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These days, staying healthy can seem like rocket science.
There are so many health tips from different experts.
And everyone seems to have their own opinion.
However, maintaining good health doesn’t need to be complicated.
It all boils down to several key nutrition and lifestyle rules that are well-supported by science.
This article shows you 10 evidence-based tips that most experts agree are essential for optimal health:
#1 Stay Away From Trans-Fats
Trans-fats are possibly the single worst food you can put in your body. They are even worse than white sugar. They are man-made, full of omega-6 inflammatory fatty acids, and increase the risk of heart disease. (1, 2, 3, 4) In fact, trans-fats are so harmful they’ve been banned in a number of countries, including the USA. But some foods still contain them:
- Margarine with trans-fats
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Fast foods
- Doughnuts, cakes, and muffins (in some cases)
- Certain brands of pizza
#2 Eat More Fiber
Taking probiotics isn’t the only way to improve your gut health. See, eating fiber-rich foods feeds the existing good bacteria in your gut. This fiber is undigestable by your body, but once it enters your gut, it ferments and serves as food for your friendly bacteria – helping them thrive. (5) In addition, fiber helps:
- Reduce the risk of obesity
- Improve metabolism
- Improve digestion and bowel movements
- Control blood sugar
#3 Sleep Well Every Night
Many people know that sleep is important. But just how important it is? Well, we now know that a lack of sleep can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, along with disrupting your hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Your risk of gaining weight also shoots up after a poor night of sleep. (6, 7, 8, 9) Here are a couple of tips for better sleep:
- Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Don’t drink coffee for at least 6 hours prior to going to bed.
- Expose yourself to bright daily light early in the day (to reset your biological clock).
- Wear earplugs and eye mask.
- If you have chronic sleep issues, check for the underlying cause (e.g. sleep apnea).
#4 Cut Back on Refined Carbs
Nowadays, carbs are the scapegoat of the media. But not all carbs are the same. Whole grains such as high-quality pasta, oats, and wild rice contain nutrients and fiber important for health. It’s refined carbs that cause health problems. They lack fiber and cause blood sugar spikes in the body, causing weight gain and insulin resistance. (13, 14) Refined carbs include:
- Table sugar
- White bread
- White pasta
Minimizing these foods is one of the best ways to keep your weight – and health – under control.
#5 Eat Fish
Including fish in your diet is critical for both your physical and mental health. Your brain is mostly made of fat – a big chunk of it is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines contain plenty of this nutrient. In addition, omega-3s in fish are anti-inflammatory, they improve your heart health, and boost mood & memory. (10, 11, 12)
#6 Drink Green Tea
Green tea helps you lose weight and maintain optimal health in a number of ways. First off, it stimulates your metabolism to work harder and burn more fat. Secondly, green tea contains antioxidants (catechins) which protect your cells from oxidative stress. As a result, your body becomes more resilient to disease. Try drinking a cup or two of green tea per day to reap its health benefits. (15)
#7 Go For a Run (or Lift Weights)
Doing cardio helps reduce your body fat, including harmful fat around your organs. This will, in turn, improve your metabolic health. (16) Here are some suggested cardio exercises:
- Sprints (HIIT) – this is an intense form of cardio, also called High-Intensity Interval Training. This is where you do short bursts of intense activity followed by a period of rest. With this kind of training, you save time and burn fat even more efficiently than with slow-paced cardio. But HIIT isn’t for everyone; it’s extremely mentally and physically challenging.
- Running – This is a traditional form of cardio which offers many health benefits, such as increased endurance, stamina, and lung capacity.
- Long walks – Going for a long walk will not only improve your metabolism. It will also reduce stress hormones and nourish the adrenals.
Weightlifting is another type of training to improve your health. When exercising in the gym, you improve your body’s composition in favor of your muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolism is. Meaning, you burn more calories even when doing nothing. Ultimately, this makes staying lean a whole lot easier. (17, 18)
#8 Eat More Probiotic Foods
As we’ve talked earlier, eating prebiotics (foods with fiber) helps nourish the existing good bacteria in your gut. But it never hurts to add even more friendly bacteria to the mix.
The best way to do it?
Eat probiotic-rich foods. (20)
#9 Catch Some Sun
When exposed to sun, your skin makes vitamin D. This vitamin, or hormone (both is correct), is critical for your health. (19) Vitamin D helps:
- Increase strength
- Reduce depression
- Lower the risk of disease, including cancer
- Improve bone health
- Elevate testosterone
Here’s the thing though: many people are vitamin D deficient. And even more of them don’t have optimal vitamin D blood levels. If you can’t get at least 20 minutes of sunlight a day, consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
#10 Don’t be Afraid of Egg Yolks
A myth that eggs will raise your cholesterol is just that – a myth. We now have strong clinical evidence that shows how eggs have absolutely no effect on your cholesterol levels. That’s because your body naturally produces cholesterol on its own. When you increase cholesterol through diet, the body produces less of this vital lipid. The takeaway here is that eggs aren’t bad for you – they are in fact, healthy. (23, 24)
Bonus Tips For Optimal Health
- Don’t smoke.
- Drink in moderation (a maximum of 2 glasses of alcohol per day for men, 1 glass for women)
- Don’t be afraid of saturated fat (peer-reviewed, meta-analysis research shows saturated fat is actually healthy in moderation). (21, 22)
- Keep your stress levels low by doing yoga or meditation.
- Laugh often.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of health tips on the internet.
But remember this:
When it comes to your health, the simpler, the better. Stick to the basics – things that have been proven by science to work.
Eating a colorful diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoiding fast food, exercising, sleeping well, and getting some sunlight every day. These are some of the basic rules for staying healthy in both the body and the mind.
Dietary fatty acids affect plasma markers of inflammation in healthy men fed controlled diets: a randomized crossover study. (source)
Dietary fat intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women: 20 years of follow-up of the nurses' health study. (source)
Association between trans fatty acid intake and 10-year risk of coronary heart disease in the Zutphen Elderly Study: a prospective population-based study. (source)
A Prospective Study of Trans Fatty Acids in Erythrocytes and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease. (source)
Prebiotic fiber modulation of the gut microbiota improves risk factors for obesity and metabolic syndrome. (source)
Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. (source)
Longitudinal associations between sleep duration and subsequent weight gain: A systematic review. (source)
A meta-analysis of Short Sleep Duration and Obesity in Children and Adults. (source)
Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease- a Review of the Recent Literature. (source)
n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. (source)
Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder: A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. (source)
Fish, meat, and risk of dementia: a cohort study. (source)
Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. (source)
High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity. (source)
Dr. Oz's Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips of All Time. (source)
A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of aerobic vs. resistance exercise training on visceral fat. (source)
Potential Health-Related Benefits of Resistance Training. (source)
Resistance training combined with bench-step aerobics enhances women's health profile. (source)
Vitamin D for Health: A Global Perspective. (source)
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. (source)
Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. (source)
A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. (source)
Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. (source)
Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. (source)