- Quality of Life & Wellness
How to Have a Balanced Wellness Lifestyle for Longevity
Healthy lifestyle and longevity
How to have a balanced wellness lifestyle for longevity
Today we find many people who have a desire to live into their senior years healthy, wealthy and happy, enjoying the lifestyle of their dreams. However, when we look at the reality of life, we find that many illnesses and poor health conditions are on the rise. People are dying of Diabetes, Cancer and Obesity in the prime of life. Not to mention life threatening health conditions brought about by our own bad habits. Emphysema, high blood pressure, cholesterol blocked arteries. Heart and kidney problems, sclerosis of the liver from consuming too much alcohol, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
A quick disclaimer may be in order, this article is not about ‘Bashing’ smokers, heavy drinkers or those who go for substance abuse. What you do with your body is your choice and none of my business. The information found here is of a general nature for all those who desire to be and remain healthy right into their ninety’s.
The critical success factors for health and longevity
The Romans spoke about the importance of having a sound mind in a sound body. Modern philosophers tell us that we exist as mind, body and spirit. Let’s now look at each of these in turn.
It has been found that how we think and feel about our bodies and the state of our health, is affected by our mental outlook on life. For instance, when someone stands in a draft or sits next to a person who has just sneezed, if they say or think, “Ah shucks, now I am probably going to catch a cold” this will more than likely happen. Another person under the same conditions, who thinks nothing of them, will continue on with life and not suffer a cold.
The placebo effect can work both ways. If a health practitioner gives someone a sugar coated pill and tells the patient how this will cure her headache, and she believes him, the headache will disappear. When a coffee drinker believes that having a cup after 4pm will keep him awake all night, probably will have disturbed sleep. A personal friend gave a guest a normal cup of coffee one evening. When the guest asked if it was decaf, because that was all she drank, he crossed his fingers and said “Yes.” The next day he checked with the lady’s husband and he confirmed that she had enjoyed a good night’s rest. On another occasion, a certain widow was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and given about two months to live. A few days later her daughter came to tell her the wonderful news the she was going to have a baby, her mother’s first grandchild. That widow stayed alive for another seven months until the baby was born, a little girl who granny held in her arms A few days later the widow died!
The mind, has a powerful effect on our health and wellbeing. Someone once referred to the brain, or mind as “The Idiot Box” because it believes everything you tell it. Ed Forman from Dallas in Texas tells delegates who attend his seminars that you can have a healthy and happy day, depending on what you decide every morning as you begin your day.
Physically speaking, our bodies are mostly the same, except for those people who have a part missing. We have two arms, legs, eyes, ears, and so on. Individually we differ, our size, our rate of metabolism, what we like or dislike, and many other factors. Having said that, there are commonalities that we can work with to ensure a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Our bodies cannot go long without water. We need about five to eight glasses a day depending on ambient temperature, activity and the food we eat. A good habit is to enjoy a glass of water as you get up in the morning, better still, warm water with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Then four more glasses during the day and a final glass about an hour before going to bed. Apparently this last glass of water helps the kidneys to flush out toxin build-up from the day. Often when you feel hungry, it’s suggested that you first drink some water, then if you still feel hungry, have a bite to eat. If you don’t still feel hungry you probably needed water, our bodies cannot always discern between hunger or thirst.
“What you eat today walks around tomorrow” A truism for most people. In the modern world there is a trend toward more life threatening conditions like cancer, heart failure, stroke, obesity Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and many, many more. Correct eating habits can do much toward weight loss, more energy, health and longevity. And if you suffer with an overactive thyroid, that too, can be corrected. I have empathy with all people who battle to keep slim.
Essentially, we need a balance between protein, complex carbohydrates, fats and sugar. The challenge is to know where to obtain the best sources of the above list. This has become such a complex subject and with so many differences of opinion that each person should study the subject and decide what the best path is for a healthy life. For example, should you have animal or plant protein, what about carbs and fibre, unsaturated fats are better than saturated, with cholesterol an important consideration. We consume a lot of sugar, what we add to our hot drinks and the hidden sugar found in sodas, pastries, including glucose, fructose, lactose etc. Also remember that some of the starch we eat converts to sugar.
We are advised to eat more fruit, salad and vegetables, the suggestion to consume at least five a day becomes a challenge for most people living a busy life. Food technologists tell us that because of produce that is grown in soil depleted of essential nutrients we need to supplement, and this opens up a whole new “Can of Worms” no pun intended. Nutritionists argue about the RDA, recommended daily allowance, and some folk say that taking supplements only produces expensive urine. What is becoming more evident is that one should supplement according to your needs, age and lifestyle, and to go for organic, low glycaemic foods with less additives, colorants and preservatives.
A short list of the more helpful supplements is, multivitamins that also contain minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, a B complex, especially if you are under stress. And a few more supplements should you need them, Omega 3, Coenzyme Q10, Garlic tablets, Barley Grass to help keep the blood stream alkaline and a whole load of Google-full health products. My best advice is not to consume 20 different supplements a day, but to rather check with a wellness consultant, your doctor or a registered health practitioner before you go ahead.
What you don’t use you lose, is a saying that also applies to your body and longer life. There are many ways to exercise. It all depends on what you enjoy. The important thing is that you work your body on a regular basis. Someone once said you should take your dog for a walk every day, even if you haven’t got one. One of our city dwellers started walking regularly at the age of 65 and lived to the age of 101. Another important aspect and advantage of good eating habits and exercise is to have a daily bowel movement, keeping your colon clear is an essential part of good health. Without having to worry about piles and other digestive disorders.
You don’t need to spend a few hours every day at the gym, unless you want to be a competitive weight lifter. All you need for a balanced life style is to exercise for 6 days a week, alternating with one day of strength training followed by a day of low impact aerobics, about 30 to 45 minutes a session. As a matter of fact, even in retirement homes where senior citizens in their eighties started light training there was an immediate improvement in in their state of health.
To conclude this section on your body, remember to get adequate sleep, grill rather than fry your meats and have more fish and poultry. Use herbs in your cooking. For more than 5000 years the Indians have used turmeric, paprika and many other condiments. The Greeks with feta and yogurt. Malays with eastern spices. The Dutch who love cinnamon and ginger. Texans and Mexicans who enjoy chillies and other hot foods. French cuisine. Italians with pasta and pizza. Consider also how every other nation adds to our amazing variety of healthy cooking. Nothing nicer than a group of friends enjoying food and wine with each other, those who have a few good friends outlive the poor lonely folk of this world.
This is where it all comes together. Here we are not looking at religion, although for some this is an important part of life but rather the spirituality to believe in a creator. A deity from whom we can draw strength and faith for daily living. People who meditate and, or pray every day worry and stress less, they practise Agape (Unconditional) love. They express gratitude for what they are blessed with, these people enjoy a sense of calm and serenity, the word Enthusiasm comes from two Greek words, En, meaning in, and Theos, meaning God, or God within. Whether you believe, in Mohamad, Confucius, Christ, God or the many deities worshipped by the many cultures of our world, this is where followers find meaning for this life and if they believe in an after-life, there too. The peace of mind, inner strength and all else, tends to produce a longer balanced life.
Why not cultivate health, rather than treat disease?
To your health and longevity
Martin E Louw