10 Smart, Simple Ways To Improve Your Metabolic Health
Improving metabolic health is not a niche health need. Seven out of eight Americans are metabolically unhealthy, which involves abnormal blood sugar, lipids, or inflammation (and can lead to a plethora of serious chronic diseases later on). Even people who appear healthy on the outside can have metabolic imbalance brewing on the inside.
The critical role of metabolic health in immune strength and overall well-being is not debatable. So, whether you're interested in bolstering your immune system during this pandemic or aiming to improve overall health for the long haul—here are 10 evidence-based lifestyle changes to focus on this winter and beyond:
Prioritize strength over weight loss.
Through exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress management, and other lifestyle and mindfulness strategies—focus on small changes over time that help you become stronger (e.g., metabolism, immunity, muscles, bones, mind, etc.), instead of simply losing weight.
Be physically active—often.
Stay smart about nutrition, and don't get distracted by fad diets.
Instead, emphasize color, smaller portions, plants, fiber, high-quality protein, healthy fats (especially omega-3s), slow carbs with a lower glycemic index, and spices. Slow down and savor healthy foods!
Prioritize sleep hygiene.
Maximize the quantity and quality of your rest. As a reminder, adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Be intentional about stress management.
Reduce or remove sources of chronic stress whenever possible. Consider meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, counseling, and other stress-relieving tactics.
Watch out for vices.
Practice moderation and mindfulness with alcohol consumption. If tobacco use is in the mix, resolve to quit for good.
Find the right doctor for you.
Partner with a health care practitioner who understands the value of personalized lifestyle and functional medicine to support you in your metabolic health journey. Work with them to improve key markers of metabolic health over time: waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), triglycerides (TG), LDL and HDL cholesterol, TG:HDL ratio, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), uric acid, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).
Lean on tech.
Even though this pandemic is isolating out of necessity, don't silo your health journey. Instead, find creative ways to embrace and enjoy lifestyle change and wellness with the support of family and friends.
The bottom line.
Americans are metabolically unhealthy in epidemic proportions. Thankfully, there are science-backed approaches that can be personalized to get our metabolic health back on track. From strengthening your immune system to reducing chronic disease risk, an improvement in metabolic health is one of the smartest investments in your overall well-being.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. Ashley received her B.A. in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania (along with a double minor in Nutrition and Music) and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia. Her research contributions span vitamin D, cardiometabolic health, bone density, and weight management. Ferira is a nutrition scientist and dietitian with experience in nutrition product innovation and development, scientific affairs, education, communications, and SEO writing for global firms, including Nature Made, Metagenics, Three Ships, and mindbodygreen.
In addition to her mindbodygreen contributions, Ferira is published in Health, Metagenics Institute, American Family Physician, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, and Osteoporosis International. She has a passion for the translation of evidence-based science into innovative and high-quality products and information that help people lead healthier lives. She is a believer in compassionate, informed, and personalized approaches to nutrition, health care, and wellness. Ashley lives in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, where she was born and raised. Whether savoring an orchestral performance or delectable meal at a local restaurant, you will find her enjoying Charleston’s cultural and culinary arts with family and friends.