5 Easy Health Hacks That Actually Work, According to Experts
Boost your physical and mental health with these simple tips.
When it comes to boosting your health, there's a long list of things that can move the needle, from eating less sugar to lifting weights—but some are easier to accomplish than others. If modifying your diet or starting a new exercise routine sounds daunting, you're in luck. Best Life asked wellness experts for their favorite easy health hacks, and they delivered. Read on to find out how you can get better rest, reduce inflammation, increase immunity, and more. (It's easier than you may think!)
Breathe through your nose to sleep better.
Getting a better night's rest could be as simple as keeping your mouth closed, says integrated healthcare expert Stefan Chmelik, MRCHM, MBAcC. "Our mouths are designed to have many functions, but the nose is pretty bespoke and really designed to allow the passage of air in and out," he tells Best Life. "There is an epidemic of mouth breathing, and this leads to everything from anxiety to allergies and poor sleep."
Chmelik explains that breathing through your nose generates nitric oxide (NO) in your body, which helps relax your lungs, heart, and muscles. "Not enough NO, and these same tissues will be stiff and constricted. You can imagine what that will do," he says. "So, except perhaps when running, always try to breathe in gently and slowly through the nose."
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Write by hand to boost your brainpower.
Next time you make a to-do list, try using pen and paper rather than an app on your phone. An Oct. 2020 study out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology showed that writing by hand activates neural pathways in the brain that help us to learn and remember more clearly.
"A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write, and hearing the sound you make while writing," said neuroscientist and study co-author Audrey Van der Meer. "These sense experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning."
Swap out your cooking oil to reduce inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is linked with a host of symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, and psoriasis, as well as diseases including cancer and Alzheimer's, according to the Cleveland Clinic. But something as simple as choosing a different type of cooking oil could help lessen inflammation, says Phil Grau, Chief Science Officer at Blocks Nutrition.
"Vegetable oil is the biggest offender to gut inflammation," Grau tells Best Life. "Get rid of all highly inflammatory vegetable oils and trans fats (like canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, and margarine) and replace them with more heat-stable saturated fats (like ghee, lard, butter, or tallow) for cooking." For salad dressing and dipping purposes, he recommends opting for organic extra virgin olive or avocado oil.
Soak up some sun to increase immunity.
When's the last time you let the sun shine on your skin? Peter Piraino, LMSW and CEO at Burning Tree Programs, says getting a little sunshine is his favorite wellness hack. "Vitamin D, which is produced in the body when we are exposed to the sun's rays, is great for your immune system," he tells Best Life.
Scientists back up this claim: "Vitamin D… helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses," the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention write.
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Try Qigong to ease anxiety.
Next time you're feeling anxious, try shaking your arms and hands for 30 seconds, says Lee Holden, an expert in the ancient Chinese mind-body practice of Qigong. "This will discharge anxiety, stress, and any negativity you picked up," he explains, noting that you can do this at any time. "This will also desensitize your triggered emotional state, allowing more rational thinking."
Holden also recommends these easy moves: "Tap vigorously at your chest and breathe deeply. This will clear up emotional stress and release any pent-up tension. Or practice 'bamboo in the wind'—stand with both feet together, place your hands on your torso, and let your body rock and sway."
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. If you have specific health questions or concerns, always consult your healthcare provider directly.