According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US is currently experiencing an obesity epidemic that is also fueling an increase in the rate of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases diagnosed annually. Worse still, these health conditions are increasingly affecting Americans in their prime working years. With that in mind, here are three tips to help you improve your overall health.
For starters, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends following dietary guidelines given by reputable bodies or institutions such as the CDC or National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is important because there are thousands of diet plans being peddled online that could harm your health because they are not based on sound scientific knowledge. With this in mind, the Food and Nutrition Information Center recommends making sure that you include the following nutrient-rich foods in your diet.
• Beans, seeds, and nuts
• Fruits and green vegetables
• Low-fat or fat-free dairy products. You could also use alternatives such as soy and rice milk
• Whole grains including brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread
• Lean meats, poultry, and eggs
On the other hand, avoid calorie-rich foods with minimal nutritional value. For instance, most sugar-rich foods pack many calories but are nutrient-deficient. At the same time, avoid foods that contain butter or fats that are usually solid at room temperature. You should also avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and foods that contain refined grains such as white bread and white rice. Finally, do not skip breakfast because doing so increases the risk of overeating later in the day, the NIH explains.
Besides a healthy diet, regular physical activity is necessary to control body weight and strengthen bones. To enjoy these health benefits, aim to complete at least 150 minutes of weight and non-weight bearing aerobic activities every week. Activities that fit this description include running, swimming, dancing, playing basketball, cycling, jogging, brisk walking, lifting weights, playing soccer, and hiking.An article published by the NIDDK states that scientific studies have shown that being physically fit at midlife lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke later in life. If you are overweight or obese, it is advisable to start with small physical activity goals such as walking just ten minutes every day and then gradually increase the intensity and amount of time spent exercising. Ideally, you should perform about 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
According to a National Institutes of Health publication, multiple research efforts have shown that sleep plays a key role in enhancing productivity and maintaining good health. For instance, the brain forms new pathways that are essential for learning and developing new skills when you sleep. On the other hand, chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. In fact, the NIH says 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, which leads to $50 billion in lost productivity and $16 billion in healthcare costs annually. For these reasons, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says adults including seniors should sleep at least 7 to 8 hours daily.
Healthy living should be a concerted effort that covers diet, physical activity, and sleep. More specifically, you complete at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly, eat a healthy diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, and sleep for 7 to 8 hours every night.