Do you want to have a healthier lifestyle? Here’s what you need to do. Two of the best ways to make a healthier lifestyle change are to change your eating habits and to exercise more. This is easier said than done for a lot of people, and many people don’t know where to start when it comes to making these lifestyle changes. Changing your lifestyle for the better may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
When the word diet is mentioned, many people automatically assume that it means it’s time to eliminate all fast food and sweets and focus more on fruits and vegetables. While that is true to an extent, dieting encompasses so much more. For example, there are several different types of diets (the noom diet, the keto diet, the paleo diet, the DASH diet, etc.) marketed towards weight loss and other issues. However, the key to healthy dieting is to make sure that you include adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients into what you’re eating, and limit the amount of processed foods you eat. You may also just need to change the type of food you eat, rather than eliminating that type of food altogether.
Complex Carbohydrates vs. Simple Carbohydrates
Also known as whole carbs and refined carbs, respectively, carbohydrates are a macronutrient that’s essential for fueling the body. In other words, they’re necessary. Carbs are most notably found in bread/grain products, but they’re also found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They’re made up of fiber, starch (both of which are complex), and sugar (which is simple). The more fiber and starch a carb has, the more complex, or “whole” it is.
Examples of Complex vs. Simple carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains vs. White bread
- Whole fruit vs. Fruit juice (packaged)
- Oats vs. Traditional breakfast cereals
Consuming more complex carbs helps alleviate even the simplest of ailments, such as acid reflux. Many people may only need to relieve this by switching the type of carbs they eat, rather than relying on antacids. The popular antacid, Zantac, has recently been linked to its users developing certain cancers, resulting in class action lawsuits.
Unsaturated Fat vs. Saturated Fat
Like carbs, fat is another macronutrient that is necessary for us to live, but many people try to avoid it as much as possible. On the other hand, there are several people who do consume too much fat. The key is to make sure you’re eating the right kind of fat. Saturated fat is the bad fat that is usually (but not always) solid at room temperature, and it’s known to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) tend to be liquid at room temperature, and are the healthy fats that provide nutritional value.
Other Essential Nutrients
Protein is the third macronutrient that our bodies need to survive, as most meat-based protein sources contain all nine essential amino acids. Chia seeds and quinoa are great plant-based sources of protein, and they are full of vitamins and minerals— which are also essential to overall health. Make sure to consume a diet that includes different minerals, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and water-soluble vitamins (C and all of the B vitamins). And lastly, but most importantly, make sure you’re drinking enough water every day— with your weight in ounces being the general goal (i.e. 175 pounds = 175 fluid ounces).
Physical activity is another major component of living a healthy lifestyle. No, you don’t have to lift weights and jump on the treadmill at the gym every day for an hour, but you do need to move your body around as much as possible. Taking short walks is a great place to start for those who’ve never been physically active, or it’s been a while since you’ve been physically active. Exercise can be fun too: dancing, playing your favorite sport, and even gardening and fishing are all great forms of exercise. Exercising is also a great stress reliever, which is beneficial to both your mental and physical health.
It’s also beneficial to cut out any other bad habits that may negatively impact your health, such as smoking and excessive drinking. Taking care of your mental health is key to living a healthy lifestyle as well. Also, consult with your doctor to determine the best lifestyle changes for you.
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