A healthy lifestyle consists of eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep every night. It also means that you avoid things that are harmful to your health such as smoking, excessive drinking, and overindulging in unhealthy foods.
The majority of the population is aware of the main benefits of a healthy lifestyle, though some may not be aware of just how impactful these benefits are. Here are three things that happen when you’re living a healthy lifestyle— some you may be aware of, and some may surprise you.
Most people are already aware of how eating healthy and engaging in physical activity has a positive impact on your physical health. Good nutrition and regular exercise both contribute to a healthy weight— whether you’re looking to lose fat or gain muscle. Here are some areas of health that are positively impacted by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.
Recent studies have found that a healthy diet can also reduce the risk of certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish and chia seeds) are already known to help improve brain health, so incorporate more of this into your diet.
Research has shown that eating foods high in antioxidants can greatly reduce one’s risk for cancer. Of course there are some exceptions as not everyone is the same, but antioxidants are known to reduce the amount of free radicals in the body, and free radicals increase the risk of cancer. Foods high in antioxidants include berries, leafy green vegetables, beta carotene (found in orange foods, such as carrots and pumpkin), nuts, and seeds.
Not only can a healthy diet help prevent type 2 diabetes, but it can help those who already have the disease manage it better to prevent complications. Diabetics should limit their consumption of fried foods, processed foods, and food high in sugar and salt. Unfortunately, that also includes sugary fruits and starchy vegetables, so they should focus more on watery fruits and leafy green vegetables.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death around the world, and it’s caused by conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol— and these conditions are typically caused by a poor diet. Up to 80% of heart diseases can be prevented by following a healthy diet. This diet should include good carbs (whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables), good protein (fatty fish, poultry, nuts and seeds), and good fats (avocados, olive oil)— all of which are high in essential vitamins and minerals.
In 2016, a study found that foods that increase blood sugar levels can increase feelings of depression. These foods are typically simple/refined carbs, which is found in fried foods, junk food, processed foods, white bread, and also soft drinks. Decreasing these foods and increasing the good/complex carbs can help promote a better mood.
Exercise is also a great mood booster and can help decrease negative feelings. Of course, diet and exercise alone isn’t enough to take care of your mental health. It’s also important to practice self-care and seek the help of a professional if you’re experiencing feelings of depression.
One benefit of a healthy lifestyle that many people take for granted and don’t really consider in their younger years is their mobility. As we age, our bones, joints, and muscles become weaker, making it harder for us to get around effectively. Osteoporosis (affects the bones) is more common in older people, and makes it harder— even dangerous— to move around a lot. Fortunately, consuming foods high in calcium (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, legumes, low-fat dairy, and tofu) and exercising regularly can promote strong bones.
Maintaining mobility in later life makes it possible for the elderly to remain in their own homes (known as aging in place), rather than having to move into assisted living. Those with limited mobility (and even those with mental health problems, dementia, and other diseases) are more likely to be victims of abuse and/or neglect in assisted care facilities— most notably nursing homes. An elder abuse and neglect attorney should be contacted if you suspect that you or a loved one is or has been a victim of abuse or neglect.
The bottom line is that not only will a healthy lifestyle help you live a longer life, but it will also help you live a happier and fuller life. It’s never too late to start a low-impact exercise routine, eating healthier, getting enough sleep every night, and quitting any bad habits.