Some people by luck or design have lived longer and, in some cases, enjoyed an ill-free life despite the unhealthy lifestyles led during their lifetime. However, this is not the case for most people who indulge in similar lifestyles. Evidence-based studies indicate applying the 5 steps for a healthy lifestyle can enhance longer lives free of ailments. I will be breaking down the 5 steps for a healthy lifestyle which are easy to adopt by everyone.
5 Steps for a healthy lifestyle include:
- Make the right food choice
- Increase water/fluids intake
- Exercise regularly/ increase activity level
- Sleep/rest adequately
- Seek Education
Make the right Food choice
The food we eat is the most important substance to a healthy lifestyle. Eating a combination of the right foods to include:
- Legumes and nuts
- Whole grains
Eating these foods in a balanced fashion is essential to our health and longevity. It is recommended that adults consume at least 5 portions (400g) of fruit and vegetables daily. Most importantly, food should be consumed in moderation.
By eating the right servings, you will be cultivating a healthy eating habit necessary to prevent diseases such as:
- heart disease
Cut back on your Salt, Sugar, and Fats intake. Additionally, be cautious of salty snacks, seasonings, sauces, sugary drinks, sugary snacks, candies, and fast foods. Consuming these foods in excess can lead to unhealthy weight gain with its concomitant health risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. Fats consumed should be less than 30% of your total energy intake.
Unsaturated fats are preferred to saturated fats. Unsaturated fats sources include fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower seeds, soyabean, canola and olive oils. Saturated fats sources include fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, and lard. Trans-fats are found fried foods, baked foods, and pre-packaged foods such as frozen pizza, cookies, biscuits, and cooking oils and spreads.
Learning to make or prepare your own food is the best choice for all. Identifying good sources of food is beneficial to one’s health.
Water is a critical ingredient to our bodies. 60% of the human body is made of water. Water is necessary to:
- Flush out waste from our bodies
- Regulate the body temperature
- Enable our brains to function
- Balance fluids in our bodies.
However, remembering to drink water surprisingly can be very challenging for most people. Below are some tips for help increase your water intake:
- Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
- Drink water during meals.
- Add a wedge of lime or lemon in your water to improve the taste.
- Water intake for kids must be monitored too. Learn more about drinking water in schools
Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. This includes exercise and activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits. The amount of physical activity you need depends on your age group but adults aged 18-64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week. Increase moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week for additional health benefits. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity is good for your heart. Examples include:
Sleep is a critical function needed for full performance of our bodies and minds, however, it has become more like a luxury for most of us due to the difficulty in balancing work, family, and social functions in this fast-paced world.
Study shows sleep is necessary for:
- Critical body function
- Improve brain activity
- Improving mental health
- Restore energy
An average of 7-9 hours of sleep a day is ideal for most adults. Below are some tips that can help improve your sleep:
- Establish a sleep routine.
- Cut off caffeine or beverages with caffeine
- Sleep alone possibly without a pet as study shows pet owners who sleep with pets are more likely to be disrupted during sleep.
- Do not keep a television in your bedroom.
- Put down your phone at your scheduled sleep time and silence it throughout the night.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that found trends showing that adults who do not finish high school are less healthy than other individuals with higher education degrees. This holds true for most to the health issues that we deal with. Adults who do not finish high school are less healthy than other individuals with higher education degrees.
By educating oneself, not necessarily receiving a diploma but, acquiring knowledge and skills that will help you adapt, cope, and utilize critical thinking, you will be enhancing the quality of your life. Staying in the know and researching on what is necessary to reduce or eliminate a genetic risk of cancer or diabetes, puts you one step ahead.
Not making the right choices in life helps with mental stability. An unhealthy lifestyle comes with dire consequences that may be prevented if we can change our lifestyle. By adjusting and adopting a healthy lifestyle, we will be investing in the prevention of:
- Hypertension and heart disease
- Liver disease
- Joint problems
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Depression or anxiety.
Sometimes all we need is a bit of an adjustment and being consistent. Quitting smoking and loosing some weight will go a long way in improving your current situation. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular conditions are more common in people who do not exercise and are chronically sleep deprived. Good quality sleep can ward off fatigue and memory loss and trouble concentrating.
University of South Florida explored the heart health risks associated with poor sleep. According to their findings, having poor sleep habits can have serious implications for long-term heart health, increasing the risk of heart disease by three times. The study also showed that the risk of heart disease was higher among those who reported on sleep health problems. For those individuals, the researchers found each additional risk factor increased the overall risk of heart disease by nearly 55%. However, self-reported information and data from the sleep tracker indicates the risk of heart disease was nearly three times as high, at 141%, which the researchers believe is more accurate.
This is a significant awareness for all to adjust our sleep patterns alongside every aspect of our lives in order to reap the benefits of overall wellness.