The holidays are a time of indulgence for many. Extra glasses of Champagne, office cookie baskets, late nights, and never-ending cheese boards leave many starting 2023 feeling bloated and tired and yearning for a quick fix.
But if the remedy sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We call unsubstantiated remedies “quackery” in the established medical community. Quackery remedies such as weight loss supplements, fad diets, electromagnetic therapy, and colon cleaning waste not only your money but also your time as they stand in the way of achieving optimal health.
What signs point to quackery? Claims of fast, easy, effortless, guaranteed, or permanent weight loss. Declarations that the established medical community refuses to accept its benefits. High-pressure sales tactics, one-time-only deals, or pyramid sales. Anecdotes unsupported by scientifically vigorous, peer-reviewed research.
As the medical director of Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care, I recommend five scientifically proven strategies to help you feel your best in the new year.
- Move your body. Winter weather can get in the way of physical activity. But movement is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health during winter. Movement increases endorphins that help improve your mood. Physical activity is good for your heart health, helps support healthy weight management, builds more durable bones, and improves stability, balance, and coordination. Exercise also promotes immune health, important as our exposure to germs increases in the winter.
- The American Heart Association recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. Don’t let expensive gym initiation fees or intimidating workout regimens stand in the way of moving your body. Start small by taking a walk during phone calls, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or setting a reminder on your phone to move every hour. Any movement is better than no movement.
- Eat a plant-based diet. Even if you don’t want to go vegan or vegetarian, you can still improve your health by eating a plant-based diet. Get most of your calories from fruits, vegetables, lentils, and beans, and treat meat and dairy products like side dishes, not entrees. A plant-based diet increases your intake of heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It also helps you avoid foods that contain artery-clogging saturated fat.
- Discover the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics are live yeasts and good bacteria that can aid digestion, boost immunity, support urinary and vaginal health, prevent allergies and improve oral health. They are found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, buttermilk and tempeh. Probiotics are also available in capsule and powder forms, but more scientific research is needed to see if they provide the same benefits. Talk to your healthcare provider about incorporating probiotics into your diet.
- Improve your sleep hygiene. Sleep affects your heart, weight, mind, mood, and more. Make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours a night by creating an environment conducive to sleep. Start by keeping your bedroom between 60°F and 67°F as temperatures outside this range are known to disrupt REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, according to Sleep.org. Avoid drinking large volumes of liquid two hours before bedtime to avoid nighttime trips to the bathroom. Taking a break from alcohol can also lead to a better night’s sleep. Lastly, eating foods rich in lycopene, found in grapefruit, tomatoes, and watermelon; or vitamin C, found in papayas, broccoli, and citrus fruits, can help you sleep better. More information about getting a great night’s sleep can be found here.
- Protect yourself through the rest of the cold, flu, COVID-19, and RSV season. Upper respiratory infections spike over the holidays. Colds, flu, COVID-19, and RSV run rampant in our community through the early winter months, and we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and our families.
- The top preventative measure we can take is to vaccinate against COVID-19 and the flu. Instilling good hand hygiene habits is also essential. Remind kids to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and after they get home from school or other activities. Put hand sanitizers in backpacks and the car. Show kids how to cough into their elbows. Inventory your medicine cabinet for prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and a working thermometer. Stocking your preferred pain-reducing/anti-fever medication is especially important during the sick season. Ask your pediatrician for the correct dose now, so you have it available for nighttime fevers. Keep Pedialyte drinks or popsicles on hand for rehydration when your child is ill, and avoid juice, soda, or Gatorade.
- If your child gets sick, contact their pediatrician to see if they need an evaluation and keep them hydrated. Children should pee at least four to six times a day. If it’s less than that and they’re vomiting or not drinking, they need to see a healthcare provider.
At Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here to help you stay as healthy and happy as possible in 2023. If you have any questions about how to feel your best in the new year, please visit one of our pediatric urgent care centers located in Cedar Hills and Cascade Park or any of our 17 locations. Visit https://www.gohealthuc.com/legacy for more information.
Dr. Christian Molstrom is the Medical Director at Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care.