7 things you can do to help you live longer, click on the section for more details!
1. Buy some plants to purify your air.
2. Invest in a light box to get your circadian rhythm in order.
3. Drink coffee to decrease your chance of getting sick and boost your brain and mood.
4. Fidget away, it negates the effects of sitting all day long!
5. Eat honey to fight allergies.
6. Use a 10" plate instead of a 12" plate and eat 22% less.
7. Two or three times a week, eat something spicy to boost weight loss and fight cancer, heart disease and more.
Getting healthy doesn't sound too hard after all?
Health is, at it's core, a relative term. There is no unequivocal SIGN OF HEALTH. You cannot score 100% on being healthy. That's just not how this thing works. Health is a habit, or rather a long-term, up-hill-battle of many habits that swings the pendulum up towards health or down towards disease. Your health exists as a series of decisions about how to live your life; whether to eat Taco Bell for lunch or have an infinitely less satisfying meal; whether to get up early to run or hit the alarm 17 times in a row, rolling out of bed with mere seconds to propel yourself into your car. What I'm saying is, these decisions add up. For better or for worse, your health (like you) is a living, breathing thing that needs constant care and attention. Annoying, right?
Yes, I hear you. But isn't it also wonderful? We get literally hundreds, if not thousands of chances per day to make our lives better, healthier, fuller and yes, looooooonger. Good stuff.
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We all know the typical ways to care for our health: exercise a lot, eat vegetables, put on sunscreen blah blah. But what about the weirder, less conventional ways to improve your health? Say no more hack enthusiasts, we've got you covered.
I'm going to share with you everything I know about plants:
1. They are green.
2. They love the sun (honestly, same).
3. Your neighbor asks you to take care of them when they go on vacation.
4. You inevitably water them too little or too much and they die.
5. No one, and I mean literally no one, can give you an exact answer about how to take care of them. This, my friends, is the limitations of my knowledge and understanding of plants.
I recently learned something new about plants: they are more then pretty, decorative green blobs. In fact, plants are actually pretty damn good at clearing pollutants from the air, combating the effects of toxic substances in your home and apartment, and they can have more positive impacts on your health from concentration, to better and emotional well-being.
According to NASA research, plants can remove up to 87% off of toxins from the air. This includes toxic chemicals found in many homes and apartments like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Yeah, I don't know what they do either but they sound scary. The other wonderful health benefit about plants is that they release oxygen and water. During their usual process of photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release out oxygen. Humans do the opposite, by breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. They also release water in the form of vapor, releasing as much as 87% off the water and moisture they take in.
Have you ever heard of a "light box"? I mean, it's relatively self explanatory (light + box = lightbox). But beyond the obvious, let me tell you a little bit more. A light box is a tool used in so-called "Light Therapy" in which a person uses a bright light to regulate their circadian rhythm (i.e. your sleeping and waking cycle, combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even ADHD and depression! Some light boxes cost upwards of $100 but this high quality one will on run you just $52 at Amazon and it's extremely effective, with a 4.2 rating from 2,290 reviewers.
Get up early? Live in a place with little to no sun? Have trouble falling or staying asleep at a normal time? The answer to all these problems is a LIGHT BOX. Stare into this little, bright square for 10-45 minutes a day and your body will slowly re-adjust your circadian rhythm!
Pro-tip: use it at the same time every day and you body will adjust even more quickly and efficiently.
Source: Pawsitive Lighting
This "light therapy" is proven to be extremely effective in combating insomnia and seasonal affective disorder. It has also shown promising results in the treatment of depression and ADHD. It's meant to simulate a couple hours out in the sun, soaking up that vitamin D and allow your eyes and brains to process that Hey! It's morning! Time to get up!
Humans used to live outside, so our ancestors' daily cycles was deeply impacted by the rising and setting of the sun. Now, we live indoors, we stare at computers, TVs and phones late at night and all this adds up to a confused, misaligned circadian rhythm. Want to improve the effectiveness? Add in a small dose of melatonin (the naturally occurring sleep chemical in our bodies that you can take an a supplement) at the same time every night. If you use these two in conjunction, insomnia will be a thing of the past and your mood will get a healthy boost too.
I think we can all agree the coffee is delicious and trying to get through a morning without it is an exercise in futility. Can I get an amen? It turns out that coffee is much more then just a tasty, caffeine-laden burst of energy. Coffee actually has a variety of nutrients that, combined together and drank on the regular, can help lower your chances of getting some very serious diseases. Regularly drinking coffee decreases your likelihood of getting Type II Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Liver Disease, Parkinson's, some cancers and more!
Source: Acre Distilling Co.
Coffee is an amazing source of antioxidants including vitamin B2, B3 and B5, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin. Jon Vinson, Ph.D, from Medical News Today notes that:
"Americans get more more antioxidants from coffee then any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close."
Drinking coffee also has amazing short-term benefits including improved energy levels, improved concentration, increased fat burning (some studies cite an increased metabolic rate of 3-11%) and improved physical performance. Coffee is basically the adrenaline-like super power you'll always been hoping to somehow acquire. Plus, drink it black and it's only about 2 calories per serving. How awesome is that? So drink on coffee drinkers, you may just be helping your health.
Listen, we all know someone who is a little too fidgety for their own good. Over time, the endless tapping and sighing and stretching can become deeply frustrating to your coworkers, family members and anyone else in close proximity. But, by some cruel twist of fate, it turns out that fidgeting is actually good for you.
Not only does fidgeting burn calories, it can even negate some of the health problems associated with with sitting too long (office workers, we're looking at you). The researchers at the University College London and the University of Leeds' studied 12,778 women in between the age of 25 and 69. These women were labeled into 3 groups: low fidgeting, middle fidgeting or high fidgeting. It turns out that the women in the low fidgeting group who sat for more then 7 hours a day has an increase mortality rate of 43%. That's pretty concerning and definitely makes me want to never sit again.
This news has a positive side though: even little movements from time to time can make a big difference in your health. Even if you can't take a walk every hour, you can tap your feet or stretch or do any other small movement to keep yourself active and your body engaged. Try to make some new habits at work, even small ones, and you too can recover from the evils of sitting.
Honey is truly delicious and, fun fact, it is the only food that never expires. But behind that sweet deliciousness, it actually has some pretty amazing health benefits! If you suffer from allergies, honey could be your new best friend. Snack on some local honey (you can find it at your local farmer's market or in some grocery stores) and you will, over time, develop immunity to some of those local pollen. An added bonus is that it's also a natural cough suppressant! Take that, allergies.
Honey is also a natural way to boost your energy, it is made of sugar after all. But unlike other energy drinks, the fructose and glucose enter your bloodstream direct, giving you that nice little boost of energy. Honey has also shown promising results in research to indicate it could help with: acid reflux, the treatment of cuts or burns, a sleep aid, and dandruff. That's a pretty impressive list, if you ask me.
This tip definitely falls into the category of a 'hack'. Do you want to hack your body and your brain into eating less? Sure, sounds great, please order me a unicorn tomorrow too. Well, if this sounds too unrealistic I have some great news for you. You can trick yoself into eating 22% less calories by just adjusting which plates you use.
Source: Kha Brain Manchester
Yup, this was confirmed by researchers Wansink (Cornell) and Koert van Ittersum (Georgia Institute of Technology)! In their experiment, people who use a 10" plate instead of the standard 12" plate consumer 22% less calories overall. Essentially, using a smaller plate allowed the participants to trick their brains into being satisfied with less! Plates smaller then 9.5" didn't fall for it though, and they ended up consuming just as much or more by going back for seconds.
The sweet spot for eating less appears to be a 10" plate. Swap out your current 12" plates for a 10" one and, over the course of a year, you could lose up to 10 lbs without even noticing it. They also did another study suggesting that plate color matters too! Whatever you are eating, use a contrasting color plate and you will serve yourself up less then you would otherwise, because those portions are more visible on a contrasting color. So follow this hack: smaller plates --> smaller portions -->smaller stomach -->smaller you!
Are you a fan of spicy food? Are you the living embodiment of the fire emoji ? Well, this tip is for you! Turns out, there's some pretty awesome health benefits of eating spicy foods. Aside from the delicious feeling of superiority over your fellow man, turns out that eating spicy foods can aid in weight loss, decrease pain and boost your longevity.
Source: The Fit Indian
The active ingredient in spicy foods is called capcacin and it has been shown to anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and increased calorie-burning properties. In fact, the health benefits are so widespread that even eating spicy food twice a week with decrease your chance of cancer, will promote weight loss and even give you all natural endorphins to boost your mood and naturally fight pain.
Authority Nutrition, "Top 13 Evidence Based Health Benefits of Coffee" https://authoritynutrition.com/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee/
Medical News Today, "Nutrition / DietCoffee: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information" http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php?
Peak Fitness, "Go Ahead and Fidget" http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/10/09/fidgeting.aspx
Real Simple, "The Surprising Health Benefit of Fidgeting" http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/health-benefit-fidgeting
Real Food for Life, "Health Benefits of Honey" http://www.realfoodforlife.com/health-benefits-of-honey/
Medical Daily, "Liquid Gold: 7 Health Benefits Of Honey That Could Heal Your Whole Body" http://www.medicaldaily.com/liquid-gold-7-health-benefits-honey-could-heal-your-whole-body-325932
Medical News Today, "Honey: Health Benefits and Uses In Medicine" http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264667.php
James Clear, "Feeling Fat? Use These 2 Easy Ways to Lose Weight" http://jamesclear.com/feeling-fat
Small Plate Movement, "http://www.smallplatemovement.org/" http://www.smallplatemovement.org/
Wikipedia, "Smaller Plate Study" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smaller_Plate_Study
Healthy Eating, "What Are the Health Benefits of Spicy Food?" http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-spicy-food-7569.html