Keys to Good Health: You hear lots of advice from many sources about what it takes to live well and keep your body in good working order. Sorting out what that means for you could seem like an overwhelming task. Let’s break it down into a few simple, easy-to-remember ways for adults to stay on a healthy path.
Become a flexitarian
Numerous studies have shown that a plant-based diet is healthiest, but you can still get many of the benefits even if you don’t go full-on vegetarian. Following a semi-vegetarian diet that includes fewer animal products but doesn’t completely cut them out may help you keep your weight in check as well as lower your chances of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Expand your palate’s palette
Dietary guidelines recommend that half of what’s on your plate at any meal be vegetables or fruits. But it’s also important to mix things up. While all fruits and veggies are healthy, they don’t all have the same nutrients. Give yourself the widest range of benefits by eating different-colored produce throughout the day.
Less sugar, more water
It’s a good idea to avoid added sugar in whatever you eat, yet soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks may be a bigger source than you realize. Some studies show that just a soft drink or two a day makes you 26% more likely to get type 2 diabetes. Sugary drinks have also been tied to heart attacks, gout, and obesity. Stay hydrated with water or, if you miss the fizz and taste, naturally flavored seltzer.
Move more, sit less
That’s the physical activity guidelines in a nutshell. While at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise is ideal, experts say that any movement is better than nothing. So make it a point to stand up more often and stretch, park a bit farther from your destination for extra steps, and explore new pastimes that will help put you in motion.
Get enough rest
Sleep is often low on the list in our nonstop society, but it’s a must for good health. Chronic sleep deprivation raises the odds of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and many other sicknesses. Getting your ZZZs also helps keep you safe: Driving while sleepy is just as bad as driving drunk. If you don’t usually wake up feeling refreshed, try slipping into bed 15 minutes earlier every week until you do.
Tame your stress
Everyone has stress; it’s how you react to it that matters. When you often explode in anger, get stomachaches because you’re nervous, or have trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, it’s time to make a change. Find a way to blow off steam, whether that’s through exercise, meditation, or laughing with good friends. Still feeling overwhelmed? Make an appointment with a counselor or other mental health professional.
Wash your hands: It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid catching whatever contagious bugs are going around. The key is to be thorough: After you lather up with soap, scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds. That’s about how long it should take you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.