When it comes to health advice, sometimes even qualified experts seem to have conflicting opinions. But there are some wellness tips that all health professionals agree on.
These healthy lifestyle recommendations include eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated, exercising regularly, managing stress and receiving regular screenings.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet helps you feel your best and may reduce your risk for certain health problems. It also supports a healthy weight and helps prevent some chronic (long-term) diseases.
Eating well includes a wide variety of foods and drinks, primarily whole foods. It should include foods from each of the five main food groups every day in appropriate amounts. It should also be low in saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, salt (sodium), and alcohol. It is also important to choose a variety of different foods within each group to get the most nutrients from your diet.
A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, and other conditions. It can also help you feel more energetic and productive throughout the day.
When eating, make healthy choices and avoid unhealthy habits like skipping meals. Try to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, plus healthy snacks.
Health experts recommend focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and lean meats. It’s also important to avoid foods and beverages that are high in fat, salt, and sugar, and to drink plenty of water.
Some foods may not fit into the five food groups, but are still important to your health, such as nuts and seeds. These are called discretionary choices and can be eaten in small amounts as part of a balanced diet. Choosing healthy fats, such as vegetable oils and nuts, can help you manage your weight and lower your cholesterol. And by avoiding fried foods and other sources of saturated and trans fats, you can lower your risk for heart disease.
2. Exercise Regularly
The benefits of exercise are numerous: it can help boost self-esteem, improve mood and sleep quality, and reduce your risk of chronic (long-term) conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. But it can be tough to get the recommended amount of physical activity, especially if you have an injury or illness that limits your movement.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym training for a marathon to reap the health benefits of exercise. Rather, experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, and do some muscle-strengthening activities two or more days each week. That’s a lot easier to accomplish than you might think — and it doesn’t have to feel like work.
There are plenty of ways to meet those guidelines — a brisk 30-minute walk five times a week, for example. And it’s fine to break up those sessions into 10- or 15-minute chunks if that works better for you. You can also find activities that are fun, like taking a dance class or climbing stairs instead of an elevator while at the mall.
In addition, you can use tools to make exercise more fun, such as listening to music or watching TV while you exercise. You can also look for activities that are accessible even when the weather is bad, such as walking or exercising indoors at a mall or a gymnasium, and you can try a variety of exercises to avoid getting bored. The important thing is to take the first step, and then keep going! It usually takes two or six weeks for exercise to become a habit, and once it does, you can benefit from all its positive effects.
3. Get Enough Sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel groggy and lethargic. This makes it hard to focus at work and can even make you irritable. It also interferes with your memory and learning. Lack of sleep can even lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, depression, and a greater risk of car accidents.
You need to prioritize your sleep and understand why it’s just as important as eating healthy, exercising and breathing properly. This will help you stay motivated to get your ZZZs and make sure that you’re getting a good night’s rest every night.
A good night’s sleep can boost your mood, improve your immune system, and give you energy for your daily activities. But there are many things that can keep you from getting the amount of rest you need. Some of these include an inconsistent bedtime, a diet that’s too heavy or high in sugar, and too much caffeine or alcohol.
Try to stick to a schedule and go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on weekends. Avoid taking long naps during the day and be sure to turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. The blue light on computers and phones can cause your brain to think it’s still daytime and suppress melatonin, which is important for falling asleep at night. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, try listening to calming music or meditation podcasts, reading something soothing or practicing some light exercise before you sleep. The more you prioritize your sleep, the better you’ll feel. March is Sleep Awareness Month, so take advantage of this time to learn more about the importance of sleep and how you can improve your quality of life by making it a priority.
4. Take Care of Your Mouth
The health experts say that taking good care of your mouth is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral problems that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and dementia in older age. It also keeps your breath fresh and can improve your overall self-image.
Regular brushing and flossing remove bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. This also keeps plaque (a sticky substance made of food and bacteria) from eroding your teeth. Brushing for two minutes twice a day and using a fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Flossing daily is also important because it can reach hard-to-reach places that a toothbrush can’t get.
When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth turn sugar into acid that damages the enamel of your teeth and can eventually lead to gum disease or tooth decay. Keeping the levels of acid low by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for these dental health problems.
You can also use mouthwash with a high PH to nullify the acid in your mouth. It’s important to rinse after each meal, and if you have trouble reaching the back of your tongue with a brush or tongue scraper, try using a soft cloth to reach that area.
You should also avoid starchy snacks like chips and pretzels, which are pure carbohydrates that feed the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Instead, eat a lot of crunchy, fibrous foods that help to scrape off the bacteria and keep your mouth clean. Gargling salt water is another way to prevent bad breath. This can be done by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water and swishing it around your mouth for 30 seconds.
5. Clean Your Computer
Just as you dust your home and get your car serviced on a regular basis to keep it in good shape, your computer should also be cleaned regularly to keep it functioning properly. The practice of cleaning your computer is referred to as Clean Computing and it can help extend the life of your computer and prevent the spread of germs that can make you sick.
To begin, turn off the computer and unplug the monitor. Using a soft, dry cloth, gently brush off obvious dirt and dust on the outside of the computer and the monitor screen. For stubborn stains, you can use a cloth lightly dampened with distilled or filtered water or an electronics cleaner (or rubbing alcohol). To avoid damaging the internal components of your computer, never pour liquid directly onto the monitor.
Next, you’ll want to open the case and blow out the accumulated dust. For this, you’ll need a screwdriver. You may also need to remove the screen and use short bursts of compressed air around the ports, vents, and any other places where dust can collect. Be sure to wear a face mask if you’re sensitive to dust.
Lastly, you’ll want to organize your files and clear out those old apps that are taking up space. Doing so can help your computer perform faster and will reduce the amount of time you spend looking for specific files. It can also help alleviate some of the eye strain caused by sitting in front of a computer all day. Finally, it’s important to take some breaks from your computer, if possible, to help reduce the chances of work-related stress. Too much stress can interfere with a person’s immune system and increase their chances of getting sick.