Do you put off making lifestyle changes to improve your health, because you dread the commitment it might demand from your already full life? You are not alone.
We forget that small shifts matter. Health is a daily choice. You don’t have to flip your entire life around to start feeling better.
There are several easy things you can do – small and simple daily tweaks – that add up to make a big difference to your overall health.
Research has shown that improving your diet by just 20% (that’s just one meal) could improve health significantly and lower your risk of premature death by up to 8-17%.
Here are 5 small tweaks you can try on for size, starting today:
1. Hydrate first, caffeinate second
One of the simplest things you can do to help your liver, kidneys, gut, and brain to function optimally, is to keep them well-hydrated. Often our brain needs a big glass of water more than it needs another coffee or a snack. A great rule of thumb is to start your day with a big glass of water to set the scene! (If you’re the worst at drinking water, why not try one of these apps to remind you?)
A simple tip: Carry a refillable water bottle around with you and for one whole week, aim to replace just one of your non-water drinks a day with a big glass of filtered water.
2. Eat just 2 more portions of vegetables a day
This we know already: whole, nature-made plant foods are the dream for better health. They contain a multitude of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants to support your immune, detoxification, circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems.
Here are 6 ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet, daily:
- Add ½ a cup of fresh or frozen berries or a portion of fruit to whatever breakfast you’re already eating.
- Add a cup or 2 of chopped spinach or swiss chard to your omelet, stir-fry, stew or soup.
- Pre-chop some carrot sticks and cucumber to have as a snack with hummus at work or after work or any time of the day.
- Add a can (or jar) of cooked lentils, cannellini beans, or finely chopped mix veg to your bolognaise sauce.
- Replace one layer of meat sauce in your lasagna with vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, beetroot).
- At a restaurant order a side of steamed veggies or a big crunchy salad to have with whatever meal you ordered.
3. Prepare a breakfast jar the night before
Mounting evidence suggests that eating nuts and seeds daily can lower inflammation as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease and could even lengthen your life. Eating nuts five to six times a week was linked to a 15% reduction in risk of death, and seven or more times a week to a 20% reduction. 20%? That’s nuts!
An easy, delicious way to get in a bunch of nuts and seeds is to add them to your overnight oats or morning porridge. Or you could keep a mix of nuts and seeds in a glass jar at your desk (or in your car).
Overnight breakfast jars topped with nuts and seeds are a revelation. You can throw all the ingredients together in a jar or Tupperware the night before and grab it on your way out the door to eat at your desk when you get to work, or later if you’re doing a morning fast. Just add your milk (or mylk) of choice and some fresh chopped fruit or berries right before eating.
4. Drink a smoothie once a day (or once every other day if that’s more realistic for you)
A major crap-food-trap time is right after work when we’re feeling the day’s built-up stress and need a quick-fix comfort snack. Another common high-risk-overeating moment is after an exercise session when we’re too hungry or tired to make something wholesome so we grab whatever’s in reach.
A simple homemade smoothie – much like the breakfast jar above – is an easy and delicious way to get a variety of healthy nutrients and enzymes into the body, under the disguise of something decadent like a milkshake – who doesn’t love a milkshake?
Smoothie check-list. Include some or all of these nutrition rock-stars:
- Baby spinach or kale (you know by now that dark leafy greens are most super of super foods).
- Frozen blueberries (another food hero – blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense (and lowest in sugar) fruits in the world containing fiber, vitamins C and K, and a LOT of anti-aging antioxidants.
- Some walnuts and chia or flax seeds (or any nut/seed butter like almond or macadamia) for those minerals and brain-boosting healthy fats.
- Cruciferous vegetables for powerful detoxification (e.g. a cup of steamed and frozen cauliflower or fresh raw rocket/arugula leaves).
5. Bust your stress, once a day
Stress wreaks havoc in the body, interfering with our metabolism, digestion, cognitive function (memory, concentration, mood), immunity, sleep quality, and more.
We can’t avoid the stresses of daily life, but we can release it from the body and reset ourselves to baseline regularly.
Some effective stress-busters: Movement; meditation; time in nature; time with a supportive person; talk therapy; journaling; crafting or creative work, knitting, a social workout, and more. Be a beginner. Start today 🙂
Want to be better at managing your health goals but not sure where to begin?
Nutrigenetics examines how your body responds to nutrients based on your genetics. Knowing your unique genetic profile is the first step on your journey to optimal health. If this all sounds interesting, you can click here to read more about a 3X4 Genetic Test for you.
Doing a DNA test can give you a lot of valuable insights about how you might be able to change your life and transform your health in a way that is highly personalized and most importantly, sustainable!
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Do it for your genome.
Daily Choices is an online wellness publication dedicated to delivering fresh evidence-based advice to a community of people who are curious about how to feel - and live- better.
By sharing what we know about modern health and nutrigenomics (that’s food x genes), we hope to inspire you to figure out which lifestyle choices might bring you closer to the life you want.
We believe every body is unique and that health is a personal, daily choice. Get a deeper understanding of your body’s unique needs and choose what’s right for you.