If you’re anything like most people, there have probably been times when you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking health and fitness are very complicated. That there is so much information, so many things to learn it is equivalent to a full-time job to stay on top of it.
Maybe you knowingly don’t make as much effort as you could with your health, because it seems like an uphill battle. You’re left asking the question, “why bother?”.
If that is the case, I’d like to show you the 5 simplest health hacks that can make a huge difference to your energy levels, sleep quality, happiness, weight loss, and general health.
Not only are these 5 things very simple; so simple that most people overlook them in favor of more complicated things; but they are extremely effective.
It is very true that the simple foundations bring the biggest results. If you focused on these 5 things for a few weeks, you would see a marked improvement in how you look, feel, and function.
I couldn’t think of many things that are as or more important for long and short-term health.
Yes, I know you’re already breathing. At least, I hope you are.
The question is, have you ever considered how you breathe?
If not, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t do it very well. It’s extremely common for people to slip into poor breathing patterns due to spending too much time sitting down, high-stress levels, poor posture, lack of exercise, and other reasons.
When this happens you take short, shallow breaths in the chest or throat, which uses only a small percentage of your lung capacity and leaves your body literally starving for oxygen.
Instead, you should take long, deep breathes into the stomach. This will hugely increase the volume of oxygen you’re bringing in. Give it a try next time you’re feeling tired and I bet you will have a surge of new energy. Simply sit and take 10 deep breathes; in through the nose, hold it in your belly, and slowly exhale through the mouth.
On top of that, it is a great way to release stress. Simply taking big, deep breathes and placing your focus on your breathing will dissipate stress and leave you feeling calm and clear-headed.
Drink Fresh Water
After breathing, nothing is as basic to sustaining human life as hydration.
While you’ll die after just a couple of minutes not breathing, you won’t last more than a couple of days without water. That is a much shorter timeframe than how you would do without food, yet food is considered a much more important component of our health?
Every single cell in the body needs water to function properly. If you’re not drinking at least 2 liters of water per day, and more if you’re working out, you are probably chronically dehydrated.
Maintaining proper hydration levels will give you more energy, clearer skin, and even help you to lose weight. Often, when we feel hungry we are actually thirsty. Our body is simply confusing the signals.
On that note, you shouldn’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink. By that time, you are already dehydrated. You should be sipping water all day long, and never actually feel thirsty.
If you struggle drinking water because it makes you pee a lot, just build it up slowly. Your body will get used to it, and soon you won’t have to go as much. It is worth the effort.
Sleep is another fundamental human need that you cannot live long without. In our modern culture, we often see sleep as something of an imposition, getting in the way of time that could be spent more productively.
That is not a good way to approach sleep for your health, or indeed for productivity. Your body needs rest and time to regenerate. If you starve it to sleep, it will never function at its peak.
You’re generally better off resting up and coming back at 100% efficiency tomorrow, instead of pushing through when you’re tired.
Get 7-9 hours of restful sleep in a pitch-black room, going to bed and waking at consistent times each night, and you will be a new person.
Many stress-related issues will go away if you simply start sleeping properly.
While all the previous things mentioned are often overlooked and not treated as importantly as they perhaps should be, this one is often less known.
Sunlight is extremely important for two main reasons. Firstly, we synthesize vitamin D from sunlight which is important for bone health, disease prevention, and hundreds of other things in the body.
Secondly, it regulates our circadian rhythm. That is our internal body clock. It relies on light and dark cycles to release the right hormones and neurotransmitters at the right times.
Lack of sunlight can lead to a lowering of our ‘happy hormones’ and low mood. This is why so many people suffer from a seasonal affective disorder.
To counteract these, if you live in a country that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, or you spend all day indoors, try taking a vitamin D supplement, and using a sunlight lamp to mirror the effects of the sun.
This our not as good a solution as simply spending more time outside in direct sunlight, but that isn’t always possible. If it is for you – take the opportunity.
Take care of gut bacteria
Did you know there are more bacteria in your gut than cells in your body?
How about that various hormones and neurochemicals, which regulate things like our mood, are produced in the gut?
When you take these things into consideration, you can see why looking after your gut bacteria is so important.
That means eating plenty of fiber, which you will find in vegetables, avoiding foods you’re intolerant to, and eating probiotic foods.
Working out if you are intolerant to something can be difficult, but if you suffer from bloating, gas, or constipation, it is worth taking the time to figure it out. You can get tests to determine your food intolerances, or simply go on an elimination diet for a period of time, and track what happens when you reintroduce foods one by one.
Probiotic foods are things that have been fermented such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchee, etc. You can also take a probiotic supplement to increase your healthy gut bacteria.
If you simply placed focus on these 5 very simple, low effort things you will very quickly look, feel, and function better.
Over the long-term, the impact on your general health and wellness is almost immeasurable. Before you worry about anything more complicated; the latest superfood, or new fad diet; I strongly suggest you get on top of these 5 basics.