Get started on a 28-day road to health! Find out why when you eat is just as important as what you eat, how to protect yourself from unexpected health risks at home and three more reasons why sex is good for you!
Day 1: Commit to Exercise
Staying active improves every part of your body; as far down as your DNA. While exercising, the brain signals the heart and lungs to pump harder and faster, delivering oxygen to every organ, including the skin, which promotes collagen production, meaning fewer wrinkles. At the same time, the pituitary gland at the base of the brain releases a surge of endorphins to produce a feeling of euphoria, also called a "runner's high."
Committing to regular exercise significantly boosts the metabolism, decreases insulin production for better liver health and greatly decreases the fat-storing stress hormone cortisal. One sweat session will lower blood pressure for 16 hours, promoting heart strength and health. A solid month of exercise will decrease blood-sugar levels and accelerate fat-burn to promote liver functionality and gradually diminish the risk of liver disease. After one year of constant exercise, fat cells will shrink, extra pounds will vanish and DNA structures will lengthen and strengthen for a longer, healthier lifespan.
Day 2: When You Eat and What You Eat
When we eat is equally as important as what we eat, especially for breakfast. "Make sure that you eat your breakfast within one hour of waking up in the morning," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "Why? Because an early breakfast will keep your energy up for the rest of the day."
The key ingredient for breakfast is protein. Eggs have been found to boost metabolism and satiate hunger throughout the day, and are a great alternative to cereal to decrease sugar intake. Studies show that women who make two eggs in the morning actually weigh less than women who don't, regardless of daily caloric intake. While eggs are rumored to heighten cholesterol, studies have shown that they do not have an affect on cholesterol levels and are safe to eat on a daily basis.
• Eat a brainy breakfast!
• You are what you eat!
Day 4: Know Your Daily Dose
The Doctors explain the four most important vitamins for your health.
Vitamin D: Studies have shown that vitamin D is critical to disease prevention, and most people aren't getting the proper amount. The Institute of Medicine suggests 600 IUs (international units) of vitamin D per day, though some people may require 3,000 to 4,000 IUs. Those who live in northern latitudes or have darker skin may consider daily supplements for adequate blood levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IUs of vitamin D per day for babies and nursing infants; and pregnant women are screened for a minimum 800 IU per day to build up fetal bone mass. While a great many people are deficient, vitamin D is easily obtained by 15 minutes of sunshine, or by consuming milk and salmon.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B, or folic acid, is recommended to women at 400 micrograms per day to decrease the risk of birth defects by 30 percent. Folic acid is essential even prior to pregnancy and can be found in asparagus, spinach and beans.
Vitamin C: A powerful and rich anti-oxidant, vitamin C promotes overall health and helps prevent disease. While its power to stop a common cold is questionable, a minimum of 70 milligrams for woman and 90 milligrams for men is essential to overall health. One half of a grapefruit will provide 80 percent of the recommended daily intake, and 1 cup of red peppers packs twice the amount of vitamin C as one medium orange.
Vitamin A: Great for the skin, immune system and lining of blood vessels, vitamin A helps regulate cell growth. It is best to get vitamin A through natural sources like carrots, apricots and cantaloupes; however, more than 3,000 milligrams can interfere with absorption of Vitamin D, so stay cautious of intake.
• Day 5 - Day 7: Boost your immunity with almonds and sunflower seeds, feel fabulous with fennel and clean cuts with cloves.
• Day 8 - Day 10: Take care of your smile.
Day 11: Evaluate Your Birth Control
Birth control is a doctor-prescribed medication that significantly affects the hormones in your body to prevent pregnancy. As your body changes with age, your hormones change as well. When experiencing side effects such as weight gain, headaches or nausea, it is essential to switch your birth control to coincide with your changing hormones.
• OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson's Medicine Cabinet 101 on Birth Control
• Monophasic Pill: These are the traditional pills that provide three weeks of equal doses of estrogen and progestinand one week of placebo pills. This type is recommended for those who are prone to acne or mood swings.
• Tri-Phasic Pill: Women who use birth control often experience spotting. The tri-phasic pill combines changing levels of estrogen and progestin to mimic a dynamic cycle to prevent spotting. It also eases pain caused by endometriosis, a disorder of the female reproductive system where endometrial cells attach to tissues surrounding the uterus, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries or the large or small intestines. It can cause bleeding, intense cramping and pain, and can affect a woman's fertility.
• Extended Cycle Pill: For women who suffer from extreme PMS and painful periods, extended cycle pills decrease periods to three or four times a year to avoid these symptoms. Dr. Lisa confirms that it is completely safe to do away with monthly periods.• Try the PMS Smoothie!
• Mini-Pill: Women with chronic headaches and nausea should avoid estrogen, ruling out the above three birth-control pills. The Mini-Pill is a progesterone-only pill that is less effective than the varieties above, but is a good alternative to avoid painful side effects. Nursing mothers should also use the Mini-Pill, as estrogen can harm the baby. Always consult your doctor when starting birth control as a new mother.
• IUDs or Vaginal Ring: Unlike pills, these types of birth control are not taken orally, which makes them a great alternative for women prone to nausea.
Birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Always be sure to practice safe sex by using a condom.
• Day 16 - 18: Three at-home exercises to lower body fat.
Day 20: Touch the Forearm
The Doctors test their knowledge on the top erogenous zones on the body, and reveal another surprising spot: the forearm. The forearm has a high concentration of tactile fibers that, when lightly touched, activate the part of the brain that processes love and trust. Lightly stroking this area has been shows to release oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that leads to stronger female orgasms.
Day 21: Three More Reasons Why Sex is Good for You
Safe sex is a great way to reduce stress, heighten your immune system and maintain a healthy relationship, but The Doctors explain even more reasons why doing the deed is good for your health.
Sexual stimulation strengthens pelvic floor muslces, which helps women prevent urinary incontinence and reduces the risk of breast cancer by lowering levels of bio-available estrogen. Sex also promotes optimal hormone levels in men, and a Harvard University study found that men who reported 20 ejaculations in an average month, had a 33 percent lower risk of prostate cancer.
Mayo Clinic researches have also found that sex relieves pain. An orgasm releases a surge of endorphins strong enough to stop a headache, ease arthritis and alleviate other chronic pain.
Day 22-26: Is Your Home a Sanctuary or a War Zone?
Cleaning expert Julie Edelman shares simple tips to shield your home from hidden dangers, and tests The Doctors guest, Mary's home for undetected risks. While Mary's home was very clean, indoor air tests revealed twice the normal levels of high-fungal elements and spores. The test also found 10 times the normal amount of household particles that come from rust, candles and printers. These invisible dangers can take a toll on your family's respiratory health, which is why air and mold testing is important.
• Learn how to prevent odor and bacteria in your sneakers, and how to safely dispose of energy-saving light bulbs.
Day 27: Eat for your Eyes
Carrots are widely known to enhance eye health due to their high levels of beta-carotene, which is processed by the body as vitamin A. But there are three more foods to add to your diet for healthier eye-sight:
• Kiwi: Packed with a ton of antioxidants and more vitamin C than an orange, those who eat kiwi will cut their chances of age-related blindness.
• Pomegranate Juice: Packed with vitamins A, C and E, pomegranate juice reduces systolic blood pressure and increases blood flow to the eyes.
• Wheat Germ: Contains high amounts of chromium that can slow the degeneration of eye cells. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears sprinkles it on his pancakes!
Day 28: Toast to your Health
Dark chocolate is known to lower blood pressure, and red wine helps to enhance your libido; so after bettering your health for 28 days of health, a little dessert is well-deserved! ChocoVine combines cabernet wine and chocolate, with cream liquor, for a unique treat for the last day of the month.