12/31/2015 11:45 EST | Updated 12/31/2016 05:12 EST

5 Tried And True Health Hacks For 2016

Close up of hand picking tomato from basket.
Betsie Van der Meer via Getty Images
Close up of hand picking tomato from basket.

Buckle up! 2016 is shaping up to be a year even more intensely focused on health. January's news is perennially populated with diet, fit tips, and life hacks that will set you on your way. Of course, there will be a few (ahem, a lot) of misinformation and hard to follow diet rules. To balance that, here are my tried and true, non-sexy, boring but easy to comprehend food truths.

1. Last year in Sweden, it was (re)discovered that there is no fit fat. That belief that you can have a high body mass index and still be "fit" has been put to rest. Fitness has a purpose which is a long and healthy life less messed up by lifestyle diseases and sudden death. This study discovered that the risk of death was actually higher in a fit obese person than an unfit normal weight person. Being overweight has many critical downsides and relates to a variety of other stressors on the body. So, ya, you still have to get the weight under control even if you can run a 5k.

2. The healthiest diet is one that you will follow, that is still true. Anything you do to excess to drop a few pounds is only as good as it is sustainable. There is no one size fits all way to consume a healthy diet but the one that you have never heard of consistently ranks as #1 in health studies. The DASH diet was created as Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (which is high blood pressure) but it turns out to be a common sense, simple way to enjoy food. Very similar to the Mediterranean way of eating, it focuses on vegetables and whole grains with a focus on nuts and seeds and small, if any, amounts of meat. In short, you could be vegetarian or vegan and gain all of the benefits but if you choose to eat animal protein, keep it minimal.

3. The fuel that often gets overlooked is for the birds. Nuts and seeds not only boost protein and fibre in any meal, they also pack the best vitamin and mineral punch per spoonful. Try products like Q'ia which is a vegan, non-GMO superfood enhancer to everything from salad to breakfast in one sprinkle. And speaking of breakfast, studies still indicate that you want that meal to contain protein. Croissant and donut bad, eggs and whole grain cereals with yogurt, milk or nuts good.

4.Coffee is good. Whether it is green coffee bean or roasted by talented barista, coffee comes up as healthy in study after study. From helping to clean up your liver to somehow mitigating the likelihood of developing Parkinson's or diabetes, you don't have to give up the cup. There is a catch or two, though. Organic is best as it preserves the anti-oxidant power, cream and sugar are no no's for their detrimental effects on your waistline and you can only drink as much as your nerves and good night's sleep will allow. I advise at least one espresso per day along with a good dose of laughter and truth with a dear friend as the prescription for managing stress and you have it all covered.

5.Nitrates are not a dirty word when they come from the soil. These organic compounds are found in dark leafy green vegetables and study after study shows that when you eat more high nitrate foods, you lower your blood pressure immediately. Lowering blood pressure is the universal thing you can do to prevent the risk of stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, fluid in the lungs and peripheral artery disease. That's a lot of payback for eating green.


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