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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 Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:
Given the present circumstances, Norway does not have either the legal or the technical basis for making its annual contribution to the Amazon Fund.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted with sarcasm to Norway's decision, which had been widely expected. After an official event, he commented: "Isn't Norway the country that kills whales at the North Pole? Doesn't it also produce oil? It has no basis for telling us what to do. It should give the money to Angela Merkel [the German Chancellor] to reforest Germany."
According to its website, the Amazon Fund is a "REDD+ mechanism created to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon." The bulk of funding comes from Norway and Germany.
The annual transfer of funds from developed world donors to the Amazon Fund depends on a report from the Fund's technical committee. This committee meets after the National Institute of Space Research, which gathers official Amazon deforestation data, publishes its annual report with the definitive figures for deforestation in the previous year.
But this year the Amazon Fund's technical committee, along with its steering committee, COFA, were abolished by the Bolsonaro government on 11 April as part of a sweeping move to dissolve some 600 bodies, most of which had NGO involvement. The Bolsonaro government views NGO work in Brazil as a conspiracy to undermine Brazil's sovereignty.
The Brazilian government then demanded far-reaching changes in the way the fund is managed, as documented in a previous article. As a result, the Amazon Fund's technical committee has been unable to meet; Norway says it therefore cannot continue making donations without a favorable report from the committee.
Archer Daniels Midland soy silos in Mato Grosso along the BR-163 highway, where Amazon rainforest has largely been replaced by soy destined for the EU, UK, China and other international markets.
An Uncertain Future
The Amazon Fund was announced during the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, during a period when environmentalists were alarmed at the rocketing rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It was created as a way of encouraging Brazil to continue bringing down the rate of forest conversion to pastures and croplands.
Government agencies, such as IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, and NGOs shared Amazon Fund donations. IBAMA used the money primarily to enforce deforestation laws, while the NGOs oversaw projects to support sustainable communities and livelihoods in the Amazon.
There has been some controversy as to whether the Fund has actually achieved its goals: in the three years before the deal, the rate of deforestation fell dramatically but, after money from the Fund started pouring into the Amazon, the rate remained fairly stationary until 2014, when it began to rise once again. But, in general, the international donors have been pleased with the Fund's performance, and until the Bolsonaro government came to office, the program was expected to continue indefinitely.
Norway has been the main donor (94 percent) to the Amazon Fund, followed by Germany (5 percent), and Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobrás (1 percent). Over the past 11 years, the Norwegians have made, by far, the biggest contribution: R$3.2 billion ($855 million) out of the total of R$3.4 billion ($903 million).
Up till now the Fund has approved 103 projects, with the dispersal of R$1.8 billion ($478 million). These projects will not be affected by Norway's funding freeze because the donors have already provided the funding and the Brazilian Development Bank is contractually obliged to disburse the money until the end of the projects. But there are another 54 projects, currently being analyzed, whose future is far less secure.
One of the projects left stranded by the dissolution of the Fund's committees is Projeto Frutificar, which should be a three-year project, with a budget of R$29 million ($7.3 million), for the production of açai and cacao by 1,000 small-scale farmers in the states of Amapá and Pará. The project was drawn up by the Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental research in Amazonia).
Paulo Moutinho, an IPAM researcher, told Globo newspaper: "Our program was ready to go when the [Brazilian] government asked for changes in the Fund. It's now stuck in the BNDES. Without funding from Norway, we don't know what will happen to it."
Norway is not the only European nation to be reconsidering the way it funds environmental projects in Brazil. Germany has many environmental projects in the Latin American country, apart from its small contribution to the Amazon Fund, and is deeply concerned about the way the rate of deforestation has been soaring this year.
The German environment ministry told Mongabay that its minister, Svenja Schulze, had decided to put financial support for forest and biodiversity projects in Brazil on hold, with €35 million ($39 million) for various projects now frozen.
The ministry explained why: "The Brazilian government's policy in the Amazon raises doubts whether a consistent reduction in deforestation rates is still being pursued. Only when clarity is restored, can project collaboration be continued."
Bauxite mines in Paragominas, Brazil. The Bolsonaro administration is urging new laws that would allow large-scale mining within Brazil's indigenous reserves.
Hydro / Halvor Molland / Flickr
Alternative Amazon Funding
Although there will certainly be disruption in the short-term as a result of the paralysis in the Amazon Fund, the governors of Brazil's Amazon states, which rely on international funding for their environmental projects, are already scrambling to create alternative channels.
In a press release issued yesterday Helder Barbalho, the governor of Pará, the state with the highest number of projects financed by the Fund, said that he will do all he can to maintain and increase his state partnership with Norway.
Barbalho had announced earlier that his state would be receiving €12.5 million ($11.1 million) to run deforestation monitoring centers in five regions of Pará. Barbalho said: "The state governments' monitoring systems are recording a high level of deforestation in Pará, as in the other Amazon states. The money will be made available to those who want to help [the Pará government reduce deforestation] without this being seen as international intervention."
Amazonas state has funding partnerships with Germany and is negotiating deals with France. "I am talking with countries, mainly European, that are interested in investing in projects in the Amazon," said Amazonas governor Wilson Miranda Lima. "It is important to look at Amazônia, not only from the point of view of conservation, but also — and this is even more important — from the point of view of its citizens. It's impossible to preserve Amazônia if its inhabitants are poor."
Signing of the EU-Mercusor Latin American trading agreement earlier this year. The pact still needs to be ratified.
Council of Hemispheric Affairs
Looming International Difficulties
The Bolsonaro government's perceived reluctance to take effective measures to curb deforestation may in the longer-term lead to a far more serious problem than the paralysis of the Amazon Fund.
In June, the European Union and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, reached an agreement to create the largest trading bloc in the world. If all goes ahead as planned, the pact would account for a quarter of the world's economy, involving 780 million people, and remove import tariffs on 90 percent of the goods traded between the two blocs. The Brazilian government has predicted that the deal will lead to an increase of almost $100 billion in Brazilian exports, particularly agricultural products, by 2035.
But the huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about ratifying the deal. In an interview with Mongabay, the German environment ministry made it very clear that Germany is very worried about events in the Amazon: "We are deeply concerned given the pace of destruction in Brazil … The Amazon Forest is vital for the atmospheric circulation and considered as one of the tipping points of the climate system."
The ministry stated that, for the trade deal to go ahead, Brazil must carry out its commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. The German environment ministry said: If the trade deal is to go ahead, "It is necessary that Brazil is effectively implementing its climate change objectives adopted under the [Paris] Agreement. It is precisely this commitment that is expressly confirmed in the text of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement."
Blairo Maggi, Brazil agriculture minister under the Temer administration, and a major shareholder in Amaggi, the largest Brazilian-owned commodities trading company, has said very little in public since Bolsonaro came to power; he's been "in a voluntary retreat," as he puts it. But Maggi is so concerned about the damage Bolsonaro's off the cuff remarks and policies are doing to international relationships he decided to speak out earlier this week.
Former Brazil Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, who has broken a self-imposed silence to criticize the Bolsonaro government, saying that its rhetoric and policies could threaten Brazil's international commodities trade.
Senado Federal / Visualhunt / CC BY
Maggi, a ruralista who strongly supports agribusiness, told the newspaper, Valor Econômico, that, even if the European Union doesn't get to the point of tearing up a deal that has taken 20 years to negotiate, there could be long delays. "These environmental confusions could create a situation in which the EU says that Brazil isn't sticking to the rules." Maggi speculated. "France doesn't want the deal and perhaps it is taking advantage of the situation to tear it up. Or the deal could take much longer to ratify — three, five years."
Such a delay could have severe repercussions for Brazil's struggling economy which relies heavily on its commodities trade with the EU. Analysists say that Bolsonaro's fears over such an outcome could be one reason for his recently announced October meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, another key trading partner.
Maggi is worried about another, even more alarming, potential consequence of Bolsonaro's failure to stem illegal deforestation — Brazil could be hit by a boycott by its foreign customers. "I don't buy this idea that the world needs Brazil … We are only a player and, worse still, replaceable." Maggi warns, "As an exporter, I'm telling you: things are getting very difficult. Brazil has been saying for years that it is possible to produce and preserve, but with this [Bolsonaro administration] rhetoric, we are going back to square one … We could find markets closed to us."
- Brazil's New President Could Spell Catastrophe for the Amazon ... ›
- Amazon Deforestation Increase Prompts Germany to Cut $39.5M in ... ›
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By Simon Mui
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