- Aging & Longevity
How To Be Healthy For Life: The 7 Steps To Health
Be Healthy For Life
Advancing age and poor health seem to go side by side for the majority of people. Aches and pains, fatigue, shortness of breath, digestive problems and any of a huge number of degenerative diseases tend to plague people in their middle and later years. But there is something you can do about this. We were meant to live healthy vibrant lives right up to the end; so if you want to know how to be healthy – and stay healthy – for the rest of your life, just follow these 7 steps to health…
1. Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet
This is probably the most important of the 7 steps to health. Your body needs a wide range of nutrients each day in order to function properly. These include both macro nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and good fats) and micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients etc.).
Proteins are obtained from meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese. Carbohydrates should be complex, e.g. whole grain products, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary foods offer little nutritional value and are best avoided as far as possible. Good fats are obtained from oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil and butter (preferably from grass fed cows).
Many of the vitamins and minerals you need will also be obtained from the above foods, but to ensure you get the full range you need, and to add valuable antioxidants and phytonutrients to your diet, always eat a good amount of vegetables, and ideally some fruit each day too.
2. Exercise Regularly
The benefits of exercise go way beyond just keeping fit. If you are fitter, you’ll automatically be healthier too. Regular exercise will improve the condition of your heart and lungs, give you stronger muscles and bones, and greatly reduce your risk of developing many degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and many others. You’ll also sleep better, have more energy, tolerate stress better, and generally feel much better in yourself.
Exercise is also great for the mind as well as the body. Regular exercise helps improve mental focus and clarity and reduces the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer's.
You should do both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. The simplest form of cardiovascular exercise is walking, but at least part of your walk needs to be at a brisk pace to raise your heart rate and breathing. If you don’t get out of breath it’s of little value. Running, swimming or cycling are also great cardiovascular exercises.
The best form of strength training is weight training, but if you don’t want to join a gym or buy a set of weights, there are many excellent bodyweight exercises you can do at home that are also highly effective.
3. Use Proven Supplements
The quality of our food today is not what it used to be, so even if we try to eat healthily it’s extremely difficult to get all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need from our diet. So to bridge the gap we need to use some proven supplements.
Of first importance is a good multivitamin supplement. This should provide a complete range of vitamins and minerals, and ideally should come from a whole food source. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are not very well absorbed and utilized by the body and their use over the long term, or in large doses, could actually do more harm than good.
Next, take a high potency antioxidant supplement to help neutralize the damaging free radicals that are constantly attacking your body. Antioxidants help to support the health of every cell, tissue and organ of your body, as well as improving brain function and giving you younger looking skin too!
Other supplements that are proven to be beneficial include omega 3 essential fatty acids (for healthy skin and joints and proper cardiovascular and central nervous system function), probiotics (friendly bacteria that support intestinal health and immune function), glucosamine (to support maintenance and repair of joint cartilage) and co-enzyme Q10 (for efficient energy production and cardiovascular health).
4. Lose Excess Body Fat
Being overweight will reduce your life expectancy as well as your quality of life. If you are overweight you are far more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, as well as high blood cholesterol and triglycerides. On top of this excess abdominal fat causes your cells to become insulin resistant. This causes you to secrete more insulin to compensate, and this can eventually lead to diabetes. If you have any of these (high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and triglycerides, or diabetes) you will have an increased risk of early death. But if you have two or more, a heart attack or stroke could strike at any time.
In fact being overweight causes virtually all degenerative diseases to be accelerated and puts you at a much higher risk of developing various types of cancer as well. So it’s important to take measures to address this problem and start to lose excess fat.
If you follow the advice on healthy eating and exercise as described above, you should lose weight quite naturally. But if you are very overweight you’ll need to ensure you eat at a sufficient calorie deficit for a sufficient period of time to bring your weight down to a normal level. The eating plan that is proven to be the most effective, as well as the simplest and healthiest way to lose weight is the low carb diet. But don't go too low for too long; remember calories are the most important factor.
5. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Fasting is the most powerful healing method known! Intermittent fasting is the practice of going without food for short periods of time on a regular basis – usually about 24 hours once or twice per week.
By doing this you’ll be able to lose weight much easier, you’ll cleanse your body of toxins and impurities, and you’ll experience gradual healing of every part of your body. On top of this your digestion will improve, you’ll have improved mental clarity, and you’ll reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other degenerative diseases.
Just consume water only from after dinner one day until dinner the next day (or lunch till lunch) at least once per week.
6. Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Your greatest exposure to environmental toxins is actually in your own home! Regular exposure to chemicals in your cleaning products and harmful ingredients in your personal care products can lead to all manner of illnesses including skin problems, sleeplessness, depression, fatigue, allergies and asthma, central nervous system disorders, learning difficulties and even cancer!
But by switching to safer Eco-friendly cleaning products, and using personal care products that are free from harmful ingredients, you can help protect your health as well as helping to preserve the environment too.
What do you think?
Which of the 7 steps is most important?
7. Minimize Bad Habits
Obviously, if you want to be healthy for life, you should not smoke. And try not to inhale other people’s smoke either, as this 'passive smoking' can be just as harmful.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. Avoid recreational drugs and only use pharmaceutical drugs when absolutely necessary.
Apart from the above 7 steps, it’s also important to avoid undue stress, as chronic stress can lead to a wide range of health problems. So if you are stressed, learn how to relax more. Sitting and listening to relaxing music is a great stress buster, as is practicing deep slow controlled breathing exercises.
You should also ensure you get sufficient sleep, as your tissues and body systems repair themselves during sleep. So although you might think you can 'get by' on 6 hours per night, this will eventually catch up with you. Ensure you get 7 - 8 hours of good restful sleep each night. More if you exercise intensely on a regular basis.
So now you know how to be healthy for life. And whilst there are no guarantees, if you follow these 7 steps to health you’ll have the best chance possible of living to a ripe old age and of staying in great shape right to the end too.