If you can’t handle even that expense, simply trade massages with your partner. Do what I do… Exchange a foot or hand massage the next time you’re sitting and watching TV.
4. Soak up some sun: Sunlight improves kidney function, immune system function, and helps to regulate blood pressure. Getting sunlight on your skin is a natural and easy step to improving your health.
Sunlight on the skin allows the body to produce vitamin D. By walking in the sunshine every day, your body gets much of the vitamin D you need. The exception to this is during the winter and in northern latitudes. Some scientists and doctors believe the limited sunlight in these circumstances warrants a supplement. But be careful…
And don’t start taking a vitamin D supplement right away. I think the benefits you get from being outside in the sunlight (even if they’re minimal) by walking (recall the benefits of movement listed above) are much safer and healthier than sitting on a couch indoors all day taking vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means in large doses, it builds up over time in your fatty tissues. And too much of it causes kidney failure, kidney stones, and painful muscle spasms.
If you’re stuck in a cold climate that lacks a lot of sunlight this time of year, you can do what I do and take 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 pill once a week or so, but no more than that.
3. Take time to meditate: I call meditation the “Easiest Exercise in the World.” It only takes 12 minutes a day, and you can do it in bed. People who meditate have lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better oxygen uptake – and report feeling less stressed.
Do what I do… Sit quietly in a chair or on your bed (I prefer the morning after waking) for 15-20 minutes. Concentrate on a word, noise, or sound… and your breathing… Let your mind go where it wants for the whole time, but slowly try to bring it back to your original one-word focus or breath. You’ll notice the benefits immediately. You’ll feel relaxed and peaceful… I try to do this at least three times a week.
2. Get up and move: For years, I’ve written about the importance of moving. Just 20 to 30 minutes of activity a day, four or five days a week, boosts your immunity (which means you’ll get sick less), improves your mood, reduces stress, and improves cardiovascular health. I like to get up several times a day to take short walks and often spend time reading and walking on the treadmill in our office.
The key here is not to overdo it. Even gardening and yoga give you enough of a benefit to make it worth your while. Too much strenuous exercise can actually harm your health. Many studies have found extreme exercise can put you at a higher risk of a heart attack due to the hardening of large vessels near the heart.
Your risk is increased with running too much (more than 20 miles a week) or running too fast (more than seven miles per hour). If you’re not a professional athlete, don’t exercise like one.
1. Get enough sleep: Since I started making this list out for myself every year, sleep has remained the No. 1 way to improve your health. And when I don’t get enough sleep… I can count on coming down with some illness. Just this winter, I’ve gotten sick twice already. And I’m certain both cases resulted from a lack of sleep…
What makes sleep so important?
A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sleep less than seven hours a night are three times more likely to develop a cold than people who get eight hours or more a night. And it’s not just a common cold you need to worry about…
Not sleeping enough can impair your brain function (like alertness and concentration), and it can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic health issues. So get at least seven hours of sleep each night… And if you can’t sleep that much at night, you can include naps in your daily total.
Some of these tips can make you feel better instantly. But if you incorporate them into your life this year, you’ll live a healthier and happier life. I know they’ve helped me throughout the years.
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig
P.S. Taking control of your own health is just one way to get yourself, your family, and your wealth out of the “system.” And I’m showing my readers dozens of strategies to protect themselves from government intrusion and other threats. I’ve figured out a way to make sure no one can track what you are doing online, for example. And I even learned a very clever trick to send messages that can never be traced, even if someone has access to your e-mail account. To learn more about these techniques, click here.