It seems like there are all kinds of “life hacks” these days. A hack is a recently popular term for a possibly little-known way to improve something. Sort of like a secret skill or previously unknown method of doing something better.

This column contains a few simple suggestions that can dramatically make a difference in your overall health.

Some of the ideas may be things you are already familiar with. If so, consider yourself smart. If there are some new ideas or perhaps things you need to be reminded of … this is the perfect time to use the hacks to improve your health.

Take a fresh look at your nutritional supplements. This includes your vitamins and minerals as well as any other supplements you may take or should take. Some health professionals tend to dismiss the importance of taking appropriate nutritional supplements.

I once had a neighbor that happened to be a medical doctor. He told me, “Taking vitamins is just a way to make expensive urine. You get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food.” What I found interesting was that he religiously applied Miracle Grow to his plants. I mentioned to him that adding minerals and growth enzymes to his plants seemed like a needless expense, since the plants should “get all they need from the dirt.”

He started to reply, “Well the dirt is poor and has been overused and using the added enhancements helps the plant grow better. The dirt is enough for the plants to survive, but I want them to thrive!”

I simply looked at him, grinning for a minute until he grasped the significance of what he just said. He then grinned and said, “OK, I get your point.”

The reality is that there may have been a time when we could get all the nutrition we needed from eating a well-balanced diet. Now, however, there are many nutrients that are not supplied in adequate amounts in our food. Foods are grown in depleted soil, picked before they are ripe, shipped thousands of miles, overly processed and otherwise poorly handled in ways that prevent them from providing us with vital nutrition that our bodies crave.

Just like the neighbor and his plants, our food is adequate to survive, but to really thrive and be our best we need nutrition supplements.

Which supplements? That will be a topic for a future column. For now, my advice is to start the process of learning more about the basic vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to be our best and begin to look for quality brands. Hint: Cheaper is not better and buying the “big box store” brand is usually not your best choice.

Get accustomed to the cooler weather and find a way to spend some time outside. There is something therapeutic about spending time outdoors. However, avoiding being outside simply because the temperature isn’t quite what we would like is not a great idea. Dressing in layers to maintain warmth and staying safe outside then venturing forth may be one of the best things you can do to enhance your health this winter season. Start with short forays into the neighborhood then lengthen your stay and increase your level of activity as you get used to the cold. Maybe make a short trip to a nearby park or other outside attraction.

Take a fresh look at your food choices. Take a moment to think about why you eat what you do. Why did you choose that food? That drink? Habit? Convenience? Ravenous urgent hunger? Begin to think of food as fuel for a powerful, extraordinary living being.

I once heard a speaker say, “You wouldn’t feed junk food to a million-dollar racehorse. Of course not! You would feed the horse the best performance nutrition you could find. What about a billion-dollar body?” This is the only body we have. It deserves at least the kind of nutrition you would insist on for a valuable racehorse or a treasured pet. Begin to look at food as fuel for your priceless human body.

Read the labels on every drug you take. This includes the over the counter and prescription drugs. I have found that very few people ever read the labels on their medications. Every drug has potential side effects. Some side effects for even over-the-counter drugs can be serious enough to result in death.

Some people and even healthcare professionals tend to dismiss concern about serious side effects if the problem affects a small percentage of consumers. That can be a dangerous practice. Even if the side effect impacts only 1% of the people that take the drug, if you are in that 1% it is 100% of a problem.

These are just a few ways you can be more intentional about your health this month. It is important to not take your health for granted. It is much more successful to protect and preserve your good health than ignore it and try to restore it after your health has been diminished.

Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician and acupuncturist with 30-plus years of experience focused primarily on treating complex and chronic spine, joint and neurological conditions in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com.

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