2017 is nearly coming to an end. You took a resolution to improve your health this year, but things did not work out the way you planned.
Work got too busy. You just started a family. You suffered an injury. Work took you out of the country. You had some financial stresses.
It could be anything, but often life gets in the way of good health.
Fortunately, staying healthy requires only small switches in your diet and lifestyle plan. It may not seem like much, but over a period of time it can mean a lot more to your health.
Here are 11 simple switches you can make to improve your health in 2018.
Simple Switches To Improve Your Health
Okay, so I am not just going to babble on about diet and exercise, though it is important. I have covered these topics extensively in other articles of mine on the blog.
Here are some other switches you can make.
1. Read More Books
Reading a good book is a pleasure that only a few enjoy. The variety of books that are available these days is just incredible.
Be it non-fiction or fiction, books are not just a source of inspiration and knowledge, they are also a great way to improve your health.
Reading a book can improve your memory, enhance your learning and even reduce your stress.
Clinical studies have shown that regular reading can keep your brain active and can reduce the risk of developing memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
Read a book by a great story writer and you can be lost in an entirely different world. It could even take away the stress you have been experiencing in your daily life.
Knowledge is power. Everything that we read may just be a revision of what we already know or could just fill our head with new bits of information.
Remember, the knowledge that you gain from books is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life. There is a guarantee about this when it comes to reading.
Reading is also a great way of enhancing your vocabulary. I was recently reading a book where I came across the word ‘discombobulate’. After looking at the dictionary I learned that it meant ‘to confuse’. I am still yet to use it in a sentence!
If you are looking to improve your analytical skills, then reading can really help you. Many people who read mystery novels become greatly analytical (possibly even over-analytical).
Even business books, financial analytics and tech books can improve your daily life and can improve your health as well.
Make sure to begin reading books regularly in 2018 to improve the health of your body and your mind.
2. Switch to Green Tea
It is a well-known fact that green tea has a number of different health benefits. It is loaded with antioxidant compounds that can fight harmful free radicals responsible for the development of cancer, skin disease, heart disease and numerous other medical problems.
If you are a regular tea or coffee drinker, it may be worth your while shifting to green tea to improve your health.
Green tea also contains caffeine which is a well-known mind stimulant. The quantity of caffeine that is present in green tea is not really as much as what is present in coffee.
However, with sufficient consumption, the positive effects that you would get with caffeine would still be there.
Green tea also contains an amino acid called L-theanine. This has the property of being transported through the blood and entering the brain. In the brain, it increases the activity of certain neurotransmitters which in turn reduces anxiety.
The effect of caffeine and the amino acid in turn has numerous positive benefits when it comes to improving your health.
Green tea has also got fat burning properties. In one particular study, regular consumption of green tea increased fat burning in the body by nearly 17%.
Green tea can also improve your endurance level and capability to perform physical activity. Efficiency at both work and during exercise improves significantly. This is because it can boost your metabolism, improve the flow of blood to your muscles and vital organs and keep your body as fit as a fiddle.
Green tea has also been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity. This means that your body’s capability of utilising insulin to lower sugar levels increases remarkably. In one particular study conducted in Japan, regular consumption of green tea reduce the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 42%.
So how much green tea should we drink everyday?
In order to reap the benefits, it is recommended that anywhere between 3 to 5 cups be consumed every day. Greater quantities of green tea can overload the body with caffeine and side effects may occur.
According to caloriebee.com, drinking one cup of green tea can lower your blood sugar levels, drinking 2 cups regularly can boost your energy levels and drinking 3 cups a day can burn belly fat.
3. Take A Walk
If you have not been a fan of walking previously, then it is timely you took this up in the year coming.
I have previously written about how walking is probably one of the best exercises to keep your body fit and healthy. It is currently recommended that we walk at least 10,000 steps a day to keep our heart strong and mind sharp.
However, a simple stroll in the park with a friend or family member is not sufficient to improve your health.
Walking should be brisk.
This means that when you walk as a part of your exercise routine, you should feel tired and even breathless to a point where it becomes difficult to speak in a full sentence.
Brisk walking not only loosens up your joints; it gets the heart pumping, it clears up clogged heart arteries, improves blood flow to the brain and enhances overall well-being.
It is a form of exercise that is recognised by many is probably the best in the world.
Regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy body weight. It also helps control blood sugar and blood pressure. It enhances balance and coordination and can boost your mood.
Not to mention that regular walking can also strengthen your bones and your muscles.
You don’t need to be a runner to stay fit. Just walk at a brisk pace regularly for about one hour a day and you will see your weight dropping and your body getting fitter.
4. Drink More Water
The human body is primarily composed of water. It should therefore come as no surprise that if we do not drink sufficient quantities of water regularly, we can get dehydrated fast and get extremely tired.
There is no clear guideline on how much water we need to drink regularly. Since water is essential to maintain the health of all our vital organs and the integrity of all the cells in the body, drinking around 2 to 3 L per day is what is recommended.
However, not many people are used to drinking this. Also, many people drink other fluids which adds up to this quantity.
Some people follow the practice of waking up in the morning and drinking water. Is there really any health benefit to this?
It appears that doing so can remove certain toxins from the bloodstream.
That being said, my search for any clinical evidence supporting this found no scientific papers. This would mean that this benefit is very likely anecdotal.
I would still recommend drinking 1 to 2 glasses of water on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up in the morning as a way of improving your health.
This is based on what my patients have told me over the years regarding how good they felt when they did this.
5. Gobble Up Nuts
Nuts are a wonderful source of protein and fats. They are probably the best snack available that is naturally healthy and filling.
I have previously discussed in detail the health benefits of nuts. You can read that article here.
The best nuts that you must consume on a regular basis include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, macadamia nuts and cashew nuts.
However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. While almonds and walnuts are extremely healthy, cashew nuts and macadamia nuts have higher quantities of fat in it and should be eaten in smaller amounts.
Certain nuts contain essential fatty acids and also a great deal of fibre. Over a period of time, regular consumption of nuts can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce snacking of junk foods and can improve your health in years to come.
If you are someone who enjoys eating crisps or chocolates as a snack, try and shift over to a handful of nuts. You will do yourself a world of good by making the switch.
6. Visit Your Dentist
How often do you visit your dentist? Do you know that your oral cavity is the most unhygienic part of your body?
The oral cavity is teeming with bacteria that are waiting to cause infections. If you do not maintain adequate oral hygiene, you could end up with severe dental problems that require not just root canals and caps but also dental extractions.
Maintaining oral hygiene is not really that difficult.
Use dental floss to clean the tight spaces in between your teeth. Follow this by brushing your teeth with a good quality fluoride toothpaste.
It is important that you brush your teeth at least for one minute and move your toothbrush in various directions to make sure you capture every nook and corner.
Chewing sugar-free gum is also a good way to keep your oral cavity clean. Many chewing gums now contain antibacterial compounds in them that can clean your teeth in between meals.
Finally, always rinse your mouth after eating any food. This will get rid of any material that is stuck in between teeth and can prevent bacteria from feeding on these.
Make sure you visit your dentist at least twice a year. They will be able to pick up any early dental problems and can guide you on how to take care of your teeth.
7. Try Positive Self Talk
Positive self talk is the best way to reduce stress and become more productive. It is natural in this competitive world to sometimes feel like a failure and under-appreciated.
Negative self talk can greatly affect your productivity and your mood. Over a period of time, it may even lead to depression.
Positive thinking and positive self talk implies seeing the positive sides of a bad situation. In other words, it is utilizing an approach to a deal with a problem in a positive manner.
Scientific studies have been conducted looking at positive thinking as a way of improving your health.
It has been found that it could lengthen our lifespan, lower the levels of stress, boost physical and psychological well-being and can also improve the health of our heart.
Positive people handle any situations in their life in a better manner. This is because positive self talk is an excellent coping strategy and can help you keep a clear mind at times of crisis.
8. Take Up Yoga
If you have not taken up yoga is a part of your regular exercise routine yet, then you are missing out big time. There is insufficient space on this page for me to list the health benefits of yoga.
I have already written a detailed article on how yoga can improve your health here.
Yoga is of different types and each of these types benefit a different aspect of our health.
The primary benefit of performing a regular yoga is lower stress levels. Stress is an important risk factor in the development of high blood pressure and heart disease and lowering stress levels can greatly reduce these problems.
Yoga can achieve it through a simple and effective manner.
Other forms of yoga not only target stress but also target flexibility, improve digestion and improve cardiac health and brain function.
An expert yoga instructor will be able to guide you regarding how yoga can improve your health. Make sure you visit a yoga center nearby and learn the different kinds of yoga that you think would help you improve your health and your life.
9. Turn Off Your Mobile Devices
Mobile devices have made our lives a lot more comfortable. There is no doubt about that. By mobile devices, I do not just mean mobile phones but also mean laptop computers and tablets.
But they may be causing more problems than they solve. You can read my views on that here.
These devices do not just emit a bright light but also harmful blue light. Blue light has the capability of penetrating the eyeball and harming the back of the eye that is the retina.
Children who are exposed to large amounts of blue light can develop a condition called macular degeneration at a younger age.
Blue light has been found to alter the levels of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for inducing sleep. If melatonin levels are altered by blue light, it becomes difficult to fall asleep.
Over a period of time, the lack of sufficient amount of sleep can lead to lower efficiency, excessive daytime sleepiness and extreme fatigue.
By simply turning off mobile devices at least one hour before going to bed, you train your brain to recognise your sleep time. This allows a surge of melatonin to be released around the brain which in turn leads to a restful sleep.
10. Get Some ‘Me Time’
When was the last time you got some time to yourself? Did you have a hobby that you used to indulge in before but now just do not find the time to do so?
Getting some ‘me time’ is extremely important if you wish to keep yourself healthy. Family commitments and work aside, a lot of times we have interests of our own that we may have pursued over a period of time. These interests are those that give us a tremendous amount of joy and relaxation.
With the stresses that we undergo in daily life, it is extremely important that we get time to ourselves now and again.
Something like sitting in a coffee shop and reading a book, taking a walk in a park or going for a run are all extremely beneficial if you are looking to improve your health.
Your ‘me time’ can be anything you want it to be. Just indulge in it from time to time to keep yourself physically and mentally fit.
11. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is probably the most important component or diet. Broadly classified, there are two kinds of fiber in your diet.
Insoluble fiber helps in bulk up our stools and allows for normal bowel motions.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, forms a gel when mixed with water. It coats the inner lining of the colon. This in turn reduces the absorption of harmful sugars and fats into the bloodstream.
Over a period of time, it can reduce cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels.
Oats is one of the best sources of soluble fibre. Nuts are also a good source. There are supplements currently available that are high in soluble fibre in case you do not get sufficient quantities of it in your diet.
Make sure you have one or two portions of foods that are rich in soluble fibre every day.
These are some simple switches that you can make to improve your health in the year coming. They are not impossible to achieve. Just make up your mind and keep yourself fit for years to come.