Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.
Staying healthy is one of the most important parts of living a long and full life. When it comes to staying healthy, there are some pretty obvious things that you should be doing. However, some of those things that we think we know and do, can sometimes come with some unexpected consequences.
This post will give you a few quick tips, that when followed consistently, will help you stay healthy in the long run. Following are the ten ways to keep you healthy:
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise daily
- Quit smoking
- Take your supplements
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid stress and worry
- Avoid junk food
- Change your water
- Make your home healthier
- Don’t eat sugar
1. Eat Healthy Foods
You probably know that a healthy diet means eating lots of fruits and vegetables. But did you know there are nutrients in fruits and vegetables that protect against diseases? There are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables that protect our bodies against disease and keep us healthy.
Fruits and vegetables are good for you, whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight. Vegetables and fruits contain lots of fiber and complex carbohydrates, which give us energy. Without fiber, you get hungry sooner. Fiber also makes you feel full and keeps you from overeating. Some fruits and vegetables contain substances called antioxidants, which protect our bodies from harmful molecules called free radicals. The body makes free radicals, but extra free radicals can form when we eat certain foods.
Fruits and vegetables also contain iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. These vitamins and minerals help protect our bodies from disease. Fruits and vegetables also provide many phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are substances produced by plants and other parts of nature that help protect our bodies.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables means eating lots of different colored fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet means eating foods from all the food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, dairy, and fats. Eating a variety of foods from each of these groups helps you get all the nutrients you need.
Some fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than others. Some fruits and vegetables have more fiber than others. Some fruits and vegetables have more vitamins than others. Some fruits and vegetables have more phytochemicals than others. So making sure you have a balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from all the major food groups.
2. Exercise Daily
Exercise is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay healthy. And for people who work all day, not exercising is as dangerous as smoking.
Exercise does more than keep you fit. Regular exercise is good for the mind. It reduces stress, which, as you know, is bad for you. It also increases your ability to handle stress.
Exercise prevents disease. It reduces your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, and it increases your resistance to disease.
Exercise has other benefits, too. It helps your posture and your balance. It helps your thinking, too, by sharpening your concentration and improving your memory.
Exercise is easy, and it doesn't have to cost very much. Walking is the most effective form of exercise for the majority of people. Take a brisk walk every day. For people who prefer a more challenging workout, swimming, bicycling, jogging, and tennis are good choices. If you have access to a gym, use it a few times a week.
Exercise is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay healthy.
3. Quit Smoking
The best way to remain healthy is to quit smoking immediately. Smoking is bad for you. But most of us smoke anyway. So why bother?
Smoking is a health risk, like driving fast or swimming in polluted water. It's a risk that if you don't avoid it, sooner or later you will hurt yourself. But the risks of smoking are many and widespread, so most people don't avoid it now, or ever.
The reason most people don't avoid smoking is because they find it hard to understand the long-term consequences of their habits. Smoking is a bad habit, and any bad habit is hard to shake off. But it takes time and effort to keep a bad habit. Most people find it easier to keep a bad habit than to develop a good one.
They find it harder still to start developing a good habit. After all, it feels like work. The smoker might reason that if she were going to invest time and effort, she might as well put some energy into something that feels more interesting, like practicing violin or learning a new language.
That's true enough. But good habits require effort, and most people aren't willing to invest the effort.
If they'd only try it, they would find that it's a lot easier than they expect.
Start by thinking about how often you want to smoke. Just count up the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Remember what it feels like, being a smoker. Then count up the number of cigarettes you can give up without noticing it.
Most smokers underestimate their ability. In fact, most people underestimate how much effort it requires to develop good habits. Most people think it takes a lot of effort to do many things.
4. Take Your Supplements
It's a fact: lots of us are not getting enough vitamins and minerals. A few decades ago, doctors thought a diet with enough meat and vegetables and fruit would supply all the nutrients we needed. But we now know that this is not the case.
It's because modern farming practices, combined with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, have largely eliminated the minerals from our food that we need.
Health experts suggest that if you eat a balanced diet, you should get all the vitamins and minerals you need. If you're doubtful, there are tests you can do, but most people don't need them.
Most people do need supplements, though, because we don't eat a balanced diet. If you have trouble with your knees, you may benefit from calcium or fiber supplements. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, you may need more omega-3 fatty acids — found in cold-water fish — or B vitamins.
Still, many people avoid supplements, saying they will get all the vitamins and minerals they need if they just eat a balanced diet. But studies have repeatedly shown that most people can't eat enough fruits and vegetables or other healthy foods to get all the nutrients they need.
And even if you are eating a balanced diet, you still may be missing vitamins and minerals. That's because many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are grown in soil that is depleted of nutrients. Farmers use fertilizer to replenish the nutrients, but fertilizers also leach the minerals out of the soil. So even if you do have a balanced diet, you may still be missing out on the vitamins and minerals you need.
Most people don't consider the number of supplements they are taking. However, some supplements — such as vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies — can cause health problems, so it's important to check with your physician before taking them.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is the most important part of a healthy life. Sleep is crucial for good health. It makes you more alert, more attentive, less likely to make careless mistakes.
A good night's sleep not only improves your physical health; it improves your mental health too. Most days, you are tired, and sleeping well helps you deal with that. But sleep is not simply a respite from worries. It is also a respite from worry itself. Researchers know this because people who sleep short hours are more likely to be worried.
Sleep makes you more creative. Experiments have shown that sleep enhances your ability to solve problems, to think creatively, to come up with original ideas. Sleep also improves your ability to remember things.
Sleep is also essential for memory and learning. It boosts your capability to learn new things. It makes you more persistent. It improves your ability to learn new habits. It improves your ability to recall things you have learned about in the past. It improves your ability to solve problems. It improves your ability to learn.
Sleep protects your physical health. It helps keep your weight under control. It reduces your risk of heart attack. And it boosts your immune system.
Sleep is good for your brain. It reduces inflammation in the brain. It reduces the amount of glucose in your brain. It reduces the amount of cortisol in your brain. It reduces the amount of beta amyloids in your brain.
Sleep helps prevent Alzheimer's disease.
And then there is sleep's greatest contribution to health: it protects your heart.
Sleep increases the number of "good" cholesterol in your blood. Sleep reduces the amount of triglycerides in your blood.
So, it’s better to get enough sleep to remain healthy and fit.
6. Avoid Stress and Worry
One of the best ways to staying healthy is to avoid stress and worry. Stress and worry are bad for your body, health and for your mind. They are bad for your brain, your heart, and your gut. They are bad for your productivity, your relationships, and your enjoyment. They are bad for doing creative work at all.
Thinking constantly about stress and worry is a sure way to miss out on the good stuff that life has to offer.
A life spent worrying is like spending your life staying awake and waiting for the time to end. To live, you need to spend time with people. You need time for relaxation. You need time for learning new things. You need time for having fun. You need time to make mistakes. You need time to exercise. You need time to sleep. You need time to be bored. You need time to be happy. You need time to feel sad. You need time to feel bored. You need time to feel frustrated. You need time to feel regret. You need time to feel joyful.
By trying to control everything all the time, you end up wasting a lot of time. And stress, worry, and fear prevent you from enjoying things. They prevent you from noticing the things that are going on around you.
The best way to combat stress and worry is to realize that they won't kill you. Of course not. But if you don't do anything, they will slowly poison your life.
So, instead of fighting stress and worry, try to enjoy your life. And try not to let anger and fear get in the way of enjoying the life you have right now.
7. Avoid Junk Food
The reason junk food tastes so good is that it's bad for your health. So don't eat it if you want to stay healthy and fit.
Junk food includes most fast food, potato chips, cookies, doughnuts, and candy, as well as anything made with high fructose corn syrup or trans fats. This is not exactly an exhaustive list. It's basically everything you can find at the supermarket -- even plain yogurt and oatmeal, which are technically junk food. Junk food contains a lot of simple carbohydrates, which your body can turn into sugar right away, and which does not produce much energy. (Your body uses sugar from the complex carbohydrates in vegetables and other complex foods to produce energy.) So eating junk food causes your blood sugar level to spike, which leaves you hungry.
Junk food is also often high in fat. Fat takes longer to digest. So your body gets more sugar out of each bite.
Junk food is also usually high in salt. You feel better when you eat something salty. If you eat enough, your brain will think your blood is saltier than it is, and your kidneys will work extra hard to get rid of the extra salt, which results in thirst.
These effects are not pleasant. They make you feel bad, and that makes you want to eat even more. Eventually, you end up eating so much that you get fat.
Junk food also contains a lot of added sugar. Your body does not know how to process sugar, so it just stores it in your fat cells.
Junk food tastes good, of course, because it contains a lot of sugar, fat, and salt.
Junk food also contains lots of chemicals. Some of these chemicals are good for you, like vitamins and minerals. Others are bad for you, like preservatives and dyes.
8. Change Your Water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. Unless you can afford bottled water, you have to rely on what comes out of the tap. And unfortunately, the tap water in most cities, towns, and villages contains chemicals that can damage your health.
How bad is the tap water? Even in places where the tap water is free of microbial contamination, it may contain chemicals that can damage your health. The most notorious is chlorine, which most municipal water systems use as part of their treatment process.
Chlorine is a bactericidal chemical. That means that if you put it in water, it kills microscopic organisms, like bacteria and viruses. The chlorine kills them by destroying their cell walls. But this also means that it destroys healthy cells too.
9. Make Your Home Healthier
Your home is the first place for staying healthy. Your home is where you eat and sleep. You are probably exposed to more germs there than anywhere else. And germs can make you sick.
Your home is also where you work, relax, and spend time with friends. It should be clean and safe. And it should be comfortable.
There are two kinds of health: one that comes from the food you eat, and one that comes from your health environment. The food we eat provides the building blocks for our bodies to be healthy. This health is called "dietary" health.
Your health environment includes your home and your workplace. Your home is the first place you are likely to be exposed to many of the germs that can cause infection. Your workplace is a place of constant stress. These two settings are major contributors to your health.
A health environment that is clean and well ventilated can support good health. A home that is dirty with mold, mildew, dust mites and cockroaches can upset your immune system and increase your chance of getting sick. A workplace that is dirty with mold, mildew, dust mites and cockroaches can also upset your immune system and increase your chance of getting sick.
A clean home keeps germs from growing. A clean home also keeps dust and allergens under control. A clean home is also safer for children and the elderly. A clean home also keeps cockroaches under control.
A clean home gives a feeling of security. A clean home can lower your stress and increase your sense of well-being.
A clean home also keeps down the cost of health care. A clean home lowers the risk of you getting seriously ill. It also lowers the cost of treatment if you do get sick.
10. Don’t Eat Sugar
Sugar is very bad for your health.
First, there is an important distinction between sugar and glucose. Glucose is the sugar that plants make and that we eat. It is an important source of energy.
The sugar that is bad for you is one made from refined white sugar. This is not the glucose we normally eat. It has been stripped of its nutrients, and when you eat it, your body releases insulin, which causes your blood sugar to rise. That is very bad for you.
But there is another kind of sugar that is also bad for you, and that comes from the candy you buy. This happens because many of the ingredients in candy (chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, etc.) are themselves sugar.
Finally, there is sugar that comes from fruit. Fruit contains sugars, but it is not the kind that is bad for you. Fruit contains fructose and glucose. Fructose is mostly absorbed in the small intestine. So, when you eat fruit, most of the sugar and fat is absorbed by the small intestine, and the remaining fructose is absorbed in the large intestine, where it is fermented by the bacteria there into short-chain fatty acids.
Fructose is not bad for you. In fact, it is good for you.
The bad sugars are the ones that are stripped from glucose. They are bad for you. The good sugars are the ones that come from fruit.
So, don't eat sugar if you want to stay healthy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Muhammad Rafiq