My health is my greatest asset, and I invest heavily in living a healthy lifestyle. Death is inevitable and whether or not we agree with it, we all have a limited time on this earth. The absence of life means there is no future, but the presence of life means there is hope for the future. This is the reason I believe that we must strive to improve our lifestyle habits in order to stay alive for those who depend on us.
According to data I obtained from the World Health Organization, there are three broad issues associated with the top global causes of death, ranked by the number of lives lost. They are the following:
- Cardiovascular (ischaemic heart disease, stroke),
- Respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections)
- Neonatal conditions – which include birth asphyxia and birth trauma, neonatal sepsis and infections, and preterm birth complications.
The records published by the World Health Organization, show that the major causes of death can be grouped into three categories: communicable (infectious and parasitic diseases and maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions), non-communicable and non-communicable.
When I examined these data, two questions came to mind. The first question is whether some of these causes of death could be avoided? Second, does our current lifestyle habit contribute to the leading causes of death in the world? My answer to both questions would be ‘yes.’ A lot of the lifestyle choices we make are the main causes of death in our society. Many times, people knowingly choose to live unhealthy lifestyles out of ignorance. There are still those who feel that activities that lead to a good lifestyle are too expensive or too hard to maintain. However, research has shown that many people are willing to spend more money on unhealthy habits than on healthy ones. Lifestyle factors can affect how long people live and how healthy they are during their lifetimes. To prevent certain issues that will be detrimental to your health, it is important to consider living a healthy lifestyle. In order to address this issue, I have prepared a list of 6 healthy lifestyle tips for you to consider
1. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink
Many people think that drinking alcohol at meals or special occasions isn’t a big deal, but drinking any amount of alcohol can lead to health problems. A lot of alcohol can have a negative impact on your body, from a warm buzz that comes on quickly to a wine headache or hangover that comes the next morning. When you take your first sip, it starts to impact on your body, even though it may not immediately. Moderate drinking also has some risks, but heavy drinking can cause more health concerns sooner. Alcohol abuse over time can have a negative impact on anyone’s physical and mental well-being.
Temporary Health Effects of Excess Alcohol
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to several health conditions. You may notice temporary effects while drinking alcohol (or shortly afterwards) including:
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency caused by drinking too much alcohol
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions which can lead to violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
- Accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
- Nausea and vomiting are common
- Alcohol consumption increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in pregnant women
- During the morning, dehydration can cause a severe headache
Permanent health effects of Excess Alcohol
Over a long period of time, drinking too much alcohol can damage some vital parts of your body. Long-term alcohol misuse is known to have damaging effects on the brain, nervous system, heart, liver, and pancreas.
You should also know that heavy drinking can raise your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, which are both big risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
Chronic alcohol abuse makes your body more susceptible to serious infections. Over time, it can also weaken your bones, increasing the likelihood that you will break or fracture them.
Other long-term effects of frequent alcohol consumption include:
- It will eventually weaken your immune system, which will increase your chances of getting sick
- Drinking too much alcohol can lead to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety
- Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive difficulties, dementia, infertility, and high blood pressure are all linked to excessive alcohol intake
- Excessive drinking can cause sexual concerns, such as impotence or premature ejaculation
- Severe damage to the brain can result in difficulties with reasoning and memory loss
- Family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment are social problems
Not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can improve your healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks
2. Avoid Smoking cigarettes/Tobacco
Tobacco products are hazardous because they contain nicotine, tar, acetone, and carbon monoxide. Whether you smoke or chew it, tobacco is still bad for your health. No matter what form of tobacco you use, it won’t help you avoid the health risks. Smoking can cause substances in the cigarette to get into your lungs and spread throughout your body. Your brain, heart, and other organs can be damaged within 10 seconds of your first puff, damaging every part of your body. Cigarette smoking is associated with many diseases and makes smokers sick in general, and it can affect almost every part of the body. Even if you don’t inhale tobacco smoke, you are likely to receive harmful chemicals through the lining of your mouth. Even though smoking doesn’t hurt you right away, it can cause problems and damage for years.
Studies from the United States prove that the mortality rate for people who smoke is three times higher than the mortality rate for people who don’t smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the most common cause of preventable death in the United States.
According to data from the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain about 600 harmful ingredients, and some of these ingredients are also found in cigars and hookahs. During their burning process, they produce over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic. Imagine being exposed to such numerous toxic substances in your body. Unfortunately, 69 of them are known to cause cancer or to be carcinogenic. Even though smoking doesn’t hurt you right away, it can cause problems and damage for years.
The harmful substances in Tobacco
Tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. It causes damage to the human body. It causes your brain to produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine produces three different effects on the human body:
- It makes you feel good
- Helps you to stay focused
- Makes you feel more energetic
Although you may think that there is nothing wrong with feeling good, this feeling unfortunately lasts only for a short time. Because nicotine is addictive, if you don’t have it, your body’s nicotine levels will go down, which will make your brain want more dopamine. The amount of time you spend smoking will determine how much dopamine you require to feel good. This leads to a dependence on nicotine, which in turn leads to an addiction to smoking.
When smoking becomes an addiction due to the high amount of nicotine, you will start to feel withdrawal symptoms the moment you stop smoking a cigarette. Part of the withdrawal symptoms may include difficulty concentrating or feelings of nervousness, restlessness, irritability, or anxiety.
You should keep in mind that nicotine dependence and nicotine withdrawal are two factors that make you want to smoke more often. This is what eventually leads to an addiction to smoking.
Nicotine can also narrow your veins and arteries, which can be a problem because it forces your heart to work faster and harder. This can result in damage to your blood, which will affect the amount of oxygen that runs through your feet and hands.
Similarly, carbon monoxide is another harmful substance found in tobacco. The presence of carbon monoxide deprives your heart of the oxygen it needs to pump blood around your body. As carbon monoxide levels in your body increase with each passing day, your airways will swell up, which will then prevent air from entering into your lungs.
Other harmful substances in tobacco include:
- Tar, which is a sticky substance that makes it hard to breathe once it gets in your lungs
- Phenols are another harmful substance in tobacco that can paralyse and kill some hair-like cells in your airways. These cells are supposed to keep your airways from getting infected. Once that protection is gone, you will eventually get all kinds of infections in your airways
- Small particles found in tobacco smoke can cause your throat and lungs to irritate, which can lead to a smoker’s cough. This can cause your lung tissue to be damaged and cause you to produce more mucus
- A mixture of ammonia and formaldehyde found in tobacco can cause irritation to your eyes, nose, and throat
- Your cells grow too fast or abnormally because of cancer-causing chemicals. These are the conditions that usually result in cancerous cells.
Health risks associated with smoking
An excessive amount of smoking can have a detrimental effect on your appearance
If you smoke a lot, your fingers, tongue, and teeth will turn yellow-brown. In addition, it can cause tooth loss and bad breath. Other effects of excess tobacco on the human appearance include hair loss and saggy, wrinkled skin.
It increases the risk of cancer
Smoking reduces your life expectancy and quality of life, which increases your chances of premature death due to a weakened immune system. This is why, compared to non-smokers, up to a third of long-term smokers will either die of a smoking-related disease or have their life cut short by about 10 years on average. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing cancer in almost any part of your body. These include lips, tongue, mouth, nose, oesophagus, throat, voice box, stomach, liver, kidney, pancreas, bladder, blood, cervix, vulva, penis, and anus.
It causes cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and blood circulation problems
As I mentioned earlier, nicotine in the human body causes blood vessels to tighten, which makes it harder for blood to flow. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking. Smoking can cause blood to clot, which will block the blood flow to the heart, brain, or legs. Some smokers have had to have their limbs amputated over the years due to blood circulation issues caused by smoking.
The likelihood of breathing problems and chronic respiratory conditions may increase
Smoking is the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious, progressive condition that makes it difficult for the lungs to breathe. Smoking is linked to a higher risk of asthma in adolescents and adults and makes asthma worse in active smokers.
Smoking is the biggest cause of diabetes
Nowadays, it is no secret that smoking is one of the main causes of diabetes. Active smokers have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. Smoking may also worsen health conditions related to type 1 diabetes, such as kidney disease.
Lower sex hormone levels in males and females can lead to decreased sexual desire, which can be caused by smoking.
Smoking can make women less sexually satisfied by making them less lubricated and less able to have an orgasm. Taking it regularly can make it harder for women to become pregnant, which can also make menopause happen earlier.
Smoking has a significant impact on men’s sexual performance. Additionally, it can affect the function of blood vessels, which can make it harder for men to get an erection. This can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). If you don’t treat ED properly, you can also have a lot of fertility problems. Also, it can damage the DNA in the sperm, making it hard to conceive and increasing the risk of miscarriage and certain birth defects.
Loss of vision
Smoking for prolonged periods of time can have a negative impact on your vision and the optic nerve. It could lead to certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
3. Eat Healthy
We live in a generation where the most popular and eye-catching foods are always the ones that are unhealthy. Having a nutritious, healthy meal is essential for good health. A healthy diet includes eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats. It also includes limiting foods high in saturated fat and added sugars. Eventually, eating this way will help you keep your body healthy, help you lose weight, and help you prevent diseases. An ideal healthy diet includes a variety of different foods, such as::
- Cereals, tubers, or roots that are starchy like cereals (wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rice)
- Legumes like lentils and beans
- Fruits and vegetables are good for you
- Meat, fish, eggs, and milk are some foods from animal sources, which are very healthy
Why do you need to eat healthy?
Eating healthy foods will keep you healthy and help you repair any damage to your cells. Protein helps to rebuild damaged tissue and keep the immune system healthy. Your body needs carbohydrates and fats, while vitamins and minerals support its processes. Vitamins B help you extract energy from the foods you eat, and vitamins A, C and E protect your cells against toxins. If you consume more foods that contain calcium and phosphorus, you will have stronger bones. Calcium and potassium aid in the transmission of nerve signals. Without a healthy diet, you might lose any of these important functions.
The quantity of the foods you consume should be a focal point when considering good eating habits for a healthy lifestyle. You should consume the same number of calories as you burn in order to maintain your weight. This makes sure that your weight stays the same over time. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight because your body will turn the extra calories into fat tissue. Weight gain is likely to lead to fat tissue accumulation, which increases the risk of getting one or more health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, respiratory issues, diabetes, or cancer. A diet that is low in calories helps you feel better and live longer.
Benefits of eating healthy
- A good diet will give you the energy you need to stay active all day and the nutrients you need to grow and repair. This will help you stay strong and healthy and help prevent diet-related illnesses.
- Eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fibre can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Healthy lifestyle choices such as eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Too much salt and saturated fat in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is therefore important to consume at least a portion of oily fish such as salmon and trout each week in order to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Oily fish are good for heart health because they have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
- An intake of calcium will help keep your teeth and bones strong and can help slow down bone loss (osteoporosis) that comes with getting older. You can get calcium by eating dairy products, which usually have calcium in them.
- I recommend sardines, pilchards, or tinned salmon, especially with bones
- Perhaps you should consider eating dark green vegetables such as kale and broccoli
- You may also want to try some calcium-fortified foods, such as soy products, fruit juices, and cereals
If you are experiencing difficulty adjusting to a healthy diet, you still have the opportunity to make the necessary changes that will help you improve your healthy lifestyle.
Note: Water is also an important nutrient that is required in our body, and it is no wonder that it is considered an essential. It helps get rid of waste, keep the body temperature stable, carry nutrients, and help with digestion. Water makes up around 60 percent of our body, and we can only live three to five days without it.
I recommend drinking water instead of sugary drinks. Health experts generally recommend taking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, which is about two litres or half a gallon.
4. Get enough sleep
We live in a modern world that makes it harder for us to get enough sleep. You get up early in the morning and go to work with the idea of having a good night’s sleep when you get home. But that never happens because on so many occasions, something always comes up, usually something work-related, that always keeps us from getting enough sleep. Today, society revolves around hard work for the benefit of a few men in suits. You rarely get enough sleep for yourself at the end of the day when your entire body is mentally drained. People who work a night shift or have irregular schedules may find it more difficult to get quality sleep because of this.
For the sake of your health, it is essential to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is, in fact, just as important as any of the other five important tips for a healthy lifestyle because it improves your brain performance, mood, and health. There is more to a good night’s sleep than simply lying in bed. A healthy sleep pattern is composed of three major factors:
- How much time you sleep each night
- The quality of your sleep, which should be uninterrupted
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
Adults need 7 or more hours of good-quality sleep each night. Because of this, you must make sure you get enough quality sleep daily because it can put your health at risk. Not getting enough sleep regularly increases the risk of many diseases and disorders. These diseases include heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia, among others.
Benefits of getting a good night’s sleep
You develop a higher level of emotional and social intelligence
Those who regularly get a good night’s sleep are more emotionally and socially intelligent. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to recognize other people’s emotions and expressions. Doing well in social interactions, feeling positive, and controlling impulses will be achieved with better quality sleep.
Reduced risk of heart disease
High Blood pressure is one risk factor for a lack of quality sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting enough sleep each night helps the body’s blood pressure stay in check, and it can also help prevent sleep-related conditions like sleep apnea and improve overall heart health.
A higher level of athletic performance
For those who are into sports, it’s worth noting that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, but recent studies have suggested that athletes may require more.
Sleep is essential for improving fine motor skills, reaction time, muscle power, muscular endurance, and problem-solving skills. Not getting enough sleep can make it harder to exercise and increase your risk of injury. During sleep, the body heals, which is why sleep is important for athletes. Sleep may be just what you need to improve your performance.
Mental health concerns, such as depression, are strongly linked to sleep quality and sleeping disorders. Lack of sleep may lead to changes in the brain that may make it more likely that you will get depressed. Sleep disturbances can also have a negative impact on emotional regulation and stability, as well as alter neural processes, which can lead to symptoms of depression. People with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from depression. Getting adequate sleep is important in order to prevent depression.
Read more: 6 ways to determine if someone is depressed and suicidal
Strengthening of the immune system
Several benefits of a good night’s sleep include helping the body repair, regenerate, and recover. However, the immune system is not the only exception to this relationship. Some research has shown that deep sleep is essential for the body to repair itself and strengthen its immune system.
5. Regular exercise
One of the best ways to improve your healthy lifestyle is to exercise, as it helps your body burn calories and strengthens your muscles. According to several studies, people who exercise regularly are more likely to live an average of three to seven years longer than those who don’t. Adults who exercise or do physical activity may benefit from it. Exercises such as swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing have important health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 18 and 64 exercise for at least two hours and 30 minutes.
The debate over which type of exercise is better between strength and cardio training has been ongoing. In my opinion, strength and cardio training are both important and have an impact on the human body. The most important aspect to consider when considering cardio and strength training is what they both do to your body. This is what makes them stand out.
Strength training, also known as weight training, is an aerobic activity that involves lifting weights. It also includes lifting barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells, as well as using weight machines.
If we compare strength exercises to cardio, they tend to focus on breaking down glucose for energy without using oxygen. When you engage in strength exercises, you use more energy in a shorter amount of time.
Cardio, which is short for cardiovascular conditioning, is an aerobic activity that uses more oxygen to increase your breathing and heart rate. For example, running is an example of cardio exercise that relies more on the use of oxygen. This is why you breathe harder and faster when you run, as it increases your heart rate.
Because strength training focuses on lifting weights, it helps you build muscle and burn calories all day long. The ideal program for weight loss is cardio training, which will help you burn more calories during your workout and burn fat faster. Why compare which program is better for the human body when you can combine strength and cardio training to get the desired result and improve your healthy living? Weight loss and muscle building can be achieved by combining cardio and strength training, and it is even better for your heart.
Benefits of exercising regularly
Exercise is good for your brain and memory
Exercising increases your heart rate, which in turn increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. Exercise increases the production of hormones that help brain cells grow, which helps improve and protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise is important for adults because it helps to reduce the effects of ageing and oxidative stress on the brain.
Exercise can help you relax and get a good night’s sleep
Regular physical activity can improve your sleeping cycle by helping you fall asleep faster. When you exercise, the energy you lose during exercise is used to make sleep more restorative. Furthermore, it is believed that the increase in body temperature during exercise will improve sleep quality by helping the body temperature drop during sleep. People with sleep disorders should exercise more, especially older adults. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.
Regular exercise is beneficial for weight loss
You burn calories when you engage in physical activity, which helps prevent excess weight gain or maintain weight loss. Exercise that is more intense will result in a higher number of calories burned.
Understanding how exercise affects weight loss requires understanding the relationship between exercise and energy utilization. Your body uses energy in three ways: by digesting food, exercising, and keeping your heart beating and your lungs breathing.
For example, when you are dieting, a reduced calorie intake will temporarily delay weight loss, which will lower your metabolic rate. Exercising regularly has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which can help you lose weight. I previously stressed the need to combine both cardio exercise and weight training in order to get the most out of both aerobic exercise and weight training. This is an important way to maintain your weight and build lean muscle mass.
Another issue to clarify is that, although going to the gym regularly is great, you don’t need to go often to live a healthy lifestyle, especially when you have a busy work schedule. Exercise can be done anywhere, from taking a walk to jogging.
To get the most out of exercise, you should simply get more active throughout the day. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs or do your household chores. Remember, persistence is key.
Exercising strengthens your muscles and bones
As people get older, they lose muscle mass, which can increase the likelihood of injury. In this article, I said that older people need to exercise more to build and keep their muscles and bones strong. This will reduce the chance of them breaking down. As you age, regular physical exercise is important for reducing muscle loss and keeping strength. We release hormones during exercise, which help our muscles absorb amino acids.
Exercise is important for young people as well as the elderly. Young people need to build bone density, and the only way to do this is by exercising regularly. Having this approach will help prevent osteoporosis later in life. Weightlifting can stimulate muscle building when combined with adequate protein intake.
Regular exercise helps prevent health problems and diseases
A lack of regular physical activity is the cause of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, heart health, and body composition, which will later lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Exercise can help prevent or reduce these chronic health conditions:
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Various kinds of cancer
Exercise has numerous great benefits that can help you improve your health. They can significantly improve almost every aspect of your life. Exercise more if you want to be healthy.
Note: For those who wish to focus on weight loss, I would recommend getting in five to eight 30-minute cardio sessions a week. If you want to build muscle, lift weights for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week.
6. Take a vacation and travel more often
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that if you don’t take good care of your health, you may end up regretting it eventually. A healthy mental health is essential for a fulfilling life. Travel can make your life happier and more fulfilling, which will help you improve your mental health.
Read more: What To Consider As We Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month
There are many affordable ways to travel, depending on the type of trip you want to take. You don’t have to travel far to have a holiday; there is a budget-friendly trip that will suit your needs. Numerous studies have indicated that travelling can be beneficial to your health, both physically and mentally. The following are five health benefits of travelling:
- It is a great way to relax and get a new perspective on life
- It reduces the risk of heart disease that comes from stress
- Travelling gives you a stronger immune system because you are exposed to a range of different environments
- It increases happiness and gives you a boost to your mind
- Travelling can naturally make you move more and do more physical activity
I hope you found my five tips for living a healthy lifestyle useful. Your lifestyle choices will affect your health either positively or negatively. Living a healthy lifestyle is important if you want to avoid illnesses that will cause you to spend more hours on medication and in the hospital. I will reiterate that your health is your greatest asset. Take care of your health, as you would with your wealth.
I am Richard Inegbedion Jr. and, As always, it’s my opinion with facts.
Sources: Australian Government, Department of Health and Care, Healthline, World Healthy Organization, NHS Inform
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash
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