21 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health in 2021

Making an effort to take care of your health is an investment that pays off. 

Improving both your physical and mental health helps increase longevity, mobility, and quality of life. 

Take action on some 21 simple health tips you can start implementing today for good health in the weeks, months, and years to come.

21 Simple Health Tips

Keep reading to find out 21 simple tips to improve your physical and mental health.

1) Eat oily fish

Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which can help fight inflammation. 

Consumption of omega-3 fats can help reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease as well as inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

Studies even suggest that omega-3 fats might even help reduce behavioral problems and depression.

2) Cut back on sugary drinks

One of the most pertinent health tips is to be mindful of how much sugar is in your beverages. 

Sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, sweetened teas, and flavored coffee are some of the biggest contributors to added sugar in the typical Western diet. 

High added sugar consumption is associated with weight gain and increased prevalence of chronic diseases.

This includes diabetes, heart disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

3) Make physical activity a priority

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, only 23% of Americans got the recommended amount of exercise in 2018. 

Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both.

Regular physical activity reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other chronic diseases. 

Getting regular exercise can also benefit your mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety while boosting self-esteem and mood.

diabetes-self-management-health-tips

4) Don’t downplay the importance of mental health

Speaking of mental health, it should be just as much of a priority as your physical health. 

Mental health disorders are common; one in five adults suffers from a mental health disorder. 

If you feel like your mental health is taking a toll, know that you’re not alone, and help is available. 

Speak with your primary care provider about your options.

These might include using medications, speaking with a mental health counselor, or taking part in counseling sessions.

5) Stay away from restrictive diets

Numerous fad diets have made their debut in the past several decades, each claiming that it will result in long-lasting weight loss or other health benefits. 

The problem with strict diets is that they aren’t sustainable long-term. 

In fact, a review of 29 long-term weight loss studies found that more than half of the lost weight was regained within two years, and by five years more than 80% of lost weight was regained”.

Restrictive diets can also increase the prevalence of disordered eating such as anorexia and bulimia. 

6) Get more (and better) sleep

Adults should strive to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. 

Getting enough sleep can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity. 

Sleep deprivation can worsen insulin resistance, one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes

Not getting enough sleep can also worsen mental health conditions.

Be sure to avoid screens before bed since they emit stimulating blue light and make it harder to fall asleep. (Yes, this means no Netflix in bed, as challenging as that might be!)

sleep and immune system

7) Monitor your blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common health problem. 

Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, along with other potential complications.

We report blood pressure numbers as systolic pressure (top number) over diastolic pressure (bottom number). 

Ideal blood pressure is less than 120 for systolic blood pressure and less than 80 for diastolic blood pressure.

8) Include more nuts and seeds in your diet

Nuts and seeds have a multitude of health benefits. 

They’re rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat, which can improve cholesterol levels when they replace saturated fat sources.

Walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are especially rich in omega-3 fats, which can improve blood triglyceride (fat) levels and reduce the risk of harmful blood clot formation, among many other health benefits.

prostate cancer diet

9) Get screened for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent and impacting people at younger ages, including children. 

Millions of people have prediabetes, a condition that drastically increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

You might be at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, are 45 years old or older, have a family history of diabetes, or don’t lead a healthy lifestyle, such as not getting enough physical activity or not practicing healthy eating.

Most insurance companies in the US will cover an annual diabetes screening test as a part of a preventive health visit.

10) Drink alcohol in moderation

Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive disorders. 

Ideally, men should limit their alcohol consumption to two or fewer drinks per day and women no more than one drink per day. 

11) Have regular physical exams

Visiting your healthcare provider annually for a comprehensive medical exam can help identify potential health problems early on and increase the chance of successfully treating them. 

A physical exam, blood work, and any recommended preventive tests (such as a pap smear for women) are recommended regularly based on your age and medical history.

12) Do some resistance training

While aerobic physical activity is important, so is resistance training. 

Regular resistance training has numerous health benefits, such as helping improve cardiovascular fitness, boost metabolism, improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing blood pressure levels. 

13) Take a break from social media

Social media use can worsen mental health problems in some people, such as those suffering from anxiety and depression. 

For instance, a lack of “likes” and comments on posts and photos can make a person feel inferior compared to other social media users. 

Just like all screen time, you should limit your social media use to a healthy amount.

14) Increase your use of herbs and spices

Herbs and spices have numerous health benefits and offer flavor without increasing the sodium content of your meals. 

One example is turmeric, a popular spice gaining popularity for its anti-inflammatory properties and other potential health benefits

Cinnamon is another versatile spice that offers health benefits such as helping the body secrete more insulin. 

Aim to include a variety of herbs and spices in your healthy eating plan.

15) Don’t smoke

Smoking has long been associated with detrimental effects on health. 

Smoking increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (including heart disease), cancer, and COPD, among other potential complications.

Three to six years after quitting smoking, the added risk of cardiovascular disease drops by half and is estimated to add around 10 years to the expected life span.

how to quit smoking


16) Consider taking a magnesium supplement

The risk of magnesium deficiency increases as you age. 

Magnesium may even play a role in the development of diabetes since magnesium deficiency is very common in people with diabetes. 

In addition to its potential to improve blood sugar levels, magnesium can help prevent migraine headaches and is vital for muscle health

17) Don’t fear your cup of coffee

Coffee has potential health benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease and reduction of diabetes risk. 

Be mindful of your caffeine intake, though, as excessive caffeine intake can reduce sleep quality and can increase anxiety symptoms in some people.

18) Think about taking a vitamin D supplement

About 50% of the population is vitamin D deficient. 

Vitamin D is essential for bone and tooth health and also plays a role in mood. 

It acts as a potent anti-inflammatory and can reduce the risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.

Very few foods contain vitamin D, which is why taking it in the form of a supplement or as part of a multivitamin can help prevent deficiency or correct existing deficiencies.

19) Eat a rainbow of foods as a part of a healthy diet

Plants get their color from pigments we call phytochemicals, which offer a multitude of health benefits. 

Anthocyanins from blueberries have anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties, while beta carotene in carrots helps produce vitamin A and might even protect your skin against UV ray damage. 

Healthy eating should be colorful, so mix up the hues and enjoy the health benefits!

20) Eat more protein-based snacks

Many common snack foods are rich in refined carbohydrates (especially added sugars).

This can spike blood sugar levels, worsen cholesterol levels, and increase heart disease risk. 

Protein-based snacks are more filling and can promote healthy muscle mass. 

Hard-boiled eggs, cheese, yogurt, edamame (soybeans), nuts/seeds, and lean meat are all great high-protein choices. 

Another benefit of protein is that it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels like carbohydrates.

21) Eat some fermented foods

Fermented foods offer probiotics to feed the colony of healthy bacteria in the digestive system known as the microbiome. 

A healthy microbiome can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, help promote a healthy weight and even play a role in mental health and mood disorders.

Kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and cultured milk products such as yogurt are all examples of fermented foods.

Studies show fermented foods can help fight diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and inflammation.

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Conclusion

Implementing simple health tips can promote a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease and improve mental health and mood. 

Implementing realistic, sustainable health goals and tips in your daily routine such as healthy eating, getting regular physical activity, and focusing on getting key nutrients can help preserve health, promote quality of health and increase longevity.

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Alternative Text

Diana Gariglio-Clelland (RD)

Diana Gariglio-Clelland obtained her B.S. in Nutrition from the University of Idaho and is a Registered Dietitian with experience in the hospital, community and primary care health settings.

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