We all know we could exercise more and eat better. Sometimes, life’s rapid pace keeps us from dedicating the time we need to our well-being. Other times, we know we’re just being plain lazy. Here, Dr. Oz reveals four incredibly easy tricks for improving your overall well-being, followed by four easy-to-perform health checks.
Step 1: Sleep More to Protect Your Heart
Next time you feel guilty about sleeping in, just remember you’re doing your heart a favor. If you can’t get 2 hours of continuous sleep, it means you’re not completing the restorative sleep cycle over the course of the night, which can have a harmful effect on your health. In fact, studies show that people who struggle to stay asleep had a 30% higher risk of heart attack. This is because insomnia can lead to excess production of the hormone cortisol; levels rise depending on the amount of stress you feel, causing your blood pressure to rise in turn. Your heart is equipped to handle a normal level of cortisol, but excess levels at night can lead to arterial damage, aneurysm, and eventual heart failure.
If you have a hard time sleeping, you’re not alone. Researchers estimate 1 in 3 of us suffer from a form of insomnia. As an easy fix, Dr. Oz recommends you try taking 30 mg of wild lettuce extract before bedtime. Also known as “lettuce opium,” the extract comes from the stems of the wild lettuce plant and has been shown in an animal study to have calming and sedative effects.
Because of some possible contraindications, consult with your doctor before taking wild lettuce extract. Do not use wild lettuce extract if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have prostate enlargement (BPH).
- You have an eye condition called narrow-angle glaucoma.
- You are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies or related herbs.
- You are scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks.
Step 2: Order In and Eat Right
Take-out and delivery restaurants can provide the laziest of us with delicious and healthy meals, so long as you know what to order. Here are three suggestions, all of which are under 500 calories, low in carbs, and provide 30 or more grams of protein so you can feel full longer.
Pizza: Chicken and cheese pie. Be sure to order whole wheat or thin crust, add as many veggies as you’d like, and ask them to go light on the cheese to cut back on the fat.
Mexican: Black bean burrito. It’s important to incorporate plant sources of proteins, like beans, into your diet. Order this bean burrito with corn and spinach to add extra protein, brown rice for extra nutrients, and go light on the cheese. This option is so healthy, you can even get a side of guacamole and salsa.
Chinese: Beef and oyster sauce with mixed vegetables. Oyster sauce is a great option in any Asian meal, as it’s the lowest calorie Asian sauce. Be sure mixed vegetables make up half the meal.
Step 3: Indulge in Chocolate and Fight Cancer
You may already know that dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol, and even improve blood flow to your brain. Now, a new animal study suggests that eating cocoa, the raw material in chocolate, may help prevent colon cancer. Apoptosis is natural process in which your body eliminates unhealthy cells. Compounds in cocoa known as flavonoids may assist in the apoptosis process, destroying cancer cells.
You can get your cocoa in two forms. One option is to eat no more than 20 grams, or about one-fifth of a chocolate bar, twice a week. Be sure it’s dark chocolate that’s 70% cocoa content or more. The other option is to take Cocoawell, a supplement that contains the antioxidant equivalent of 8 bars of dark chocolate, without any of the sugar, fat or calories.
Step 4: Burn Calorie Without Stepping Foot in a Gym
There are two simple things you can do to burn calories without going anywhere near a gym. First: Take a stand! Next time you’re on the bus, at work, waiting for an appointment, or folding laundry, try standing up instead of sitting. You’ll burn an extra 50 calories an hour.
And here’s a fun one: try using someone else’s bathroom. Of course, nobody likes sitting on a stranger’s toilet, so by squatting, you’ll not only be working important core and leg muscles, you’ll also burn up to 140 calories a day.
In addition to regular exercise and eating right, it’s important to monitor the physical signs of your health. Here are four quick health checks for the lazy girl in us of all.
Test 1: Check Your Tongue
Check your tongue in the mirror. If you notice a white, yellow or orange coating, it could indicate acid reflux, which, in severe cases, can lead to esophageal cancer. Normally, a one-way valve at the bottom of your esophagus makes sure that whatever food or drink goes down doesn't come back up, but acid reflux occurs when this valve opens spontaneously and the acids in your stomach flows up into your throat, causing damage. To treat acid reflux before it reaches dangerous levels, try over-the-counter antacids and avoid acidic and spicy foods. For more on fighting acid reflux, click here.
Test 2: Check Your Nails
If you notice white horizontal stripes on your unpainted nails, it could indicate kidney disease. Healthy kidneys filter waste from the blood but leave vital protein. Impaired kidneys may fail to separate the protein from the wastes, harming your body. If the bands on your fingernails are not caused by injury and are accompanied by fatigue, this could be a sign of protein deficiency and you should see a doctor for a urine test.
Test 3: Check Your Eyelids
Pull down your lower eyelid and look in the mirror. If you notice little bumps inside the eyelid that look like cobblestones, it’s a telltale sign of allergies. Some of the most common culprits are dust, pet dander, and mold. To combat allergies, try using a HEPA filter in your home and keeping your beloved pooches and kitties out of your bedroom – or, at least, off the bed.
Test 4: Check Your Elbows and Knees
If you spot an itchy or blistery rash on your elbows or knees, it could mean you have Celiac disease. If so, your body is treating the gluten in wheat and other grains as an invader and reacting with this inflammation, which can also appear on your bottom. The rash affects 10 to 15% of people with Celiac disease. If you notice it, try giving up gluten for a period of time, then follow up with your doctor.