10 Tips to Improve Your Health

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

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

1. Eat foods with probiotics and fiber. “Eat foods with probiotics and foods that have fiber because both of those things will help with keeping the gastrointestinal tract healthy. That’s important because obviously, we want to have a normal, healthy digestion and elimination but much of our immune system resides in the GI tract. Adequate hydration is important, for sure.

2. Regulate your nervous system. “Manage the fight or flight response. This year has been incredibly stressful for everyone on every front. Many of us have heightened levels of cortisol and living not just in chronic stress, but our nervous system has been living in extended periods of fight or flight. The sleep quality and duration decrease, the body’s ability to recover from fight or flight becomes dulled. We have a harder time recovering from stress. Physically, it affects inflammation, digestion and the way the adrenals and hormones work. The way I prefer to approach the nervous system is breathwork. We tend to dull ourselves by social media for a dopamine hit. It temporarily makes us feel calmer but doesn’t take us out of fight or flight. Breathwork and meditation stimulates the vagus nerve. That controls digestion, heart rate and stress response.

3. Try dry brushing. “The other thing I encourage is dry brushing. You take a dry bristle brush before getting into the shower, from the periphery towards the core, spending extra time in armpits, cranial groove, back of the head and over breast tissue. That’s the highest density of lymphatic tissue. It’s light. It takes one to two minutes. It helps the circulation of fluid in the body. It keeps fluid moving, aids in the immune system, can help with congestion. It’s good for the appearance of the skin. You can search for a dry, natural bush like what your grandma used to use in the bathtub. This should not be expensive. You can exfoliate, shower and moisturize. I have a small one to use on my face in the winter when I’m feeling sallow or dry.

4. Practice active posture work. “I really think that active posture work is more important than ever. Our bodies are under a great deal of stress. With not being outside as much, I’m seeing chronic pain and inflammation from sitting and standing improperly. Full-time foundations training by Eric Goodman is a way to fix your posture by gaining strength. Posture braces don’t work. They make problems worse because they don’t build strength. Doing active posture work at home, finding neutral spine in sitting saves us from chronic neck and back pain and help the nervous system. Being in an improper position puts quite a bit of stress on the body.

5. Try acupuncture. “Acupuncture is a good immune support. We treat the common cold and long-haul COVID-19 symptoms. In its essence, it’s an immune building preventative medicine.”

6. Add a glass of water to your morning. “One thing I always like to tell people is that it’s so easy to hear the message to take things away when we’re moving towards a healthier lifestyle, but we need to add things in, like more water. If you’re a soda drinker, add a glass of water with every glass of soda with the goal of cutting back on sodas.

7. Add fruits and veggies to your diet. “Add in more fruits and vegetables, instead of thinking about eating less sugary things. Fruits and vegetables add nutrients, fiber and helps you feeling full without added fats, sugars or calories.

8. Get moving. “We can add in movement and physical activities in ways that make us feel happy. Movement can look like whatever makes you happy, like going for a walk, holding a dance party in your living room and even cleaning or raking leaves counts.”

9. Practice self-care. “With the pandemic and COVID-19, we need to think more about self-care and mental health. Taking care mentally is the important thing. People come in with social isolation, weight gain and high blood pressure because of a lack of self-care. Take time to phone an old friend to feel less isolated.

10. Treat yourself to something fun at least once a day. “Sometimes, we have to make time for one fun thing every day to plan and look forward to it. If you’re in a funk, take two minutes to focus on positive things. There are free mediation apps and ones on mindfulness. Treat yourself one time per month to something like a massage or a restaurant you like. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”


  • Tip 1 by Mary Jo Parker, registered dietitian in private practice in Williamsville.
  • Tips 2 through 5 by Toni Haugen, licensed acupuncturist, Queen City Health and Wellness, Buffalo.
  • Tips 6 through 8 by Justine Hays, registered dietitian and senior nutritionist with Eat Smart, NY
  • Tips 9 and 10 by physician Scott Darling, UBMD Family Medicine.