10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Health
The time for making official New Year's resolutions may have passed, but it's never too late to reshape and revitalize your lifestyle. Below are 13 of the health and lifestyle guidelines I implement in my daily life and routine, and if you begin to adopt some or all of these tips, 2013 could be your body's best year yet.
1. Get more sleep.
We might just think that a poor night's sleep will lead to grogginess or low productivity the next day, but the physical effects of little sleep are very real. Poor sleep can impact everything from metabolism to blood sugar balance and even gut health. You should aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night to maximize your health.
2. Hydrate whenever you can.
Drinking the recommended amount of water daily (11 cups on average for women and 16 for men) is seriously important. According to Harvard University's School of Public Health, drinking enough water can "regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly." Proper water intake can also improve mood and brain functioning.
3. Start your day with a good breakfast.
Your breakfast should be rich in protein and good fats. A smoothie (so long as it is not loaded with sugar and sugary fruits) can be a good option for stabilizing blood sugar and allowing for easy absorption of vitamins and minerals. Here’s a few other healthy options if you’re stuck making the same thing every day.
4. Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners that show up on nearly every diner table and coffee cart were created to replace sucrose, or standard table sugar. The aim was to make a sugar alternative that could help reduce obesity and subsequent metabolic diseases. Unfortunately, these alt-sugars, common in diet sodas and "healthy" versions of desserts, have been linked to cancer and some suggest they cause inflammation, which can lead to autoimmune disorders
5. Swap simple carbs for the more complex.
Simple or refined carbohydrates, like white bread, white rice, and sugary breakfast cereals have little nutritional value. A lot of food can be just fine in moderation, but when possible, replace these carbs with the more complex variety. Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat options are often higher in fiber, which can reduce constipation, and lower blood sugar and cholesterol.
6. Reduce your stress.
Find a technique that works best for you and try to practice that stress reliever daily. Some examples of good stress relievers include meditation, deep breathing, yoga, walking, drinking tea, or reading. High levels of stress can wreak havoc on your physical health as well as mental, by messing with your sleep, digestion, and immunity to name a few.
7. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day.
Keep your body moving in your favorite way, whether that be weight training, pilates, yoga, or going on a jog. If you're exercising primarily to lose weight, it's time to change your mentality. Exercise can be a mood-booster and a great way to catch up on alone time, so incorporating at least 30 minutes into your schedule can be an act of self-care. You'll be doing your future self a favor too.
8. Learn to love your veggies.
You've been told this since you were a kid, but seriously eat your veggies. Not only can they be a tasty side to your roast chicken or that slice of pizza, high intakes of the nutrients from vegetables can lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. These nutrients include potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
9. Put technology to bed.
The blue light from your electronics can interfere with your sleep by delaying the release of melatonin. They're also just downright distracting and that endless Instagram scroll can keep you awake an hour later than you expected. Try picking up a book instead and turning the lights (especially the blue kind) off early.
10. Establish a morning routine.
Before reaching for your phone in the morning, stretch, smile, practice gratitude, and drink lots of water. Slowing down before overwhelming yourself with all that is to come can set the tone for a more peaceful day. Here's some advice to help you create a morning routine that sticks.