In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we first have to know what it looks like. The four most important aspects of a healthy life are:
- Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Maintain a body weight that puts your BMI in the 18-25 range.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 or more times per week.
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.
These habits are the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Your body needs these habits in order to properly function. Eliminate one of these cornerstones and you set the body up for sickness and disease in the long run.
Eat 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. Vegetable serving size is defined as 1 cup for dark, leafy greens and 1/2 cup for all others. A nice size salad at lunch can easily meet your vegetable intake requirement for the day. Vegetables and fruits serve several functions. First, the majority of our vitamins and minerals are obtained from these foods. Second, they act as a “street sweeper” for the digestive system. Without these foods, the intestinal tract gets gunked up and that interferes with proper absorption of vitamins and minerals. Without these vitamins and minerals, your body lacks the proper building blocks to synthesize the materials it needs for proper functioning. No fruits and vegetables=improper functioning.
Maintain a body weight that puts your BMI in the 18-25 range. This range is considered healthy because of the lower percentage of stored body fat. Anything above this range leads to fat being stored as visceral fat. Visceral fat actually secretes hormones that interfere with the body’s normal functioning. Visceral fat also crowds abdominal organs. This can lead to inflammation. And inflammation is just bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Exercise provides oxygen and oxygen is critical to the body’s energy production process. The body converts glucose into ATP, the body’s fuel. In the presence of oxygen, 1 molecule of glucose produces up to 38 molecules of ATP. Without adequate oxygen, 1 molecule of glucose can only produce 2 molecules of ATP. This is why exercise provides a person with more energy. Exercise creates a deeper breathing pattern, which leads to more oxygen intake which leads to better ATP production. Daily walks can easily satisfy this requirement.
Finally, get 7-8 hours of deep sleep nightly. Sleep is the body’s way of repairing itself and restoring balance. Modern life provides many stimulants that disrupt normal sleep patterns. Caffeine, late eating, and even technology prevent the body from entering its normal sleep cycle. Caffeine acts on the central nervous system up to 12 hours after ingestion. Plan your caffeine intake so it’s out of your system before bedtime. Late eating can lead to digestion occurring during your sleeping hours. The digestive process is active, hindering the body’s normal process of sleep-time repair. And, if you’re tired already, stomach acid production is low, which slows down the digestive process even more. In order to allow your body to hit deep restorative sleep, allow at least 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. Lastly, our phones, laptops and TVs emit blue light which stimulates the brain. Checking email, playing a game, posting to social media. Any of these things within an hour of bedtime wakes up the brain. You need an hour free of screen time prior to bedtime to allow your brain to return to its baseline before going to sleep. If not, the brain is awake and unable to enter into its proper sleep cycle.
These four cornerstones are the foundation of a healthy life. By creating these habits, you can eliminate many lifestyle diseases, improve your energy levels, as well as improve your mental well-being. Shall we choose health? I think so.
Til next time. ..