Hit the Refresh Button

Image of two women doing yoga in the sun

This past winter season has been especially brutal on people’s health, between the life-threatening cold-and-flu season to being holed up inside because of inclement weather. In response, everyone should hit the refresh button on their health to shake off the potentially damaging effects of inactivity, lack of sunshine, and suppressed immune systems.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the winter season can make people SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a distinct type of depression that often comes with extreme sleepiness, increased appetite, a heavy-laden sensation in the limbs, loss of interest in normal activities, a sense of hopelessness, and social withdrawal. Winter can also dry out eyes, trigger migraines, crack and burn skin, and create poor eating and exercise habits, simply from being stuck inside for extended periods of time.

Often, people talk about spring cleaning as it relates to their homes, but the most valuable spring cleaning is the type you do for yourself. So, spring is the best time to begin cleaning house from the inside out. These simple steps can pay huge dividends when it comes to your overall health and happiness.

Detox

Since the past winter season has been ruthless, people stayed inside their homes for days at a time. Long periods of time were spent in the company of comfort foods and perhaps a few too many cozy evenings drinking wine. Consuming these types of foods and alcoholic beverages can leave you feeling sluggish. Small dietary changes help you get rid of all the toxins accumulated during winter and can have you looking and feeling great in no time. Toxins have been associated with many diseases such as Alzheimer?s, Parkinson?s, and arthritis. Try to add foods like onion, garlic, and turmeric spice to your diet. These foods, rich in sulphur-containing compounds, provide one of the primary molecules to help the liver clean up a wide range of toxins. Without sulfur,?the body cannot properly detoxify substances. The body cannot produce these critical sulphur compounds on its own, so adding these types of foods to your diet is highly beneficial to the detox process.

Take more vitamin D

Statistics show that very few people get enough vitamin D from the sun or dietary sources, like fatty fish and fortified milk. Vitamin-D deficiency affects certain groups of people more than others, including adults 55 years and older, office workers, people with darker skin tones, vegans and vegetarians, people with a body mass index greater than 30, chronic headache sufferers, those on certain prescription medications, and patients diagnosed with arthritis, fibromyalgia, IBD, or depression. The Centers for Disease Control labels vitamin-D deficiency as the third most common nutrient deficiency in America and as a ?nutrient of concern.? Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D, including 70 percent of Caucasions, 80 percent of Latinos and Asians and 97 percent of African Americans.

Vitamin-D deficiencies are associated with a multitude of health concerns, including an increased risk for Alzheimer?s disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, preterm births, and heart disease. Prevention is the key to the future of healthcare; individuals and governments cannot keep pace with treating disease, so a more serious approach toward averting poor health conditions must be adopted.

The research behind the positive health effects associated with vitamin D has reached a level that can no longer be ignored by Western medicine. Vitamin D is a supplement that?s accessible, affordable (5-cents a day on average), and available to anyone?and we have a way to measure it. When you know your vitamin-D level, you have the knowledge to make a positive change in the trajectory of your health.

So, how can you determine if you are deficient in vitamin D? The best way is a blood test. You can ask your doctor for a vitamin-D test or test your own levels at home with a home test kit (nutrientpower.org). If you are trying to use the sun as your source of vitamin D, you need direct sunlight for about 20 minutes a day with 50 percent of your skin exposed, without any sunscreen, and without burning. However, if testing reveals levels below the target range of 40 to 60 ng/mL, I recommend vitamin-D supplementation. I am on a personal mission to make more Americans aware of their vitamin-D levels and to increase supplementation use as a tool to correct this nutrient deficiency. So, I am offering a free, 2-month supply of vitamin D to challenge Americans and start everyone on the path to good health. Find more information at FreeRedcrossD.com.

Avoid dehydration

When spring approaches and the weather gets nice, nothing beats throwing on a pair of running shoes and getting some exercise outdoors. The problem comes from temperatures warmer than winter, but still relatively cool, making it easy to forget a very serious exercise-induced concern: dehydration. Recent research shows that exercisers can actually lose more water in colder, spring-like weather than at any other time of the year. Dehydration can manifest in mild- to-severe forms, and if not taken care of properly, it can lead to unhealthy conditions such as lowered blood pressure, constipation, dizziness, and light headedness. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Fruit juices and sports drinks can also help but watch out for their sugar load. Avoid too many high-protein drinks and alcoholic beverages, because they can dehydrate you. In addition, eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, because they contain large amounts of water, salt, and vitamins and can help prevent dehydration.

Clean out the medicine cabinet

Take inventory of your medicine cabinet and clear out the outdated drugs to reduce harm from accidental exposure or misuse. The expiration date is your best guide for the potency of a medicine. If you are unsure, discard it, particularly if it smells bad or looks off-color. Make sure you use responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. For example, you can take old or unused medicines to a DEA-authorized collection site, which may be at your local retail or clinic pharmacy, hospital, or law-enforcement locations. Some collection sites may also offer mail-back programs, collection receptacles, or drop-boxes, to assist in safely disposing of unused medicines.

De-stress instantly

Learn to clear your headspace of stress instantly through meditation. The ancient practice of meditation dates back thousands of years and represents one of the most effective forms of stress reduction currently known. With technology at the tips of your fingers, people are creating many new ways to practice meditation. In its truest form, however, meditation is simple, inexpensive, and doesn?t require any special equipment. It can be practiced by anyone, wherever they are. Think of a place that gives you the most peace: a cozy corner of your home with candlelight and burning incense, maybe, or while waiting in an exam room at the doctor?s office?even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Meditation, considered a mind-body complementary medicine, can produce?a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. To start your meditation session, simply breathe in for a count of five, hold your breath for another five-count, and then slowly release at the same rate. Continue to focus your attention on your breath for 3 to 5 minutes and allow the stream of jumbled thoughts that crowd your mind to flow out and away from you.

The calming effect of meditation can also enhance your physical and emotional state of well being. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) many benefits come from practicing ongoing meditation. It has a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and hypertension. In addition to the physiological benefits, the AHA also notes improvement in mood, anxiety, depression, and sleep quality.

By practicing these techniques, you can gain control of your body?s overall good health, particularly after the long winter season. The inactivity associated with the cold and dark can have negative effects on your health. However, you can reach a greater state of well being by getting rid of accumulated toxins, attaining the appropriate levels of vitamin D, maintaining good levels of hydration by consuming more water and other healthy fluids, and getting rid of potentially hazardous medications hiding in your medicine cabinet. In addition, practicing meditation improves not only physical health, but mental health, as well. Through meditation you can learn to balance your emotions and effectively cope with stress.

Biography: Ken Redcross, M.D., is founder of Redcross Concierge, a personalized medical practice designed to enhance the patient-doctor relationship while providing convenient access to a full spectrum of healthcare services and holistic and wellness counseling. As one of the first full-service concierge, personalized medical practices in the United States, Redcross? patient portfolio includes C-level business executives, athletes and professionals in the entertainment industry, as well as individuals from all walks and stages of life including college students, young professionals, busy parents and retirees. His focus on developing the patient-doctor bond is a unique characteristic of his concierge services that allows for a more strategic and customized approach to each patient?s healthcare plan. Redcross earned his medical degree from the prestigious Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, specializing in internal medicine. During his training, he participated in fellowships in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, to fulfill his passion in serving the underserved while enhancing his medical fluency in Spanish. After completing his residency, Redcross co-founded and served as president of Medi-Stop, an urgent care, walk-in clinic in California, treating minor medical ailments. He is based in New York, but travels across the country as his concierge practice requires.

 

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