Many later-life medical conditions could have been avoided with healthier early- or mid-life choices. Many others are a lifestyle consequence. It’s time to replace hazardous habits with prudent picks.
Start with a healthy, nutritious diet consisting of a wide variety of fresh, not processed foods that contribute different beneficial nutrients that help deflect chronic diseases. A low-salt diet might include: colorful fruits and vegetables (beets, carrots, eggplant); legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas); fruits, cereals and whole grains (quinoa, farro, brown rice, buckwheat groats); poached, baked or broiled fresh; frozen or canned fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, cod, swordfish); and low-fat dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, hard cheeses and yogurt. Learn more at https://www.eatingwell.com.
A healthy diet limits servings of salty and high-saturated-fat food such as French fries, biscuits, chips, cakes, pies, pizza and commercially processed or cured meats like pepperoni, salami and sausage. It also rules out sugary soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and newer alcohol-laced single-serve beverages and alcohol-spiked sodas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercise plays a vital role in brain health, weight management, bone health, muscle strength and the ability to perform daily tasks. Think about your daily schedule and make it a habit to leave extra time to routinely incorporate more exercise. Walk your kids to school. Join a gym. Take a swim. Learn to play pickleball, tennis or golf. Take advantage of daylight savings time for post-dinner athletics like soccer or basketball.
If you’re a smoker, be aware that smoking is directly implicated in many serious respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), bronchitis and emphysema. The CDC estimates that smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths annually including deaths from secondhand smoke, and can reduce life expectancy by 10 years. Quitting that habit is absolutely necessary for adult well-being.
Sound sleep and less stress are two goals for a healthier lifestyle. Numerous studies have found that continuous inadequate sleep and sleep deprivation increase the risk of developing numerous medical conditions. Toward a restful night’s sleep, experts say:
- limit screen time before bedtime
- sleep in a cool, (68-degree) dark room
- limit pre-bedtime alcohol and caffeine
- avoid large, late-night meals
- maintain a regularly scheduled bedtime and
- exercise daily
Often caused by an unresolved occurrence, stress prevents a restful nights’ sleep. Deliberately winding down pre-bedtime activity helps reduce stress and prepare the brain for rest. Use a meditation app to create calm.
Proactively choosing healthier lifestyle alternatives helps ensure a longer, healthier, more participatory and more productive life.