8 Easy Ways To Improve Your Health (Part 1)

Everyone knows the basic pillars of a healthy lifestyle: a clean diet and plenty of water, sunshine, sleep, and exercise, however there are still some things we can do to improve our health—things that don’t take a lot of time or energy, but that are easy to do and pay-off considerably in the long-term. If you’re not doing at least one of these eight things, consider making a commitment to trying one new health practice from this list this week.

1) Oil Pull. 

If you’re not that into taking care of your oral health, take a few minutes to read this New York Times article titled: “Why Oral Hygiene Is Crucial to Your Overall Health” and see how you feel about your oral health habits after (or you can just trust me and every dentist and doctor on the planet that it is important). 

An estimated 47% of Americans aged 30 and up already have some form of periodontal disease, but this can be completely avoidable if you start oil pulling. Why? Because this simple and ancient practice (often associated with Ayurvedic medicine) promotes oral hygiene, removes bacteria, reduces inflammation, and can help with bad breath, gum health, and cavities. 

And it’s easy—all you have to do is swish oil around your mouth for 5-15 minutes and then rinse it out (do not swallow it!). When it comes to which oil to use, you can use sesame oil, but most people prefer to use coconut oil because it contains lauric acid, which can kill harmful viruses, fungi, and bacteria in the body. 

Because major health problems like cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, pneumonia, and even pregnancy and birth complications have all been linked to oral health, this is an area of wellness that you do not want to overlook.

2) Clean Up Your Kitchen. 

Unfortunately, your kitchen can be one of the biggest sources of toxins in your home, so take some time to go through yours to make sure everything is as clean and non-toxic as possible. 

Start by reviewing your utensils, containers, and cookware so you can get rid of everything made of plastic and cancer-causing Teflon/non-stick materials. Keep all your glass containers so you can reuse them to store food and leftovers, and buy wood, bamboo, and glass containers and utensils instead. Wood is far safer than plastic (which has been documented for leaching chemicals since the 1990s) and also has antibacterial and germ-killing properties because of its porous nature. After you cook with wooden utensils, the wood absorbs any bacteria and then traps it within its pores, where it cannot resurface and dies off within a few hours (note: you do have to let all wooden utensils dry thoroughly before using them again for the bacteria to die off).

To the many people who have been conscious about removing all BPA-plastic from their home: please keep in mind that studies are now showing that tons of these BPA-free plastics still leach the same harmful (or worse, sometimes more harmful) chemicals as BPA.

Also, if you have a gas stove, be sure to at least open the windows when cooking, since gas stoves are a proven source of potentially harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and the respiratory irritant nitrogen dioxide. One study found that using a single gas stove burner on high can raise levels of cancer-causing benzene above what’s been observed from secondhand smoke.

And one last note: if you are a tea drinker, be careful about tea bags, since many are made out of nylon (aka plastic). You don’t need to throw any existing tea out, though: you can simply cut the bags open to put the contents in a tea strainer instead. 

3) Music. 

Engaging with music has proven health benefits, particularly for your brain. Listening to it, learning to play an instrument, or even just singing along to your favorite song have all been linked with improved cognitive ability, superior multi-sensory skills, increased neuroplasticity, reduced stress and depression, and healthy aging for your brain. The ability to play music has also been linked with lower dementia levels, and one study showed much promise for its ability to improve fine and motor skills in stroke patients. 

Additionally, one neurologist found that making music increases your IQ, as well as your academic performance. Because of the unique way it can boost productivity, mental alertness, and memory, one Johns Hopkins doctor said music is a “total brain workout” because, “There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool.”

Music is also a great tool for athletes since it has been proven to enhance performance. I personally love to listen to music when I’m training; it just makes everything more fun, and it’s great to know it actually has the ability to improve my performance. 

4) Naps. 

Regular readers know I am a noted nap enthusiast and take one basically every day, however, not everyone shares my enthusiasm—one survey said only 7% of people nap every day. However, 42.7% of full-time (American) workers say they regularly nap during a break in a typical workday, so the need and desire is certainly there, it’s just that only 8.9% of the people who take naps say that naps are a part of their regular routine. 

This is unfortunate because napping offers a lot of health benefits—it increases alertness, improves your mood and performance (including quicker reaction time and better memory), reduces fatigue, and improves relaxation. Studies also show regular napping can help maintain brain health as we age, and habitual napping has been linked with larger total brain volume (which is associated with decreased risk for dementia and other diseases). 

Interestingly, researchers who studied the difference in brain volume between nappers and non-nappers found the difference to be the equivalent to 2.5 to 6.5 years of aging!

To learn what the final four tips for easily improving your health are, stay tuned.


Brad Kearns
Brad Kearns
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