Like most people you want to live not only as long as you can, but you’d like to stay as healthy as you can too. There would be little point to a long life if the last twenty or so years were full of disease and/or disability. On top of this, the vast majority of people are wanting to find out how to attain this good health naturally.
Certainly there are conditions both chronic and acute that require medical attention and sometimes medication. I am in no way against this, and you should always consult your medical provider when seeking to improve your health. Seeing a doctor and possibly needing some medication is often the right way to go.
However, like most people you are wanting to know what you can also do on your own to improve your health as much as you can, and decrease your chances of developing a disease both now and in the future.
There can be few of us who don’t worry about our health from time to time. Many of us have sadly experienced a friend or relative become disabled with Alzheimers disease or Parkinsons disease, and we are worried that we may one day be suffering with one of these too.
There are many diseases that seem to mainly affect older people, and if we want to live long life these could seriously impact on our ability to enjoy those extra years.
Of course, not only older people have these concerns and even young people are today faced with seemingly ever growing rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Other conditions are less life threatening, but still life altering for many. These include conditions such as Irritable bowel, which severely impacts on a sufferers’ ability to enjoy their everyday life.
So, apart from a visit to your doctor, are there some things that you can do to help increase your chances of staying healthy and living the best life you can?
Here we will be looking at some well documented things that each of us can do to take personal responsibly for keeping ourselves as healthy as possible.
This should go without saying, but the truth is that too many people still eat a diet that is almost guaranteed to stack the odds of being healthy firmly against them.
Even in those countries where good nutritious food is readily available and affordable, far too many people are malnourished.
Mention the word malnourished, and the image in most people’s minds is one of painfully thin starving children begging for food.
Few think about the millions of overweight people in the western world, but a huge percentage of these people are short of many of the vital nutrients required for good health – they are malnourished, sometimes to the point of being very sick.
We in the west live in a world that is full of cheap junk food, ready meals, sugar laden cakes, biscuits and drinks. Carb heavy pastries, pies, bread and pasta.
Terrible trans fatty oils and some foods that are so artificial that they don’t biodegrade like real food does.
We eat when we’re hungry, and we’re too often hungry because our bad diet causes enormous increases in our insulin levels, and when these drop a few hours after a carb heavy meal, it triggers the feeling of hunger.
We also fill up with “diet” foods, and low fat foods, both of which will not keep us feeling full for very long, and will soon have us looking for something else to fill the gap.
Add to this the fact that some foods are grown or raised in such unhealthy ways that the only way they can grow is to be fed antibiotics or sprayed with insecticides.
To be honest, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that our diet can all too often make us sick. Worse, more people than ever before are experiencing poor health due to the foods they eat.
Is there a way of eating that can keep us healthy?
Fortunately for us there are several ways of eating that can not only keep us healthy, but control our weight and help to prevent the development of future disease too.
Regular readers here will know that I’m a big fan of the keto diet which has an amazing amount of health benefits, and you can read more about it here the keto diet plan the way to a healthier life.
Obviously, this is the way of eating that I follow, but it’s not the only healthy way of eating. Frankly, almost any “diet” that is not carb heavy, and excludes sugar and trans fats is going to improve your health.
If the keto diet is not for you, consider eating low carb. By cutting down on carb heavy foods such as sugar and grains you will be seeing a lot of health benefits as well as loosing weight if this is one of your goals.
It’s important that we eat some carbs, and some bodily processes depend on carbs, so don’t aim to avoid them all together. However, the carbs in sugar, and rubbish processed foods does your body and therefor your health no favors. Avoid them like the plague.
There is overwhelming evidence that sugar is bad for you. Not only will it make you gain weight, it will raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes, insulin resistance and high cholesterol. It can also cause inflammation in your body which has been linked to most diseases
Your carbs should all come from nutritious whole foods, not the junk and processed stuff that likes to call itself food.
Yes, I know that various official sites recommend a food pyramid that sits heavily in favor of basing all your meals on carbohydrates. Check out the science that says this is wrong:
- Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia.
- Fructose-induced fatty liver disease: hepatic effects of blood pressure and plasma triglyceride reduction.
- A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity
- Effects of weight loss from a very-low-carbohydrate diet on endothelial function and markers of cardiovascular disease risk in subjects with abdominal obesity
- The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus
This video also has some very interesting things to say:
The take home message
A healthy nutritious diet is essential for optimal health.
Too many carbs, especially unhealthy carbs from sugar or processed foods should be avoided.
Your body needs some carbs, but make sure that these carbs come from nutritional whole foods.
Avoid trans fats. There isn’t one good thing to say about these. Choose healthy fats such as Olive oil, Coconut oil, grass fed butter and cheese.
The keto diet is great, but I’m not going to say that it is the right way of eating for you. You may do better with low carb, or a vegan based diet. You need to listen to your body and eat in a way that makes you feel healthy and alert.
Don’t try to avoid all carbs, this is not healthy. Always eat whole nutritionally dense foods and eat until you feel full.
Don’t avoid healthy fats, these are necessary for our health.
All exercise is good for you. A daily walk, housework, a busy life and a job that requires a lot of moving around are all going to be providing you with some exercise, and you will be all the healthier for it.
However, there are types of exercise that are especially beneficial when it comes to your health:
- Interval training – alternate between fast/ difficult exercise( intense phase) and slower or easier exercise (recovery phase). Even walking can be made even more beneficial by adding this element to your walk.
- Yoga – improves posture, alignment and improves mood too.
- Resistance training – helps strengthen bones, improves mood and if you’re a fan of intermittent fasting, it helps to trigger autophagy and all its amazing health benefits.
- Tai Chi – this combines movement and relaxation so is good for both body and mind.
If mobility or balance is an issue for you, swimming is a great way of still getting your exercise while supporting you and improving your flexibility and posture.
If you’re spending hours every night turning from side to side and worrying about how little sleep you’ve managed, you could be seriously damaging your health.
We all need about eight hours of good quality sleep each night. This does vary slightly from one person to the next, but if you aim for eight hours you will be close to your natural amount needed.
There are so many distractions in our lives, and it’s tempting to run through all the days events, and plan for the next day once we’re in bed.
Try to make it a habit to switch these thoughts off as soon as you notice you’re thinking them. The old method of counting sheep really does work, as it gives your brain something boring to occupy itself with in those moments before sleep.
Cut down on the amount of screen time that you have in the two or three hours before bed. The blue light from electronic devices can ruin your sleep by interfering with the amount of melatonin you produce. This is vital for good sleep.
Keep the room slightly cool. A too warm bedroom will make you feel restless. The room also needs to be dark. Invest in some blackout curtains if you have a lot of outside light coming in during the night.
Make your bed comfortable. Buy the best quality bedding and pillows that you can afford. You spend a large portion of your life in bed, and you want to make sure that you’re as comfortable as you can be.
Minimize noise where possible or wear ear plugs if you can’t do anything about noisy neighbors or barking dogs.
Magnesium can be beneficial for sleep, and this is worth trying if you’ve been struggling to get to sleep for quite a while.
Don’t underestimate this: no diet, no amount of exercise or sleep is going to make up for a lack of happiness.
Being happy doesn’t just make us feel good, it actually improves our health.
We are social creatures, and even if you would describe yourself as someone who enjoys their own company, make some time each day to chat with a friend, or meet with your interest group.
We all have different ways of feeling happy, and you need to make the time to be able to enjoy a few of your favorites. For some it is a good book, a coffee, a walk or some shopping.
For others, it might be walking the dog or going to the gym.
Find your favourite ways of being happy and make them a priority in your life. Time spent enjoying yourself is never wasted. Not only does it make you happier, you’ll feel more energized and in control.
You’ll be nicer to be around too, so being happy can set up a cycle of rewarding behavior not just from you, but from the people around you.
It has been proved that people who maintain their social contacts actually live longer. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed if you live alone, it simply means making sure you talk to or spend time with someone as often as you can.
Give yourself that treat you’ve been thinking about and your body with thank you.