Eleven tips for a healthy new year

by Lydia Cox

This article was originally published in January 2011

Prepare a hearty, flavorful dish of PCC Roasted Winter Vegetables.

2011: A chance to eat more vegetables, take more walks or add a multivitamin to your diet. We’re offering 11 ways you can live healthier this year with the hope you’ll find some inspiration. Cheers!

1) Go seasonal

Sometimes we can’t resist the temptation of raspberries in January. However eating seasonally brings with it a wealth of benefits, from flavor quality to nutritional benefits to environmental impact. Chances are good if you’re eating freshly harvested produce it’s been grown locally. The less time your food spends on a boat or plane, the fresher it is and therefore the more nutrients it contains. You also support the local economy, and often pay less, because your produce hasn’t traveled as far. Seasonal eating encourages a diverse diet too, which means a wider range of nutrients. Visit pccnaturalmarkets.com/inseason to view our seasonal produce chart of fruits and vegetables in the Northwest.

2) Eat breakfast

You’ve heard it before but breakfast is the most important meal of the day. PCC Nutrition Educator Leika Suzumura says, “Breakfast gives us fuel for the day ahead of us. Studies have shown that we can think better when we eat breakfast, and children do better in school.” If you find you’re not hungry in the morning, try eating less at night. “Eating a balance of wholesome carbohydrates and protein in the morning and limiting sugar will give you the best source of energy,” says Leika.

3) Drink more water

Staying properly hydrated aids in digestion and can help with weight loss, energy levels and maintaining healthy skin. Winter hydration is particularly important as water helps keep your sinus
passages moist, helping to fight against colds and other ailments. Invest in a stainless steel or glass container you can keep at your desk or in your car. You’ll create less plastic bottle waste, and you’ll be more likely to drink water when it’s readily available.

4) Choose whole grains

While their refined counterparts are more commonplace, whole grains offer a wealth of health benefits as well as versatility and flavor. Whole grains haven’t been stripped of their bran and germ, the most nutritious part of the grain, providing you with more vitamins, minerals, even protein. They’re excellent sources of fiber, which helps combat cardiovascular disease, and other chronic ailments.

5) Snack smart

Snacking has earned a poor reputation over the years due to the empty calories found in traditional snack foods. However if healthier alternatives are chosen, snacking can be a good thing, as it can regulate blood sugar levels, minimizing hunger and thereby preventing overeating at mealtime. The most important thing is what you choose to eat — plain and simple, a handful of almonds or carrots is healthier than a handful of chips.

6) Take a probiotic

Support good digestion and strengthen immunity with a probiotic supplement. While our body naturally produces probiotics — friendly bacteria located in the gastrointestinal tract — stress, along with environmental and food toxins, frequently destroy the probiotics in our body. This can
lead to bacteria-related health issues, such as poor digestion, headaches, sluggishness and irritability. Consider taking a probiotic supplement, or find healthy doses of probiotics in yogurt and kefir.

7) Boost up on omega-3s

These heart-healthy fats can help prevent a wide-range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, depression, fatigue and rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately it’s easy to incorporate foods rich in omega-3s into your diet. Salmon, flax seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3s. Cauliflower, cabbage and scallops also are good sources. And organic and grass-fed beef and dairy have two to four times more omega-3s than meat or dairy from grain-fed animals.

8) Get the most from a multivitamin

Many people don’t get enough calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Additionally, special diets sometimes lack certain nutrients. But in one convenient dose, you can get all your bases covered with a daily multivitamin. We offer a wide range of multivitamins in our line of PCC supplements, from a basic multi to blends geared for teens, pregnant women, seniors and vegetarians.

9) Crunch on crucifers

Also known as brassica vegetables, cruciferous vegetables are superstars when it comes to the nutritional punch they provide. Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, radishes and rutabagas boast vitamins, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals that may lower your risk of getting cancer. Cruciferous vegetables also can contribute a surprising amount of protein to your diet. At a minimum, try to include cruciferous veggies in your diet two to three times per week.

10) Substitute coffee with tea

Replacing a cup of coffee with a cup of tea not only reduces your intake of caffeine, but teas often contain compounds that boost immunity. You’ll find a variety of flavorful Fair Trade blends in our bulk department, from Gunpowder to White Peony, Ceylon Orange Pekoe to Jasmine Pearl. It’s a great way to sample different blends, affordably.

11) Choose better body care

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. As the body’s largest organ, your skin should be nourished with vitamins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and natural enzymes instead of chemicals and artificial ingredients. You’ll find a wide, varied selection of skin care products at PCC that are safe for your skin, helping to restore the body rather than deprive it of vital nutrients.

Of course, we know how challenging it can be to implement lasting changes to your diet or lifestyle. To begin with, don’t worry about executing all 11 tips. Just pick one or two you’d like to work on, and go from there. And have fun with it! Spend a week trying every variety of apple at PCC ’til you find one you love. Buy yourself a new, stylish water bottle. Host a tea party as a way to discover favorite new blends. No matter how you go about it, we wish you success. Here’s to health, happiness and great food in 2011.

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