Being healthy doesn’t need to be complicated. Sometimes all you need to do to is introduce some simple habits that will make a big difference on your health. Here are some of the things you can do:
1. Get enough sleep
You may have heard it many times, sleep is important and you should make it a priority in your life. However, it may not be easy to get 8 hours of sleep every day when you have a hectic life and never enough hours in the day, but it’s crucial to make an effort if you want to be healthy.
Getting enough sleep is important especially if you want to lose weight. That’s because sleeping less increases levels of ghrelin in our body, a hormone which increases our appetite. No wonder people who are sleep deprived experience increased sugar cravings and regularly reach for junk foods and refined carbs.
Sleep is not only important for controlling your cravings, it’s also essential if you want to keep your immune system strong and avoid colds and flus.
What’s more, sleep is vital for your mental well-being too. A lack of sleep can leave you feeling irritable and moody, and if your sleep deprivation goes on for long enough, in some cases, this can also increase the risk of long-term disorders such as depression and anxiety.
So make your sleep a priority in your life as this will have a really big impact on your health.
2. Drink enough water
Have you ever wondered why so many people tell you to drink enough water? You’d be surprised but not drinking enough liquids every day can contribute towards various health issues such as headaches, hypertension, heart problems, high cholesterol and even dementia.
Keeping hydrated has many benefits and here are just some of them:
- Staying hydrated improves your concentration and focus
- Drinking a big glass of water half an hour before mealtimes helps to prevent over-eating and reduces the number of calories you consume. This is an important habit to introduce if you want to lose some weight.
- Hydration improves your exercise performance and helps maintain muscle tone
- Drinking enough water improves your liver health - that’s because water helps the liver to flush out the toxins
- Staying hydrated keeps your kidneys healthy and prevents kidney stones
If you are not a fan of plain water, you can add some flavour to it by infusing it with mint, lemon or berries. You can also increase your liquid intake by drinking more black or green tea (unsweetened).
Doing some kind of exercise every day will make a big difference to your health. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move and are active.
Try and use your lunchtime for short walks and make use of the time when talking on the phone by doing some simple exercises such as leg lifts, squats and lunges. You can also be active when watching a TV and use the time during commercials to do some jumping jacks, sit-ups or press-ups.
Other things you can try to be more active:
- Play sports with friends
- Go to fitness classes
- Set up a mini gym at home
- Try some fun activities such as table tennis, dancing and trampolining - yes, they all count as exercise!
And in case you didn’t know why you should make an effort, here are some benefits of exercise:
- Reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Keeps your heart healthy and prevents cardiovascular disease
- Helps to build stronger bones and can improve bone density in people over 40
- Has a beneficial effect on the immune system
4. Eat a portion of vegetables or fruits with each meal
There is a good reason why we should all consume enough vegetables and fruits as part of a healthy diet.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. They are also rich in fibre which helps to keep our digestion healthy.
When we eat enough fruits and vegetables, our bodies get many essential nutrients we need to stay healthy. By eating them every day we are helping our immune system to stay strong and we help our bodies fight free radicals (these can cause damage to cells and DNA, and in a long term a disease).
Due to the antioxidants they contain, fruits and vegetables are anti-ageing and good for keeping our brains in top condition. They also offer anti-inflammatory benefits and cellular support. Not to mention their positive effect on cardiovascular health and the fact that they can help to manage diabetes. So many health benefits and these are just some of them!
Have a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Add some blueberries to your porridge, have a banana as a snack and eat carrot sticks with hummus, just to give you some ideas on how to add more fruits and veg to your daily diet. Other things you could try:
- Have a side salad every day as part of your dinner
- Add some salad to your sandwich
- Have soup for your lunch
- Add peas or carrots to sauces and meat dishes
5. Make sure you get enough vitamin D
People don’t realise the importance of vitamin D for good health. Vitamin D is not only important for healthy bones and a healthy immune system, but it’s also necessary for the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron and other minerals. What’s more, vitamin D also offers some protection against certain types of auto-immune diseases.
If you are not sure whether you are getting enough vitamin D, it’s very easy to check your levels by doing a simple test at home. It’s quite difficult to get enough vitamin D through foods alone so you should start supplementing as soon as possible when you discover that your levels are low.
So these are some of the most important habits you can introduce that will make the biggest difference to your health. It’s not really that complicated, is it?