Good health doesn’t happen by accident – it’s a result of proactive, preventive, healthy choices that have an impact on your health today, tomorrow, and beyond.
So says Futurelife® dietitian, Bianca Tromp who insists it’s never too early, or too late, to develop healthy habits.
“A healthy lifestyle is not only important during infancy and old age, but it is crucial during all stages of life, including childhood, adolescence, and adult years. Regardless of whether you are 12 or 75 years old, the impact of a healthy lifestyle should never be underestimated,” she adds.
There are a few simple, healthy rules to achieve an ongoing physical and emotional health, and it starts with reforming our everyday choices.
Here are Bianca’s five healthy rules she believes we should all be living by:
Rule 1 – watch your portions
Why is it that even though you are eating so-called healthy foods, you are at an unhealthy weight? The problem often lies with portion control.
Even too big a portion of healthy foods can cause unwanted weight gain. And, although you might see your portion sizes as “normal”, it might be time to reassess.
So, what is a healthy portion size?
For starches, choose low-GI starches, no more than the size of your fist.
For lean meat, chicken and fish, have a portion the size and thickness of your palm.
Vegetables should fill the rest of your plate, so include about two handfuls while limiting fats to the size of the tip of your thumb.
Rule 2 – keep moving
The one thing that those who live healthy, long lives have in common is physical activity.
Physical activity is not just good for your physical wellbeing, it also keeps you mentally and emotionally healthy too.
You don’t need to be a gym bunny – you can walk around the block in the evenings or spend time gardening. Whatever works for you, try to include at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.
Rule 3 – take care of your gut
We often associate gut health with the absence of symptoms like bloatedness, constipation, and diarrhoea, but did you know that 80% of your immune cells are in your gut?
To support our immune system and keep our gut healthy, we need a balance of probiotics (the “good” microorganisms) in our digestive tract.
Yoghurt, buttermilk, soft cheeses, and pickles are good sources of probiotics.
Rule 4 – include protein in every meal
Not only does protein provide the building block for muscle maintenance and synthesis, protein will also make you feel fuller for longer. This means less cravings and snacking on unhealthy foods.
Aim to include a protein source in each meal and snack. Low saturated fat protein options include nuts, nut butters, eggs, soy, lean meat and chicken cuts, fish, beans and legumes.
Rule 5 – a good night’s rest
Like breathing, sleep is a fundamental human requirement but so many of us don’t get the required amount of sleep to function properly.
Lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and it can even affect your appearance.
Making sure you get a good night’s rest every night should be a top priority, Bianca says. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight hours of sleep for people over age 64 and seven to nine hours for ages 18 to 64. Kids need more sleep.