How healthy are you? Do you have a healthy diet? Do you exercise regularly? Do you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day? Do you get enough sleep every day? Do you live a healthy lifestyle?
Our body is our temple, and we need to take care of it to have a healthy life. Do you know that over 65% of Americans are either obese or overweight? That’s insane! Think of your body as your physical shell to take you through life. If you repeatedly abuse it with unhealthy food, your shell will wear out quickly. While you may look okay on the outside, on the inside, your arteries are getting clogged up with cholesterol and arterial plaque. That’s not a pretty sight!
Life is beautiful and you don’t want to bog yourself down with unnecessary health problems. Today, your vital organs (kidney, heart, lungs, gall bladder, liver, stomach, intestines, etc) may be working well, but they may not be tomorrow. Don’t take your good health today for granted. Take proper care of your body.
Good health isn’t just about healthy eating and exercise — it also includes having a positive mental health, a healthy self-image, and a healthy lifestyle. In this article, I share 45 tips to live a healthier life. Bookmark this post and save the tips, because they are going to be vital in living a healthier life. 🙂
1. Drink more water. Most of us don’t actually drink enough water every day. Water is essential for our bodies to function — do you know over 60% of our body is made up of water? Water is needed to carry out body functions, remove waste, and carry nutrients and oxygen around our body. Since we lose water every day through urine, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing, we need to replenish our water intake.
Furthermore, drinking more water aids in losing weight. A Health.com study carried out among overweight/obese people showed that water drinkers lose 4.5 more pounds than a control group. The researchers believe that it’s because drinking more water helps fill your stomach, making you less hungry and less likely to overeat. I agree with that, and I have an added take that your body tries to retain whatever water you have when you don’t take in enough water, leading to increase in weight. Whereas when you regularly drink water, your body knows that it’s going to get its supply of fluids, so it doesn’t try to retain more water.
The amount of water we need is dependent on various factors such as humidity, your physical activity, and your weight, but generally we need 2.7-3.7 litres of water intake per day. Since food intake contributes about 20% of our fluid intake, that means we need to drink about 2.0-3.0 litres of water, or about 8-10 glasses (now you know how the 8 glasses recommendation came about!). One way to tell if you’re hydrated — your urine should be colorless or slightly yellow. If it’s not, you’re not getting enough water! Other signs include: Dry lips, dry mouth, and little urination. Go get some water first before you continue this article!
2. Get enough sleep. When you don’t rest well, you compensate by eating more. Usually it’s junk food. Get enough rest and you don’t need to snack to stay awake. Also, lack of sleep causes premature aging, and you wouldn’t want that.
3. Exercise. Not just a few times a week, but every day. Movement is life. Research has shown that exercising daily brings tremendous benefits to our health, including increase of life span, lowering of risk of diseases, higher bone density, and weight loss. Increase activity in your life. Choose walking over transport for close distances. Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift. Join some aerobics classes. Take up a sport of your liking (see tip #5)
Pick exercises you enjoy. When you enjoy the sports, you’ll naturally want to do them. Exercise isn’t about suffering and pushing yourself; it’s about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Adding variation in your exercises will keep them interesting.
Work out different parts of your body. Don’t just do cardio (like jogging). Give your full body a proper work out. The easiest way is to engage in sports, since they work out different muscle groups. Popular sports include basketball, football, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, frisbee, and more.
4. Eat more fruits. Fruits contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals. Do you know that oranges offer more health benefits than Vitamin C pills? Taking in synthetic supplements is not the same as consuming the foods directly from nature. Satisfy your palate with these nutritious fruits: Watermelon, Apricots, Avocado (yes, avocado is technically a fruit!), Apple, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Guava, Papaya, Strawberries.
5. Eat more vegetables. Like fruits, vegetables are important for good health. Experts suggest 5-9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day, but unfortunately most people don’t even have 5 servings! Some of my favorite vegetables include kidney beans, black beans, asparagus, long beans, french beans, sprouts, button mushrooms, and carrots. What are your favorite vegetables and how can you include more of them in your diet today?
6. Pick bright-colored foods. Fruits and vegetables with bright colors are usually high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are good for health because they remove free radicals in our body that damage our cells. So get your fill of fruits/vegetables of different colors: White (Bananas, Mushroom), Yellow (Pineapples, Mango), Orange (Orange, Papaya), Red (Apple, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon), Green (Guava, Avocados, Cucumber, Lettuce, Celery), Purple/Blue (Blackberries, Eggplant, Prunes). Here’s a full list under the color wheel.
7. Cut down on processed food. Processed foods are not good because (1) most nutritional value is lost in the making of these foods and (2) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt content, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. Processed foods are anything that is not in its raw form. In general, most food in supermarkets are processed — the more ingredients it has on the label (especially the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed they are. Watch out for those with salt/sugar in the first 5 ingredients and go for natural, whole food as much as possible.
8. Barefoot walking/running. There have been many proven positive benefits of barefoot walking/running, from better posture, less stress for your feet, less stress for your joints, etc . I’ve been running barefoot since May 2010 and loving it. Read: 10 Reasons To Run Barefoot
9. Purge negative people from your life. Positive mental health is an important part of a healthy life. You don’t need toxic people in your life. If you feel that a friend is overly critical or negative, let him/her go. If you’re dealing with backstabbers, let them go too.
10. Purge negativity from yourself. You don’t need negativity from yourself either. Listen to the thoughts that come up in your mind and get rid of the negative thoughts that you hear. A lot of eating happens because one feels unhappy, so by staying in a positive state yourself, you cut out that unhealthy dependence on food to be happy.
11. Journal out unhappy thoughts. One great way to purge negativity from within is to do brain dumping exercises whenever you feel frustrated. This is something I do with my coaching clients as well, where I ask them to journal out their deepest thoughts so that we can address them. Don’t keep these thoughts pent up inside you — it’s not healthy.
12. Avoid trigger foods. Trigger foods are the foods that make you go berserk and binge like crazy after you eat them. Everyone’s trigger foods are different (mine used to be doughnuts, pastries, and chips), but generally trigger foods are candy bars, chocolate, confectionery, chips, cookies, or anything with a high level of refined sugar, salt, fat, or flour. These foods cause a blood sugar imbalance, hence triggering one to eat more. What are your trigger foods? Identify them and remove them from your diet.
13. Breathe. Deeply. Oxygen is a vital source of life. You may know how to breathe, but are you breathing properly? Most of us don’t breathe properly — we take only shallow breaths and breathe to 1/3 of our lung capacity. Athletes are coached proper breathing techniques to get their best performance. A full breath is one where your lungs are completely filled, your abdomen expands, and there’s minimum movement in your shoulders.
14. Address emotional eating issues. Emotional eating is eating to fill an emotion rather than real hunger. Do you eat when you feel stressed out, down or frustrated? Do you reach out for food when you hit a block at work? Chances are, you’re emotional eating. However, emotional eating will never make you feel happy, because you’re trying to fill a void that has nothing to do with food. Food doesn’t give you love or happiness; it’s just food. Why do you reach out for food when you’re down? How can you address it? Get to the root of the issue and address it.
15. Eat small meals. Choose several small meals over a few big meals a day. This balances out your energy distribution throughout the day. In general, eat when you feel hungry, and stop when you’re full (see tip #20). You don’t need to wait until official meal times before you start eating. Listen to your body and what it tells you.
16. Stop eating when you feel full. Many of us rely on external cues to tell when we’re full, such as whether everyone has finished eating and whether your plate was empty or not. These are irrelevant: you should look at internal cues, such as whether your stomach feels full or not. Don’t feel obligated to eat just because there’s still food on the plate. Personally I like to stop when I feel about 3/4 full — if I eat till I’m totally full, I’ll feel uncomfortable as my digestive system goes into overdrive. Use your gut as your indicator (literally).
17. Go for brown carbs vs. white carbs. White carbs are refined grains like white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers, noodles, tortillas, wraps, anything with white flour and breading. The nutrients have been removed in the production process, leaving them rich in calories but low in nutrients. They also cause unhealthy spikes in our sugar levels. Go for brown carbs (unrefined complex carbs) instead, like brown rice, whole grain, oats, oatmeal (not the instant kind), and legumes. These come with nutrients and vitamins intact.
18. Live a life with purpose. Positive health starts from within! Are you living a life of meaning? Are you living in line with your purpose? Since I started living in line with my purpose years ago, I’ve never ever been happier. And you can experience that too. Read: Discover Your Purpose in Life (series)
19. Say no to oily food. Reduce your intake of fast food, fries, doughnuts, chips, wedges, and foods that have been deep fried. Not only are they very fattening (1 tablespoon of oil is 120 calories), deep fried food contains acrylamide, a potential cancer-causing chemical. According to a BBC report, an ordinary bag of crisps may contain up to 500 times more of the substance than the top level allowed in drinking water by the World Health Organisation (WHO)! I personally find that when I consume oily foods, I feel sluggish. There are better alternatives, such as grilled, steamed, stir-fried, or even raw food (see tip #41).
20. Cut out sugary foods. These are your candy bars, your pastries, chocolate, cookies, cakes, and jelly donuts. Not only do they not fill you, they trigger you to eat more due to the sugar rush they cause (see tip #16). Go for healthy snacks instead (see tip #36) — you’ll be more satisfied and happier.
21. Go organic. Organic foods are foods produced without “synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.” (Wiki) The organic movement is slowly catching on, with more supermarkets, especially in the US, offering organic options. Organic food tends to cost more, but hey — would you rather save some money and feed your body with pesticides or pay a few extra dollars for a cleaner, healthier body?
22. Cut out soda and caffeine. Drinks with caffeine are diuretics, meaning they speed up the rate of urine production. Hence, these drinks do not contribute to your 8 glasses of water/day requirement — they actually take away from it! Furthermore, soda is unhealthy, causes weight gain, and is an artificial stimulant, among other reasons. Ditch your soda and go for plain water or vegetable juices instead!
23. Don’t drink alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol is a diuretic. Not only that, alcohol is repeatedly proven to have negative effects on our body and health — impacting the proper functioning of our brain, liver, lungs, and other major organs. If you drink alcohol regularly, it’s time to cut it out, or at the very least, drastically reduce your consumption.
24. Prepare your meals. Lately I’m beginning to appreciate the value of preparing my own meals. When you prepare your meals, you control what goes into them. No more being in a dilemma between eating healthy and choosing between sub-optimal food choices. Get some quality kitchen equipment — it will be your best investment ever. I bought my blender 3 years ago and it’s been such a breeze making my own fruit juices!
25. Bring a water bottle when you go out. That way, you can replenish your fluids whenever you want to. It saves you money as well and you don’t need to subject yourself to poor alternatives like soda, which increases your fluid outtake instead since caffeine is a diuretic (see tip #27).
26. Dine at salad bars more often. Lately I’m falling in love with salad bars. Salad bars work like this: you pick your greens, you select X number of toppings (usually 6 or unlimited, depending on the outlet) and you finish off with a dressing. The variety is huge, it’s filling, and it’s extremely healthy.
27. Go for low-calorie, low-fat alternatives. There are many low-fat / non-fat alternatives today — from yogurts, to salad dressing, soy milk, spreads, ice cream, etc. Check out this comprehensive list: Lower Calorie, Lower Fat Alternatives. Of course, keep an eye on the overall calorie and other ingredients. Some food that is packed as “low/non-fat” may actually still be unhealthy, so you want to stay clear of them as well.
28. Stop smoking. It has been extensively proven that smoking is detrimental to health, severely increasing the risk of lung cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer (of our gullet), heart attack, and more. Smoking “light” cigarettes do not decrease health risks either. Bottom line: if you’re a smoker, quit for better health of not just yourself, but also your family and friends. If you don’t smoke, stay that way and don’t start.
29. Avoid passive smoking. Second hand smoking (breathing in air from smokers) causes many of the same long-term diseases as direct smoking (Wiki). And did you know? According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there is no risk-free level of passive smoking; even brief exposure can be harmful to health. Get away from smokers and avoid cigarette smoke where you can.
30. Have healthy snacks. If you’re hungry at work, eat healthy snacks like fruits, salads, and vegetable juices. These are nutritional and don’t give you that sugar rush. Have them readily available so that you can get a munch and stop when you’ve your fill. Stay away from cookies and candy bars.
31. Drink fruit/veg smoothies. I love smoothies because it’s a quick way to get vitamins and nutrients. Simply throw my favorite fruits and vegetables into the blender, wait for 30 seconds, and it’s done! I recommend to use a blender for fruits, rather than a juicer, as juicing generally remove the fiber of the fruit and creates large sugar spikes in your body (which is not healthy) due to the loss of fiber.
32. Juicing. Juicing is where you extract the juice from vegetables/fruits (via a juicing machine). Since the fiber is stripped away, you are literally drinking the nutrients and minerals directly from the juice. Juices and smoothies complement each other — the former gives our digestive system a break while the latter gives us the fiber which aids our digestion. I recommend juicing for vegetables as it’s a great way to quickly get vitamins and nutrients without having to munch through a huge volume of fiber.
33. Try a vegetarian diet. First off, going vegetarian doesn’t necessarily lead to better health, because there are many unhealthy vegetarian food out there (fried food, white carb laden diets, etc). On that note, there are many proven health benefits of a vegetarian diet. I’m a vegetarian today because I tried it for 30 days many years ago and saw the positive effects for my mental and physical health.
34. Try a vegan diet. A vegetarian is someone who does not consume animal products. A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume animal or animal-derived products. This means no dairy, honey, cheese, milk, etc. So in that sense, it seems stricter in very meat-biased eating cultures, but it brings about even more positive benefits than a vegetarian diet.