Staying healthy is the most important investment you can make in yourself and involves more than just exercising and eating right. It means living your life in a way that nurtures both the body and the mind. In fact, healthy eating is just as important as taking the time to engage your mind with a puzzle or a good book. Not taking care of one part affects the other, so it is important to know how to stay healthy in a busy world. With that said, the absolute basics of health are:
Diet is perhaps the most important part of staying healthy because your body needs nutrients to perform properly. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is a good place to start and can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. A nutritious eating plan also helps you maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk for diabetes, gall bladder disease and arthritis. Just like the body needs nutritious foods, your brain also needs important nutrients to function at the highest level. The omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids found in nuts, fish and healthy oils are essential for brain health, because they assist with learning, motor function and mood. It is also important to eat foods that are rich in iron, such as green vegetables, fortified cereals and red meats, to maintain a healthy amount of red blood cells.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for the body, but numerous studies show that exercise is also good for your mental health. Physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that elevate your mood and improve your outlook on life. Exercise also strengthens the muscles and other connective tissues that support your body during movement. In addition, exercise strengthens the bones and reduces your risk for fractures and bone-thinning diseases like osteoporosis. New research also shows that a regular fitness schedule may boost your immune system, reducing the risk of infection. Physical activity also helps you sleep better, which is a great reason to exercise in and of itself! For maximum health benefits, exercise at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days a week.
Another part of staying healthy is seeing your doctor for regular exams, so s/he can record what your usual temperature, heart rate and blood pressure as well as regular blood work, at least annually. This helps your physician identify changes in your condition, which could indicate a hidden infection or the beginning of a chronic disorder. Your physician may also order other lab tests to make sure internal organs are working properly. Talk to a doctor about any health concerns you have and don’t let embarrassment keep you from being as healthy as you can be. Your physician is your greatest ally and can help guide you on the right path to staying healthy.
There are many other aspects of staying health but these three will have you off to a great start!