11 Tips for Improving Health

By April Dupee, MS, RDN, LDN, June 1, 2023

Couple looking out over a railing with hiking gearChronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes can reduce quality of life and shorten your time spent in good health—or your healthspan. But improving health and living a longer, happier life is attainable for everyone. InsideTracker provides a personal health analysis by using artificial intelligence to compute data from bloodwork, DNA, and fitness trackers into unique insights and actionable recommendations, serving as a guide to improving your health and extending your healthspan. InsideTracker populates a unique Action Plan for each customer based on this data, but many people have similar areas of health that need optimization. 

Below is  a list of 11 easy, science-backed tips to improve your health, many of which are InsideTracker recommendations most likely to be included on someone’s Action Plan.

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1. Incorporate more olive oil for healthy fats

This Mediterranean staple has been linked to numerous health benefits including a longer life and reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. [1-3] Using data from the Nurses' Health Study, a large cohort study, researchers found that those with higher olive oil intake had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. What’s more, they discovered that replacing five grams per day of other fats—margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat—with an equivalent amount of olive oil decreases heart disease risk by 5-7%. [2] Another study assessing the same cohort reported higher olive oil intake was also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women. [3]. 

Olive oil’s beneficial health effects are likely related to its high concentration of monounsaturated fat, which can improve cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity. [4] Olive oil is also an excellent source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that help fight disease. Try adding two tablespoons of olive oil to your meals or snacks throughout the day. Use it to replace butter or vegetable oils when cooking or as a dressing for salads. Choose cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) as it's the least refined and has the most antioxidants. 


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes, customers with elevated glucose levels, cholesterol levels, or body weight may see this recommendation. 


2. Eat foods with probiotics 

The gut microbiome—the collection of microorganisms living in your colon—plays a critical role in health and affects everything from metabolism to immunity and mental health. One way to enhance your gut microbiome and the amount of beneficial bacteria in your gut is to consume foods with live beneficial microbes—also known as probiotics. Eating probiotic foods is linked to numerous health benefits including, improved digestion, lipid biomarkers—low- and high-density lipoproteins (LDL & HDL), total cholesterol, and triglycerides—and blood glucose control as well as lower levels of inflammation and a healthier weight. [5-11]. 

Enhance your gut health and start eating probiotic-rich foods, including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and some pickles. Not all fermented foods retain live bacteria in the final product, so look for words like “contains live active cultures,” “naturally fermented,” or the name of bacterial strains on labels and ingredient lists to be sure the food truly contains probiotics. 


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. People with elevated inflammatory markers (CRP or hsCRP) or elevated cholesterol markers (total cholesterol and/or LDL cholesterol) may see this recommendation. 



3. Start taking an ALA supplement 

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a short-chain fatty acid found in some foods and naturally in the body. It plays an essential role in converting nutrients into energy and acts as an antioxidant. [12] Research has linked ALA supplementation with improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, inflammation, and possibly weight status. [13-16] You can get ALA from some foods, like spinach, broccoli, tomato, brussels sprouts, red meat, and organ meat, but the quantities found in food are low. [17] But to get the compound’s desired therapeutic effect, an ALA supplement is likely needed.   

ALA is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. Most studies have evaluated the effects of doses of 600 to 1,000 mg per day for people with already elevated cholesterol levels—including total and LDL cholesterol —or inflammation. [15] Before adding any supplement to your regimen, it's always recommended to check with your healthcare provider to ensure it's safe and effective for you and your goals. 


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. People with elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, hsCRP (inflammation), and body weight may see this recommendation.


4. Try a psyllium supplement 

Psyllium is a form of soluble fiber derived from the psyllium plant. Soluble fiber swells as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract, forming a thick gel. This gel traps cholesterol-containing bile acids and transports them out of the body without being digested and absorbed. The body then has to pull LDL cholesterol from the blood to produce more bile, therefore decreasing blood levels of LDL cholesterol. [18] Research shows that psyllium can reduce total and LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. [19] Similarly, psyllium can lower blood glucose levels by trapping glucose, preventing or slowing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. [20].   

Psyllium supplements are available as capsules and powders (to be dissolved in a liquid, or added to smoothies, oatmeal, or baked goods). Increasing your fiber intake should go hand-in-hand with increasing your water intake. So after taking psyllium, be sure to continue to drink more water throughout the day. You can take a psyllium supplement at any time but try to avoid consuming them with iron and calcium-rich foods as psyllium can inhibit the absorption of these minerals. [21]


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Those who have elevated LDL cholesterol or Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) may see a psyllium supplement recommendation.


5. Eat ground flaxseed

Flaxseeds are a nutrient-dense food, rich in fiber, protein, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These key nutrients make flaxseeds a great addition to boost the nutrient profile of any meal while also providing beneficial health effects. The current evidence suggests that regular flaxseed consumption may help reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels and inflammatory blood biomarkers like high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP). [22-24]  Flaxseeds can be consumed whole or ground (as a powder), and the body actually absorbs more nutrients when the seeds are ground. A typical serving is up to four tablespoons of ground flax daily, which is equal to about three tablespoons of whole seeds. Add ground flax seeds to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, or baked goods.


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. InsideTracker users with elevated levels of hsCRP (inflammation) or elevated LDL, triglycerides, or apoB may see this recommendation. 


6. Sit less

The evidence is clear—prolonged periods of sitting are bad for our health. Inactivity can increase the risk of excess weight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and even premature death. [25-26] The good news is that even short periods of standing, walking, or other physical activity that breaks up all that sitting can improve our health and longevity. [27-28] In a study of almost 5,000 adults, more frequent breaks from sitting were associated with lower waist circumferences, blood pressure, triglycerides, blood glucose, insulin, and higher HDL cholesterol levels. [27]. 

To start sitting less, try taking a five-minute standing break every hour and aiming for thirty minutes of total walking per day. Consider setting a recurring alert or reminder to get up and move. If you are at work, see if you can use a standing desk and encourage your team to take walking or standing meetings. You can also try other forms of physical activity, like jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, air punches, or a yoga flow. 


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes, this is a recommendation for improving body composition, energy levels, and healthy aging. 


7. Mix up your nut and seed intake

Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats including monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) like omega-3 fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it’s not surprising that both observational and intervention studies have revealed that increased nut intake is associated with reduced chronic disease risk factors, including inflammation, excess abdominal weight, and insulin resistance. [29-31] Walnuts, in particular, may improve cognition thanks to their high concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant compounds. [32] Yet, all nuts and seeds are a good choice. 

Researchers examined the association between nut consumption and total and cause-specific mortality in two large, independent groups of people. The more frequently study participants consumed nuts, the lower their total risk of death as well as death related to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. [33] Maximize the disease-fighting benefits by eating a variety of nuts each week. One serving (1 oz) of nuts is equivalent to about 3 tablespoons, or a small handful. Serving sizes of commonly consumed nuts include 23 almonds, 14 walnuts, or 16 cashews. An easy way to add variety to your weekly intake is to buy a container of mixed nuts and seeds, and there are also options for single-serve packets that are good for snacking on the go. 

Nut and seed butters also count towards your seed consumptionA serving of nut butter is 2 tablespoons. Nuts are high in calories, so pay attention to portion size.


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes, users with elevated liver enzymes (GGT, AST, and ALT), elevated LDL, or low HDL may see this recommendation. 


8. Get routine bloodwork

Routine blood testing is one of the most reliable and important tools to help you evaluate and track your physical health over time. Blood tests look at biomarkers—cells, proteins, hormones, nutrients, and enzymes—that circulate in the blood and provide key insights into organ function, heart health, metabolic status, recovery, nutrition, longevity, immune function, and more. These biomarkers can be repeatedly tested and tracked over time, providing key data on your health and your body’s physiological response to different interventions. [34]


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. InsideTracker recommends getting bloodwork done every three to six months to closely monitor shifts in biomarkers and evaluate how your current habits are influencing your markers. 



9. Reduce sodium intake 

TThe average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day, which is well above the American Heart Association’s guidelines of no more than 2,300 mg and an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. This is problematic, as high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The excess sodium triggers the kidneys to retain more water, increasing blood volume and blood pressure as the heart works harder to push blood through the body. [35].  Sodium is everywhere in the US food system. Because it acts as a preservative and flavor enhancer, sodium is often added to processed foods. The majority of Americans’ sodium intake comes from foods like bread, pizza, cold cuts and cured meats, savory snacks, cheese, and canned goods. [36] To reduce your sodium intake, opt to prepare food at home using food as much as possible. You can also use fresh herbs and salt-free seasoning mixes to add flavor without the salt. If consuming packaged foods, look for “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added” when available. 


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

InsideTracker currently doesn’t have a recommendation specific to reducing sodium intake. However, several recommendations customers may see like, cook more food at home and eat less processed meat, to support a lower-sodium diet. 


10. Practice mindfulness daily 

Stress can wreak havoc on our health and increase the risk of chronic disease and premature death (and a lower risk of premature death is a good proxy for longevity). [37] However, you can combat stress and the physical and mental toll it takes on the body with mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). 


What is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)?

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an eight-week program that helps people with stress, anxiety, depression, or chronic pain. There are eight weekly group meetings, each lasting two and a half hours plus one all-day meditation retreat. During classes, participants will develop mindful awareness through a variety of meditative and movement practices including sitting meditation, body scans, yoga, mindful walking, and loving-kindness meditation.

A pooled analysis of over 2,600 participants found that practicing MBSR was associated with improvements in perceived stress levels. [38] And a large review of studies found a strong connection between MBSR and employee mental health outcomes like reduced emotional exhaustion, stress, depression, and anxiety. Some improvements were also seen in other areas of mental health such as quality of sleep and relaxation. [39]  MBSR is offered both in person and online. Look for an MBSR course in your local area first before signing up for an online course. An in-person course can help you form a close group experience and limit distractions that you might otherwise have at home.


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. InsideTracker may see this recommendation if they select one of these goals to guide their Action Plan: reduce stress, healthy aging, InnerAge, cardiovascular health, or improve sleep.   


11. Get regular screenings with a physician 

Many people wait to see a doctor until an issue or illness has already occurred. But prevention is key when it comes to decreasing your risk of chronic diseases and increasing your lifespan. Routine yearly check-ups with a doctor can help detect health conditions or diseases early. Regular check-ups also provide the ability to closely monitor existing conditions and see how well interventions are working.  


Is this an InsideTracker recommendation?

Yes. InsideTracker always recommends discussing blood test results that fall outside of the reference range with a healthcare provider. InsideTracker’s personalized analysis also doesn’t take the place of one-on-one medical and cannot be used to diagnose or detect illnesses.


Improving your healthspan with InsideTracker

You can improve your healthspan and stave off age-related diseases with simple habits. Making healthy food choices, adding in supplements, sitting less, and keeping up with your healthcare screenings and blood work are all ways you can work toward living a longer, healthier life. Based on your body’s data, InsideTracker can help you determine what habits will have the most impact on your health and goals. And who knows? Some of the recommendations listed here may end up in your Action Plan.



[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22648725/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32147453/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26156740/
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21308420/
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10811333/
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25099542/
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23444963/
[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19825213/
[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26161741/
[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28054937/
[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27906159/
[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31405030/
[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29990473/ 
[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23285432/
[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29930690/
[16] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28629898/
[17] https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/lipoic-acid
[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22845031/
[19] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10837282/
[20] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16154305/
[21] https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/866.html
[22] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19515737/
[23] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31115436/
[24] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31739218/
[25] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31468597/
[26] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28892811/
[28] Buettner, Dan. He Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People. National Geographic Society, 2015. 
[29] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16357111/
[30] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22331685/
[31] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20031380/
[32] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25732213/
[33] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307352
[34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534923/
[35] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0b013e318279acbf
[36] https://www.cdc.gov/salt/food.htm
[37] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20031380/
[38] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25818837/
[39] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29364935/

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