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.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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