4 Powerful and Proven Health Hacks
Yes, there could be 10, 20, 100 things to do but I narrowed this list down to 4 user-friendly things.
#1 Get of the beaten track and track your s$@t (for a whole stinkin' day!)
"What the what!" you say? Hear me out. By writing down what you put into that sweet mouth of yours accomplishes two VERY important things: consciousness and facts. No, I'm not talking about being one with your food but actually taking a hard look at what you shove into your mouth without a second thought. Most people eat without thinking. And this is where the problem STARTS and MANIFESTS into something greater.
Also, when you log what you eat, you can pin-point where the issue is. Take 20 minutes after the day is done to plug your food into a simple food calculator like 'my fitness pal' or 'get my macros'. You will be shocked (as 99% of people are) how much or even how little you are eating. AND, what your protein/fat/carb ratio is (key to those trying to lose fat, gain muscle or maintain their weight).
But the win is when you see how much sugar you eat (around 50 grams a day is optimal) and how little water you drink.
3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm (food tracking study)
#2 Get outside and move
(even if it’s cold, raining or your favourite show is on)
The studies are endless on the correlation of time spent outdoors and dramatic improvement in health, not just weight loss. I attached just a few below. Getting outdoors even helps those with myopia (nearsightedness)! From powerful improvements in depression to a huge reduction in stress to natural appetitive suppression. Just set aside 20-30 minutes to get outside and feel the positive effects. Take it up a notch and go for a walk, listen to a podcast, play with your kids, your dog, your iguana. Finally, you get to make good use of those REI clothes.
1. “Neural basis for the relationship between frequency of going outdoors and depressive mood in older adults." International journal of geriatric psychiatry. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.
2. Harada K, Lee S, Lee S, et al. Objectively-measured outdoor time and physical and psychological function among older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2016;
3. French AN, Ashby RS, Morgan IG, Rose KA. Time outdoors and the prevention of myopia. Exp Eye Res. 2013;114:58-68.
4. Pearson DG, Craig T. The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1178.
5. Berto R. The role of nature in coping with psycho-physiological stress: a literature review on restorativeness. Behav Sci (Basel). 2014;4(4):394-409.
#3 SLEEP....so you don't feel like a trash heap
(and without the use of pharmaceuticals)
This one should be THE EASIEST hack to health since you basically just lay down. But most people have terrible sleep hygiene so here comes a lot of words. But it's juicy so keep reading.
“Sleep Hygiene” basically means your sleep routine. Sleep is affected by environmental (TV/tablets/phone/lights) and internal stimulation (caffeine/monkey-mind/bad meal) which make it hard to fall and stay asleep. There are other issues which cause sleep disturbances such as pain, bladder issues, stomach issues and more, but I am only going to focus on the basics.
Your body has four stages of sleep lasting 90 minutes each. If you don’t reach those four stages, you don’t get that restorative sleep and you feel hung-over. It’s also during these critical sleep cycles that you synthesise major hormones like testosterone, thyroid, growth hormones and immunity builders.
Poor sleep is also strongly associated with weight gain.
So, try this for better sleep quality:
1. Turn off any blue light (this is your TV, phone and tablet) 30-60 minutes before bed. What the heck should you do now? Read, make love, listen to music or journal all those ideas rolling around in your head (this last one is a great one for monkey-mind peeps). If you’re feeling extra woo-woo, then meditate, take a magnesium bath or have an actual conversation with someone you love. Before you groan, try this for a week…its just 30 minutes.
2. If you absolutely MUST watch a blue screen, use blue-blocking glasses (like $10 on amazon). They are just safety glasses that block out the blue light, which signals your brain to WAKE UP.
3. Black it out! When you go to sleep your room should be pitch dark. Even a small flashing power button across the room needs to go. Don’t believe me? One study showed that shining a small light on the back of your knees actually had a significant impact on circadian rhythms.
There literally are so many studies on the effects of light and circadian rhythm it would take months to read them all. But the take-home is this: Light=no sleep.
Need more? The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has classified shift work in group 2A of "probable carcinogens to humans" since "they involve a circadian disorganisation". From the abstract: “Exposure to Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) results in a disruption of the circadian system, which is deleterious to health.” It's worth repeating: probable carcinogens to humans.
Here is a list of common substances that keep you awake AND a list of some herbs that are powerful which it comes to helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. *Note* Herbs/botanicals are as powerful if not more than pharmaceuticals. So MORE IS NOT BETTER my friend. Try half a dose to start and cycle it.
Things that keep you awake: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, Ginkgo, Ginseng, Guarana/Ephedrine, Wellbutrin, SSRI’s, Ritalin, decongestants like Sudafed, beta blockers and Albuterol.
Herbs and nutrients that help you sleep well:
Valerian, Hops, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, 5-HTP/Tryptophan, L-Glycine, B-Vitamins (B3, B6) and Magnesium. Before you run out and buy all these ingredients, I highly recommend buying a supplement from a reputable source that has some of these ingredients in it. Because some of these help you fall asleep and some help you stay asleep.
Magnesium baths or lotions are a cheap sleep hack. It has the ability to be absorbed via your skin, sometimes better than orally. Magnesium has other magical qualities and a majority of people are deficient in it. You can find a great quality topical magnesium by ‘Ancient Minerals’.
CAUTION: Melatonin should be used for emergencies only and kept under 3mg per dose. Your body produces its own melatonin. If you supplement with it, your body will respond by producing less of it naturally. This becomes a vicious cycle (you take more, your body produces less so you need to take more and on and on). And even more scary is the fact that melatonin uses the same biochemical pathway as serotonin does. So if you make less natural melatonin, you make less serotonin. The goal is to support making melatonin which is where 5-HTP, L-Tryptophan and B-vitamins come in.
1. Kohlstadt I. Advancing Medicine with Food and Nutrients, Second Edition. CRC Press; 2012.
2. Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2012.
4. Touitou Y, Reinberg A, Touitou D. Association between light at night, melatonin secretion, sleep deprivation, and the internal clock: Health impacts and mechanisms of circadian disruption. Life Sci. 2017;173:94-106.
#4 Eat the Rainbow (to fight cancer)
Have you heard of “phytonutrients?” or “phytochemicals?” These are naturally occurring, powerful properties in fruits and vegetables. And they are massively strong cancer-fighters. So much so they have been called “chemopreventers”. They have antioxidants, enhance immunity, have direct anti-tumor effects, block carcinogen formation, and enhance detoxification. It’s insurance for your health. And one of nature's secret weapons for health.
(RED) bell peppers, radishes, strawberries and tomatoes
(DARK GREEN) mustang greens, chard, Brussel sprouts, peas and cucumbers
(YELLOW and LIGHT GREEN) avocado, book chop, kiwi, onions, limes, pears and zucchini
(ORANGE) apricots, bell peppers, papaya, sweet potatoes and oranges
(PURPLE) beets, blueberries, dark cherries, grapes, plums and currants
It’s easy to sneak theses in. Try frozen, dark cherries as a treat. Play with green smoothie recipes (basil/lime/cilantro/pineapple smoothie is to-die-for). Cook up a batch of stew that’s loaded with 5 different types of veggies. And keep fresh fruit and vegetables available for munching.
Murray MT, Pizzorno J. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster; 2012.