By Leslie Vandever
He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.
In today’s world, health is big business. Drug and natural supplement companies sell potions and pills. Exercise and diet entrepreneurs by the tens of dozens sell just as many ways of getting and staying fit. And the food industry claims their foods will make us healthy, strong, fit, lean, beautiful, and even smarter than everyone else.
Yet in the Western world, many people are still unhealthy, obese and plagued with low energy. It’s confusing! What to do?
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
What an elegant way to encourage people to eat mindfully! Here are some good ideas that can help you achieve good health.
- Eat fresh, whole foods. Shop the grocery store’s far perimeters and avoid everything in the center. The good foods–fresh produce, meats, and grain products, like bread–live along the walls. You can make brief visits to the dairy food and dry goods aisles, but avoid all the others whenever you can.
- If you must eat processed foods, read the labels. If a boxed, canned, or packaged product lists more than five ingredients, or includes sugar as one of them, pass it by.
- Avoid (or better, eliminate) refined sugar from your diet. Too much sugar can cause serious problems like overweight, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Limit other sugars, like honey and agave syrup, as well. Sugar is sugar, whether it’s refined or natural.
- Eat a balanced diet, but go heavy on the vegetables and fruit. For protein and complex, slow-burning carbohydrates, choose beans and legumes, whole grain breads and cereals, and brown rice. If you eat meat, choose small portions of chicken and lean cuts of other meats. Enjoy fish and eggs. Eat dairy products sparingly. Use plant-based oils, like olive and canola, for cooking and eating.
- Drink at least six measuring cups of water each day. More is even better. Your body must be hydrated to function efficiently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
- Avoid white rice and foods made with white flour. These are “simple” carbs that convert like a flash into sugar. “Complex” carbs (like brown rice and whole grain breads) break down very slowly, allowing the body to use them efficiently.
- Try to eat five or six small meals each day. You’ll feel less hungry and be less tempted to snack or over-eat.
- Cook your own, simple meals. If you can’t cook, Google master chefs Jamie Oliver and Mark Bitman. Both teach fast, simple, smart cooking techniques that anyone can easily learn with a little practice. If you’re the cook, you know exactly what you’re eating.
Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
The best exercise regime to enhance good health is the one you enjoy. You don’t have to spend big bucks on gym memberships or fancy equipment and clothing. Just keep it simple. One of the best exercises is walking. Taking a brisk, 30-minute walk (or three 10-minute walks) each day, four days a week, is perfect. Do some simple stretching and weight-bearing exercises on the other three days for the same amount of time. Note: wear good walking shoes to prevent needless injuries.
You can also jog, swim, bicycle, dance, play sports–anything that gets you moving and your heart pumping. But for exercise to help you enhance and maintain your good health, you have to do it frequently and regularly.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
Good physical health requires good mental health. Our days are busy and often stressful, which can cause problems with our overall health. Laughter releases stress instantly. It can clear the mind and make solutions easier to find. A funny TV show or movie, playing with the kids, pets, and your significant other–all are laugh-makers, and they’re good for your health.
And hey, get a good night’s sleep. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to function at top capacity. Practice good sleep hygiene: go to bed and get up at the same times each night and morning; avoid caffeine after 5 p.m.; sleep in a cool, dark room; and ban the TV, computer, and other devices from your bedroom. They all cause too much mental stimulation to foster restful sleep.
And finally, there’s this:
Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your good health has vanished.
- How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? (2015, June 4) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on August 7, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
- Healthy Eating. (2015, Aug.) HelpGuide.org. Retrieved on August 7, 2015 from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/healthy-eating.htm
- Sleep Hygiene. (n.d.) National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved on August 7, 2015 from http://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/sleep-hygiene
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in Northern California.