How to Maintain a Good and Healthy Body
Health has always been a highly researched and ever-evolving topic. While previously it was thought that health was just the absence of any physical illness, now it is defined as the physical, mental and social well being of a person without the presence of disease and infirmity. There is also an ever-increasing interest in the minds of the common man about how to maintain one’s health. This is very much evident from the abundance of yoga practitioners, vegan diet followers, and natural or ayurvedic or herbal product users in recent times.
In this day and age of YouTube, Instagram and other sources of readily available information, there are millions of ideas floating around on how to maintain health, diet and lifestyle advice by health gurus, videos on tutorials of just about everything. It becomes very confusing what to follow and what to ignore. Not to mention discerning which of these pieces of information is utter nonsense and unscientific. So given below are a comprehensive guide and overall view on how to maintain your health.
What we eat is what we become. That is an indisputable fact. From time immemorial we have always struggled with “controlling” our diets. Even though we know that the next pizza or burger that we eat is not going to sit well with our system, we eat it anyway. And then hate ourselves for it. It is not just about what we eat, it is also about our mindset while we eat what we eat.
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While it is ok to cheat on our perfect diet with the occasional sweet or yummy treat, it is definitely not ok to curse oneself and feel pathetic about oneself while eating it. This self-deprecation leads to further loss of self-resolve and we end up binge eating thinking we are good for nothing anyway. We need to be aware of this vicious cycle and in order to break it, we need to start enjoying our food more.
Equally important as what we eat is when we eat. We need to be more aware of our bodies’ needs. One of the main determinants of health is that we eat when we are actually hungry and not just because it is “time to eat”. The best “time” to eat is when the previous food we have eaten is well digested. That’s when our body sends hunger signals. The reason why this is important is that eating even though one is not hungry causes an overload of nutrients which eventually does not get digested, and undigested food is as good as eating junk food.
When it comes to the question of what to eat, nothing is healthier than home-cooked food. But since home-cooked food has genuinely become a privilege to many of us, we can at least make sure that what we eat is easy to digest, is not too junky and stale. Include enough fruits and vegetables in the diet and we don’t need to take vitamin pills as well. It is important not to overindulge in any kind of food, even the healthy and nutritious type, as over nutrition is equally harmful or the body.
One must have enough water throughout the day, and enough water does not mean lots of water. While having water when one feels thirsty helps maintain the functions of all the cells of the body, drinking too much water causes dilation of blood and nutrients in the cells. Drinking boiled water either lukewarm or cooled is the healthiest since it is easily absorbed and helps in digestion as well.
Exercise is probably one of the healthiest and one of the most ignored habits of our generation. Exercise improves blood circulation, flushes toxins out from the body, tones muscles, improves digestions, increases absorption of nutrients from the gut, increases oxygen intake and lung capacity, reduces stress and improves the mood. And the beauty of exercise is that any form of exercise does the trick – whether it is gym, cardio, yoga, aerobics or even dancing. The trick is to get the body moving.
Today, most of us have a largely sedentary lifestyle. Whether we go to the office to work or work from home. Formerly geriatric problems like increased cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, bone problems, etc. are now starting to affect the younger generation. And a direct correlation can be found between these disorders and the lack of exercise in our daily schedule.
Most of us have even developed postural body pains or deformities – e.g. the texting thumb, text neck or hunched upper backs from sitting in an improper posture in front of a PC and using our phones for too long. All these abnormalities can be corrected through exercise and being conscious of our body posture throughout the day.
Studies have shown that exercising for just half an hour, five times a week helps regulate the hormones of the body. It increases the release of endorphins and regulates cortisol, thus reducing anxiety and increasing the sense of happiness. It controls estrogen secretion in women, thus preventing breast cancer and stimulates testosterone production in both sexes, which helps in muscle growth, improving metabolism and overall confidence. Exercise also improves insulin sensitivity, thereby maintaining glucose metabolism and energy production and in the process of protecting the body from diabetes.
Stress has become a part and parcel of our fast-paced and competitive lives. It is estimated that about 264million people in the world suffer from some form of anxiety disorder and 322million people suffer from depression. While having worrisome and anxious thoughts is what makes us human, these thoughts turn into disorders when they start eclipsing our whole day and affect our functionality.
If not tackled in the proper way these mental disorders have the capacity to derail our whole lives- personal and professional, thus decreasing our quality of life. It is very important to address mental health disorders in a healthy way by seeking professional help from psychologists and psychiatrists. It is high time that we do away with the stigma attached to mental health.
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As a preventive measure, we can indulge in exercise, yoga, and meditation. There are various studies that have proven that exercise and yoga (meditation included) help in decreasing stress, anxiety and depression. Yoga is shown to increase dopamine, serotonin (hormones improving mood) levels in the body while decreasing adrenaline and noradrenaline (hormones causing fight or flight response i.e. stress) levels. Asana, pranayama and meditation practice also helps improve concentration, calm down the mind by decreasing the hyperactive stress response and promote a general sense of well being.
The environment is the surrounding in which we exist. Though this is one factor that we cannot actively control it does have a profound effect on our health. E.g. the changing seasons which cause symptoms of flu and allergies, the waterlogged surroundings which cause malaria, the pollution in our cities which causes various breathing disorders and various other countless carcinogenic factors.
While these extrinsic factors can never be completely one away with, there are many steps that we can take to prevent the diseases which could arise from them. E.g. combating the effects of seasonal changes on our bodies by improving our immunity by exercising and having a proper diet. Wearing a face mask while heading into polluted areas, investing in clean energy resources planting more trees and keeping our surroundings clean.
Thus we can conclude that while maintaining one’s health is not an easy task, it is nevertheless a necessary one. Having a healthy body and mind is instrumental in having a successful professional and personal life. While aging is an inevitable fact of our life, we can make sure our journey towards old age is as smooth as it can be. This can only be achieved by proper diet, exercise, taking care of the mind and keeping everything in moderation.