I hope this New Year finds you and yours in good health and spirits. Creating a healthier, more resilient “you” in the new year is surprisingly simple.

As a naturopathic oncologist, I’ve seen how important even a handful of small changes can be to improving your health, how you feel, and being proactive against health threats.

So let’s jump right in to my top 10 tips to boost your health and resilience:

1. Schedule your preventative health screenings.  

If you haven’t done so yet, this is a great time to focus on self care and keeping YOU healthy.  Find out what tests you are due for based on your gender and age at https://health.gov/myhealthfinder

You can also find some of my cancer screening resources here including:

2. Start moving.

30 minutes a day of moderate exercise will help keep your heart pumping and lungs healthy. Find classes through Silver Sneakers, the Dale Turner YMCA, Spartan Rec Center or online through Peloton or FitBit.

Even better: Partner up and take a buddy to a class, on a walk or a (bike) ride, sometimes this is the magic that’s needed to get in the rhythm of moving, for you or for them!

3. Hydrate.

Aim for 8-10 cups of water daily.  If you’re finding it difficult to get it in, opt for herbal teas, which count as hydration.

If you need help in figuring out how much you are getting in, get a water bottle that has a water tracker on it – it will keep you accountable with how many cups you should have depending on the time of day.  These can be found on Amazon or a similar retailer. 

4. Make a rainbow on your plate.

Try to incorporate 3 servings of fruit, 5 servings of veggies and 7 servings of beans, legumes, tubers and/or grains daily.

The more colorful your plate, the more healthy nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and protein you’re getting in.

What is a serving? All vegetables, including raw, cooked, fresh, frozen or canned, count toward your daily recommended servings. One serving of a whole fruit would be roughly the size of a baseball. One-half cup of fruit or vegetable juice can also count as one serving. A serving of dried fruit is 1/2 cup.  Raw vegetable serving = 1 cup, cooked vegetable = ½ cup.

I have a wonderful wintertime pasta recipe here »

5. Avoid sugary drinks.  

Consuming too much added sugar, even natural sweeteners, can lead to health problems, such as tooth decay, weight gain, poor nutrition and increased triglycerides.

Moderation is key in this department, look for healthy alternatives such as kombucha, sparkling water, or herbal tea.

6. Avoid artificial sweeteners.  

This includes aspartame found in Equal or Nutrasweet or sucralose found in Splenda, these are often found in drinks and foods labeled “diet” or “sugar-free.”

If you’d like a sweetener that doesn’t raise your blood sugar and isn’t artificial, look for stevia or monk fruit. 

7. Get to a healthy weight and stay there. 

Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.

If weight has been a persistent issue that isn’t improving, consider seeing an Obesity Medicine Clinician. Obesity is a complex medical condition, not a moral failing. Obesity Medicine Clinicians are specialists in treating obesity with evidence-based and comprehensive, individualized solutions for better health outcomes. The Obesity Medicine Association has more information and a clinician finder here.

This can be a wonderful opportunity to begin weight lifting exercises.  Building muscle helps to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia as you age.  Doing this just 2 times weekly has been shown to increase your metabolism as well as strengthen your bones.

8. Be tobacco free. 

For tips on how to quit, go to http://www.smokefree.gov. To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800-QUITNOW (784-8669).

9. If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink per day. 

A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

10. Get your shots.   

This year has already been a crazy one with an increase in RSV, colds and the flu going around. Vaccinations have been proven to help keep you healthy as well as those around us who are unable to to get vaccinated due to age or health concerns.

  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Get a COVID booster when eligible.
  • Get shots for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Get a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since your last shot.
  • If you are 60 or older, get a shot to prevent shingles.
  • If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot.

Talk with your health care team about whether you need other vaccinations. You can also find which ones you need by going to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

Happy New Year!

Dr. Suzanne McMurry is a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in Integrative Oncology.  You may see her running through the neighborhood, chasing after her 3 kiddos or sledding down a hill on a wintery day.