May 26, 2020
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Health habits for the new year

By: George Malkemus
December 27, 2019

The holidays and 2019 are nearly over. With the passing of the winter solstice, we can celebrate the daylight increasing a little each day.  So now is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, or at least reflecting on positive changes for 2020.  We are creatures of habits, so why not pick positive ‘good habits.’  Eat healthy, get rest, reduce stress, exercise, get involved and of course practice good oral hygiene.  Rather than make a rigid resolution, go easy on yourself and make any change a regular, enjoyable part of your life. 

Healthy eating

Eat a balanced diet with reasonable portions, combining protein, carbohydrates, fats and lots of fruits and vegetables.  Preferably use polyunsaturated fats especially olive oil, eat complex carbohydrates rather than simple sugars and eat lean meats, nuts, beans and soy products.  Try eating organic foods without chemical treatments as much as possible. Avoid processed foods. Chew smaller food portions thoroughly, savoring the flavor, rather than eating vast quantities quickly. Use smaller plates and bowls to reduce portions. Antioxidant foods or vitamins, high in vitamin C and E are good for cancer prevention, including moderate amounts of red wine and chocolate.  Drink lots of good water, bottled or filtered.  Our bodies are 98 percent water, so quality water is important.   Breath good clean air. Here are some healthy eating tips:

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

Eat grass fed and pasture raised animals.

Eat local well-grown food from healthy soils.    

Pay more; eat less, quality over quantity.

Eat slowly; savor your food. Stop when full.

Avoid processed foods. 

Homemade meals, rather than fast-food and restaurant dining, is healthy and economical.  Changing our eating habits away from a fast-food diet is not simple, but it is becoming easier.  Having your own garden or being part of a community garden is one of the best solutions to eating better and improving the environment. Co-op food programs are also a good source of local healthy food.  I am a member of a local co-op, Laguna Farms and get a weekly basket full of vegetables, greens and fruit. It is impossible to be perfect but trying to eat healthy is the key.

Stress relief

Stress relief is extremely important and becoming more and more difficult in our speeded-up world.  Keep a balance in life between activity and rest.   Make time for rest and sleep.  Use exercise, mediation, yoga and music, singing or dancing to release stress.  You can pick your own attitude every morning, so pick an uplifting joyous one.  Have fun each day.  Have humor and laugh!  Laughing has been shown to boost the immune system, reduce stress and lower blood pressure.  Make time for family, friends, and make time for love and romance.  


Keep moving.  Moderate daily exercise improves our circulatory system, heart, lungs, brain, muscle strength and lymphatic system. Evolutionary biologists believe the need for daily moderate activity is built into our bones, heart and being.  Dancing, walking, bicycling, swimming and gardening are all great movement activities.  Sweating is wonderful for toxin removal either from exercise or the sauna. Making exercise part of your life is all-important!  I believe that it should be called a Fun out instead of a workout and then more people would make it a regular part of their life.

 Stop unhealthy habits. 

 Tobacco use, smoking and chewing, along with heavy drug use, such as methamphetamines are leading candidates. Now vaping can be added to the dangerous health habits.  The most documented cancer-causing agent is tobacco, causing aggressive lung, throat and mouth cancer.  Tobacco use is also correlated with colon cancer, heart disease and gum disease. Nicotine is physically addicting and a difficult drug to quit. 

If you haven’t started using tobacco, don’t.  If you smoke, quit.  If you can’t quit, reduce as much as possible.  If you chew, quit. If you can’t stop, at least move it around to different spots in your mouth.  And don’t get hooked on vaping.  Stopping tobacco use is the best thing you can do for your health!  

Radiation from the sun is a well-documented cancer-causing agent.  It is best to stay covered up, avoid sunburns and use sunscreen.  Sunburn as a child is shown to correlate to skin cancer when older; so, keep the kids covered up! Tanning beds should be avoided. The ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning far exceeds that of the natural sun.  About 30 million Americans use tanning beds each year and are linked to the rise in skin cancer in young people, particularly melanoma.

Moderate alcohol use is considered a ‘good habit.’  Heavy use is not and should be avoided.  Heavy daily use is correlated with heart disease, colon cancer, dementia, and liver damage.  So, if you want enjoy a glass of wine or beer, maybe two, with a healthy meal, but don’t overdo it. 

 Get involved.

Consider helping with a children’s program, such as, the Education Foundation or the many sports programs.  Seniors check out the senior center for activities. Maybe join a crafts or arts group, the community center has many great programs, like pottery and glass glazing classes. 

There are many ways to give back, through church giving programs or one of the many wonderful service groups. I am a member of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati. 

During my younger years, I was active in the 20/30 Club.  Both service clubs are rewarding by giving back to the community, helping children, and supporting peace and friendship throughout the world.  

Important to keep your mouth clean 

Brushing and flossing are ‘good habits.’  Keeping the food debris off the teeth and gums after eating is an important part of good health and prevents decay, gum disease and tooth loss.  Anything that can be done to improve oral hygiene is a good habit to embrace brushing after every meal, flossing twice a day, an electric brush, a water pick, an air flosser, toothpicks, small interproxial brushes, non-alcoholic mouth washes, fluoride rinses and drinking and swishing with lots of water throughout the day.  Preventing gum disease is vital for the health of the entire body, since gum disease is correlated with heart disease, diabetes, strokes, ulcers and pre-term births. Gum disease can be prevented with good oral health habits and regular professional cleanings.


Have a Great and Healthy 2020!




George Malkemus has a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200. Call 585-8595, or email info@  Visit Dr. Malkemus’ Web site at