11 Tips for Healthy Living: Small Things Can Make a Huge Difference

Metaphor for Healthy Living

We can all use a reminder from time-to-time about healthy living. There are no tricks and in most cases what you need to do is common sense. And yet, we can get side-tracked or distracted and forget about the simple changes we can make that can have amazing results.

Exercise More

Move your body. It was designed to move, so as Nike says, just do it. A sedentary lifestyle will make you more prone to heart disease, stroke, cancer, a weak immune system, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity. Any activity over the long-term will reduce the chance that you'll have to deal with any of these. So find something you like to do and do it often.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients you can't find anywhere else. These vitamins are vital to keeping you healthy and disease free. Ideally, we should all be eating at least 4-5 servings of fruits and 4-5 servings of vegetables every single day (see the full guide to healthy eating). A serving is about the size of the palm of your hand. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is easy — just choose different colors. You'll get the most benefit by spreading their consumption throughout the day. And don't even think of replacing them with vitamin pills because no pill can replace all the nutrients that you will find in nature. One more thing, don't peel them (e.g. apples) because the peel is full of nutrients. This is, of course, unless the peel is inedible (e.g. bananas).

Eat Some Legumes

In some countries, legumes such as rice, lentils, and beans are a diet staple. North Americans would do well to mimic this activity as such foods have very powerful nutrients, including a lot of fiber.

Avoid Junk Food

We all know what junk food is, but sometimes we rationalize eating it. What we may not realize is the harm it is doing to us. Most of the damage won't show up until years of consumption in the form of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. So while you're eating fruits, vegetables, and legumes try your best to stay away from chips, ice cream, chocolates, candies, sodas, and possibly the worst, fast food.

Add Omega-3 to Your Diet

This is a type of oil that is proving to be very important for keeping blood vessels healthy, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. You can get omega-3 oils from fish, walnuts, flax seeds (make sure they are crushed before consuming), omega-3 eggs, etc. If you don't eat these foods on a regular basis you might want to consider omega-3 supplements (better than nothing), which can be made from flax seed oil or from fish oil. Typically fish oil supplements are more potent.

Get a Check Up!

Unfortunately, many people don't visit their doctor until something is wrong. While this might be OK for many years, at some point it can be quite detrimental. Think of it as your 6,000 mile car service. Every year, we should be visiting our family doctor to check some basic things, because these basic things can sometimes be a warning sign that something more serious might be going on. And if you catch a disease early enough it is often much, much easier to deal with.

Medication

If you are taking medication it might be worth asking your doctor about the steps you can take to get off of them. Of course, it might not be possible, but speak to your physician about other treatment options. For example, if you have high cholesterol, first try to bring it down with changes to your diet and regular exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to avoid medication through weight loss and daily exercise. Be aware that many pills have side effects that you may not be immediately aware of. For example, did you know that many medications can harm your liver? In addition, sometimes pills can cause other medical issues, which will force you to take even more medication.

Find a Way to Relax

Take some time out during the day to chill. This will help you recharge both physically and mentally. Listen to calming music, do some yoga, take a nap, meditate, etc. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it is relaxing for you. By taking a few minutes a day, maybe more than once, you will be better able to handle all of life's demands.

Manage Your Stress

Learn to handle stress. I know, this is not always easy, but stress is a major cause of illness. Stress alters various hormones and chemicals in your body, which can lead to a wide variety of ailments. There are many relaxation techniques you can learn, including meditation. Do some exploring and find a technique that works for you.

Enjoy Life

Do stuff you enjoy. Do this daily, if you can. Whether it's reading a book or going out with friends. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it adds quality to your day.

Get More Sleep

Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This might not sound like much, but remember that this 7-8 of sound sleep — if it takes you 30 minutes to fall asleep and you wallow in bed for 30 minutes for getting up, that's an hour that doesn't count. If the quality is lacking then you will not fully rest. So, if your sleep isn't what it should be do some research and find out what the problem is, and try to fix it (watch out for gimmicks). Besides chronic fatigue, lack of sleep can cause psychological issues. For example, some studies suggest that a lack of sleep is related to depression. Too little sleep can also cause physical ailments.

No one is saying you have tackle all of these healthy living tactics at once. Pick one that is easy to do or one that will have the most impact. Then when it becomes habit, pick another from the list. Before you know it you'll feel better and you'll be wondering you waited so long to make the changes!

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