Flossing your teeth every day can add a year to your life. Splitting your multivitamin in half boosts its benefits. These are just two of the super-easy—and incredibly effective—tips Mehmet Oz, M.D., recommends to his patients.
"I believe you should make healthy living a habit,” says Dr. Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and host of TV's Dr. Oz Show. "That way you do what's good for you automatically." He walks the walk, with an energizing seven-minute yoga routine every morning and a belief that if he's going to watch TV, he should exercise at the same time. Here, some of Dr. Oz's favorite stay-well secrets, guaranteed to help you live a healthier life.
1. Stretch! Morning is best for an energizing yoga-based workout that includes forward bends, reaching for the ceiling and push-ups, says Dr. Oz, who devotes seven minutes to yoga every morning. It helps focus the mind and provides an adrenaline boost.
2. Take 10,000 steps. Walking elevates your mood, challenges your heart (the best way to keep it fit) and can even help reduce food cravings. Wear a pedometer and strive to take at least 10,000 steps a day, including one brisk 30-minute walk or three 10-minute walks.
3. Floss. Taking care of your teeth and gums is not only good for your mouth: Unloved gums can spread bacteria to the bloodstream and lead to inflammation and heart disease. Dr. Oz won't leave the house in the morning without flossing. He also recommends a sonic toothbrush—they do make a difference.
4. Not a fish fan? Get omega-3s from plants. The fatty acids found in cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring help maintain optimal levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. But if you're not a fish eater, pop an algae-based omega-3 supplement that contains the same omegas as fish oil.
5. Drink filtered tap water.Many people get thirst and hunger confused, causing them to snack when they're thirsty. The solution: Drink cold water—it quenches thirst, helps you feel full and keeps your body operating at full capacity.
6. Break your multivitamin in half. To get a steady supply of vitamins and minerals all day, take one-half of a multivitamin with breakfast and the other with dinner. Don't take them right before bed—the B vitamins can disrupt your sleep. If your multivitamin has less than 1,000 IU of vitamin D, take a D supplement as well—and read the label carefully to make sure it's D3, the most easily absorbed form.
7. Kick the sugar habit. White sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have almost no nutritional value, and over-consuming them increases your risk of obesity, heart disease and even depression. Carry apples, carrots and nuts with you so you're prepared when snack cravings strike. Skip energy bars and drinks—they don't provide the same sustained energy that fresh whole foods do.
8. Make television work for you. If you're going to flip on the TV, you should exercise while you watch. Dr. Oz likes to walk on a treadmill while enjoying a TV show, but working out with light (three-pound) dumbbells or even walking in place is better than simply sitting.
9. Take a nap. Getting less than seven hours' sleep at night triggers higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and depression. On busy days, Dr. Oz shuts his office door and grabs a 20-minute nap. No time for that? You can get to sleep more easily at night by turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bedtime—their bright lights can fool your body into staying awake.
10. Do Good! "One of the best ways to fight stress in your life is to do something good for someone else—an act of love or generosity."
11. Bonus! Get the Tests You Need. When Dr. Oz turned 50 last summer, he gave himself an unusual present: a colonoscopy. "If it weren't for my TV show I might have put it off,” he recalls. "But I knew I had to set a good example. I was so arrogant; I thought I'd be perfect." He was in for an unpleasant surprise—a precancerous polyp. His doctor prescribed another screening in three months and follow-ups every three to five years. "As healthy as I am, this proves you must go for tests like cholesterol, blood pressure and colonoscopy," he says.
From our sister publication, Remedy's Healthy Living, Winter 2010