We all want to be that little bit healthier, however, making those lifestyle changes can be difficult and daunting. The foods you consume, the quantity of sleep you have and the amount of physical activity you do all has an impact on your health. Here are 5 steps to help you become a healthier you:
Move it & don’t be inactive
There is no way around it, exercise is one of the best methods to become healthier and increase your life expectancy. When deciding to become more physically active, you need to assess your current level and decide what workout will be best suited to you. It is important to keep your body moving as exercise can manage your weight, combat heart disease and type 2 diabetes, improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, boost your mood and wellbeing, reduce the risk of cancer, improve brain health and memory, and aid with relaxation and sleep quality. Incorporating exercise into your life doesn’t have to happen overnight, it can start with small changes like walking to the shops, taking the stairs, planning activities which will keep you moving or going out for a walk on your lunch break. If you set yourself a fitness plan of what you want to achieve and by when, it can help you to achieve the NHS recommended amount of physical activity of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week.
Assess your mood & energy
Are you getting enough sleep? How are you feeling overall? Sleep is a pillar to having good health, as it can affect everything from your health to your mood and most people need eight hours of sleep each night! Sleep helps reduce stress, decrease inflammation, allow cells to re-charge and repair any damage. Sleep is just as important as the food we eat and the liquids we drink, therefore if you feel you aren’t getting enough sleep it is time to assess your mood and energy to see how it is affecting you. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, it also affects your emotions and social interactions. If your sleep is affecting your health, put a plan into place to try to improve the quality of your sleep. Simple changes such as creating a sleep schedule, ditching screens before bed and eating light meals in the evening can help to minimise sleep problems.
Lose the unhealthy food habits
Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean trying every fad diet under the sun, it just means cutting down on bad habits and eating everything in moderation. You should ditch caffeine as it raises insulin levels and slows down the fat burning process, whilst also causing a variety of health problems including raising blood pressure, causing acid reflux and heartburn, dehydration and much more. Energy drinks, sugary drinks and sugary cereals should all be avoided as sugar raises blood sugar levels resulting in insulin production, changing your metabolic rate and causing a sugar crash not long after consuming it. Cutting down on junk food will also make you feel better as it provides a short-term energy boost that doesn’t last and leaves you feeling lethargic, grumpy and craving sugar.
Nourishing your body
Your diet should be one of your top priorities when trying to improve your health, eating lots of fruits and vegetables is one of the most important changes you can make. However, there are other essential nutrients which should be included in your diet.
- Omega-3 healthy fats can reduce your cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of heart disease, boost your memory and help sleep. Omega-3 healthy fats can be found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), linseeds, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts.
- Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, it can only be found naturally in a small selection of foods such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and fresh tuna), red meat, liver and egg yolks. However, foods can be fortified with vitamin D such as cereals, orange juice, soy milk or dairy products. Your daily dose of vitamin D can also be taken in the form of supplements!
- Carbohydrates fuel the body and are the main source of energy for the brain, so be sure to opt for healthier carbs such as whole grains, beans and fibre rich vegetables.
- Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system, aid with healing the body and producing collagen which is used to make skin, cartilage, blood vessels and ligaments. Food containing vitamin C includes oranges, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, mango, brussels sprouts, kiwi, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, grapefruit and watermelon.
- Protein isn’t just to form muscles, every cell from bone to skin to hair contains protein. It is used for the growth, health and maintenance of the body. Protein can be found in low-fat meat, dairy, beans, eggs, soy, nuts or grains.
- Water is used in all cells, organs and tissues to regulate body temperatures and maintain other bodily functions. We cannot exist without water and fresh water needs to be constantly added to your body in order to remain hydrated.
Examine your health & identify issues
Visiting you doctor or dentist is the first step in examining your health and identifying if you have any problems that need actioning. If you are aware you have a chronic health problem, then you need to assess what lifestyle changes can help manage it and cut out any risk behaviours. If you have a heart disease, diabetes or respiratory condition then smoking is only going to make it worse therefore you need to stop the unhealthy behaviour. Addressing the issue is vital to your wellbeing, so make a plan with your doctor to identify how you can live your healthiest life to not aggravate the condition.