With the organic, gluten-free, high-protein, low-carb, low meat, high exercise… etc. health fads of today, being healthy can seem impossibly complicated says Santa Ana dentist, Dr. Danial Kalantari, of Smiles on Bristol Dentistry. However, for the average person, being healthy is not very complicated. Athletes and people with special conditions may require special diets and routines, but for most people there are a few simple tricks that can transform an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy one.
The first step towards healthy living is healthy eating. What to eat can also be one of the most complicated aspects of leading a healthy life. There is a wealth of tips and information about it which depend on different lifestyles and health goals. However, overall, the things to remember are a diet high in fruits and vegetables with healthy carbohydrates and enough daily protein. Intakes of fat should be low but not excluded completely.
The body needs nutrients to function properly. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants to maintain all the proper bodily functions. They are also full of fiber which helps digestion and creates a full feeling that prevents over eating.
Many common meats can be high in fat, calories, and cholesterol so meat should be consumed in small amounts. Even small amounts of most meats provide plenty of protein and offer all 9 essential amino acids. Vegetarian protein options such as nuts and beans are great because they offer many additional nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats, but most do not offer the full range of amino acids. Multiple types of nuts and beans need to be consumed daily to get the full range of protein for people relying on a vegetarian diet. Some dairy is recommended as it has high levels of teeth and bone strengthening calcium.
Maintaining a mostly, fruit and vegetable dependent diet will not only give your body the broad range of nutrients it needs, but will also help prevent too much calorie consumption that leads to obesity. Obesity is a risk factor and cause for a number of body issues and should be taken seriously. Many of the most fattening foods are simple carbs (cakes, pies, white bread), cheese, red meat, and sugary foods. Many restaurants will create foods with taste in mind over health so a meal that might be 600 calories when made at home, can be 900 or more calories at a restaurant. Considering a sedentary adult may only need 1,500-1,600 calories a day, eating almost 1,000 calorie meals can quickly add up. There are online calculators that use body size, weight, and activity level to estimate your personal daily needed calorie consumption. Your doctor or a nutritionist can also give a more specific number to help you make sure you are not eating too little or too much.
Most people also know exercise is important to a healthy life. It increases lung and heart function, strengthens muscles to relieve back and joint pain, helps with weightloss, and boosts endorphins. Most people, however, may not be aware that exercise does not need to be a major change in their life. Ideally a person should aim for at least 30 minutes a day of movement. This does not have to be all at once and does not have to be “typical” exercise. It could be taking 15 minutes to chase your dog in the back yard, or taking three brisk 10 minute walks around the neighborhood throughout the day. Even adding simple things in your life such as parking farther from the store so you have to do some extra walking, taking a few laps around the office during work, or taking the stairs can really add up. Looking for opportunities to be a little more active can really add up.
Adding just a 15 minute walk everyday has been shown to add years to a person’s life expectancy. Standing up more often throughout the day has also been shown to increase the chance of a long, healthy life. Sitting constantly actually harms the body and contributes to back, joint, and neck pain, as well as an increased risk of obesity and increased levels of heart disease. Taking more opportunities to stand during the day can be a simple, but surprising boon to your health.
Other things that can affect health are making sure to have a good support group and to make sure to laugh often. Laughing helps reduce anxiety. Anxiety is known to cause a great amount of stress on the body, weakening it, causing mental and physical issues, and opening the body up to infection. Laughing reduces the hormones that cause anxiety and boosts endorphins that make you feel happy and healthy.
People are also social creatures. Many studies have shown that isolation and loneliness can have just as hard a toll on the body as stress can. Making sure to get outside and engage in social functions or connect with a close friend or family member can help boost happiness and health.
Keeping your teeth healthy is another way to keep your whole body healthy. The mouth is the first line of defense and also the easiest way for bacteria to enter the body. Proper oral hygiene techniques reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth and reduce the chance of infections elsewhere in the body. The common disease, gingivitis, is a buildup of bacteria in the gums. The gums become inflamed as the immune system tries to fight off the bacteria. Without proper care, the bacteria will stay and the body’s immune system is weakened from constant exertion. Additionally, the consistent inflammation puts pressure on the vascular system and increases a person’s chance for developing heart disease.
Just by improving your diet, standing more frequently, enjoying the neighborhood on a daily walk, having a laugh with friends, and taking good care of your mouth, you can be living a healthier, happier, and longer life.