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5 healthy habits

Oh honey, your summer glow – It’s positively radiant.

We’re talking about that pink flush of skin after a run on the trails; a tranquil smile while gazing at the sunset; a sparkle in your eye when planning an adventure.

It exudes health and happiness. Summertime is the time to replenish energy, strength and wellbeing; a revival of oneself. Things operate at a different pace. For many, it’s a slower beat. It’s the reason why Italians close shop and retire to the coast for the entire month of August. It’s why the notion of hosting bonfires and basking in the sun and obtaining a new hobby – perhaps painting with acrylics or playing the banjo – is so alluring. We tend to have more time, and more time means that we can focus on enhancing our physical, mental and spiritual health.

In honour of the time we’re given this season for slowing down and self-care, we’ve created a list of five healthy habits to incorporate this summer (hellooo, summer glow!):

1. Take vitamin D3

It should come as no surprise that vitamin D is largely beneficial for our health. Vitamin D is naturally produced when bare skin is exposed to sunlight, and it helps our bodies to build immunity, absorb calcium and aid nerve functions. Unfortunately, the amount of time spent indoors in modern society has resulted in widespread vitamin D deficiency. This can lead to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Further, those with darker skin pigmentation absorb vitamin D less than those with lighter skin. 

Thankfully, we can supplement to ensure that we receive the adequate amount of Vitamin D our bodies need. While you can certainly consume dietary sources in foods such as fatty fish, fish oils and egg yolks, it is also easy to take vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. The difference between the two is that D2 is sourced from plants (such as mushrooms), whereas D3 is found in animal-sourced foods. D3 also happens to be more potent. Although the recommended dietary intake for vitamin D seems to differ across the board, a general guideline is 600 IU.

We personally love this podcast episode by Darin Olien (the real-life Indiana Jones on Down to Earth with Zac Efron) on “letting the sun back in your life.” Society has taught us to hide from the sun: Cover up, wear SPF, seek shade whenever possible. Why, then, do we crave its warmth? Why does it feel so good to linger beneath its rays? There is something to be said for following your intuition and listening to your body.

While it is indeed important not to sunburn, we could all use a little more sun in our lives. Most importantly – one way or another – get your Vitamin D.

2. Meditate

Meditation has been on trend in the wellness community for a while now, but there is now an overwhelming amount of scientific data proving its benefits to our health.

Not only does meditation reduce stress and increase self-awareness, but it also decreases activity on the default mode network (DMN), or “monkey mind,” if you will. The DMN is a network of interacting brain regions that is activated when an individual is not focused on his or her external environment, which leads to mind-wandering. This, as I’m sure we all know, can more often than not result in overthinking and worrying about the past or future. Since being present and choosing mindfulness are essential to experiencing happiness and life purpose, we recommend giving meditation a try.

Other benefits of meditation include increased tolerance, reduced depression and anxiety, a stronger attention span and improved sleep.

If you’re new to meditation, we found the Calm app to be a useful tool for developing new habits and techniques (plus, it has great sleep stories). 

3. Filter your water

Water is the essence of life.

In the Bible, water is mentioned 722 times (more than the keywords “faith,” “hope” and “prayer”). Jesus constantly made references to “living water” and “eternal life.”

It heals. It energizes. It delivers nutrients to your body.

Many of us are blessed with running water, which can be used to drink, clean and bathe. It fuels agriculture, industry and electricity. Here’s the caveat, however: While municipal tap water is cleaned of pathogens via chlorine and chloramine, it unfortunately still contains heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and fertilizers.

For the amount of water that is recommended we drink each day, these contaminants can accumulate in the body at an alarming rate. Heavy metals, for instance, disrupt the function of vital organs.

By filtering your own water, you can drastically reduce the amount of contaminants that you expose your body to. Plus, it’s so simple. There are an exceptional amount of water filters on the market; Santevia, for instance, removes chlorine, heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and manganese), herbicides, pharmaceutics and VOCs. You can even subscribe to water delivery services that offer Reverse Osmosis (RO) or Distilled filtering.

If you do go with the RO or Distilled route, it is recommended that you remineralize your water prior to drinking it (as the filtering process also removes healthy minerals). Simply add a tiny pinch of Himalayan salt to each glass, and you’re good to go.

4. Avoid lectins

What are lectins, you might ask? Essentially, they are anti-nutrient proteins produced in particular plant foods. Lectins defend plants from predators (because – you know – plants are pretty defenseless while rooted in the ground), and consuming them can cause chronic inflammation in the human body. This is evident in digestive problems, joint pain and skin flare-ups. Further, lectins bind to sugar molecules in your blood, digestive tract and nerves, which interfere with the cells that form a barrier from pathogens and microbes, resulting in decreased immunity.

Foods containing the highest amount of lectins include legumes, grains, nightshades, soy, corn and certain types of seeds. Thankfully, cooking, soaking and sprouting can drastically reduce the amount of lectins found in foods.

If you’re interested in learning more about lectins and how to avoid consuming them, we recommend picking up a copy of The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry. Prefer to listen to a podcast? Check out this interview with Dr. Gundry by Shawn Stevenson on The Model Health Show. 

5. Take a probiotic

News flash, folks: Gut health is important. Like, really important. A healthy gastrointestinal tract contains good bacteria and immune cells to ward off infections and diseases. This is evident in the gut-brain axis (GBA), which is the connection between the microbiome and the Central Nervous System (CNS). Here’s the cool part: Gut bacteria directly influences our mood and thought patterns. Better gut health = better mental health.

Top quality gut health accompanies consuming nutritious and diverse foods, getting adequate sleep and engaging in daily exercise; however, another important component includes taking a probiotic.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed via supplements or fermented foods (such as yogurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh and kombucha). When in supplement form, different probiotics contain different strains of bacteria, so it’s important to choose one that will address your specific needs.

Not only do probiotics support gut health and fight bad bacteria, but they also help to boost immunity, clear skin issues and – as noted earlier – improve one’s mood.

There you have it, friends! These healthy habits are our way of maintaining that summer glow. They enhance the wellness of mind, body and spirit. We recommend incorporating several – or all – of these tips, because your health comes first, and you deserve to look and feel your best this season.