Top tips for a healthy lifestyle

8th May 2019

Despite massive advancements in modern medicine allowing people to live much longer, we’re still a generation plagued by health problems. This could be due to the vast choice of unhealthy food options, our drinking culture or the fact that technology is making us lazy. Whatever it is, it’s not irreversible. Even though there may be plenty of opportunities to live an unhealthy life, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to live a healthier one and reduce your risk of serious health problems in the future.

Eat more fruit and veg

We’ve all been told since we were kids that we should try to get 5 portions a day, but sometimes this target can seem strangely high. Try to sneakily incorporate extras into your food by adding fruit and veg to smoothies or soups, always serve each meal with at least one portion of a fruit or vegetable and try to reach for them when snacking.

Not only does this ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs, but you’ll also inadvertently reduce your sugar consumption by filling up on good stuff instead. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Exercise more

If you don’t enjoy exercise enough to want to join a gym or play a sport then there are some very small things you can do to increase your activity levels without even realising it. Always take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car slightly further away than the place you need to be and try to move around regularly throughout the day, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting down. This could be a short walk at lunchtime, or simply a walk to get up and get a drink of water every hour or so.

Increasing your activity levels doesn’t have to be difficult, and you may find yourself more motivated to do it if you purchase a pedometer or Fitbit and can see your progress. Getting yourself moving around more promotes cardiovascular health and helps to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as keeping your blood pressure at a nice healthy level.

Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine

Although there has been a number of research projects that point to the benefits of moderate intake of alcohol and caffeine, too much can cause a number of problems. While having a small amount of each has been indicated to protect your brain, lower your risk of a number of diseases and even potentially lengthen your life, excessive intake can damage your liver, cause problems with your heart and increase your risk of certain cancers. It can also create less serious problems like disturbed sleep, dehydration unhealthy teeth.

While you don’t need to give up alcohol or caffeine completely, it’s wise to try and reduce your intake. Which is easier than you may think. When drinking alcohol, alternate with non-alcohol ones, try drinking a little slower or choose slightly weaker drinks (like a single rather than a double). In terms of caffeine, try to swap every other coffee for a herbal tea or decaf version and avoid things like energy drinks.

Although it’s not to do with the actual alcohol or caffeine content, a lot of alcoholic drinks and coffees contain high levels of sugar, which can lead to weight gain and all the associated problems that come with that (risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure). Try to make wise choices by opting for lower sugar alternatives like gin and tonic or having your coffee black.

Quit smoking

The risks and potential health problems associated with smoking are well-documented and seemingly never-ending. And yet because of the addictive nicotine that cigarettes contain, it can be hard to knock the habit on the head.

There are plenty of stop smoking aids out there though, that massively increase your chances of quitting. You could try nicotine replacement tactics but the most effective is undoubtedly Champix, which blocks the receptors in your brain, stops your cravings and reduces the pleasure you get from smoking.

If you find it too difficult to quit completely or have quit before and relapsed then you may be interested to know that the majority of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes build up in the bottom. So even smoking just half of the cigarette will significantly reduce the amount of tar and other dangerous substances making their way into your lungs.

Look after your mental health

It’s not just about keeping physically healthy - your mental health is just as important! Stress can not only keep you from getting proper, good quality sleep, but it can actually increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

Try to alleviate stress in your life by planning your workload in advance, staying organised and practising meditation or other relaxation techniques. It’s also important to have balance in your life between your work, your family, your friends and yourself. Don’t forget to plan in a little me-time.