How to stay healthy is a question we hear a lot. Especially in the time were the world was shaken by the coronavirus outbreak, more and more people are looking for ways to stay healthy and strengthen their immune system. Parallelo Health is all about your health and today will we talk about 10 ways to stay healthy, so you can be assured that your body is in optimal form and thus less likely to get sick.
You can get a lot of information on staying healthy online. You probably also have some great ideas yourself. The sheer amount of information however, can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. This is why we at Parallelo Health have sorted the most important things for you. We will explain them briefly, so you will know exactly what is important –and why!
Let’s dive right in.
Eat a variety of healthy foods
It is important to realise that your body only functions as well as the fuel (= food) you put in. To be plain and simple: if you put trash in your body, your body will function like trash. Think about a car: it needs the right fuel and oil, otherwise it will leave you stranded alongside the road.
Your body will need a variety of healthy foods to function optimally. Preferably take unprocessed foods instead of processed food, like cheeseburgers and sausages. Processing adds many unhealthy ingredients and takes away from any good nutrients.
Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they contain a lot of good nutrients, like vitamins, fibres and antioxidants. Good vitamins are vitamin C, D, K.
Limit your intake of unhealthy saturated fats and switch to unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are found in cheese, fried foods, baked goods like cookies and things like butter and palm oil and increase chances of heart disease and weight gain.
Try to have a good variety of nutrients, like protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats like omega 3.
If you miss nutrients from your regular diet, it might be good to consider using supplements. This can be very effective in boosting your daily intake. For example when you want to take high doses of vitamin C, a supplement is needed. Read all about vitamin C in our article here.
Most people will understand that sitting behind a desk, or lying on a couch all day, isn’t the best for your health.
Your body will profit from daily – or at least multiple times a week – exercise. This doesn’t mean you will have to hit the gym and go beast mode though. Even with all the rules currently in effect, there are still plenty of options to exercise. Some great ideas:
- Walking your dog.
- Going out to the park for a walk.
- Ride your bicycle for half an hour.
- Get a some hardware and make your own home gym.
- Go to a lake, sea or swimming pool and swim for a bit.
- The options are endless.
The optimal time spend on moderate exercise a week is 150 minutes according to experts. They all agree though that any movement is better than no movement. So leave that car and get your bike, or just walk! Your body will thank you for it.
Maintain a healthy bodyweight
Overweight and obesity are one of the major problems of this age. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016 there were 1.9 billion adults overweight. 650 million of those were obese. Furthermore, in 2019, 38 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese. You read that correct: under the age of 5!
Overweight basically means that you have an abnormal or an excessive amount of fat in your body that may be a danger to your health. Overweight can be defined by a BMI greater than 25. Obese can be defined by a BMI of more than 30.
Common health issues associated with overweight and obese are cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and strokes. Also diabetes, cancer and musculoskeletal diseases like osteoarthritis are more common among people with a high BMI.
It is quite clear that it is very important for your general health, as well as your physical and mental energy, to maintain a healthy bodyweight. We realise it is always easy to talk about losing weight and it’s sometimes hard to actually make it happen. However, everybody that started on the path of weight loss is rewarded with a much better feeling about themselves and is much more healthy. It will also make sure you stay healthy if you maintain a good bodyweight. So let’s get started with changing your diet and start moving.
Moderate or stop smoking
Regular smoking isn’t the best thing for your health and most people know it. If you want to stay healthy, it might be wise to reduce your smoking habit, or stop altogether.
Smoking is associated with loads of diseases and things that are bad for your health. Think about cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, strokes and diabetes. Also it reduces lung capacity and might cause COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Furthermore smoking appears to decrease your immune system, might affect your sight and cause tuberculosis. That’s a long list of pretty bad things. Add to this list the addictive substances which are added to tobacco and you have a deadly mix in your hand during your break.
A side note which is interesting and something we will come back to later. In past times, many native peoples, in many countries, used to smoke every now and then. Think of a peace pipe. These were said to offer spiritual guidance (depending on what they were smoking), but also were believed to have certain health benefits. Obviously the current tobacco industry isn’t making smokes like the natural products they were smoking back then, but still it begs the question: were they right and is smoking every now and then really that bad?
Don’t drink too much alcohol
Let’s be honest. Alcohol isn’t all bad. Sure it poses some grave health risks when taken in abundance, but moderate use can actually be beneficial for your health.
Let’s first define moderate and heavy use. Moderate alcohol use means that women can take one drink a day, while men may consume op to 2 drinks. Please not that this is not every single day of the year. Heavy drinking is basically everything over 3 drinks a day, or when you start using alcohol each and every day.
Health benefits of moderate drinking have been shown in many studies and apply to both men and women. There seems to be a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, strokes and vascular disease.
However, increasing your alcohol consumption increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart rhythm abnormalities and hypertension. So basically, when your drink every now and then it’s all good, but drinking often reverses any and all benefits and changes them into risks.
Side note on alcohol use: when taken in abundance, it does not only affect your health, but also touches your friends and family. An alcohol addiction can destroy many relationships. So if you don’t want to lower your intake for yourself, do it for you family.
Reduce your sugar intake
Added sugar poses several threats to your health. One of the biggest threats is cardiovascular disease. Added sugar is sugar that is added to your foods and drinks by manufacturers. We all know the images of huge piles of sugar cubes that go into soft drinks.
Sugar can be found in many unprocessed foods. Basically, all foods that contain carbohydrates also contain sugar. For example, many fruits, vegetables and dairy contain some sugar. These sugars are great and are actually healthy. They provide your body with much needed energy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and cancer.
The added sugars aren’t healthy at all and they are added to almost everything you can buy apart from unprocessed foods. Think about cookies, drinks, dairy products, cereals and candy. By eating and drinking processed foods, we increase our sugar intake to unhealthy levels. These increased sugar levels can have a big impact on your heart, as many studies show.
We have mentioned it before; by picking your foods carefully and switching to (more) unprocessed foods, you can make a big impact on your life and your health. You will stay healthy if you eat healthy.
Drink sufficient water
We call water the elixir of life. Humans need water to survive and can’t live long without it. This is easy to understand as most of your body is made up by water. Water has many benefits on your health and your body in general. Some of the best benefits are:
- Water will give you energy; physical as well as mental energy.
- Water benefits your brain function.
- It helps with digestion, transport of nutrients and maintaining your body temperature.
- It will reduce the risk of kidney stones, bladder infections and headaches.
- Water will also reduce your craving for sugar.
These are just a few of all the benefits that water can offer. So staying hydrated is really important to stay healthy.
We always recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. You can include coffee and tea in this. Obviously soft drinks also include water, but for reasons mentioned above, you should drink regular (spring) water. On hot days, when you sweat more, you should drink accordingly.
A handy tip to see if you are sufficiently hydrated: when you go to the toilet, your pee should be transparent or almost transparent. When it is (very) yellow, you are not sufficiently hydrated and should increase your intake. It is very hard to take too much water as your body will just secrete it via your urine.
Extra tip: try to drink water without fluoride. This might be tricky as it is included in most water these days, but you can easily filter it out with a water filter. We will write more about this topic soon.
Lower your stress levels
Stress is one of the main “killers” of our immune system. It cannot be over emphasized how stress reduces the ability of our immune system to function properly. Many studies, like this one, show the effects of stress on the immune system. Stress also has many more negative effects on your body, like:
- Disruptions of your digestion, like diarrhea or constipation.
- Low energy.
- Loss of sexual desire and or performance.
- Pain in muscles.
- Sleep issues, like insomnia.
- Heart issues, like a rapid heartbeat and chest pain.
- Affect your ability to think clearly.
Stress can be caused by many things. Work, relationships, kids, pandemic or financial issues, can all cause stress. The first step in lowering your stress levels is to acknowledge the fact that you are experiencing stress and to find the reason behind it. As soon as you realize you are being affected by stress, you can start working on removing or reducing the stressor (the thing that causes stress). It’s hard to provide solutions on how to lower stress in this blog, but we will dive into this later.
Lowering your stress levels in of great importance to stay healthy and live longer.
Manage your mental health
Managing your mental health is related to stress, as stress starts in your head. However, by mental health we mean more your mental wellbeing in general. Try to avoid a negative mental state, where you feel down and depressed. This might sound easy, but we realise this can be very hard.
Physical and mental health are strongly connected and as we have given you many tips above, these will help your mental health as well.
Try to stay positive and laugh a lot, as laughter will recharge you. We believe that humans can create their own reality and good things will come to those who have positive thoughts and a positive attitude. Think about it; many people will know somebody that always seems to be unlucky or unhappy. These people usually are stuck in some sort of negative spiral, enhanced and maintained by their own (negative) thoughts. There are many motivational courses and speakers, who tell you the same thing because it actually works: stay positive and good things will come.
A positive and good mental health will help you to stay healthy.
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining your general health. Sleeping is restoring your body; it will heal your muscles, blood vessels and heart. Several great benefits of a good night’s sleep are:
- It reduces stress – see above how important this is.
- It heals your muscles after a workout.
- Sleep keeps your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
- Sleeping improves your memory.
- Sleep reduces inflammation.
The list goes on and on, but I think you will get the idea; sleeping is a great way to stay healthy.
The advice of the National Sleep Foundation is that an adult should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Younger people might need a bit more due to their growth and development. Older people, over the age of 65, should sleep between 7 and 8 hours per night.
If you have trouble sleeping, it might be a good idea to listen to relaxing sleep music, darken up your bedroom, sleep at consistent times or use a melatonin supplement. Also leaving your mobile device alone the last hour before you go to sleep, will help you get asleep better. Staring at a screen with blue light (also TV), will impact your sleep negatively.
Final words on our ways to stay healthy
In this blog, we have mentioned the top 10 ways to stay healthy. We have given you tips to improve all these aspects of your life and thereby increase your general health, fitness and energies. We hope this helps you stay healthy, especially in these troubling and difficult times. It is hard to stay positive with everything that is going on and with all the news we are getting each day. Even though it might seem tough, we hope you can stay positive and use the tips above to stay healthy.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post a reaction below, or contact us directly. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, which will offer you all kinds of great tips on improving and maintaining your health.