The majority of our overconsumption of sodium comes from our intake of processed foods. Most cured meats, canned vegetables, soups, broths, condiments, and sauces are loaded with sodium. Current guidelines recommend less than 2,300mg of sodium per day, however when consuming processed foods on a regular basis, it is very easy to exceed this recommendation. The key to avoiding added salt is to purchase products that are “low sodium” or “light sodium”. Additionally, when you purchase canned products such as vegetables or cured meats like bacon, gently rinse them off before you cook and eat them. This act alone can significantly reduce the amount of sodium you consume as a result.
Added fats in food products are also a very common occurrence in processed foods. While many fats can be beneficial in moderation, trans fats contained in many processed foods can be detrimental to your health and raise bad cholesterol (LDL). While many food companies are eliminating trans fats from foods, it is still important to check labels (look for partially hydrogenated oils). If you see trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils listed on the ingredients label, it is best to avoid those products completely whenever possible.
Added sugars are extremely common in many of the foods we eat. Often, foods labeled all natural, organic, or gluten-free still contain high amounts of added sugars. Therefore, it is important to be cautious on choosing foods that have high-fructose corn syrup, as well as organic cane sugar. Added sugars can be in many different foods including drinks, bread products, sauces, condiments, and cereals. Currently, added sugars are not separated out on the Nutritional Facts Label. Instead, scan the ingredients list on your food products. Look for ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, cane sugar, organic sugar, honey, and maltose among the first three items listed. It’s a safe bet that if these added sugars are listed within the first few items on the ingredients list, then they are contained in considerable amounts within your product of choice and may want to be avoided.
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- Taking a half hour or less to fall asleep
- Waking up no more than once per night
- If you do wake up at night, taking less than 20 minutes to fall back asleep
- Being asleep for at least 85% of the time you spend in bed
Now that we have defined what a good night of sleep is, it’s worthwhile to relate how our sleep quality can shape many aspects of our wellness:
- Emotional wellness: the negative consequences of prolonged sleep deprivation are well documented, and it’s likely every one of us has apologized for something said or done while exhausted. The beneficial effects of getting consistent sleep can be just as powerful, and make us better communicators, which facilitates social wellness.
- Social wellness: being an active part of your community takes effort. Agreeing to share life with a group of people implies you are also willing to share their burdens in times of adversity. Quality sleep can supply us with the energy we need to remain engaged and build up our social networks. These social networks can directly influence occupational wellness.
- Occupational wellness: although our occupations can seem like the cause of disrupted sleep, our work can also benefit tremendously from quality sleep. Bringing a rested, sharp mind into the office can boost your productivity and enjoyment while satisfying occupational responsibilities. Best-case scenario, this boost in productivity leads to a boost in financial wellness.
- Financial wellness: concerns about money can haunt us late into the night if sleep isn’t consciously made a priority. As mentioned previously, a rested mind will likely be more creative, more engaged, and more productive during a typical workday. We are also less likely to make impulse purchases at that café near the office if caffeinated beverages are viewed as a luxury rather than an absolute necessity. Not to mention, consistent quality sleep may prolong your years of healthy life, which can extend your working career and earning potential should you choose to go that route. The increase in healthy years is associated with enhanced physical wellness.
- Physical wellness: this one is obvious. Sleep is a necessity for physical recovery. Sleep is regenerative, and that applies to every part of the body.
“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”
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