Encouraging Health and Happiness

Dr. Mehmet Oz’s Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

By Amanda Natividad and Nicole McEwen, Lifescript Staff Writers
Published January 10, 2010

Want to get serious about health and wellness? Right now is the best time to start. Dr. Mehmet Oz, New York Times best-selling author and host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” reveals his top tips for diet, fitness and more. Even better, some take just a few minutes! Find out how to start transforming your life today…

You don’t have to wait till the New Year to dump bad habits and make healthy changes. You can start today, and it’s easier than you think.

Where to begin? We asked Dr. Mehmet Oz, New York Times best-selling author and host of “The Dr. Oz Show” to share his favorite quick tips for healthy living:

1. Develop a short morning routine.
A daily schedule is critical, especially in the morning when you’re rushing. Oz starts his day at 5:45 a.m. with a 7-minute yoga stretch.

Set aside time to eat too. “You don’t have to have breakfast as soon as you wake up – just don’t skip it,” Oz says.

A morning meal sets you up for a day of healthy eating, he says. But that doesn’t mean Pop-Tarts. Choose high-fiber and high-protein foods, which will keep you satisfied longer.

2. Load up on fiber.
Fiber stabilizes metabolism and prevents you from making bad choices later in the day.

“Having fiber in your breakfast results in less hunger in the afternoon, when you’re most likely to be tired and binge on sugar,” Oz says.

Aim to eat 25 grams a day.

Some foods rich in fiber:

  • Bran cereal
  • Whole-wheat breads and pasta
  • Vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards and broccoli
  • Almonds and pistachios
  • Legumes and lentils

3. Get your zzz’s.
Easier said than done, we know. But a full night’s sleep is critical for good health… and a trim figure. Lack of sleep can slow your metabolism (which makes it harder to lose weight), according to a 2004 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Oz recommends getting at least seven to 7-1/2 hours of snooze time a night.

4. Take supplements.
A woman’s most important supplement is vitamin D, Oz says: It’s essential for bone health and calcium absorption.

Vitamin D is found in some foods (such as salmon, liver, eggs and fortified milk), but a typical diet doesn’t provide us with enough. Depending on your age, you should get at least 200-1,000 international units (IUs) a day.

Another way to boost your vitamin D levels? Spend time – but not too much – in the sun: Just 10 minutes a day without sun-block.

Oz also recommends that women take omega-3 supplements: 600 mg for adults and 100 mg for kids. It can help reduce inflammation, improve memory and concentration, prevent breast, colon and prostate cancers, and protect against heart attack and stroke.

The supplement is similar to fish oil but without the side effects, which can include fishy-tasting burps, upset stomach, abdominal bloating and acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion.

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fats too – specifically, DHA-omega 3, Oz says, which is found in plankton and seaweed.

He also recommends North American ginseng for adults. The herb has antioxidant properties and has been used to treat sexual dysfunction and type 2 diabetes.

5. Work out early in the morning.
Do you always plan to exercise, but never do? It’s a common problem with women, which is why Oz recommends working out first thing in the a.m. – “before everyone can get to you.”Start with a stretching routine. Oz likes yoga because it simultaneously stretches and builds muscles.

The best way to burn fat is to build muscle, so include strength training, he adds.

But don’t worry about weight – focus on waist.

“The dangers of obesity are much more related to your waist size than weight,” Oz says.

Flabby abs means you have fat next to the liver, which may affect organ function and lead to a host of other health problems, including type 2 diabetes.

The average American woman should have a waist circumference of 32.5 inches or less; greater than 37 inches could increase your heart disease risk, Oz says.

Which is an important reason to do cardio exercise at least every other day – even if only for 10 minutes.

And don’t get discouraged or make excuses – “I’m getting too old” or “It’s not in my genes” – for not completing a fitness routine.

People 50 and older are plenty capable of staying fit. Physical fitness is determined more by lifestyle than genetics, he says.

6. Ditch junk food.
Avoid products with simple sugars, syrups, saturated fats, trans fats and white flour. They don’t have essential nutrients and, when we eat too much, they’re turned into fat and stored in the body.

Also, make smart decisions at the supermarket. Buy leafy greens, such as arugula and spinach − they detoxify the liver, which helps the body filter toxins.Eat locally grown or organic produce. Shop at farmer’s markets. Or pre-pay a grower to deliver baskets of fresh produce weekly – a sort of subscription-based food supply, Oz says.
And remember: It’s OK to occasionally gobble a bowl of ice cream.

“About 90% of Americans will try to diet but fail,” Oz says. Just don’t lose your confidence or determination when you falter – get back on track the next day.

7. Don’t drink two alcoholic drinks in a row.
Dehydration and snacking on fatty foods are just two of the regrettable side effects of knocking ‘em back.

Instead, alternate between a cocktail and glass of water or juice. The volume of fluid will keep you hydrated and prevent a hangover. Plus, drinking in moderation will cut calorie consumption.

When you’re socializing at happy hour, keep one hand free, Oz advises. If you keep both hands full with food and a drink, you’ll feel forced to scarf them down quickly.

8. Have regular sex.
It is key to mental and physical health. A person’s life expectancy climbs three years with twice-weekly sex, compared to a person who has it just twice a year, he says.

“Frequent sex proves your body is functioning the way it’s supposed to, and having sex with someone you love is one way we achieve that Zen experience.”

A study published in the January 2010 issue of Journal of Sexual Medicine refuted the existence of a female G-spot – but Oz disagrees.

“The G-spot is a place where nerves come together,” he says. “Women shouldn’t feel guilty if they can’t find it. Some women may have nerves that are close there and can be stimulated, others [may not].”

Even if you don’t know which group you’re in, do the “research” with your mate, Oz says.

And there’s another physical act that’s just as important: cuddling.

“Getting comfortable with cuddling without expecting sex makes you feel more comfortable with your partner.”

9. Get mammogram and Pap smear cancer screenings – just not as frequently.
New Pap smear guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that women wait until they’re 21 before getting their first screening for cervical cancer. And Oz agrees – for the most part.

Teens may not need a Pap as often as older women do, Oz says. That’s because younger girls have many hormonal changes that could result in false positives, which may lead to unnecessary biopsies.

But, according to guidelines posted on Oz’s Web site, a Pap smear for cervical cancer should begin three years after the onset of sexual activity or at age 21, whichever comes first. Afterward, women should have annual screenings.

What about mammograms? Oz feels the downside outweighs the benefits of yearly exams.

“The chance a mammogram will save your life is so small that it’s not worth the stress you’ll go through during the procedure,” he says.

Wait until age 50 to have a mammogram – as long as you don’t have a higher risk, he advises.

He also encourages all women to perform breast self-exams regularly. 10. Instill exercise and healthy eating habits in your children.
Pass your healthy habits forward – to your kids.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in part, because kids haven’t learned healthy habits, Oz says.

“We have to change their environment to make physical activity seem more natural to them.”

To promote smart dietary habits in children, Oz and his wife, Lisa, founded Health Corps, an organization that works with schools to prevent childhood obesity. It also gives them the tools for success in adulthood.

“At Health Corps, we learned that if you teach kids how to eat smarter and exercise, the end result is mental resilience,” he says. “If they can’t take on the inside world of their bodies, they won’t be able to take on the outside world.”


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