8 Easy Health Tweaks to Make in 2017

If you’re like us, you’ve had it with resolutions—extreme diets and weight loss plans are so passé. But as much as we don’t like “rules,” we do need to abide by some to live our longest, healthiest, happiest life. That’s why we read couldn’t put down The New Health Rules, by Frank Lipman, M.D., and Danielle Claro. There are so much intense and conflicting information in the nutrition world in particular—whether it’s selecting healthy meat, limiting dairy or eating gluten—that sometimes it’s easy to just give up and give in to the Crispy Creams, Dominos, etc. But as much as ignorance can be bliss, it’s not sustainable if you want to look and feel vibrant, so here are some easy to follow tips, excerpted from The New Health Rules. (It’s Goop-approved, too.)

Glutamine Can Help You Wean
If you have a sweet tooth and you’re making a concerted effort to get yourself off sugar, take a supplement called glutamine when you have a craving (1,000 milligrams every four to six hours as needed). It’s a benign amino acid that tricks your body into thinking it’s getting sugar (aka glucose). You can find it anywhere that sells high-quality vitamins and supplements.

Choose Cheese That’s Less Bad for You
If you feel like a cheeseless life is not worth living, at least know what’s easier on your system than mainstream cow products: raw cheeses (which aren’t available everywhere); cheeses made from sheep’s milk, like feta, manchego, and Roquefort; goat cheeses; and buffalo mozzarella. As with any animal product, the healthier the animal, the better the product. Whenever possible, buy from local farmers whose practices you know.

Eat the Yolk
Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol in the food you eat has virtually no impact on the cholesterol level of your blood. It’s sugar and carbs that trigger production of bad cholesterol in your body, not, for example, eggs. So eat your eggs (as long as you don’t have a food sensitivity to them) and eat them whole—no more egg-white omelets. When you eat fragmented foods, your body starts to crave the rest, and that can make you reach for something unhealthy. Egg yolks contain choline—essential for the functioning of all cells, especially brain cells—and deliver more of those good fats your body needs.

Eat Smallish Fish, Not Big Fish
The bigger and older the fish, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. Why is there mercury in fish at all? Power plants that burn coal release mercury into the air, which settles in the water. Tiny plankton absorb it. The plankton are eaten by little fish. The little fish are eaten by big fish. Mercury for everyone. Stay away from really big fish like swordfish and tuna and think more along the lines of wild flounder and salmon. Mercury not only messes with your body’s ability to energize cells and hold on to certain important minerals but is also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Really tiny fish, like black cod (also called sable), canned sardines, and anchovies, are lowest in mercury, so eat them freely. To find BPA-free canned fish (and fish that’s also low in mercury), go to vitalchoice.com.

If You Eat Cows, Make Sure They Eat Grass
To save money, factory-farmed cows are fed corn (which is cheap and often genetically modified) instead of the grasses they’re meant to graze on. Corn makes the cows sick, so they’re given antibiotics. These meds also fatten the cows—so the system “works” from a business perspective. From a health perspective for meat-eaters, it’s a disaster. If you eat factory-farmed meat, you’re ingesting sick animals, plus loads of antibiotics. Buy only grass-fed meat, and whenever possible, get it at a local farmers’ market from small farms.

Be Careful Where You Get Your Chicken (and Eggs)
The term free-range is now as meaningless as the word natural. And cage-free does not mean crate-free (loophole!) The best plan for consuming healthy (and ethically raised) poultry and eggs is to buy from a farmer whose practices you know, at a local market. But that’s not always possible, so look for the word organic, which promises that the birds were not shot up with antibiotics or given feed containing animal by-products. It’s not much, but it’s the best term there is right now.

Everything You Know About Breakfast is Wrong
Get away from fruit and grains in the morning—you don’t need that sugar and gluten. A dose of healthy fats will start your day off right. Have boiled or poached eggs with greens, sardines on gluten-free crispbreads, or half an avocado—score it, spritz with lemon or olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cumin, and eat it like a grapefruit.

Use Stevia if you Need a Sugar Substitute
For a sweetener in your morning drink, choose stevia, a natural option that doesn’t spike your blood sugar. You can get it in organic powdered or liquid form. In a pinch, you can occasionally use a drop of raw honey or maple syrup (but both are almost as bad as sugar). Don’t even think about chemical substitutes like aspartame and saccharin.

Excerpted from The New Health Rules by Frank Lipman, M.D., and Danielle Claro (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016. Used with permission by the publisher.