Although good health and a long life is a result of multiple genetic and environmental influences, getting a few basics right goes a long way in determining the health and wellbeing of an individual. The simple advice – eat moderately, choose healthy foods, exercise and avoid the things that adversely affect health, is all that you need to know and do to achieve the healthy and joyful life that you deserve. Here we elaborate on the various tenets of this basic mantra.
Diet and nutrition: Diet and nutrition play a major role in health and disease, and influence the way we perform emotionally, physically and cognitively. Unhealthy diet and imbalanced nutrition can contribute to the risk of developing a variety of illnesses and health problems including weight loss or gain issues, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, cancers, tooth decay, etc.
Steps to good diet and nutrition are easier than they are made out to be. Eat moderate portions, choose foods from different groups and avoid ones with high sugar and fat content. Learn about the different food groups here: eat your way to health. In addition to the above, keep yourself well hydrated and avoid sugary drinks and juices with added sugar.
Exercise: Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for ill health and mortality. Physical inactivity significantly elevates the risk of several cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type II diabetes and osteoporosis among others. The adverse effects of insufficient physical activity leading to impaired physical function are comparable to that of smoking to a large extent.
Several scientific studies have established the benefits of living a physically active life to avoid life-changing negative effects. Incorporating the habit of daily exercise goes a long way in meeting the requirements of being healthy. Exercises chosen do not have to be strenuous or require a major time commitment. Simple aerobic exercises like jogging, brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, and/or yoga for about 30 minutes daily are sufficient to drastically reduce ill health and promote stress free living.
Smoking: Of all the risk factors for ill health, tobacco smoking is the most dangerous. In addition to the well-known effects on the lungs and heart, other risks of smoking include stroke, peripheral vascular disease, blood clots, prematurely aging skin, brittle bones and numerous cancers including cancer of the lips, tongue, throat and stomach. Smoking claims a million lives every year in India.
Quit smoking today and avoid exposure to passive smoke wherever possible. Whatever methods a smoker uses to quit, two factors are absolutely key: being ready for the change and the belief that this habit can be given up. Making a list of your reasons for quitting and keeping it handy as a constant reminder, setting up a quit date, planning in advance to deal with any temptations to smoke, seeking the support of family and friends, keeping an eye on the amount of money you are saving by not smoking are some of the best means that help in giving up smoking.
Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol is a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality in India. Adverse effects of alcohol consumption include liver cirrhosis, oral and liver cancer, stroke and hypertension, road accidents and memory lapse. It slows down the functioning and interferes with digestion, leading to many malnutrition related issues.
Quitting alcohol is hard, therefore it is wise to avoid alcohol from the beginning. However, it is possible to quit the habit for somebody already into excessive alcohol consumption. Embrace the goodness that life offers, assure yourself you’re giving up an enemy, avoid situations that may lead to drinking alcohol, and seek medical assistance to give up alcoholism.