Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How To Be Healthy: The Basics

By: Regina Cheah

So everyone is talking about being healthier these days. McDonalds are offering “healthy choices” in their menu, celebrities are constantly promoting the latest fad diets and the weight-loss industry is in a massive boom.

The reason for this is simple; the human population has never had this many people being diagnosed with obese-related health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, thyroid disease, and diabetes, or, life-style related health problems such as various heart diseases, cardiac diseases and magiliant tumors which occur due to heavy smoking, alcohol abuse and unhealthy diets.

These medical conditions can occur at different stages of life and it is thus important that one takes pride in having a healthy lifestyle.

Being healthy: The 3 Basic Steps

1) Be smoke free.

This is really obvious but… don’t smoke. According to the Nicorette website, 1,600 Australians die every month from diseases caused by smoking. Smoking increases a person’s likelihood of developing lung cancer, reduces life expectancy by 7-8 years and the smoke contains over 4,000 of toxic chemicals that poison your body.

2) Eat healthy.

The most common problem when people try to do this, is that they start off motivated, rid their house of "bad food" and then after a couple of weeks, lose their motivation and get back to their usual eating routine of junk food and sweets. The thing is, eating that piece of chocolate cake does not mean that you are committing an ungodly dieting sin. It is actually perfectly normal to have chocolate cake, chips and ice cream as part of a healthy balanced diet. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

1.Eat Breakfast.

It is the most important meal of day. Breakfast breaks the fast (hence: Breakfast) that your body has been undergoing since dinner and starts your body metabolism for the day. This helps increase concentration and assists in weight loss as your metabolism improves

2.Eat according to the 2&5 rule.

According to health authorities, we should be eating at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day. Upping your daily intake of fruit and vegetables helps to reduce and prevent coronary heart disease, obesity, constipation, high blood pressure and diabetes.

To learn more about the 2&5 rule and how to easily achieve it, please follow the link.

3. Drink plenty of water

Studies have shown that we should be drinking around 6-8 glasses of water a day. Water helps maintain healthy muscles, prevent your metabolism from slowing down, and reduces the risk of cancer development.

4.Eat a balanced diet

This means incorporating carbohydrates, vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy products, fats, oils and sweets into your daily diet in the correct adequate amounts.

To learn more about what constitutes a balance diet, please follow the link.

5.Treat yourself.

The occasional sweet treat can do wonders to your motivation and ability to stick to a healthy diet. Studies have shown that when a person tries to eradicate treats (ie. chocolates and sweets) when they go on a diet, they are more likely to go overboard and overeat when they finally give in to their cravings.

3) Exercise

Regularly doing some form of physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and osteoporosis. Furthermore, during physical exertion, the brain releases chemicals called endorphins (similar to what happens when you eat chocolate) which improves your mood. Whether it be a 30 min walk around the block, dancing, going to the gym, Pilates, basketball, footy, dog walking or a few leisurely laps up and down the pool, any form of exercise is better then no form of exercise at all. Exercise helps to build and maintain healthy bones, achieve a healthy weight and reduces stress and anxiety.

Though these 3 basic steps seem easy enough to achieve, I do caution that you start your lifestyle changes gradually and slowly. It is very easy immediately commence your “lifestyle change” by going cold turkey on your cigarettes, eating salads and sushi for lunch and signing up to a gym membership. However, as easy as it is to do that, it is just as easy to lose motivation and crave in to that one packet of cigarette in your drawer, finish off a block of chocolate and ‘go to the gym next week’. Becoming healthier and improving your health requires a lifestyle change.

By starting off with small changes such as having 2 less cigarettes a day, or starting your day with breakfast, or taking a walk to the supermarket instead of driving, you will be well on your way to a more sustainable healthier lifestyle.

Good luck!

Having a healthy diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle and optimum mental wellbeing. It is never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle, so start today!

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