Even though there are many common ways to live a healthy lifestyle, actually doing it looks different for everyone, and means something different from one person to the next. Regardless of what you choose to do, living a healthy lifestyle is a key component to disease prevention, wellness, and longevity.
Being mindful of your diet, physical activity and stress levels allows you to effectively balance all aspects of your life and the “whole you”. Below are 10 important things you can do to live a healthy lifestyle:
Drink more water. Most of us don’t drink enough water every day. Water is essential for our body to function. Did you know that over 60% of our body is made up of water? Water is needed to carry out body functions, remove waste, and carry nutrients and oxygen around our body. Since we lose water every day through urine, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing, we need to replenish our water intake. Since food intake contributes about 20% of our fluid intake, that means we need to drink about 8-10 glasses a day to stay hydrated.
One way to tell if you’re hydrated — your urine should be colorless or slightly yellow. If it’s not, you’re not getting enough water! Other signs include: Dry lips, dry mouth, and little urination.
Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease. Continued lack of sleep can affect your immune system and make you less able to fend off colds and the flu. So, it’s important go get a good night’s sleep.
You can do things to help you sleep better at night. You can avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Also, while alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
Exercise can also help you sleep better at night. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality but please avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime.
Meditate often. Meditation quietens your mind and calms your soul. It can also help you deal with and manage the stress in your life. If you don’t know how to meditate, you can learn how to meditate in 5 simple steps.
Exercise regularly. If you can exercise don’t just a few times a week, but every day. Movement is key to a healthy life. Exercising daily can improve your health in many ways. It can help increase your life span, lower your risk of diseases, help you develop higher bone density, and lose weight.
One simple thing you can do is, especially for close distances, choose walking over riding, driving or taking transportation. You can climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. You can pick exercises that are easy to do at home or outside that you enjoy. When you enjoy the physically activities you choose for yourself, most likely you’ll enjoy them and naturally want to do them. Exercise is about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Also, mixing up your exercises will keep them interesting.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain lots of vitamins and minerals. As much as possible, you should consume your vitamins and minerals via your daily diet. Satisfy your palate with these nutritious fruits: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocado (yes, avocado is technically a fruit!), Apple, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Guava, Papaya, Strawberries.
Like fruits, vegetables are important for good health. Experts suggest 5-9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day, but unfortunately it may be difficult at times. However, when you can, include foods like kidney beans, black beans, asparagus, long beans, green beans, and carrots. Think about your favorite vegetables and how you can include more of them in your diet every day, and pick bright-colored foods. Fruits and vegetables with bright colors are good for health because they remove the things in our body that damage our cells. So, get your fill of fruits/vegetables of different colors: White (Bananas, Mushroom), Yellow (Pineapples, Mango), Orange (Orange, Papaya), Red (Apple, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon), Green (Guava, Avocados, Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery), Purple/Blue (Blackberries, Eggplant, Prunes).
Cut down on processed food. Processed foods are not good because (1) most nutritional value is lost in the making of these foods and (2) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt content, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. Processed foods are anything that is not in its raw form. In general, most food in supermarkets are processed — the more ingredients it has on the label (especially the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed they are. Watch out for those with salt/sugar in the first 5 ingredients and go for unprocessed food as much as possible.
Breathe deeply on purpose. Oxygen is a vital source of life. You may know how to breathe, but are you breathing properly? Most of us don’t breathe properly — we take only shallow breaths and breathe to 1/3 of our lung capacity. A full breath is one where your lungs are completely filled, your abdomen expands, and there’s minimum movement in your shoulders. There are many benefits of deep breathingwhich include a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also helps with better blood flow, releasing toxins from the body, and aids in getting a better night’s sleep.
Go for brown carbs vs. white carbs. White carbsare refined grains like white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers, noodles, tortillas, wraps, anything with white flour and breading. The nutrients have been removed in the production process, leaving them rich in calories but low in nutrients. They also cause unhealthy spikes in our sugar levels. Go for brown carbs (unrefined complex carbs) instead, like brown rice, whole grain, oats, oatmeal (not the instant kind), and legumes. These come with nutrients and vitamins intact.
Cut down on oily and sugary food, soda and caffeine. If possible, reduce your intake of fast food, French fries, doughnuts, chips, wedges, and deep-fried food. Not only are they very fattening (1 tablespoon of oil is 120 calories), deep fried food contains acrylamide, a potential cancer-causing chemical. There are better alternatives, such as grilled, steamed, stir-fried, or even raw food.
Cutting down on sugary food is better for your health as well. These are things such as candy bars, pastries, chocolate, cookies, cakes, and jelly donuts. Not only do they not fill you up, they cause you to want to eat more due to the sugar rush. Go for healthy snacks instead like fruits, salads, pure juices, and unprocessed foods.
Drinks with caffeine are diuretics, meaning they speed up the rate of urine production. This means they don’t hydrate you as well as plain water can. Also, soda is unhealthy, causes weight gain, and is an artificial stimulant. Replace your soda with water or vegetable juices instead. Learn more at 5 Reasons To Quit Soda (And How to Do It)
Stop smoking and/or avoid passive smoking. Smoking can severely increase your risk of lung cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, heart attack, and more. Smoking “light” cigarettes do not decrease health risks either. If you do smoke, stop now and do it not only for yourself but also your family and friends.
Second hand smoking (breathing in air from smokers) can cause many of the same long-term diseases as direct smoking. There is no risk-free level of passive smoking; even brief exposure can be harmful to your health. If possible, stay away from smokers and avoid cigarette smoke where you can.