5 Ways to Improve Your Health

There is so much information out there about how to live a healthy life and what habits really translate to that. It can be frustrating and sometimes advice can seem quite complicated. We have 5 simple ways you can improve your health starting today. Gone are the days of debating what matters for your health. Here's what you need to know. 

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1. Coffee lovers rejoice: You should drink it every day.

About four years ago, I called the shot on the benefits of coffee and many medical doctors came out against it — on the front of it being linked to acid-reflux and heart disease.  New studies show the health benefits aren't from caffeine but from cholorogenic acid and antioxidants, which consistently have shown to reduce inflammation. I've long been a fan of the health benefits that come along with coffee and I'm excited to see more studies coming out showing its may help prevent major diseases like MS and heart disease. Drink 3-4 cups of black coffee per day to get the benefits.

2. Opt for more plant-based foods

We've talked extensively about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for a healthy lifestyle. This diet provides many plant-based food options. This isn't about converting to vegan, rather to choose whole foods derived from nature, whole grains, fruits, seeds and beans as opposed to chemically processed foods made with synthetic substances and refined ingredients. Shifting your eating habits will dramatically boost heart health, manage Type 2 Diabetes and lower the risk for chronic illnesses. 

3. Be active at least 3 times per week

Moderation seems to be the ideal sweet spot for a healthy and habit-forming exercise regimen. The key to exercise is learning what you like and falling in love with it so you don't get sick of the same moves. 

Moderate Exercise Tips:

A. Change it up: Variation yields great results. It's good to embrace high-intensity workouts, just not every single day. By changing it up, you'll confuse your body and that's a good thing.

B. Burn more fat. Slower cardio workouts train your body to use fat as fuel, hence burning it. 

C. Increased energy: Easier paced workouts develop cardiovascular strength, making the heart, lungs and respiratory system more powerful. It also increases the number and size of mitochondria, which are tiny power plants in your cells. The more you have the more energetic you'll feel. 

D. Moderate exercise equals no post-workout hunger: When you go all-in, 100% intensity in a workout, there's a tendency to compensate for those extra calories burned. Eating unhealthy foods after a workout will completely negate all of the benefits. Some studies show that moderate exercise leaves you feeling less hungry afterwards and less likely to consume a fatty meal. 

4. Avoid artificial sweeteners and additives

Even though they're calorie-free, the fake stuff is never going to be a good idea. Artificial sweeteners are processed into something far from the natural form of sugar and adding it to your coffee or tea isn't doing your health any favors. Studies have shown that the extra sweet taste increases sugar cravings ultimately affecting insulin and blood sugar levels. Enjoy naturally sweet food or additives like cinnamon or cocoa instead.

5. Fight stress with all you've got

The funny thing about stress is that it doesn’t affect just one part of us, but our entire body as a whole.  This stress can originate from anywhere and, as a basic explanation, is your body’s reaction to situations that can be perceived as potentially dangerous.  In order to live a healthier and happier life, it is extremely important to take control of the stressors in our lives.

A. Get Active

As far as lifestyle remedies, go exercise!  Exercise is the best way to reduce stress and cortisol levels.  This is especially attractive now that summer is upon us and the warm weather beckons us outdoors. Some fresh air, a change of scenery, and physical activity

B. Eat Healthy

Eating a healthy diet, packed with fruits and vegetables, fiber rich foods, and clean proteins can nourish your body and better prepare you to cope with stress and its effects on the body. Foods high in caffeine and sugar only keep you energized for a short period of time and can leave you feeling tired and moody after you crash.

C. Take breaks throughout the day

You can’t always avoid stressors, especially they are part of your daily routine.  But what you can do is make time for breaks in your work or day. Taking breaks, even short ones, can help keep your mind fresh, and de-stress from the work you are facing. Think of these breaks as mini vacations from your daily grind.

D. Take time to breathe

Sometimes, relieving stress is as easy as breathing deeply and trying to slow down you heart rate.  Deep breaths can help calm the nerves and combat the “fight or flight” response happening in your body as you stress. Breathing deeply sends a message to the brain notifying it to chill out, reducing blood pressure, slowing down breathing, and lowering the heart rate.