Here we are through another week of winter and closer to spring! We’re also through another 10 Simple Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Health. It’s a series that I’m working through one week, one tip, at a time until we get to 101.
Follow me on Instagram and we’ll work toward 101 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health. Or you can find the summaries here on my blog or on Facebook. As we climb toward 101 things, I’ll gather the most recent 10 and post them here.
#21 Avoid Foods With Emulsifiers
Emulsifiers are food additives like guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, and lecithin. These emulsifiers are often part of a manufacturer’s way to make a product more shelf stable, so it can stay in the bag, box, can, or bottle longer.
The problem is that the manufacturing process to create these emulsifiers is damaging to human health and many of them are banned in other countries. Just as an example, Guar gum has been shown to increase intestinal permeability. Carrageenan is used to cause cancer in research animals and causes gastrointestinal inflammation and ulcers.
Xanthan gum is commonly contaminated with gluten and causes bloating and diarrhea. And cellulose gum, extracted from wood pulp, causes massive bacterial overgrowth and inflammation in the small intestine. Bottom line, skip foods with these additives and focus more on adding whole foods to your diet.
#22 Eat More Berries
When it comes to nutrient dense foods, berries are often at the top of the list. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, goji and acai berries too. They’re packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. They are lower in sugar and carbs than most other fruits as well.
Add them to your breakfast smoothie, eat a handful for a snack, or look for delicious ways to add them to salads and entrees. Berries are diverse in flavor and pack a nutrition punch.
#23 Embrace Meal Planning
Meal planning takes the guesswork out of healthy eating. You create a plan for the week’s meals, you shop for those meals (and no extra junk) and you prepare and eat those meals. It significantly reduces the risk of last minute meals from boxes, bags, or drive thru.
Yes, it requires a shift in your routine but in the end it saves time and PUTS YOU IN CONTROL over what you eat. If you’re new to meal planning or just want to make it as easy as possible, check out my favorite meal planning service.
#24 Assess Your Poop
Gross, I know. But your poop is a good indicator of your digestive health. And your digestive health is the foundation for the overall health of your body (and mind). So, by getting in the habit of taking a look at your poop and assessing it, you get one data point about your overall health. Here’s a quick story.
I had a patient just a few weeks ago who had been in our facility for about a week. She was complaining that her stomach had never felt as bad as it did at our facility. She had chronic and painful gas and mild diarrhea. So I sat down with her and we discussed her poop history, her symptoms, and what changes had been made to her diet and lifestyle since she arrived at our facility.
We narrowed it down to the fact that she’d been eating tons of ice cream at our facility and she normally doesn’t eat ice cream. I suggested she take a few days off of ice cream (and other dairy) and see what happens. She agreed and by removing ice cream, her symptoms improved. Simple solution.
Moral of the story… pay attention to your poop. It can tell you what changes you need to make to improve your health. I take a probiotic and collagen for my digestive health and it makes a huge difference.
#25 Eat More Organ Meats
Organ meats are the most concentrated source of just about every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and essential amino acids. (Source:
#26 Get Temptations Out of Your Home
When you’re trying to eat healthy, there probably comes a point in the day where you are tempted to go back to your old habits. Additionally, stress, boredom, anxiety, sadness, fatigue and other emotions and experiences can make you want to eat.
Personally, I’ve been dealing with the stress of moving and selling a home. It’s a first world problem to be sure, but it’s stressing me out nonetheless. My well-intentioned husband bought me some Chocolove Chocolate. That’s fine if it’s just dark chocolate, but he bought the stuff with strawberry in it and almond butter in it.
These are candy bars plain and simple. He also made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Again, he was trying to be nice and make something for me. On any normal day, I would have been able to enjoy a cookie or maybe a bite of chocolate and forget about them. But stress is a huge eating trigger for me and I don’t want a salad, I want all the cookies.
Having them in the house was impossible. I struggled. So, if you find that it’s too easy to eat junk, just get it out of your home. Give it to a friend to hold onto. Donate it. Throw it away – whatever. Don’t let it derail your healthy eating goals.
#27 Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol has limited benefits for most, and significant drawbacks for some. For example, if you have autoimmune issues then alcohol can worsen those symptoms and cause new issues to arise. For those without autoimmune issues, alcohol provides limited protections against cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The key is MODERATE consumption. So what does that look like? IMO, once or twice a week. If you’re in the habit of drinking nightly, consider pulling back a bit. Start paying attention to why you drink and how you feel when you don’t drink alcohol. I used to enjoy a cocktail almost nightly.
Then I pulled back to once a week. And now, I drink only when I go out for a nice dinner, so once or twice a month. I feel better. I sleep better. My mental & emotional health is better. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy the occasional drink, just take the time to pay attention and reduce your consumption.
The health benefits of not drinking outweigh the benefits of drinking.
#28 Drink Green Tea
All week I’ve been telling my sick friends, patients, and clients to drink green tea. It has amazing immune boosting properties and is packed with antioxidants. Whenever I feel something coming on and start to feel a little sick, I drink tons of the stuff and it always works. Today, my ears and throat started hurting and my nose started running. Guess what I am drinking? Yep, green tea
#29 Eat When The Sun is Shining
Eating when the sun is shining supports a few key rules of thumb for health and nutrition. First, it gives your body time off from eating. I’ve talked about not eating three hours before bedtime and unless you’re a shift worker, eating during the day makes this an easy way to stay on track.
Additionally, it supports IF or Intermittent Fasting, especially during the winter when the days are short. If you’re only eating when the sun is up, you have a 9-10 hour feeding window and a 14-ish hour fast. Awesome way to improve the health and function of your body’s systems. I would say, however, that you ABSOLUTELY have to pay attention to your body.
IF does not mean caloric deficit. You still need to make sure you’re getting enough to eat during your eating window. And the timing of your carbs may make a difference. I eat my carbs earlier in the day, and try to avoid starchy carbs at dinnertime. Finally, eating when the sun is shining supports your circadian rhythm, which means better sleep and improved energy.
#30 Quit Sugar for a Day
Sugar is toxic, plain and simple. Your risk of being diagnosed with a chronic disease (including Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer) can be dramatically reduced if not eliminated by getting sugar out of your diet.
And if there’s one thing that you can do to start losing weight, it is to significantly reduce (eliminate if possible) your sugar intake. This includes everything from good old fashioned white table sugar to the hidden sugars in our foods like fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, and any ingredient ending in OSE, like dextrose.
They’re all sweeteners, they’re all sugar. My advice, get everything out of your house that has sugar in it and take it one day at a time.
There’s tremendous power in small steps. Choose one to focus on this week and slowly add more to your lifestyle. To stay up to date on the simple steps you can take to improve your health, follow me on Instagram. And if you’re ready to take steps today to take charge of your health, check out the Renegade Nurse Challenges.
To your amazing health and well-being.