It’s easy to get confused when it comes to health and nutrition. Even qualified experts often seem to hold opposing opinions, which can make it difficult to figure out what you should actually be doing to optimize your health.
Yet, despite all the disagreements, a number of wellness tips are well supported by research.
Here are 5 health and nutrition tips that are based on scientific evidence.
1. Limit sugary drinks
Sugary drinks like sodas, fruit juices, and sweetened teas are the primary source of added sugar in the American diet. Unfortunately, findings from several studies point to sugar-sweetened beverages increasing risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, even in people who are not carrying excess body fat.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are also uniquely harmful for children, as they can contribute not only to obesity in children but also to conditions that usually do not develop until adulthood, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Healthier alternatives include:
- unsweetened teas
- sparkling water
2. Eat nuts and seeds
Some people avoid nuts because they are high in fat. However, nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious. They are packed with protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Nuts may help you lose weight and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Additionally, one large observational study noted that a low intake of nuts and seeds was potentially linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
3. Avoid ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods are foods containing ingredients that are significantly modified from their original form. They often contain additives like added sugar, highly refined oil, salt, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors as well.
- snack cakes
- fast food
- frozen meals
- canned foods
Ultra-processed foods are highly palatable, meaning they are easily overeaten, and activate reward-related regions in the brain, which can lead to excess calorie consumption and weight gain. Studies show that diets high in ultra-processed food can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
In addition to low quality ingredients like inflammatory fats, added sugar, and refined grains, they’re usually low in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Thus, they provide mostly empty calories.
4. Don’t fear coffee
Despite some controversy over it, coffee is loaded with health benefits.
It’s rich in antioxidants, and some 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.
The most beneficial intake amount appears to be 3–4 cups per day, although pregnant people should limit or avoid it completely because it has been linked to low birth weight.
However, it’s best to consume coffee and any caffeine-based items in moderation. Excessive caffeine intake may lead to health issues like insomnia and heart palpitations. To enjoy coffee in a safe and healthy way, keep your intake to less than 4 cups per day and avoid high-calorie, high-sugar additives like sweetened creamer.
5. Eat Fatty Dish
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 anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients.
Studies show that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk for several conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and inflammatory bowel disease.
A few simple steps can go a long way toward improving your eating patterns and wellness.
Still, if you’re trying to live a healthier life, do not just focus on the foods you eat. Exercise, sleep, and social relationships are also important.
With the evidence-based tips above, it’s easy to introduce small changes that can have a big impact on your overall health.