Make a Plan to Be Healthy: In our busy lives, we seldom put enough thought into what we eat. Of course, when we’re young, this seems to work just fine. However, when we get older, we will have to deal with the consequences of the diet choices we made when we were young. To avoid this, you have to be intentional about developing a plan to be healthy. The worst thing you can do is to not plan at all.
Know Your Particular Health Needs: Before developing your personal health plan, the first thing to do is to understand your particular health needs. What may work for some people may not work for you. Start by researching your health history as well as the health history of your family. You should know what illnesses you are prone to and what conditions may run in your family. The more you know up front, the better you will be able to target your plan to meet your specific health needs.
Know the Components of a Basic Diet Plan: When planning the best diet for your lifestyle and health needs, there are a lot of things to consider. You should take a look at the diet plans that are out there and choose the one that best suits your lifestyle and health goals. Although recommendations vary by age and health status, here are some general rules of thumb of a good daily diet:
- Vegetables = 2 to 3 cups daily
- Fruit = 1 ½ to 2 cups daily
- Grains = 5 to 8 ounces daily
- Protein = 50 to 60 grams daily
- Oils = 5 to 7 teaspoons daily
Eat a Rainbow Diet: One diet recommended by the doctors interviewed for this series was the “Rainbow Diet.” A Rainbow Diet is just like it sounds: eating meals consisting of different colored fruits and vegetables, such as red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. Adding more colored fruits and vegetables to your diet provides nutrients that support your long term health while, at the same time, helping your body to fight off harmful elements.
Drink Lots of Water: Drinking water is essential to your health. Why? Because most of your bodily functions, such as digestion, creating silva, regulating your body temperature, and transporting nutrients require plenty of fluid to draw from. Drinking plenty of water helps your body to function properly. It is recommended that you drink an 8 ounce cup of water at least 8 times per day. If you are a fan of bottled water, you can simply drink 4 bottles per day, as each contains 16 ounces.
Make Time to Exercise: When we’re young, exercise is often something we do for recreation or enjoyment. Many of us play organized sports while others play for fun with friends. As we get older and our lives get busier, it can become harder to find time for exercise. Still, it is recommended that the average adult gets at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. Over the long term, this will help to increase your energy, reduce stress, and improve brain and heart health.
Eat in Moderation: As a rule of thumb, you should only consume what your body needs. Eating and drinking too much, even if they are things that are good for you, can be harmful. That being said, you should avoid excessively large portions.
Drink Alcohol Responsibly: Although alcohol can be enjoyable, abusing alcohol can lead to long term consequences to your health, such as heart and liver damage. For men, when you drink, you should consume no more than 2 drinks per day. This is considered moderate. Anything more than 15 drinks in a week is considered excessive. Still, you have to know yourself. If you are prone to addiction or drinking negatively impacts your behavior, it may be best to avoid it altogether.
Avoid Smoking: Smoking, whether cigarettes, marijuana, or any other substance, comes with risks and offers little health benefits. Excessive smoking can damage your lungs and lead to many other health challenges. As such, it may be safer to avoid altogether. Although many advocate the use of marijuana to treat pain, according to the CDC, the research is inconclusive on whether it is better at treating chronic or acute pain than alternative treatments. Consider all your options, know the risks, and make the best decision for your health.
Get Your Rest: Making sure you get the proper amount of sleep per night is vital to your long-term health. It is recommended that the average adult gets between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. However, just as important as the number of hours you sleep is the quality of sleep you get. Whenever you get quality sleep, your body is able to repair tissues, your immune system is strengthened, and you build up your energy levels for the next day. So make sure the place where you sleep is set up for you to get the best quality sleep possible. Your body will thank you!
Don’t Eat Too Late: Your body needs some time before you go to sleep to go through the digestion process. Eating too late too often can increase your risks for things like acid reflux, that is, when your stomach produces too much acid and it starts to come back up into your esophagus. If left untreated, this can have long-term negative effects on your health. It is best to stop eating between 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
Know the Signs: There are several signs or symptoms of potential medical issues. Although some symptoms can point to a variety of issues, there are some important ones to be aware of. For example, frequent urination, increased thirst, and an unsatisfied appetite can be an early sign of diabetes. Likewise, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, feeling faint, heart racing and a pounding or fluttering in the chest can be signs of high blood pressure. If you feel any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms that you are concerned about, don’t take any chances. Go see a doctor to find out more!
*Source: Many of these recommendations come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Please visit cdc.gov for more information.