- Three ingredients for a healthy lifestyle are right diet, regular exercise, and proper weight management.
- A study rates respondents on their health on the basis of some factors.
- Among all factors, diet is the most important factor for a healthy lifestyle.
- Food items based on fruits and legumes can prevent high blood pressure. To prevent many ailments, one needs to refrain from smoking. One can prevent obesity by being physically active and burn calories. Physical activity can keep the body healthy by burning extra calories.
Good health does not come on its own. One needs to have healthy lifestyle in order to achieve it. A healthy lifestyle comes from a combination of right diet, regular exercise, and proper weight management.
Most research studies are based on different factors that can affect the healthy lifestyle of people, positively or negatively. They focus on any one factor. However, a recent study focuses on a combination of many factors that are necessary for healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Frank Hu, MPH, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Massachusetts and lead study author, said:
“We wanted to see whether following a healthy diet and exercise can prolong life, not just life expectancy but life expectancy free of chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Because we’re not just looking at life span but also health span, meaning that there are increased years of life free of chronic disease.”
From the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, researchers examined data from almost 40,000 male health professionals. From Nurses’ Health Study, researchers did the same about with roughly 73,000 registered female nurses. The respondents did not have any disease at the time of enrollment.
The study participants were routinely assessed for new diagnoses and deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years. Adjustments were made by researchers for age, family medical history, ethnic background, and many other considerations.
Key Factors Related To Good Health In Study
The major factors that were considered to evaluate and rate a respondent’s lifestyle as healthy or otherwise included never smoking, at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, maintaining a moderate weight (defined as a body mass index or BMI less than 25), and a good quality diet. Based on these factors, the respondents were rated between 0 to 5 where symbolized the healthiest lifestyle and 0 symbolized most unhealthy lifestyle.
Dr. Katrina Miller Parrish, the chief quality and information executive at L.A. Care Health Plan, said:
“Your healthcare provider can help with risk scores that can estimate your risk for death for certain conditions, and evidence-based lifestyle modifications and treatments that can improve conditions. Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle with low impact, tolerable physical exercise; a good, well-balanced, colorful diet; hydration; and an appropriate amount of sleep can do wonders to help maintain a positive mental outlook and physical state.”
Increase Of Life Span
According to the conclusions of study, years of life free from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes at age 50 was 24 years for women who never followed any of the low-risk lifestyle factors. For women, who followed four or five factors, the age was 34 years.
The life expectancy free of these chronic ailments was 24 years among 50-year-old men who stayed away from all low-risk lifestyle factors. It was 31 years for men who practiced four or five factors.
Dr. Katrina Miller Parrish said:
“While hypertension is the number one cause for death throughout the world, many lifestyle changes, such as better diet and exercise, can affect this diagnosis to varying degrees, especially based on regimen and adherence.”
Exploring The Factors Necessary To Increase Healthy Life Span
Now let us explore the factors necessary for healthy lifestyle, with the first being diet.
Being selective in what to eat (or what not to eat) is one of the most important lifestyle factors. For example, if somebody eats too much junk food, his/her body weight will increase and his stamina will reduce. Junk food can be anything that tastes good but adds zero nutritional value to the body. Opposite to that, if one includes more fruits and green leafy vegetables in diet, then it can help the removal of toxins from body, smoothen the digestive system of body and thus, enhance the health of eater.
Shelley Wood, MPH, RDN, a clinician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in California, said:
“Foods that are high in fiber have been studied extensively for the benefits that they provide when it comes to cardiovascular health, including blood pressure regulation.”
Explaining that plant-based foods included fruits, whole grains, and vegetables, and thus were good for health. Along with these, legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, can lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol level. To ensure perfect functioning of heart, one needs to avoid food items that are high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sodium, sugar. People with high cholesterol need to avoid such food at all costs.
Dr. Woods said that optimizing caloric intake and reaching or maintaining a moderate weight and waist measurement into middle age were “the single most important ways to reduce risk for diabetes as well as participating in regular physical activity and avoiding smoking.”
Refraining From Smoking And Avoiding Obesity:
According to the study, men who smoked heavily, along with men as well as women with obesity (defined as BMI 30 or higher) had the lowest chance of disease-free life expectancy at age 50. The concept of “heavy smoking” was defined as smoking 15 or more cigarettes per day. Dr. Hu said:
“We looked at five lifestyle factors: eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, not drinking in excess, not smoking, and being physically active. They’re all important. But for smokers, the most important thing for them to do, of course, is to stop smoking. For people who are obese, it’s important to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight.”
Excessive smoking can also cause people to gain more weight and speed up the process that causes obesity. It also speeds up the ageing process.
Agreeing with Dr. Hu, Dr. Parrish said that refraining from smoking was the best thing to do and for a smoker wishing to have a healthy life, the first and foremost thing was to give up smoking. She said:
“The one single thing anyone who smokes can do is simply quit and reduce risk of disease and death by double digits, which is seen through this study. The effect appears to be greater the longer an ‘ever-smoker’ remains no longer smoking. In the first 1 to 10 years after quitting, the risk of heart disease and lung cancer drops, and by 15 years, the risk of each is near that of a nonsmoker.”
To prevent obesity among children, one should remember how much food do children need to eat. Little children do not require too many calories and thus, food should be offered to them accordingly. As children grow up and their body becomes more athletic, enabling them to do more athletic activities, they will burn more energy and more calories. That is when they require food with high calories. As long as one can burn the amount of calories that he/she is gaining by eating by being physically active, he/she is safe from obesity. Lack of sleep can also cause obesity. Therefore, one needs to have at least eight hours of sleep in a day.
Daily Physical Activity
To stay healthy, one needs at least 30 minutes of physical activity. While going out, one can choose stairs instead of elevator. Physical activities burns extra calories and prevents the risks related to obesity or heart attack.
Sports like badminton, tennis, or basketball can help to burn calories and keep the limbs and body joints active. Hence, regular physical activities can also keep joint pain away. If somebody‘s workplace is not very far from home, then he/she should walk to work instead of using a vehicle.
Other benefits of physical activities include reduced risk of heart attack, better weight management, lower blood cholesterol level, lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well as some cancers, and lower blood pressure. Apart from joints, physical activity can also give people, strong bones as well as muscles, preventing osteoporosis and other similar ailments. People, especially women who are regular with their physical activities can recover better from periods of hospitalization or bed rest.
Moderate Alcohol Intake
Sometimes, little consumption of alcohol is good for health. Using this an excuse, many people drink a lot and end up having liver problems. The fact is that alcohol is beneficial if one consumes maximum 3 milligrams of alcohol in a week. Although, one can consume it every day, consumption on daily basis can make consumers addicted to it. Therefore, one should consume alcohol once a week.
Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart failure whereas excessive alcohol consumption can cause it. Moderate alcohol consumption can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Moderate alcohol consumption can improve male fertility and it can also prevent common cold. According to a study, moderate alcohol consumption can also reduce the chances of dementia as well as gallstones.
Proper Weight Management
As mentioned earlier, refraining from smoking and proper sleep can prevent obesity and thus, help to manage weight properly. As muscle has higher metabolism than fat, therefore, while working out in a gym, one should focus on those bodybuilding exercises that can make the muscles lean. If one cannot go to gym every day, then one should go to gym at least three times a week and do weight lifting to successfully burn extra calories.
For nutrition, one should eat more filling food over junk food. Planning meals in advance helps people by aiding them to exercise self-control and not to eat small random snacks (usually junk food) between two meals. Sticking to planned meals helps one to gain calories that one intends to gain. Including low-fat dairy products can not only help in loss of extra calories, it can also eliminate the need of eating junk food by filling the stomach. Breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper can always save one from gaining extra calories. Because after breakfast, one can work all day and carry out activities to burn calories. Diet high in protein and low in carbohydrate can help eater to manage body weight.
Today there are gadgets that can help users to count calories. After workout, one can use gadgets to check how many calories has he/she burnt in a particular workout. One can weigh himself/herself daily to understand how much weight-gain or weight-loss has been successful.
An all-round healthy life can not only prolong a life without ailments, it can certainly also add at least a decade to your life. So pledge today to incorporate the five factors necessary for a healthy lifestyle in your daily life and see how Eir and Hygieia, the Goddesses of Health in Norse Mythology and Greek Mythology respectively, smiles at you to bless you.