Quick Tips to Improve Your Health

by Diane, M.P.H, M.S.


  1. Become more physically active and include safe, moderate exercise in your schedule more oftenRegular, moderate exercise, including aerobics, increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, improves concentration and muscle mass, and can help reduce your weight, blood pressure, and levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, and cortisol stress hormone. Moderate exercise may also reduce build-up inside coronary arteries and thereby improve blood flow. Choose a safe activity that boosts your heart rate, such as walking briskly, dancing, swimming, gardening, using stairs instead of an elevator, hiking, biking, or running. Aim for at least 30 minutes, or two 15-minute sessions if that is easier to schedule, on most days of the week.
  2. Eat foods that promote good health and are in season: Eat to live! Don’t just live to eat.
  3. Eat more whole plant foods like fruits, cruciferous, leafy green, and root vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
  4. Choose organic foods, preferably labeled “U.S.D.A. organic,” when possible to reduce your exposure to fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals.
  5. Eat sustainable fish (wild Alaskan salmon, wild Pacific cod, USA tilapia, Arctic char) or other seafood low in contaminants twice a week.
  6. Avoid unhealthy fats (saturated animal fats, trans fats, butter, cream, ice cream, icings, pastries, shortenings, etc.) and choose healthy monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
  7. Avoid foods which contain genetically modified (GMO’s) ingredients whenever possible like corn, soybeans, wheat. Many animal studies show toxicity that predicts serious medical consequences in humans from long term exposure. Genetically modified crops have produced no significant increases in yield, raised the use of herbicides tenfold, and resulted in no social or economic benefit, except for the reduction of factory farm labor costs. Notify your grocer, state representatives, congressmen, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that you want foods containing GMOs to be labeled as such.
  8. Check expiration dates when you shop, as well as, after food has been stored at home: Try to use a food item as soon as possible after purchasing for the best nutrition value. The longer food sits on a grocery store shelf or in your pantry or refrigerator (ex., fruits, vegetables, herbs, dairy products like, milk, kefir, yogurt) the more nutrients deteriorate and the fewer nutrients will be left when you do eat the food.
  9. Limit processed food, including cold cuts: Look for whole foods in ingredient lists. If an ingredient sounds unnatural, beware. Processed foods tend to be high in salt, sugar, starches, unhealthy fats, preservatives (nitrate, nitrite, sodium benzoate, sulfites, etc.), and often, empty calories.
  10. Minimize or avoid sodium (salt): Americans regularly eat much more sodium than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg, mostly in processed foods and restaurant meals. The recommended daily limit is even lower at 1,500 mg if you are 51 years or older, African American, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease. Cook from scratch as much as possible, and use fresh or dried herbs, unsalted spices, citrus juice, and/or vinegar to add flavor to food.
  11. Limit or avoid foods with sugar, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and other chemicals. 
  12. Eat less meat: While meat offers protein, iron, and vitamin B12, it is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Use a small amount to flavor largely plant-based dishes, vegetable soups, whole-grain pasta and stir-fried dishes.
  13. Eat more vegetables: High in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, other phytonutrients, and low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. When dining out, begin your meal with salad or order a vegetarian entree.
  14. Choose whole grains: Replace refined grains with whole grains to obtain beneficial nutrients in the bran and germ (ex., Barley, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, old-fashioned or steel-cut oats, kamut, quinoa, whole wheatberries, etc.) Whole grains provide fiber which helps you to feel fuller on fewer calories, essential nutrients and healthy fats, promote regularity, and can help you slim down.
  15. Drink more water to help wash down your whole grains, fill you up so you don’t overeat, promote better blood flow and regularity.
  16. Eat out less often and prepare more meals at home.
  17. Stop smoking and avoid smoke-filled environments: Smoking lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in your bloodstream. Quitting smoking can increase HDL by 10-20%, according to the American Heart Association. In contrast to HDL’s positive effects, bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein [LDL]), causes cellular damage to the interior of blood vessel walls and promotes the storage of cholesterol as plaque inside arteries. Exposure to smoke, whether by actively smoking or breathing secondhand smoke, enables LDL to bind more effectively to artery walls. Talk with your health care provider about a smoking cessation strategy which may be best for you.

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