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By Carl Grundlingh

A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of being seriously ill or dying early. Not all diseases are preventable, but a large proportion of deaths, particularly those from coronary heart disease and lung cancer, can be avoided.

It’s a common myth that getting fit is only about eating healthy and exercising. In reality, creating a healthy lifestyle and maintaining it isn’t about just those two factors, it’s also about being able to keep a positive attitude, strong mental health and a healthy self-image. Although there is a ton of advice out there on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

1. Drink more water

Most of us don’t drink enough water every day, but it is essential for our bodies to work properly. Water is absolutely necessary for carrying out our bodily functions, removing waste, and transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout our bodies. Since water is expelled every day through urination, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing, we need to replenish the amount of water in our bodies constantly. The amount of water we need depends on a variety of factors, but generally an average adult needs two to three litres a day. A good way to tell if you are getting enough water is by your urine—which should be either colourless or pale yellow.

2. Get enough sleep

When you don’t sleep, you tend to eat more. Usually only junk food.

3. Exercise

Not just a few times a week, but every day. By moving your body in some way for 30 minutes a day, you will lower your risk of disease, create higher bone density and potentially increase your life span.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables

All fruits and vegetables carry vitamins and minerals, components essential to your health. It’s suggested that we consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to maintain health.

5. Eat the rainbow

Pick brightly-coloured foods in the produce aisle. These are high in antioxidants (antioxidants remove free radicals in our body that damage our cells) and make a more appealing plate. Here are a few examples to look out for:
• White (Banana, Mushroom)
• Yellow (Pineapple, Mangoe)
• Orange (Orange, Papaya)
• Red (Apple, Strawberrie, Tomatoe, and Watermelon)
• Green(Guava, Avocado, Cucumber, Lettuce, and Celery)
• Purple/Blue (Blackberrie, Eggplant, and Prune)

6. Cut down on processed foods

Processed foods are simply not good for you. Most nutritional value is lost in the making of processed foods and the added preservatives are bad for our health. These foods contain a high amount of salt, which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. In general, the more ingredients on the label, the more processed the item.

7. Avoid negative people in your life

A positive mentality is key for a healthy life. You don’t need negativity in your life. If you feel that a person or friend is negative, just let him or her go.

8. Avoid negativity within yourself

You don’t need negativity from yourself, either.
Let go of all negative thoughts within yourself.
Overeating tends to happen when one feels unhappy,
so by staying in a positive state of mind, you cut out
an unhealthy dependence on food to be happy.

9. Avoid trigger foods

These are foods you can’t put down after one bite. Everyone’s trigger foods are different, but typically they consist of candy bars, chocolate, chips, cookies, or anything with high levels of refined sugar, salt, fat or flour.

10. Take your time eating

Your brain, not your stomach, is the organ responsible for feelings of hunger and fullness. If you take your time during meals and eat more slowly, you allow your brain adequate time to send the “full” message to your stomach and allow your food to be fully ingested. Don’t rely on a clean plate to tell you when it’s time to stop eating.

11. Prepare your meals

When you prepare meals yourself, you control exactly what goes into them. This makes it easier for you to make the right healthy choices for your body.

12. Move toward low calorie and low-fat alternatives

There are many low-fat or non-fat alternatives readily available in all grocery stores. Try switching your full-fat pantry staples for low-fat versions over a period of time.

13. Stop smoking

Smoking is bad, period. If you’re a smoker, quit for better health—not just for yourself, but for your family and friends. If you don’t smoke, stay that way.

14. Have healthy snacks on hand

Eating small meals throughout the day is good for your metabolism, but eating the right things is what matters most. When turning to snacks during your day, look for things like fruit, salad, or freshly squeezed juices not from concentrate. These are nutritious and won’t give you a sugar crash.

Other aspects of Healthy Living to take into consideration:

Take a break from technology

We do almost everything on our phones, computers, TVs, and tablets, so a digital break might seem impossible, but taking time away from it every day is a good thing. It can improve sleep, increase productivity, and deepen your personal connection with those around you. It doesn’t have to be a long break, either – consider trying to media detox for 30 minutes each day. You can encourage this by keeping your phone out of your bedroom at night, going on a long walk sans phone, taking a bath, or making it a habit to keep tech away from the dinner table.

Read more often

Read anything, but just read. It stimulates the brain and enhances brain function. Reading, which exercises your brain, can help decrease mental decline in old age and possibly even keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

Breathe. Deeply

Oxygen is vital for life. You may know how to breathe, but are you breathing properly? Most of us aren’t breathing properly – we take shallow breaths and breathe to 1/3 of our lung capacity. Athletes are taught proper breathing techniques to get their best performance. A full breath is one where your lungs are fully filled, your abdomen expands, and there’s minimum movement in your shoulders.

Get regular check-ups

Some diseases don’t show up as symptoms until it is too late. Get regular blood tests for blood sugar, vitamins, and minerals, along with urine tests. More elaborate tests like mammograms (for women) and PAP smear (for women) should be done at the recommended intervals. If the test results are not optimal, that means that you can quickly take corrective action. If they are great, that’s fantastic and you can have peace of mind.

Practice good dental hygiene

Good dental hygiene is linked to better health. Brush your teeth twice a day, rinse your mouth after each meal, and floss after each meal if possible. Use a good toothpaste to protect your gum health.

Author: Luis Anguilla, Fitness Manager, Lifestyles at OakBend

Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.