You didn’t ask for it, and you won’t take it. But here are two simple tips that anyone can adopt that will instantly and dramatically improve your health.

Eat More Veggies

There are few people in Western countries who eat enough vegetables. Hate to break it to you, but you don’t. Those five servings a day you’re not getting is the minimum, not the required amount, and boiled veggies don’t count (well, unless you use the water for soup or something).

Forget meat and three veg – lunch and dinner should both be more vegetable than meat. A salad on the side is better than nothing, but a veggie-heavy stirfry is better still. Fortunately everything from burgers to pasta sauces to soup can easily be modified to accommodate these improvements.

Potatoes don’t count unless you leave the skin on, so don’t go trying to count chips. And tomato paste never counts.

Oh and the usual rules are in play – fresh is better than frozen or tinned; variety is better than monotony; raw is better than cooked; anything is better than nothing.

Drink More Water

Years back people were saying you should be drinking two litres, or eight glasses, of water per day. This was later found to be baseless, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness we don’t have to drink that much!”

A couple of comments, if I may:

One is that two litres really isn’t that much. And eight glasses of water is only two litres if they are tiny – a can of soft drink is 50% bigger than that. I don’t drink two litres every day but I rarely fall short of 1.5 litres, and often I drink much more. This isn’t some attempt to prove anything – this is how much water I find myself needing.

If you think you drink enough water, then let me ask you: do you ever feel tired when you shouldn’t? Is your appetite too high or too low? Do you ever find it hard to concentrate? Do you find yourself feeling sick, or actually falling sick, more often than you’d like? No guarantee that any of this is dehydration, but it’s a pretty cheap fix if it is.

Thirst is different from hunger. If you are thirsty, then you’ve been dehydrated for a while. You need to keep your fluids up, and recognise the signs before thirst sets in.

These are just two things you can do to feel healthier, but these are probably your biggest bang for buck. Important caveat though – both vegetables and water are fatal in large doses, and the fatal dose is probably less than you think.

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