More and more research shows that what professionals call “lifestyle medicine “— simple improvements in diet, exercise, and the management of stress — is the secret to sustainable good health. To help you convert that information into results that you will see in your everyday life, we have put together this list of health and wellness suggestions. Ready to be the better version of you? Let’s go!
It has long been known that diet is the biggest factor in our health. We all know that we should be aiming to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit or vegetables a day, but is that it? What else should we be doing or eating?
For optimum health, we need more than 40 vitamins and minerals, and no single ingredient can supply all of them. It is never about a single meal, but rather our diet over time. Balanced food choices in the long term will make a big difference in the way that you feel.
For example, around half of the calories in your diet should come from foods rich in carbs, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at each meal. Whole-grain foods, such as whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase your fiber intake.
Fats are essential for the good health and proper functioning of the body. Too much of this will, however, adversely affect our weight and heart health. Different kinds of fats have different health effects, and some of the following may help to keep it all in balance:
- Consumption of total and saturated fats (often from products of animal origin) should be limited, and trans fats should be avoided entirely; reading the labels helps to identify the sources.
- Eating fish 2-3 days a week, with at least one serving of oily fish, will lead to our adequate consumption of unsaturated fat.
- When cooking boil, steam, or roast, rather than fry, remove the fatty part of the meat and use vegetable oils.
High salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are various ways to reduce salt in the diet: when shopping, we can choose items with lower sodium content.
When cooking, salt can be substituted with herbs and spices, increasing the variety of flavors and tastes.
Sugar offers sweetness and an appealing taste, but sugary foods and drinks are high in calories and should be enjoyed in moderation as an occasional treat.
Physical activity is important for people of all weights and health conditions. This helps us burn off excess calories, is good for the heart and circulation, preserves or raises muscle mass, helps us concentrate, and improves overall health and well-being.
150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is recommended and can easily become part of our everyday routine. Simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the furthest end of the supermarket carpark, or getting off the bus one stop early can make a significant difference.
Quit the bad habits
Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and taking drugs are all habits that are proven to have a significantly negative impact on our health. However, they are also some of the hardest habits to break. Speak to your doctor about what they can do to help – some people find they cope with going cold turkey, while others need further help such as hypnosis or a stint at Pathways Real Life Recovery. However, you do it doesn’t matter; it is a journey to a better you at the end.
Get more sleep
We often underestimate the power of sleep. However, when we are asleep, our body is resting, recuperating, and replenishing itself. Getting enough sleep also helps to kickstart out metabolism, meaning that our bodies are less likely to hold onto excess weight. There is also evidence to suggest that getting a good night’s sleep can help a person consume fewer calories during the day.
Sleep also reduces blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, as well as leaving us feeling more mentally healthy, sociable, and emotionally intelligent.
However, our lives are not set up very well for good, restful sleep. Most of us need to completely shift our thinking around sleep and make it a priority. Here are some tips to help aid better sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning
- Buy a decent mattress and replace it every eight years
- Do not drink caffeine after lunchtime
- Switch off your cell phone, tablet and TV at least an hour before you go to sleep
- Warm baths and milky drinks before bed can encourage sleepiness
- Use blackout blinds or heavily lined curtains to shut out the light
- Make sure that your room is not too hot or too cold
The power of H20 is also vastly underestimated. Staying hydrated by drinking around two liters of water a day can leave your skin and hair looking and feeling great, your brain working at it’s best, and make you feel energized and ready to face whatever life is throwing at you.
Deal with stress
Stress comes at us from all angles – work, family, health, finances – but it is how we manage it that makes the difference. Some people choose to practice meditation or yoga to help calm them down and remind them of the positives in their life. Others find that talking to a professional can help them to find ways to deal with problems before they get too big. Finding a way that works for you is the best way to manage stressful situations.
Good health is never guaranteed, but by putting these tips into practice, you will be the best version of yourself and are much more likely to feel healthy on the inside and out.