Healthy Lifestyle: Five Good Health Habits

We are surrounded by information about the health effects of what we do and what we eat. Most foods have nutrition labels, packets of cigarettes carry health warnings, and even a bottle of wine may include a message about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Making reasonable decisions based on such advice is an important way to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Lifestyle

Fifty years ago, most doctors thought it was just bad luck if a patient had a heart attack. Today, we know that lifestyle plays a huge role in health problems. Studies show that at least half of all death from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and lung disease can be attributed to modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, exercise and diet.

People are now expected to take more responsibility for their own health. Healthy lifestyle really starts in childhood, when parents have a chance to instill healthy habits such as brushing teeth, eating well and exercising regularly. 

By the age of 11 or 12, such habits have often become ingrained. Research also shows that practices in childhood do affect health later in life. For example, dermatologists accept that many cases of skin cancer in middle-aged people are a consequence of over-exposure to harmful UV rays before the age of ten. There is also increasing concern over record levels of obesity in children, as this may cause heart disease in later life. 

As children get older, their lifestyles tend to become less healthy. As teenagers, they come under peer pressure to smoke, take drugs, and away from parental direction they may subsist on junk food. They also take more risks. Nearly half of all male deaths between the ages of 15 to 24 are from road accidents, with speeding and alcohol being major contributing factors.

Five Good Health Habits

Five Good Health Habits

When the sign of age start to make themselves felt – often around 40 to 45 – many people discover a new interest in healthy lifestyle, and a landmark study, begun in 1965, suggests that they are wise to do so.

Nearly 7000 people in the Alameda Country in California were asked which of the following five positive habits they practiced: (1) sleeping seven to eight hours a night; (2) not smoking; (3) having no more than two alcoholic drinks a day; (4) taking regular exercise; and (5) being no more than 10 percent overweight.

Nine years on, mortality rates were significantly lower for people following all five healthy habits. Those who practiced two or less were three times more likely to have died than those who practice four or five. Those who followed all five had far fewer days of illness.

It seems it is definitely worth making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. However, whether you do so depends on many factors. Some people do not like being told how they should live, particularly when it comes to personal matters like sex, alcohol and diet.

Consequently, doctors in the UK have been warned by health campaigners not to nag their patients to stop smoking – one reminder a year is enough, they say.

It is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and even somebody who has been overweight for many years will benefit from a change of diet and some gentle exercise. 

Related Reading: Nutrition Tips for Busy Students

Fruit, Glorious Fruit

Fruit, Glorious Fruit

Only a small number of people actually manage to eat the five daily portions of fruit and vegetables recommended for a healthy diet.

To help you increase your fruit intake, try thinking of it as the ultimate convenience food – it comes in its own packaging, it’s ready to eat, and it’s beneficial for you. You could also seek out unusual fruits to keep your fruit snacks interesting, an easy and fun way to starts your healthy lifestyle

Eating Fish for a Longer Life

Eating Fish for a Longer Life

Eating fish reduces your risk of developing a thrombotic stroke (caused by a clot in a blood vessel leading to the brain). In a US study, researchers assessed 80,000 women (aged between 34 and 59) for 14 years. They found that the more fish they ate, the lower the risk of heart disease.

Compared to women who ate fish less than once a month, those who had fish here times a month had a 7% lower risk; a weekly fish meal gave a 22% lower risk; two-four meals per week had a 27% lower risk, while five times or more resulted in a 52% reduction.

The beneficial effect derives from the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, which reduce the ‘stickiness’ of blood platelets, making clotting less likely. Oily fish such as herring, trout, sardines and salmon contain the highest amounts of these fats.