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27 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based
By Kris Gunnars, BSc
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 (1Trusted Source).
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 (8Trusted Source).
2. Eat Nuts
Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy.
They're loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, and various other nutrients (9).
Additionally, your body doesn't absorb 10–15% of the calories in nuts. Some evidence also suggests that this food can boost metabolism (13Trusted Source).
3. Avoid Processed Junk Food (Eat Real Food Instead)
Processed junk food is incredibly unhealthy.
They're usually low in fiber, 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 (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19, 20, 21Trusted Source).
5. Eat Fatty Fish
Fish is a great source of high-quality protein and healthy fat.
6. Get Enough Sleep
The importance of getting enough quality sleep cannot be overstated.
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 (30Trusted Source).
7. Take Care of Your Gut Health With Probiotics and Fiber
The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are incredibly important for overall health.
Good ways to improve gut health include eating probiotic foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, taking probiotic supplements, and eating plenty of fiber. Notably, fiber functions as fuel for your gut bacteria (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
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 liters) of water per day (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
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% (37Trusted Source).
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 (38Trusted Source).
When you cook meat, make sure not to overcook or burn it.
10. Avoid Bright Lights Before Sleep
One strategy is to use a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light from entering your eyes in the evening.
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 (42Trusted Source).
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 (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
12. Eat Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects.
13. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein
Eating enough protein is vital for optimal health.
What's more, this nutrient is particularly important for weight loss (52Trusted Source).
High protein intake can boost metabolism significantly while making you feel full enough to automatically eat fewer calories. It can also reduce cravings and your desire to snack late at night (53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).
14. Do Some Cardio
Doing aerobic exercise, also called cardio, is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
It's particularly effective at reducing belly fat, the harmful type of fat that builds up around your organs. Reduced belly fat should lead to major improvements in metabolic health (59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source).
15. Don’t Smoke or Do Drugs, and Only Drink in Moderation
If you smoke or abuse drugs, tackle those problems first. Diet and exercise can wait.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and consider avoiding it completely if you tend to drink too much.
16. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest vegetable oils.
17. Minimize Your Sugar Intake
High sugar intake is linked to numerous ailments, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer (68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source, 70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source).
18. Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal.
Refined carbs have been highly processed to remove their fiber. They're relatively low in nutrients and can harm your health when eaten in excess.
19. Don’t Fear Saturated Fat
Saturated fat has been controversial.
While it's true that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, it also raises HDL (good) cholesterol and shrinks your LDL (bad) particles, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (78Trusted Source, 79Trusted Source, 80Trusted Source, 81Trusted Source).
20. Lift Heavy Things
Lifting weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your muscles and improve your body composition.
The best approach is to lift weights, but doing bodyweight exercises can be just as effective.
21. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats
While trans fats have been largely banned in the United States and elsewhere, the U.S. ban hasn't gone fully into effect — and some foods still contain them.
22. Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices
Many incredibly healthy herbs and spices exist.
For example, ginger and turmeric both have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, leading to various health benefits (90Trusted Source, 91Trusted Source, 92Trusted Source, 93Trusted Source).
Due to their powerful benefits, you should try to include as many herbs and spices as possible in your diet.
23. Take Care of Your Relationships
Social relationships are incredibly important not only for your mental well-being but also your physical health.
24. Track Your Food Intake Every Now and Then
The only way to know exactly how many calories you eat is to weigh your food and use a nutrition tracker.
It's also essential to make sure that you're getting enough protein, fiber, and micronutrients.
Studies reveal that people who track their food intake tend to be more successful at losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet (97Trusted Source).
25. If You Have Excess Belly Fat, Get Rid of It
Belly fat is particularly harmful.
For this reason, your waist size may be a much stronger marker of your health than your weight.
26. Don’t Go On a Diet
Diets are notoriously ineffective and rarely work well in the long term.
In fact, dieting is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain (104Trusted Source).
Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it.
Weight loss should follow as you transition to whole, nutritious foods.
27. Eat Eggs, Yolk and All
Whole eggs are so nutritious that they're often termed "nature's multivitamin."
Additionally, a massive review in 263,938 people found that egg intake had no association with heart disease risk (106Trusted Source).
Instead, eggs are one of the planet's most nutritious foods. Notably, the yolk contains almost all of the healthy compounds.
The Bottom Line
A few simple steps can go a long way toward improving your diet and wellness.
Still, if you're trying to live a healthier life, don't just focus on the foods you eat. Exercise, sleep, and social relationships are also important.
With the tips above, it's easy to get your body feeling great every day.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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