Things to Do to Improve Your Health
When you think about your health, what stands out as something you want to change or improve? Lowering cholesterol, losing weight, exercising more and reducing stress are some of the biggest health trends, especially as we begin a new year. Whether your goals fall within these categories or you hope to achieve something more specific, focusing on improving your health is always a worthwhile pursuit.
Many folks believe they need to change everything about their health to realize their fullest potential. But this all-or-nothing mentality puts a lot of pressure on us to be perfect and can leave us feeling discouraged if we make a mistake or slip off track.
We all want to be healthier and feel better in our day to day lives. It may sound too good to be true, but a good night’s sleep, staying on top of neglected health exams and adding spices to your food can provide enormous health benefits.
Below, I’ve pulled together a few secret health habits that you can try out. These suggestions are often overlooked in popular health roundups. Still, they will make a difference in amplifying your wellness routine so you can achieve the goals you have set for yourself this year.
Spice Up Your Life with Turmeric
Turmeric is the bright yellow spice that gives curry its look and taste. This super spice packs a punch beyond the kitchen, which is why you may have seen it making appearances on food and beverage menus recently. Turmeric is used to treat everything from heartburn, headaches and arthritis to stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, stomach bloating and even some cancer types. It has even been shown to potentially prevent dementia and cognitive decline.
Turmeric tastes great in potato salad, omelets or anything that needs a bright, earthy kick of healthy flavor. If you are looking to experiment with turmeric, try this inflammation-busting curry chicken salad recipe from Ochsner Registered Dietician Molly Kimball.
Other spices like ginger, cinnamon and cayenne have also been shown to help increase metabolism and promote better digestion and fat burning. Check out a full list here of metabolism-boosting foods and spices.
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Clear Eyes Can’t Lose
There are numerous benefits of getting your eyes checked early and often. Regular eye exams help prevent eye problems. When you catch eye diseases early, they are more likely to be treatable. Also, your eyes can change over time. Eye exams will help you identify how your eyes are changing and help you manage that change.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends undergoing an eye screening at least once between the ages of 3 and 5 and annually from ages 6 through 17. For adults, the AOA recommends an eye exam at least every two years between ages 18-64 for low-risk groups and annually for groups who are considered at-risk of developing severe eye conditions.
After age 64, everyone is advised to undergo an eye exam at least once per year. People 65 and above can start having vision problems they’ve never had before, so yearly eye exams will help keep you on top of any ocular changes.
Sleep Equals Success
Adequate sleep is associated with so many health benefits that you’ll probably need a nap before you can get through the whole list.
Here are four unsung benefits to improving your sleep:
- Improved learning and retention. A process called consolidation during sleep helps to strengthen our memories.
- Weight loss. Getting a full night’s sleep helps you cut fat rather than muscle.
- Stress reduction. Stress and a lack of sleep go hand in hand.
- Injury prevention. Sleep deprivation is linked to accidents, some of which can be serious.
Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? If so, the advice to simply get better sleep probably sounds a little obvious and frustrating! Think of sleep like a muscle that you need to strengthen and train in order to improve. It’ll get easier with time, I promise.
Here are a couple of things you can do if you are struggling with sleep:
- When you combine carbs and the amino acid tryptophan, you feel drowsy. Foods like whole-wheat pasta, chicken, pork, salmon, milk and potatoes are all high in tryptophan, which can promote sleep. Check out these five foods that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
- Try to cut out late-night wine or alcohol, which reduces deep sleep. Aim to have any alcoholic beverage earlier in the evening.
- It takes time to get your body ready for sleep. Start relaxing about an hour before bed by reading, listening to a low-key podcast or audiobook, meditating, writing in a notebook and avoiding electronic devices.
- Stick to a sleep schedule as much as possible. You can help set your circadian rhythm by going to bed at the same time every night.
If you are looking for additional sleep resources, check out this list of 10 things you can do to improve your sleep.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 22, 2017.