10 Tips to Improve Your Health Today

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

You know the drill: eat right and exercise. But you can do many other things to improve your health also.

1. Reduce processed sugar. “What’s made the biggest difference in my energy and sleep is that I stopped eating processed sugar. I use Monk fruit, maple syrup or honey for sweetening. I don’t have dips and dives in energy and I sleep better. Our taste buds last 10 to 15 days. They re-grow based on what we’re feeding them.

2. Hydrate, but not too much. “Hydration seems like an all-or-nothing mindset: one gallon of water a day or not drinking anything. Really, we don’t need a gallon of water a day. Over-hydration is a thing. Every couple hours have a cup of tea or some water. Don’t guzzle it but keep sipping throughout the day. Five to six glasses a day is reasonable and healthy. We sometimes overshoot goals and it’s draining because we make it so complicated.”

3. See your primary care provider. “Be honest with your provider and work with them to find ways to improve your health. Some people tell me they’re doing things when they’re not. Communicating with a holistic practitioner is so important. We need a partner to help manage our health. We need to take proactive steps that aren’t reactive. I’m here to identify things early and coordinate care and get you in the right direction so we can manage it. People are scared to get colonoscopy and mammograms. But not knowing is scary.”

4. Get your flu vaccine. “Flu vaccine is important every year, especially if you’re a senior citizen. When they go to their providers or the pharmacy, we call it the ‘high dose’ flu vaccine. At any age, anyone should have their vaccines, like whooping cough every 10 years.

5. Practice a healthy mindset. “My emphasis is having a healthy mindset. It’s just as important and having a positive mind to keep your body healthy. Don’t just focus on your body. Keep your mind and emotions healthy as well. Have a good social life and someone to talk with or reach out when you’re stressed. Those things make the body healthier as well.”

6. Try strength training. “Strength training isn’t just for young males. It’s for females and for the elderly. When you’re doing strength training, you use your cardiovascular system. It improves bone density to prevent osteoporosis. It also makes you more limber. Activities of daily living are more difficult than if you do strength training. It helps reduce body fat and increases muscle mass. Strength training helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.”

7. Aim for more monosaturated fats in your diet. “Not all fats are created equal. According to the American Medical Association, we need fats to help keep the body warm, to nourish our brains, increase energy, and help with the production of some hormones. The good fats are monounsaturated like olive oil, peanut butter, avocados, and even animal fats though these should ideally be from pastured beef, pork and chicken. Polyunsaturated fats are found in oils such as sunflower, soybean, and corn oils and in nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseed.

8. Get your probiotic intake with yogurts and other fermented foods. “A healthy digestive system is important for healthy living. We hear so much about the water we drink and the air we breathe being filled with pollutants. Antibiotics kill good bacteria, too. Sugar helps grow the bad bacteria. The resulting bacterial imbalance can really throw us off. It’s a delicate balance between good and bad bacteria. This is why we have the recent push for fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and others. They are filled with good bacteria and the more the merrier. When these aren’t available or appealing, there are supplements to help balance your gut called probiotics.”

9. Pick your soy products carefully. “If you are consuming soy products as protein sources, I would recommend them to be USDA organic or non-GMO verified.  I also recommend free-range or organic animal protein sources. I typically recommend rBST-free (bovine growth hormone) or organic dairy sources (cow, goat or sheep) that are at least 1%-2% milkfat. Research has shown that at least 2% dairy products contain anti-inflammatory properties.

10. Increase magnesium-rich foods like avocados, black beans and almonds into your diet. “Magnesium is a very important mineral that oversees more than 350 enzymatic processes in our bodies. It has been seen to assist in immunity, insomnia, depression, irritability, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, regulating blood pressure, relaxing smooth muscles, regulating blood sugar and so much more.”


  • Tips 1 and 2 by Lacey Roy, lead nutrition coach and owner Full Bodied Health, Fayetteville.
  • Tip 3 by Nathaniel Farden, family nurse practitioner with Lakeview Primary Care, Oswego.
  • Tip 4 by Jiancheng Huang, public health director, Oswego County.
  • Tip 5 by Chiheon Yi, licensed acupuncturist, Holistic Practitioners Acupuncture Syracuse.
  • Tip 6 by Brandon Anderson, personal training manager at Blink Fitness in Syracuse.
  • Tips 7 and 8 by Sadieann Zogby Spear, owner A Strong And Healthy You, New Hartford.
  • Tips 9 and 10 by Laurel Sterling, registered dietitian, nutritionist and educator with Carlson Laboratories in Canastota