“Even the smallest actions are a step in the right direction.”
Have you ever heard this quote? It’s all about taking small healthy steps. Small steps really can add up to big gains and improvements in your health. That’s why we’re big proponents of the small, or even tiny, mini-step approach.
Here’s an example. Suppose you were to lose one pound every two weeks. That’s not unreasonable, is it? With a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can do it.It might not sound like much until you multiply it out. That’s two pounds a month and 24 pounds in a year. Now, it’s starting to sound like something, isn’t it?
Same with exercise. Walk a mile every day and you’ll have covered 365 miles in a year. That’s quite a journey – but it all starts with small steps.To inspire you to take more “small steps,” we’ll share some of the small things we do to stay healthy. They might seem a little whacky but each is at least partially backed by science. Here are some of the things we do:
Small Steps for Health: Eat Broccoli Sprouts Once a Day
Broccoli sprouts are our secret anti-cancer weapon. As you know, cruciferous vegetables, of which broccoli is one, are one of the best sources of anti-cancer chemicals called glucosinolates.
Although mature broccoli is packed with these cancer protective chemicals, you need an enzyme called myrosinase to activate those “good for you” chemicals. Once activated by myrosinase, glucosinolates are converted to sulforaphane, compounds which offer strong anti-cancer benefits.
Unfortunately, when you cook mature broccoli it destroys most of the myrosinase. So you have anti-cancer chemicals that can’t be activated, making them pretty lame as far as protecting you against cancer. That’s where broccoli sprouts come in. They’re LOADED with myrosinase.
On the downside, sprouts have been linked with food poisoning outbreaks in the past. However, we’ve eaten broccoli sprouts daily for almost 20 years and have never had a problem. Sadly, we haven’t been able to find broccoli sprouts at the places we usually buy them recently – Fresh Market and Roanoke Natural Foods. So, we’re going to try our hand at growing them. Should be interesting.
Another alternative is to buy broccoli sprout powder and add it to soups, smoothies etc. We have a bag that we use in soups. If we fail at growing our own sprouts, that will become our “go to” source of myrosinase.
Fast at Least Once a Week
“Fasting? I can’t do that. It’s too hard.” Surprisingly, the way we do it, it isn’t. A number of studies show intermittent fasting offers health benefits and you get benefits with a fast as short as 16 hours.
We aren’t up for a 24 hour fast either. We usually stop eating after dinner on Friday, at around 8:00 P.M. and don’t eat again until noon on Saturday. It’s surprisingly easy to do because we’re sleeping during most of the fast.
Why do we do it? When you give your body a “rest” from having to digest food and cells a break from having to use the fuel you take in to produce energy, cells get a chance to repair. Fasting also activates growth hormone and improves insulin sensitivity.
As a result, your body handles glucose better. So fasting is good for your metabolic health, not to mention your waistline. Even if you compensate by eating more calories to make up for what you don’t consume during the fast, intermittent fasting helps with weight control.
Some research in animals even suggests intermittent fasting may prolong life. It makes sense. Every time you eat a meal, cells have to work harder to use or compartmentalize the nutrients. This causes damaging free radicals to form that can injure cells and tissues.
Tap into the Power of Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha is essentially unfermented tea leaves ground into a fine powder. This form of green tea is higher in antioxidants than regular green tea since the leaves are grown in the shade. Matcha is the tea the Japanese use in their traditional tea ceremonies.
We used to take a green tea supplement but switched to Matcha tea after a study showed, rarely, green tea extract is linked to liver damage. Now, we either drink a cup of Matcha each day and/or add a pinch of Matcha powder to hot quinoa or oatmeal cereal in the morning.
Why do we drink it? The health benefits of green tea, with its abundance of antioxidants, is too good to pass up. The most powerful antioxidant in green tea and Matcha is ECGC. According to preliminary research, ECGC may offer protection against some forms of cancer. It’s a small healthy step you can take for cancer prevention.
The taste? Matcha has a rather complex taste, slightly sweet but also “vegetal.” We add it to hot cereal along with a little Stevia or Monk Fruit. We published this recipe in a previous post, but here’s another way to enjoy Matcha in the form of a shake:
- 1 cup of coconut or almond milk drink
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Matcha Green tea powder
- 6 raw almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 pitted dates
Add a little Stevia, if desired, then place it in a high-speed blender and let it roll. Stop the blender once it looks well-mixed and creamy.
We Tear Sandwiches Apart
Tearing sandwiches apart? Sounds a little violent, doesn’t it? You might think this one is a bit strange, but when we order a sandwich, we tear pieces of bread off to lower the carb load. White bread is one of THE worst foods you can eat because of the way it rapidly raises your blood sugar level.
So we control the carbs by taking a bite, tearing a little bread off, and taking another bite. Strange, I know, but it works. Here’s a before and after:
Of course, if we were eating a sandwich at home, we would use a high-fiber, relatively low-carb bread. BTW, there’s an almost carb-free bread you can make in the microwave called cloud bread. Here’s a link to a recipe if you’d like to try it:
Anyway, sandwiches are still satisfying, even with less bread. White bread is broken down quickly into simple carbohydrates and rapidly absorbed. Much like sugar is bad for your health (and your blood sugar), so is white bread.
Unfortunately, pizza crust falls into this category too – but if you’re a pizza lover, here’s a link to a recipe for pizza with a cauliflower crust. How’s that for innovative?
Small Steps for Health: Don’t Sit When You Can Stand
We take this rule to heart by trying to fit lots of unplanned exercise into the day. For example, when we eat out, we don’t sit at the table waiting for our food. Instead, we take a brisk walk while the food is being prepared. Research clearly shows too much time spent sitting is a health liability.
Did you know when you sit for a significant period of time, it causes an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase to shut off? This makes it hard for you to clear triglycerides from your bloodstream and can lead to a reduction in HDL-cholesterol, the healthier form of cholesterol. Plus, it decreases insulin sensitivity, which is bad for your metabolic health.
Small healthy step: the more you can move throughout the day, the healthier you’ll be from a metabolic standpoint. Here’s our motto:
- Don’t sit when you can stand.
- Don’t stand when you can walk.
- If you have to sit, fidget.
Simply moving more throughout the day, irrespective of doing a structured workout will improve your health. Try it.
Do a High-Intensity Workout Once a Week
Saturday is a day most people look forward to, but at our house, a challenge lies ahead. Saturday morning is the day we do a super-intense workout, led by a YouTuber called Millionaire Hoy. Millionaire Hoy is a master at putting you through a sweaty, gut-wrenching workout. Here’s a link to one of his videos:
This isn’t the only exercise we do, but it’s the toughest exercise day of the week. Why do we do it? Although research shows any exercise is beneficial, high-intensity exercise has the edge when it comes to heart health and lowering mortality.
Of course, you don’t have to do Millionaire Hoy to improve your health through exercise but make sure you are doing some structured physical activity. At the very least, invest in resistance bands and use them to strengthen your muscles.
You lose muscle mass every decade after the age of 30. You can prevent this, to some degree, through regular resistance training.
Turn Off Wi-Fi at Night
Although there’s no clear evidence that radiofrequency waves from sources like Wi-Fi are a health hazard, it is an issue that needs more research. Here’s a quote from the FCC website:
“While there is currently no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses. Those evaluating the potential risks of using wireless devices agree that more and longer-term studies should explore whether there is a better basis for RF safety standards than is currently used.”
If you read this article by Jeffry Fawcett, PhD, you get a completely different picture about the health risks of electromagnetic waves from cell phones and Wi-Fi. Who to believe?
We’re not ready to give up all devices that emit electromagnetic waves but still try to lower our exposure. It’s simple enough to shut off Wi-Fi at night and turn it back on in the morning. Plus, we hold our phones away from our body when talking into them. You can do the same. Just turn on the speaker.
What We Don’t Do Right
Since we’re being honest, there are still things we DON’T do right – but we’re working on them. We don’t always:
- Get enough sleep
- Close the kitchen at a reasonable time at night. We eat dinner late and sometimes snack afterward.
- Eat out more than we should, although we are very careful about what we order.
So, as you can see, we have some things to work on too. The good news is you can make health changes slowly, step-by-step. Small healthy steps is the name of the game! Doing it that way gives you the greatest chance of success. Doing a complete life overhaul is too much change too quickly.
The take-home message? Think about what small step you can take to become healthier. Even if it’s something as small as giving up soft drinks, over time it will pay off. We’re right here with you trying to lead a long, healthy, happy life. Let’s help each other.
What is your biggest health challenge and how could you break it down into smaller steps?
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Natural Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Green Tea”
National Library of Medicine. “LiverTox”
University of Maryland Medical Center. “Green Tea”