Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
There’s no simple formula for good health. In fact, if you ask a dozen people what it means to be healthy, you might get a dozen different answers. In general, though, being healthy means feeling good, having lots of energy, and being at low risk for chronic diseases. But good health is not only a state of body; it’s a state of mind as well.
While none of us has perfect health, there are things we can do to improve our health, no matter what state it’s in right now. Here are 7 habits that are good for your health:
Eat a healthy diet
There is so much research these days to support the old saying, “You are what you eat.” If you want to be healthy, eat real food and avoid processed food. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and stick with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Avoid products made with trans fats, sugar, white flour or chemical additives and preservatives.
Drink a lot of water
Dehydration is tied to many health problems. It can cause headaches, constipation, dry skin, and even high blood sugar levels. Drinking water helps to remove toxins from the body. It is also vital to proper brain function and circulation. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women consume 2.2 liters of fluids each day and that men take in 3 liters. This is the total amount of water that should be included in your diet, but it does not have to come just from drinking water. High quantities of water are also present in fruits and vegetables, another reason to include these healthy foods in your diet.
Exercise keeps your heart healthy and your mind sharp, and it lowers your risk for developing diseases like diabetes and cancer. The kind of exercise you do depends on your specific goals, but the bottom line is move more if you want to be healthy. Try to incorporate more than one kind of exercise into your daily routine. You should do aerobic exercise, strength training and exercises that increase flexibility. Getting enough exercise does not have to be difficult or boring. You don’t need fancy equipment, and you don’t need to belong to a gym. Take walks in nature, learn some simple yoga poses and use your own body to build strength by doing exercises like deep lunges and pushups.
Laughter is the “best medicine” for a number of reasons. First, it lowers levels of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which over time can damage health. Laughter is also a way to release stress and, let’s face it; it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re laughing. Laugher makes you more attractive, changes your outlook and has been linked to stronger immunity as well.
Reduce your stress level
Since chronic stress releases unhealthy chemicals and lowers your immunity to disease, lowering your stress level may be one of the most important things you do for your health. There are a lot of healthy ways to lower stress or keep it in check. Try yoga or meditation, or get a good massage. Spend more time with people you like (and less time with people you don’t like). Find work that is meaningful to you, and give up on the idea that you need to "have it all". If you need help, ask for it. And learn to say "no" when you need to. Some of these things may seem easier said than done, but the idea is to take steps toward these ideals, and as you do so, your stress level will begin to drop.
Getting enough sleep is another habit that is strongly connected to good health. Experts at Harvard Medical School say that there are at least six good reasons to get a good night’s sleep. These include a better memory, more efficient metabolism, alertness during the day, a better mood, a healthy heart, and strong immune system. Most people need 6-9 hours of sleep each night for good health.
Use herbal remedies
Herbs have been used medicinally for thousands of years. The natural substances in plants are often a much more healthy way to treat ailments than prescription medications because they have fewer side effects and are usually not addictive. If you want to prevent colds, deal with chronic stress or sleep problems or lower your blood sugar or blood pressure naturally, for example, there are herbal remedies you can try. Do some research and find out what works for you. Just be sure to discuss this with your doctor first, especially if you are already taking prescription medications for any condition.