10 Smart, Simple Ways To Improve Your Metabolic Health

mbg Director of Scientific Affairs By Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N.
mbg Director of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N. is Director of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Woman and child exercising

Image by DANIEL KIM PHOTOGRAPHY / Stocksy

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:

1. 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.

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2. Be physically active—often.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. That's about 20 minutes a day. Choose a form of exercise you enjoy and mix it up. The important thing is to get your heart rate up and keep muscles strong.

3. 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!

Whether following a vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, Mediterranean, or other dietary pattern, focus on nutrient-density and whole foods. Complement nutrition with targeted supplementation to address key nutrient gaps and support specific health areas.

4. Stay hydrated.

Aim to stay hydrated with 9 to 12 cups of healthy fluids per day. Coffee and tea do count toward fluid intake, but of course, balance these with all-important water intake. A hydration clue can be found in the color of your urine.

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5. Prioritize sleep hygiene.

Maximize the quantity and quality of your rest. As a reminder, adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.

6. 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.

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7. Watch out for vices.

Practice moderation and mindfulness with alcohol consumption. If tobacco use is in the mix, resolve to quit for good.

8. 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).

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9. Lean on tech.

Leverage supportive technology like the Noom app for evidence-based guidance on sustainable weight loss that's rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy. Their health coaches can help you turn healthy thoughts into healthy actions.

10. Stay connected.

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.

Want your passion for wellness to change the world? Become A Functional Nutrition Coach! Enroll today to join our upcoming live office hours.

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