Your health affects all facets of your life. Although you cannot achieve better health overnight, if you make some simple changes to your lifestyle, you will begin to notice improvements in just a few weeks. These simple steps will give you more energy, help you lose weight, and protect you from a wide variety of diseases, including high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. Here are your ten simple steps to better health.
1. Consume only 100% whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas. Whole grains are much lower in fat, and contain vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates that are essential for a healthy body, and for the prevention of disease.
2. Plan your meals so that each day you eat ‘the rainbow’, that means a variety of at least six different, brightly colored, vegetables and fruits. Eat fresh, not processes, whenever possible.
3. Cut down on your red meat. Substitute meals of skinless chicken, or beans. If you do eat red meat, do so in moderation, and make sure to remove as much fat as possible. Bake, broil, poach, or grill your meat. Fried foods are not your friends. They are hard on the heart, and on the waistline.
4. Eliminate, or severely limit, the amount of refined sugar in your diet. Processed sugar has no food value, and contributes to disease, most notably diabetes. Soft drinks, pastries, and many cereals are loaded with this dangerous ‘so-called’ food. It has no place in a healthy diet.
5. Limit your use of salt. Your body needs some of the sodium in salt, but too much can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney stones. Many older recipes add salt to all baked goods. I have found, after many years of baking, that muffins, cookies, and even bread need little or no salt. Use herbs to add flavor to foods that you previously salted heavily.
6. Drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water every day, and more if the weather is hot or if you are exercising. All the organs in your body need water to function properly. Thirst is not a good gauge of your body’s need for water. By the time you actually feel thirsty, your body has been in need of water for some time. Substitute water for fruit drinks and sugar-laden sodas. If you want a drink, drink water. If you want fruit, eat fresh fruit. It has fiber, another element essential to your health.
8. Get regular exercise every day. Exercise controls weight, keeps your heart and lungs healthy, and benefits your immune system. Any exercise is good exercise. Swim, garden golf, kayak, ski, skate, do yoga, or walk. Just keep moving. Swimming and walking are two things that you can do literally all your life. If you are in poor condition or obese, start with walking. Start slowly, and build on small achievements.
9. If you are a smoker, cut down slowly, and then stop. This is not easy. That I can tell you from personal experience, but it can be done. Smoking can and will kill you, if you do not stop.
10. Drink only in moderation.
I would add one last piece of advice, and that is to get a medical check-up once a year, and see your doctor immediately if you have any concerns about your health.