Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00

The Habits of Healthy People

Article as it appeared in Weigh-Less magazine. By Natasha Liviero

Medical research confirms several steps that help to maintain optimum health. People who take these to heart are almost always in better shape, enjoying higher amounts of health and longevity. We reveal ten surprisingly simple ways to keep your health in check!

 1. Healthy people eat less fast food.

We all know that fast food is a no-no for the waistline, but here are a few fast facts:

In general, fast food is high in artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes if consumed in excessive amounts; most meals are high in salt, making them dangerous for people with high blood pressure,diabetes and kidney conditions; they are also high in simple carbohydrates (found in biscuits, cakes, white breads, etc), which offer little nutritional value. Complex carbohydrates (found in wholegrains,fruits and vegetables) are a much healthier option.

2. Healthy people have good hygiene.

Lets begin with oral care: Teeth should be flossed and brushed twice daily for at least two minutes per cleaning (studies links poor oral hygiene to heart disease and even erectile dysfunction). 

Next, hand care:Hands should be washed with warm soapy water after visiting public places, using the toilet, petting animals and preparing or eating food. An easy way to protect against germs and bacteria while on the go is to keep a waterless hand sanitiser in your handbag,gym bag and car.

3. Healthy people regularly engage in physical activity.

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are well documented, but we want to bring your attention to the role it plays in mental health. A study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that mild memory and cognitive problems in older women improved with aerobic exercise. It appears that aerobic exercise helps to boost the brains hippocampus, a region responsible for the mind’s ability to store and retrieve information. While the study found that resistance training had no significant effect on mental health, it certainly plays an important role in keeping bones strong, thereby helping to prevent serious injury. This means that people who partake in a mixture of aerobic and resistance training for around 50 minutes at least three times per week benefit from a healthier body and mind. P.S. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

4. Healthy people don’t spend hours in front of the television.

We all know that fast food is a no-no for the waistline, but here are a few fast facts: 
In general, fast food is high in artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes if consumed in excessive amounts; most meals are high in salt, making them dangerous for people with high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney conditions; they are also high in simple carbohydrates (found in biscuits, cakes, white breads,etc), which offer little nutritional value. Complex carbohydrates (found in wholegrains, fruits and vegetables) are a much healthier option.

5. Healthy people don’t reserve sunscreen for the holidays.

Everyday activities like driving, popping in and out of the shops or stepping out of the office render our skin vulnerable to ultraviolet light. The primary cause of premature ageing is sun damage, which is why doctors advocate wearing a sunscreen of SPF30 and above. It should be applied every day (especially to the face), irrespective of the time of year. And remember, UV light is still present when it’s cloudy.

6. Healthy people practice portion control.

Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us gain weight because we eat more than we need too! Part of this problem is portion size and serving too much food. Cornell University food psychologist Brian Wansink, Ph.D., says that portion awareness is the key to making sure that more of the 200 food choices we make each day are closer to what our thinking brain, as opposed to our instinctive brain, would like. He goes on to say, “When it comes to portion control, you can count on your brain not being very interested and your body not being very well calibrated.” For most people, we already know what we’re supposed to eat, and how much of it, we just ignore what we know. So already healthy people don’t necessarily practice portion control naturally, but rather have learnt to practice it.

7. Healthy people practice forgiveness.

Without forgiveness, anger and resentment set in and manifest bitterness and sometimes,illness. Unfortunately, we cannot control what other people do or say to us, but we can learn how to forgive them for the hurt they cause. If you choose to not forgive, you are the one that suffers in the long run.

8. Healthy people check their ‘beauty-spots’ (or moles) to protect against skin cancer.

Melanoma, a serious form of cancer that may arise in moles knows no race, gender or age boundaries. “When it hits, it runs wild wreaking havoc and spreading to many organs in the body,” says Dr Noori Moti-Joosub, Dermatologist at Laserderm. “Time is not on your side with melanoma and once it spreads there is often no chance to try and ‘beat it’.” Fortunately, if changes in a mole are detected and it is cut out early enough, it may not become malignant. “Molescans and mole self-examinations are vital, as well as the adoption of a good sun protection program,” says Dr Noori. So what should you be doing? Book a yearly mole check with a dermatologist and do monthly self-examinations looking for any irregular borders and changes in colour or size.

9. Healthy people understand the importance of sleep.

Burning the candle at both ends is bad for your health! Inadequate sleep has dire consequences on your health and quality of life. If you are not getting enough sleep you will probably experience fatigue, increased irritability, impaired memory, psychological distress, increased risk of accidents and injury, as well as an increased risk of illness due to a suppressed immune system. “Studies have shown that the average length of sleep for an adult is seven-and-a-quarter hours,” says Psychologist, Claire Newton. However, some people report needing more or less than this. “The Us National Sleep Foundation suggests that seven to nine hours a night is advisable for adults. If you want to work out how many hours of sleep you need, then keep a sleep diary for at least seven days when you are relaxed (i.e. on holiday), not drinking and able to go to sleep when you want to and wake up when you want to without an alarm clock. By the end of the week you should be in your natural pattern of sleep and able to see how many hours you should sleep for,” says Claire. Bear in mind that this changes according to your level of stress and physical activity.

10. Healthy people know how to be happy.

The problem with modern society is that we are bombarded with so much information about how to be happy that we spend too much time trying to create something we are not. Instead, we should build upon the positive attributes we already have – our individual passions, talents and flairs – and learn to be happy with whom we are. In other words, quit worrying about what other people say and do – and – be and believe in you.