Actions Matter: What’s the Healthiest Thing I Can Do for My Body?
By Genevieve Cunningham
Focusing on your overall health is not just a good idea, it’s an absolute necessity. The true wealth in life is good health. Without it, everything else suffers, and often in unexpected ways. Health affects everything -- how we feel on a daily basis, productivity at work, and overall quality of life. The truth is that if you want to live longer and feel good every day, you must work hard to improve your health, and you must do it with purpose. But how? In our fast-paced modern world, we’re bombarded with information from a million different sources. Where do we even begin? It’s simple -- we find the healthiest things we can do for our body -- and we start today.
What Are the Top 5 Health Risks?
Before we begin any new routines or habits, it’s important to assess our health as it is right now. Is there anything specific that you want to improve or accomplish? Perhaps you want to put an end to weight gain. Maybe you want to reduce your risk of disease. Or maybe you’re just aiming to live a healthy lifestyle. After a self-assessment, we can determine our next move by taking note of the most common health risks among others our age. For adults in America, the top five health risks include:
- Obesity - According to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control, it’s thought that about 42 percent of Americans are considered obese. Obesity can lead to a greater risk of various diseases, further complicating our health and wellness.
- Hypertension - Often called the silent killer, hypertension -- also known as high blood pressure -- is thought to affect approximately half of the adult population.
- High cholesterol - Closely following high blood pressure, high cholesterol is known to affect almost 100 million Americans. This health issue is heavily linked to another common problem, heart disease.
- Diabetes - According to the American Diabetes Association, about 37 million people in America are living with diabetes. Perhaps even more alarming, that number seems to be growing with each passing year.
- Heart disease - Perhaps it’s actually the combination of these conditions that raises our risk for heart disease. No matter the cause, heart disease contributes to as many as 1 in 5 deaths among Americans every day.
While this list may look intimidating, there’s still good news. All of these health risks can be lowered with a few simple habits. What’s the best thing you can do for your body? If you want to lower these risks, you can focus on good nutrition and regular exercise.
It’s All in the Greens
If you’ve ever looked for advice regarding nutrition, you’ve undoubtedly come across this piece of advice: Eat more greens. But what’s the deal with healthy greens? What does that mean? Why is it important?
You can consume healthy greens in a multitude of ways. The first and most obvious way is to simply increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. To gain the most health benefits, make sure that your vegetable choices contain plenty of dark leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, and spinach.
The more pressing question, of course, is why? The U.S. Department of Agriculture can provide the answer. Research shows that regularly consuming healthy greens can promote healthy bones, lessen inflammation in the body, protect cells from damage, and aid in digestion and weight management.
Supplements: What Vitamins Will Improve Overall Health?
Though the consumption of healthy greens can make a difference in our overall health, it takes a lot more to truly improve our bodies and manage our well-being. Much of what we need can be accomplished by eating a well-balanced diet. Along with greens, we need plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. By planning our diets ahead of time, we can consume exactly what we need to thrive.
Even when we eat well, there are often areas where we need additional help. When this happens, we can fill in the gaps through supplements. Through research conducted by Harvard Medical School, studies show that some of the most beneficial supplements include:
- Vitamin D - Most of our Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight. If we don’t get enough exposure to sunlight, we may be deficient in this vitamin, which can then cause aches and pains, confusion, weak bones, and other negative effects. Spend 10 minutes outside for some sun and fresh air.
- Vitamin B Complex - It’s not at all unusual for individuals to be lacking the very important Vitamin B12. This is especially common among vegans and vegetarians. Adding a B Complex -- or just a B12 -- vitamin to your routine can help you sustain energy and promote healthy blood.
- Fish oil - Taking a fish oil supplement is an easy way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your body. This supplement is good for improving heart health and reducing joint pain.
The Role of Exercise: Does It Really Work to Improve Health?
The idea that exercise plays a significant role in our health is certainly not a new idea. In fact, it's a staple that has been with us for years. Its value cannot be underestimated. Exercise helps us build stronger bodies, maintain a healthy weight, and lowers our risk of chronic disease -- some of the very diseases that we are most at-risk of suffering in our lives.
How much exercise is enough to see these benefits? In a recent article for the New York Times, Dr. I-Min Lee of the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that 30 minutes per day five days a week is sufficient to see these -- and other -- powerful benefits.
It’s about consistency and the combination of exercise and a good diet. Together, these habits may be able to transform our health and take our increasing risk of disease and discomfort down to nothing more than a passing thought.
Planning Ahead: How to Make the Perfect Healthy Day
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the options, make it as simple as possible. Start one day at a time. The perfect healthy day might look something like this:
- Wake up early - Wake up to a morning routine and healthy breakfast.
- Exercise - Engage in your favorite form of exercise for 30 minutes.
- Take care of business - Head to work and take care of business. At the end of the day, leave it there.
- Choose good food - Choose the carrot sticks instead of the candy bar. Water over soda. Make that choice as often as you can.
- Enjoy your loved ones - After work, go home and enjoy family and friends and activities.
- Wind down - Use a routine to help you wind down and get ready for bed.
- Sleep - Get at least 8 hours of quality sleep.
What makes up the perfect healthy day? Good food, lots of movement, and good rest. It’s simple but effective. What’s the best thing you can do for your health? Eat a good diet, exercise, and actively choose to put your health first.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.