In spite of the long life spans we have achieved, few of us can claim to be truly healthy. From mental fatigue to obesity, from joint pain to irritated skin - we all seem to have health complaints. Is it even possible to be healthy, considering the polluted environment? The answer is yes - but it is a long-term project that requires a sound strategy.
In short, in order to become healthy, you have to work on various areas of your life: your diet, your lifestyle and fitness routine, and your mind. Let us look at these areas separately.
Healthy diet can be tasty
First of all, you have to eat enough (that is, not starve yourself with diets), but not too much, following the general guidelines of 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 for a man (more if you exercise a lot, a bit less if you want to lose weight). Yes, you will have to learn to count calories in your food: simply knowing that a piece of cake contains 300 calories may kill your desire to eat it!
Try to fill your plate with vegetables (rich in vitamins but not calories), legumes, and whole grains, rather than meat, cheese, and bread. The American Heart Association advises to eat 8 pieces of fruit and veg daily. Avoid foods with lots of added sugar and limit your intake of salt and fried foods – stew, steam, or boil instead. And don’t forget to drink two liters of water per day!
Move to live
No matter how healthy your diet, you cannot do without proper exercise. Apart from keeping you lean, strong, and energized, regular exercise stimulates brain activity and improves memory (more details here). Sedentary lifestyle is associated with many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, you don’t have to devote your life to exercise: as a recent study shows (https://www.tctmd.com/news/how-much-how-hard-how-often-exercise-study-shows-weekend-warriors-also-see-cuts-cvd-death), just one or two intense sessions over the weekend is enough.
Make sure you change your routine every couple of months and combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise for best results.
Fitness for the mind
Our health issues often have psychological causes: stress, fatigue, and anxiety can cause inflammation, allergic reactions, and even heart disease (more info here). Luckily, nowadays there are many opportunities to calm and train the mind: yoga, meditation, breathing exercizes (pranayam), mantras, awareness training, and others. And even if you consider yourself a very practical, down-to-earth person, don’t discard these “spiritual” practices as something wacky: a large body of research proves the efficacy of meditation. If you are not sure where to start, see here, for example.
Last but not least
A healthy lifestyle implies many little things. Of course, you should not smoke or take drugs; and drinking should be done in moderation. Make sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep every day. Protect your skin from UV radiation. But perhaps most of all – avoid stress and nurture the relationship with your loved ones.