Updated: Sep 29, 2020
It’s easy to get confused when it comes to health and nutrition. Even qualified experts often seem to hold opposing opinions. Yet, despite all the disagreements, a number of wellness tips are well supported by research.
Here are 27 health and nutrition tips that are actually based on good science.
1. Don’t drink sugar calories Sugary drinks are among the most fattening items you can put into your body. This is because your brain doesn’t measure calories from liquid sugar the same way it does for solid food. Therefore, when you drink soda, you end up eating more total calories. Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other health problems.
Keep in mind that certain fruit juices may be almost as bad as soda in this regard, as they sometimes contain just as much sugar. Their small amounts of antioxidants do not negate the sugar’s harmful effects.
2. Eat nuts Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy. They’re loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fibre, and various other nutrients. Studies demonstrate that nuts can help you lose weight and may help fight type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Additionally, your body doesn’t absorb 10–15% of the calories in nuts. Some evidence also suggests that this food can boost metabolism. In one study, almonds were shown to increase weight loss by 62%, compared with complex carbs.
3. Avoid processed junk food (eat real food instead) Processed junk food is incredibly unhealthy. These foods have been engineered to trigger your pleasure centers, so they trick your brain into overeating — even promoting food addiction in some people. They’re usually low in fibre, protein, and micronutrients but high in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined grains. Thus, they provide mostly empty calories.
4. Don’t fear coffee Coffee is very healthy. It’s high in antioxidants, and studies have linked coffee intake to longevity and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and numerous other illnesses.
5. Eat fatty fish Fish is a great source of high-quality protein and healthy fat. This is particularly true of fatty fish, such as salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients. Studies show that people who eat the most fish have a lower risk of several conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and depression.
6. Get enough sleep The importance of getting enough quality sleep cannot be overstated. Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, disrupt your appetite hormones, and reduce your physical and mental performance. What's more, poor sleep is one of the strongest individual risk factors for weight gain and obesity. One study linked insufficient sleep to an 89% and 55% increased risk of obesity in children and adults, respectively.
7. Take care of your gut health with probiotics and fibre The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are incredibly important for overall health. A disruption in gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity. Good ways to improve gut health include eating probiotic foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, taking probiotic supplements, and eating plenty of fibre. Notably, fibre functions as fuel for your gut bacteria.
8. Drink some water, especially before meals Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits. Surprisingly, it can boost the number of calories you burn. Two studies note that it can increase metabolism by 24–30% over 1–1.5 hours. This can amount to 96 additional calories burned if you drink 8.4 cups (2 litres) of water per day.
The optimal time to drink it is before meals. One study showed that downing 2.1 cups (500 ml) of water 30 minutes before each meal increased weight loss by 44%.
9. Don’t overcook or burn your meat Meat can be a nutritious and healthy part of your diet. It’s very high in protein and contains various important nutrients. However, problems occur when meat is overcooked or burnt. This can lead to the formation of harmful compounds that raise your risk of cancer. When you cook meat, make sure not to overcook or burn it.
10. Avoid bright lights before sleep When you’re exposed to bright lights in the evening, it may disrupt your production of the sleep hormone melatonin. One strategy is to use a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light from entering your eyes in the evening. This allows melatonin to be produced as if it were completely dark, helping you sleep better.
11. Take vitamin D3 if you don’t get much sun exposure Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Yet, most people don’t get enough sun exposure. In fact, about 41.6% of the U.S. population is deficient in this critical vitamin. If you’re unable to get adequate sun exposure, vitamin D supplements are a good alternative.
Their benefits include improved bone health, increased strength, reduced symptoms of depression, and a lower risk of cancer. Vitamin D may also help you live longer.
12. Eat vegetables and fruits Vegetables and fruits are loaded with prebiotic fibre, vitamins, minerals, and many antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects. Studies show that p