Furthermore, drinking more water aids in losing weight. A Health.com studycarried out among overweight or obese people showed that water drinkers lose 4.5 more pounds than a control group. The researchers believe that it’s because drinking more water helps fill your stomach, making you less hungry and less likely to overeat.
The amount of water you need depends on your age, weight, humidity level, and your physical activity. There used to be a recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water, but in 2004 this recommendation was removed and healthy adults are recommended to use thirst to determine their fluid needs. Bear in mind that food intake contributes to our fluid intake too — fruits, soups, juices have high water content. How to tell if you need water: if you have dry lips, dry mouth, or little urination, you’re probably not hydrated enough. Go get some water first before you continue this article!
2. Get enough sleep. When you don’t rest well, you compensate by eating more. Usually, it’s junk food. Get enough rest and you don’t need to snack to stay awake. Also, lack of sleep causes premature aging, and you don’t want that.
3. Meditate. Meditation quietens your mind and calms your soul.
4. Exercise. Movement is life. Research has shown that exercising daily brings tremendous benefits to our health, including an increase in life span, lowering of risk of diseases, higher bone density, and weight loss. Increase activity in your life. Choose walking over transport for close distances. Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift. Join an aerobics class. Take up a sport of your liking (see tip #5).
5. Pick exercises you enjoy. When you enjoy a sport, you naturally want to do it. Exercise isn’t about suffering and pushing yourself; it’s about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Adding variation in your exercises will keep them interesting.
6. Work out different parts of your body. Don’t just do cardio (like jogging). Give your body a proper workout. The easiest way is to engage in sports since they work out different muscle groups. Popular sports include basketball, football, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, Frisbee, and more.
7.Eat fruits. Fruits have a plethora of vitamins and minerals. Do you know that oranges offer more health benefits than Vitamin C pills? Satisfy your palate with these nutritious fruits: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocado (yes, avocado is a fruit!), Apple, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Guava, Papaya, Strawberries. If you intent to consume a large quantity of fruits at one go, consume fruit with some fats — such as a dressing, almond butter, olive oil, avocado — to reduce the glycemic load. More on glycemic load in tip #29.
8. Eat vegetables. Like fruits, vegetables are important for good health, with many important vitamins and minerals. Onion, leek, and garlic are prebiotics — essential food for good gut bacteria. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, and turnip greens are dark leafy greens with high mineral content. Beyond just eating vegetables, be sure to consume a variety of different vegetables for diversity in good gut bacteria. What are your favorite vegetables and how can you include more of them in your diet today?
9. Avoid excess fiber intake. Contrary to what the food and medical industry promotes, excess fiber intake is detrimental for constipation and smooth digestion. The more fiber you take, the bulkier your stools, the slower your colonic transit time, and the more difficult it is to pass motion (which leads to constipation, piles, anal fissure). Too much fiber also contributes to excess gas and abdominal bloating.
Why do so many doctors, cereal boxes, supermarket aisles, studies, etc. recommend a high fiber intake then? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, this recommendation originated from a large macro-study that suggested that high fiber intake may lower risk of colon cancer. This study did not account for factors like lifestyle and diet, and it led to an industry-wide recommendation to eat more and fiber, without consideration of their current diet and gut status. Many high-fiber foods also contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, that are helpful for the body. People who consume a high-fiber diet are likely to eat less red meat, drink less alcohol, smoke less, and get regular exercise – all healthy behaviors that can reduce cancer risk.
Should we cut out fruits/vegetables then? No. Firstly, fruits and vegetables contain fermentable fiber, which is essential for the good gut bacteria. Secondly, much of fruit/vegetable content is water. For example, watermelon contains only 0.4% fiber, while lettuce contains 1.3% fiber. Unless you consume big bowls of salads every day for every meal, it’s difficult to over-consume fiber from fruits/vegetables alone. Moderate intake of fiber from whole plant foods is beneficial for good gut bacteria.
The fiber sources to watch out are cereal grains. Multi-grain bread has 12% fiber and multi-grain cereals can have 22% or more fiber. High-fiber, whole wheat, and whole grains are the “in” thing today; some cereals have over 30% fiber!
My personal recommendation: (1) Cut down on whole grains/wheat; (2) Eat fruits/veg as per normal; (3) Eat other things in moderation. A typical diet with fish/chicken (zero fiber), dairy (zero fiber), low fiber fruits/vegetables, and some potatoes/rice is already low fiber. On the other hand, when you stuff yourself with fiber, you may notice bloating, bulkier stools, and even piles / anal fissures.
10. Pick different-colored fruits/vegs. Fruits/Vegetables with bright colors are usually high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are good for health because they remove free radicals that damage our cells. Eat fruits/vegetables of different colors: White (Bananas), Yellow (Pineapples, Mango), Orange (Orange, Papaya), Red (Apple, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon), Green (Avocado, Lettuce, Cucumber), Purple/Blue (Blackberries, Prunes).
11. Get your macro-nutrients. Macro-nutrients are nutrients needed in bulk amounts to ensure normal growth, metabolism, and well-being of our bodies. The 3 macro-nutrients needed by humans are carbohydrates (sugar), proteins (amino acids), and fats (lipids). There are many funky diets today from high/low carb to high/low protein to high/low fat. While you are free to eat whatever you want, we need carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (known as macro-nutrients) for a healthy body. Carbs give us immediate energy. Proteins help repair tissues, heal wounds, and create enzymes and hormones. Fat is needed to build cell membranes; for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation; and to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.
Be careful of fad diets. Eat a diet with a well-rounded distribution of macro-nutrients (40% carbs, 30% proteins, 30% fats, vs. being skewed to one particular group). In a study of pre-diabetics, those on a “high protein” diet (defined as 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat) resulted in 100% remission of pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance, while those on a high carb diet (defined as 55% carb, 15% protein, 30% fat) resulted in only 33% remission.