How healthy are you? Do you have a healthy diet? Do you exercise regularly? Do you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day? Do you get enough sleep every day? Do you live a healthy lifestyle?
Our body is our temple and we need to take care of it. Do you know that over 70% of Americans are either obese or overweight?That’s insane! Think of your body as your physical shell to take you through life. If you repeatedly abuse it, your shell will wear out quickly.
Life is beautiful and you don’t want to bog yourself down with unnecessary health problems. Today, your vital organs may be working well, but they may not be tomorrow. Don’t take your health for granted. Take proper care of your body.
Good health isn’t just about healthy eating and exercise — it’s also about having a positive attitude, a positive self-image, and a healthy lifestyle. In this article, I share 45 tips to live a healthier life. Bookmark this post and save the tips, because they will be vital to living a healthier life. 🙂
- Drink more water. Most of us don’t drink enough water every day. Water is essential for our bodies to function. Do you know 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 daily through urine, bowel movements, perspiration, and breathing, we need to replenish our water intake.
Furthermore, drinking water helps in losing weight. A Health.com study carried out among overweight or obese people showed that water drinkers lose 4.5 more pounds than a control group! The researchers believe that it’s because drinking more water helps fill your stomach, making you less hungry and less likely to overeat.
The amount of water we need is dependent on various factors such as humidity, your physical activity, and your weight, but generally we need 2.7-3.7 litres of water intake per day. Since food intake contributes about 20% of our fluid intake, that means we need to drink about 2.0-3.0 litres of water, or about 8-10 glasses (now you know how the 8 glasses recommendation came about!). One way to tell if you’re hydrated — your urine should be slightly yellow. If it’s not, such as being dark yellow or even orange, you’re not getting enough water! Other signs include dry lips, dry mouth, and little urination. Go drink some water first before you continue this article!
- Get enough sleep. When you don’t rest well, you compensate by eating more — usually junk food. Get enough rest and you don’t need to snack to stay awake. Also, lack of sleep causes premature aging and you don’t want that! Read: Having Insomnia? How to Get a Perfect Night’s Sleep
- Meditate. Meditation quietens your mind and calms your soul. If you don’t know how to meditate, don’t worry — learn to meditate in 5 simple steps.
- Exercise. Movement is life. Research has shown that exercising daily brings tremendous benefits to our health, including an increase in lifespan, lowering of risk of diseases, higher bone density, and weight loss. Increase activity in your life. Choose walking over transport for close distances. Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift. Join an aerobics class. Take up a sport of your liking (see tip #5).
- Pick exercises you enjoy. When you enjoy a sport, you naturally want to do it. Exercise isn’t about suffering and pushing yourself; it’s about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Adding variation in your exercises will keep them interesting.
- Work out different parts of your body. Don’t just do cardio (like jogging). Give your body a proper workout. The easiest way is to engage in sports since they work out different muscle groups. Popular sports include basketball, football, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, Frisbee, and more.
- Eat fruits. Fruits have a load of vitamins and minerals. Do you know that oranges offer more health benefits than Vitamin C pills? Satisfy your palate with these nutritious fruits: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocado (yes, avocado is a fruit!), Apple, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Guava, Papaya, Strawberries. If you intend to consume a lot of fruits at one go, consume fruit with some fats — such as a dressing, almond butter, olive oil, or avocado — to reduce the glycemic load. More on glycemic load in tip #29.
- Eat vegetables. Vegetables are important for good health with many important vitamins and minerals. Onion, leek, and garlic are prebiotics — essential food for good gut bacteria. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, and turnip greens are dark leafy greens with high mineral content. Consume a variety of different vegetables for a large diversity of good gut bacteria, which improves your immune system. How can you include more vegetables in your diet today?
- Eat fermentable fibers. When we eat, we aren’t just eating for ourselves — we are eating for the bacteria in our gut too. In order for the good bacteria to flourish, we need fermentable fiber, which is food for the good gut bacteria.There are two types of fermentable fiber: the soluble type and the insoluble type. All fruits and vegetables contain some form of soluble and insoluble fiber. Resistant starch is an important insoluble fiber (found in unripe bananas and cooked and cooled rice/potatoes) that helps lower blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. It is important to consume naturally occurring fiber from whole food plant sources like fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds.If you have existing gut problems, be careful about eating excessive amounts of fiber as it can cause digestion and constipation issues. For those with existing gut problems, excess fiber intake can cause slow down colonic transit time (due to bulkier stools), make it more difficult to move your bowels, which leads to constipation, piles, anal fissure. It can also cause gas and bloating if you have existing gut problems.
- Pick different-colored fruits/vegs. Fruits/Vegetables with bright colors are usually high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are good for health because they remove free radicals that damage our cells. Eat fruits/vegetables of different colors: White (Bananas), Yellow (Pineapples, Mango), Orange (Orange, Papaya), Red (Apple, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon), Green (Avocado, Lettuce, Cucumber), Purple/Blue (Blackberries, Prunes). Here’s a full list under the color wheel.
- Get your macro-nutrients. Macro-nutrients are nutrients needed in bulk amounts to ensure normal growth, metabolism, and well-being of our bodies. The 3 macro-nutrients needed by humans are carbohydrates (sugar), proteins (amino acids), and fats (lipids). There are many funky diets today from high/low carb to high/low protein to high/low fat. We need carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (known as macro-nutrients) for a healthy body. Carbs give us immediate energy. Proteins help repair tissues, heal wounds, and create enzymes and hormones. Fat is needed to build cell membranes; for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation; and to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.Be careful of fad diets. Eat a diet with a well-rounded distribution of macro-nutrients (40% carbs, 30% proteins, 30% fats, vs. being skewed to one particular group). In a study of pre-diabetics, those on a “high protein” diet (defined as 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat) resulted in 100% remission of pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance, while those on a high carb diet (defined as 55% carb, 15% protein, 30% fat) resulted in only 33% remission.
- Get your micro-nutrients. While macro-nutrients provide our bodies with the bulk energy to function, we need micro-nutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, to orchestrate a range of physiological functions. Deficiency in any vitamin or mineral will cause dire effects on our body. Make sure to eat a range of different food to meet your micro-nutrient needs. Eating different food also ensures you have a diverse set of gut flora, which is important for optimal health. Here is a list of micro-nutrients needed by our body.
- Cut down on processed food. Processed food is not good because (a) most nutritional value is lost in the creation of these foods and (b) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. In general, the more ingredients a food has on the label (ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed it is. Eating 50 grams of processed meat a day has also been found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Go for less processed food, such as a baked potato over chips, a fresh fruit over canned fruit, steamed fish over canned fish, or organic produce over food with high preservatives.
- Choose white meat over red meat. Red meat has been repeatedly established to increase colon cancer risk. Cut out red meat (or at the very least, limit your consumption). Substitute red meat with white meat such as chicken and fish. Increase your fish intake which seems protective against cancer. Fish also has healthy fats, a large source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D.
- Go for healthy fats. As mentioned in #11, fat is a macro-nutrient and is essential to a healthy body. Fat is not the enemy — trans and saturated fats are. And trans/saturated fats are in many products today. We need healthy fats which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Here’s the low down on fats:
- Avoid trans fat (Bad fats): Increases harmful LDL cholesterol and reduces beneficial HDL cholesterol. Common sources: Solid margarine, commercial cookies, and pastries, fast-food French fries, “partially hydrogenated oil” in food ingredients.
- Limit/Avoid saturated fat (Bad fats): A diet rich in saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful LDL cholesterol, blocking arteries. Common sources: Red meat, whole milk and whole-milk dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil, many commercially prepared baked goods and other foods.
- Take monounsaturated fats (Good fats): Common sources: Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, most nuts, high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
- Take polyunsaturated fats (Good fats): Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. They are required for normal body functions but your body can’t make them, so you must get them from food. These fats lower LDL and triglycerides and boost cholesterol profile. Common sources: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, unhydrogenated soybean oil.