15 Science-Based Daily Lifestyle Hacks (#1 Is Shocking!) For Better Health And Well-Being

Written by on December 18, 2017 in Health, Prevention with 0 Comments

By Erin Brodwin | Science Alert

Wondering if it's better to workout in the morning or at night? Whether that multivitamin you pop every morning does anything? Or perhaps how long you need to workout to start to see results?

As it turns out, scientists have been looking for answers to these questions too.

You can use their answers to guide many of the decisions you make on a day-to-day basis, from what you eat in the morning to how often you wash the sheets you sleep in.

1. Skip the shower

If you showered yesterday, you should probably skip it today. A growing body of evidence suggests that showering too much can mess with your skin and dry out your hair.

That's because in addition to sloughing off dirt and pollutants, you're also showering away many of the naturally-occurring but beneficial bacteria and oil that keep skin and hair healthy.

“It's paradoxical, but people who wash their hair a lot to get rid of oil are drying out their scalp and producing more oil,” Lynne Goldberg, a dermatologist and the director of Boston Medical Center's hair clinic, told Business Insider.

When it comes to setting up your own regimen, you should consider two things: the average dryness of your skin and scalp, and the texture of your hair.

If they are neither very oily nor very dry, you likely only need to bathe once or twice a week.

If your hair is curly and thick, you may need to wash it even less frequently, since coarse hair slows down the spread of oil from your roots through the length of your hair.

2. Brew your coffee  but don't drink it yet

Many things naturally happen to our bodies when we wake up.

In addition to developing a magical ability to ignore loud noises like an alarm, our bodies also start pumping out the hormone cortisol, a sort of natural caffeine. Most people's cortisol levels peak sometime between 8:00 and 9:00am.

Instead of hopping aboard this wakefulness train, however, coffee consumed at this time may actually blunt cortisol's natural effects, according to Stephen Miller, a PhD candidate at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Instead of caffeinating during this window, Miller recommends holding off for an hour after you awaken.

3. Hit the track

Research suggests that an early-morning workout on an empty stomach helps speed weight loss and boost energy levels by priming the body for an all-day fat burn.

Exercising first thing in the morning may push the body to tap into its fat reserves for fuel instead of simply “burning off” the most recent snack or meal.

Plus, working out early could mean you get more sunlight, which is key to properly setting your body's internal circadian rhythm.

In one study, people who basked in bright sunlight within two hours after waking were thinner and better able to manage their weight than those who didn't get any natural light, regardless of what they ate throughout the day.

4. Get your heart pumping

Any kind of exercise is a healthy way to start the day, but the type that will have the most benefits for your body and brain is aerobic exercise, or cardio.

“Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart,” write the authors of an article in a Harvard Medical School blog called Mind and Mood.

Cardio is the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have. Studies suggest that running or swimming helps to lift mood, clear the mind, and may even help protect from some of the cognitive declines that occurs with age.

It also strengthens the heart and lungs and helps tone up muscles. So get moving – preferably for at least 45 minutes at a time.

5. Fuel up

If you normally eat breakfast, there are three key ingredients it should have: protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Most US breakfasts are lacking in all three.

Instead, they're full of refined carbs, a type of unhealthy carbohydrate that gets rapidly turned into sugar in our bodies. Pancakes, bagels, muffins, and even cereal all fall into this category. Add juice to the mix and you've got a big dessert.

Instead, try a couple of eggs with a few avocado slices or some Greek yogurt (not regular, as it can be high in sugar) and nuts.

Both of these options will fill you up, help smooth out your digestion, and power up your muscles.

6. Or skip breakfast entirely

If you're looking to lose weight and other diets have failed you, you might want to try a new eating plan known as intermittent fasting – after checking in with your doctor, of course.

There are several versions of the diet, but one of the most popular involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for eight. Most people opt for an eating window of 12pm to 8pm, meaning you essentially skip breakfast but eat whatever you want within the 8-hour “feeding” window.

Large studies have found intermittent fasting to be just as reliable for weight loss as traditional diets.

And a few studies in animals suggest it could have other benefits, such as reducing the risk for certain cancers and even prolonging life – but those studies need to be repeated in humans.

7. Ditch the multivitamin

The ingredients you're looking to get from a multivitamin are better processed by your body when they come from real food. If you're not eating right, taking a vitamin isn't going to do you much good anyway.

These are among the reasons that experts suggest people stop taking many vitamins and supplements, which make up a largely unregulated industry.

“Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don't have any clear evidence that they're beneficial,” S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioural sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Business Insider.

“They should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk.”

8. Sit properly

Thousands of Americans work in jobs that afford them the privilege of sitting for the majority of the day. If you're one of them, you probably also know that being on your rear all day also comes with some health concerns, including sore muscles, strained eyes, poor circulation, and weight gain.

To avoid these issues, it's important to have proper posture. To find yours, try this simple exercise: Sit at the end of your chair and let yourself slouch.

Now, try to sit up straight, accentuating the curve of your back as much as possible. Hold this position for a few seconds. Next, release the position a little bit – no more than about 10 degrees. This is your proper sitting position.

9. Get up and move every hour

Even if you're sitting properly, you should be up and about at least once every hour.

That's based on a set of guidelines compiled by an international group of scientists in 2015 and an observational study of close to 4,000 American adults which found that people who ambled around for about two minutes every hour had a roughly 33 percent lower risk of dying prematurely than those who sat all day.

10. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is vital. Our bodies are 60 percent water, and not getting enough can lead to headaches, fatigue, and even overeating.

Still, contrary to popular opinion, you don't necessarily need to drink eight glasses of water a day.

Instead, your daily hydration requirement can change based on several factors, from how much you worked out that day to the weather outside.

Certain foods are also a good water source, so eating more of them may mean you need to drink less. Cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, and spinach are all 92 percent water. Carrots, green peas, and even white potatoes are more than 79 percent.

11. Have a lunch that looks somewhat like your breakfast

Just like your morning meal, your lunch should fuel you up, not slow you down. Avoid carb-heavy meals that are high in sugar and low in protein, like pizza, premade sandwiches, and fried foods.

Instead, opt for meals rich in protein, fibre, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Foods like eggs, lean meat, beans, and chickpeas are high in the first ingredient; brown rice or quinoa is a good source of the third; salmon, avocado, and olive oil are all rich in the last ingredient.

12. Take breaks from screens to avoid eye strain

Are your eyes dry, itchy, blurry, or irritated? You may be suffering from what ophthalmologists call “digital eyestrain.”

To avoid it, make sure you're drinking (and blinking) enough and set your computer up in a way that minimises glare. You can also practice what's known as the 20-20-20 rule.

Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes to rest, Rahul Khurana, the clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmologists told my colleague Kevin Loria.


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