The most important 20 aspects of healthy living for most people are listed below.
Don’t get overwhelmed but try to choose 2-3 areas where you feel you have some time and motivation to achieve them in a sustained way.
- Avoid cigarette smoke even passive smoking of any degree; – this is the most important single measure to achieve for you and your family. Remember vaping is only a temporary solution.
- Total energy consumption/day varies enormously but should be between 1800 kcal to 2800 kcal depending on age, any current diseases and activity levels; – miscalculating this by even a fraction say only 35kcals/day (~ 1-2% of your total daily calorie intake) could lead to over 3.5 lbs weight gain over a year. Some people find a tape measure is better than weight as maintaining a height:waist ratio of greater than 2:1 has been shown to be predictive of improved health.
- Managing portion control and learning to be slightly hungry before eating (and even afterwards) is helpful to generate adequate triggers for meal times; – aim for 4 or more smaller meals a day in total with a maximum of 900 kcals at any one meal.
- Keep protein intake at optimal levels ~ 50g/day to maintain muscle mass and avoid decreased energy burning; – muscles burn more energy even at rest than most other body cells and protein is essential to maintain muscle bulk.
- Combine starchy carbohydrates with fibre to improve digestion and optimise slow controlled sugar release; – brown wholemeal bread, porridge, potatoes with skins, whole wheat pasta or brown rice (combine carbohydrate to fibre in a 10:1 ratio usually 300g:30g). This is easier to monitor if you cook at least 50% of your own meals.
- Eat balanced fruit and vegetable intake of ‘5 a day’; – each portion of the ‘5’ can be 30g of dried fruit or pulses, 150mls of juice but not potatoes.
- Replace meat with fish or vegetarian options; – at least 2 portions of fish/week; 1 oily like ocean salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna and 1 non-oily like haddock, plaice or cod. If you eat red meat no more than 500g cooked weight/week.
- Eat fat in moderation (60-70g/day) and especially keep saturated fats to acceptable levels; – 20g/day for women and 30g/day for men.
- Salt should be minimised and rarely added at the table; – 1.5-2.5g/day is the maximum. The tell-tale signs of over consumption of salt is likely to be high blood pressure above 135/80. An inexpensive home blood pressure monitor could help you assess this risk.
- Avoid snacking and replace this with other pleasurable activities; – think big and alternative. However fruits are good as well as Nuts especially walnuts, almonds and brazils and can be used 3-4 times a day in addition to meals.
- Alcohol should be limited to less than 14 units per week and ideally less than 5 units; – 1-4 units/week may actually be healthy in most people.
- Keep hydrated with adequate clear water as people may mistake thirst for hunger; – 4-6 glasses of tap water/day. You should keep a check on how much you drink and how much water you pass especially if you are unwell and/or feverish. In that case early attendance at the doctors is advised.
- Adequate probiotic intake of live bacterial yogurts can encourage good bowel flora; – for lactose intolerant or diabetic people dried bacterial capsules are just as good.
- Adequate exercise to generate a slight increase in heart rate for 30minutes 5 times a week ideally; – swimming and on-seat cycling recommended. Check your resting heart rate beforehand as well as your peak heart rate immediately afterwards and how quickly it comes back to rest. Depending on the strenuosity of the exercise it could take 12 hours or more, however it is the first few minutes that are the most important where there should typically be a reduction of 15+ beats/min.
- De-stressing of your life style including finding time for self reflection and planning ideally either side of each day; – combining this with a gentle morning stretch and a late night meditation can be helpful.
- Reinforce correct body image mindsets by looking at yourself once a week; – body shape aspirations of individuals and expectations of onlookers needs to be realistic and bespoke.
- Avoid long term stimulatory agents both legal and illegal; – burning the candle at both ends always end up sadly.
- Personal relationships and intimate health matters need to be nurtured and monitored; – people in stable functional relationships live longer.
- Be kind, have empathy and be altruistic regularly; – treat others as you wish to be treated. Think of supporting the local issues (homelessness and poverty) as well as the international issues (carbon footprint and world wild-life).
- Keep your mind challenged by taking on new experiences as change is part of life’s journey; – live life as best you can while not spoiling it for others. Start by having one full day away from computer screens and develop another interest and hobby.
1. Risk of Heart Disease
2. Risk of Cancer
3. Risk of Dementia