Health Is Not a Gift, It’s an Outcome |How to Live Longer|

lavender field and text: Health is not a gift, it's an outcome

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With the average global life expectancy at more than 72 years now and constantly improving healthcare, our hopes for a long and happy life can finally be justified. However, relying on statistics and luck is not enough. Health is our chief asset and taking care of it is a huge responsibility, if we don’t want to suffer from various chronic diseases as we get older.

This article aims to cover main aspects that can affect our well-being so that from now on you can make informed choices. For this, we’ll need to look at the wellness wheel, which is a tool that helps assess our wellbeing. According to the wellness wheel, health comprises six main components: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, and spiritual health.

Physical Health

Let’s start with physical health and break it into subcategories, namely, nutrition, exercise, sleep, and habits.

Nutrition

Your diet is healthy when it includes essential nutrients such as water, proteins, carbohydrates (including sugar and dietary fiber), fats, vitamins, and minerals. Removing any component from your diet can result in serious health problems. Be very skeptical when it comes to changing your diet. Don’t listen to bloggers! Consult with your doctor. Moreover, what works for one person can have deadly outcomes for another. Bear in mind that you also might have chronic diseases you have no idea about and following some specific popular diet, for example, the keto diet, can do more harm than good.  

Being overweight is not solely a physical, it’s rather a psychological problem. Keeping to a strict and unhealthy in many ways diet for the sake of losing weight, you sacrifice your health for nothing as most probably, you’ll regain weight as soon as you return to your regular eating habits.

Is the keto diet safe?

Not for everyone. If you have a gallbladder disease like cholecystitis or biliary dyskinesia, which is a common problem nowadays due to sedentary lifestyle, you should forget about the keto diet as you may need to go on a low-fat diet instead. By the way, people suffering from biliary dyskinesia should avoid intermittent fasting as well.

You should also avoid the keto diet if you have kidney or liver problems. Consult your doctor if you want to go on the keto diet but you have diabetes as it may be very dangerous for you.

The keto diet may increase your cholesterol levels and put you at risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.

Consuming not enough protein will lead to muscle loss. As you return to your normal diet after you’ve lost some weight, without enough protein intake and exercise, you’re more likely to regain weight in the form of fat than in the form of muscles.

Moreover, according to a study performed by the European Society of Cardiology in 2018 with 25,000 participants, people on low-carb diets have the highest risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and cancer mortality.

Verdict: The keto diet is a try to deceive your body instead of maintaining it in a healthy way all the time.

How to lose weight?

  • lead a healthy lifestyle
  • eat small portions when you feel hungry (not bored, not craving something tasty but REALLY HUNGRY)
  • drink clean water instead of drinking juices, tea, coffee, wine, beer, etc. (consider these beverages meals too)
  • avoid processed food
  • avoid consuming too much sugar
  • consume more dietary fiber – one of the best gluten-free sources of fiber is whole psyllium husks
  • consume all vital nutrients which are proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals.
  • burn more calories than you consume in a day

What is dietary fiber and how is it beneficial to health?

Dietary fiber is a vital nutrient for our bodies, a carb that our bodies can’t digest. As it can’t be digested, it doesn’t count as calories.

How is dietary fiber beneficial to health?

  • fiber stimulates bowel movements
  • solves the problem with constipation (if you drink enough water of course)
  • improves skin (as it detoxifies the body)
  • decreases the risk to develop hemorrhoids and even colorectal cancer
  • has heart-related benefits as if taken regularly, it lowers cholesterol levels
  • can reduce blood pressure and inflammation
  • helps control blood sugar levels and decreases your chances to develop type 2 diabetes
  • can help lose some weight as it makes you feel full while consuming few or no calories1

Adults should aim to take 25-30 grams of dietary fiber per day. For me, it’s difficult to count and meet that number every day. So, I’ve found a perfect solution – whole psyllium husks. Whole psyllium husks is a gluten-free option and can even be used in baking. My doctor recommended it to me as a way to improve my skin as due to digestive problems and allergies I had acne. Whole psyllium husks were supposed to help me get rid of toxins which, accumulated in my body, were coming through my skin. And it worked! I drink approximately 350 ml of water with 2 teaspoons of whole psyllium husks in it every evening and I have much better skin now! Remember that it’s usually impossible to improve your skin with beauty products as the real problem may be inside your body, not on the surface.

Reduction of salt intake

While everyone has been so obsessed with cutting down on sugar lately, let’s not forget about sodium contained in salt. According to the World Health Organization, people consume 9-12 grams of salt per day on average which is 1.5-2 teaspoons of salt, while the recommended amount is less than 5 grams (1 teaspoon) per day. You may think that you don’t consume so much salt, but bear in mind that sodium glutamate, which is a common condiment, also counts as a source of sodium. High sodium consumption may lead to high blood pressure and development of cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke. Sodium is a vital nutrient, so you should still use it but in smaller amounts. Also, make sure the salt you consume is iodized2.

Reduction of sugar intake

It’s recommended to reduce added sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons a day (which is about 24 grams as one teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. You should also be very cautious with honey and various syrups like maple syrup.

Even though honey and maple syrup are better than refined sugar or cane syrup because they undergo less processing and contain some vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as mentioned by experts, honey or maple syrup can’t actually cure infections as you’d have to consume a lot to get the expected result. Note that one tablespoon of honey contains 17 grams of sugar3. One tablespoon of maple syrup contains 14 grams of sugar.

As for agave nectar, according to Healthline4, it mostly (85%) consists of fructose which, unlike glucose, can be metabolized only by your liver. So, if you consume too much fructose and your liver can’t cope with that amount, you may develop fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and gain belly fat among other risk factors.

Using natural substitutes like stevia, xylitol, or erythritol instead of sugar, may be beneficial to health, however, they shouldn’t be used in excess either.

Exercise

Recommended walking distance per day is 10,000 steps. 10,000 is about 8 km or 5 miles. It takes about 100 minutes of moderate in intensity walking to reach that number of steps. Walking 10,000 per day, an adult person depending on their weight and height will burn from 200 to 800 calories. The more weight you have, the more you’ll burn.

To better monitor your physical activity and motivate yourself to walk or exercise every day, you may consider buying a water resistant fitness tracker which can count your steps, distance, hourly activity and calories burned, measure your heart rate, estimate your sleep quality, as well as show your incoming phone notifications.

Adding 15 minutes of exercise each day to these 10,000 steps will greatly benefit your health and life expectancy. Scientists have found out that just 15 minutes of moderate exercise per day or 90 minutes throughout a week, can add 3 years to your life expectancy5.

For walking long distances every day, you’ll need comfortable cushioned shoes. Good walking shoes are also supposed to be light and flexible. Looking for comfy walking shoes? Here are some…

For women:

Adidas Lite Racer Shoe – Women’s Running

Adidas Women’s Fluidflow Running Shoe

For men:

Puma Flyer Runner Sneaker

Adidas Men’s Runfalcon Running Shoe

Sleep

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Children and teens need more hours of sleep, while elderly people require less (7-8) hours of sleep.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep deprivation (not getting enough sleep) leads to health problems including risk of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, poor immune system, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, irritability, cognitive impairment, etc.

How to improve sleep?

  • try to stick to a schedule (go to bed and wake up at the same time every day)
  • don’t stay up late (ideal bedtime is 10PM)
  • don’t eat or drink 1-2 hours before you go to bed
  • avoid drinking alcohol before sleep, avoid caffeine in the evening
  • exercise during the day
  • reduce your exposure to noises during your sleep
  • try to relax before you go to bed (read a pleasant book, take a shower or bath, listen to relaxing music)
  • don’t recall past events
  • put aside your phone or laptop at least 30 minutes prior to your bedtime
  • make the lights less bright in the evening as release of melatonin (sleep hormone) is suppressed by light
  • create a perfect environment for sleep in your room

Change your linens once a week, clean your room from dust at least once a week, buy the most comfortable pillow if you haven’t done so yet (memory foam pillows like this one tend to be the most comfortable as they offer best neck support), maintain optimum temperature for sleeping (60-67 degrees Fahrenheit or 16-20 degrees Celsius), maintain optimum humidity level of 40-50%. You can measure humidity using a hygrometer. If the air in your room is too dry, you’ll need a humidifier, if it’s too wet, you’ll need an air dryer.

In case you suffer from insomnia, consider taking the melatonin supplement. However, this is only a short-term solution.

Is white noise bad for you?

White noise machines are quite popular, however, be cautious, as sleeping with sound every night may result in serious negative outcomes. Not only you may develop hearing problems because of the machine, but also it can affect your brain. Studies show that repeated use of a white noise machine, makes your brain age faster6.

Even if your mind is unconscious during sleep, it’s still working and perceiving information. Without the much needed silence, you don’t give your brain time to relax. So, what’s the point in that kind of sleep?

Bad habits

Smoking

If you are a smoker, quit the habit at all costs, as on average, smokers die ten years earlier than people who don’t smoke. More than 40,000 deaths out of 480,000 deaths per year in the USA associated with smoking, are caused by secondhand smoke exposure7.

Cigarette smoking is associated with different types of cancer such as mouth, throat, stomach, esophagus, liver, pancreas, trachea, urinary bladder cancer, leukemia, etc.

Is IQOS safe?

No. Even though it’s less harmful than cigarettes, it’s still a tobacco product. Moreover, the risks related to smoking IQOS are unknown, as the product was first presented in 20148.

Drinking alcohol

While excessive consumption of alcohol is associated with a variety of diseases and conditions, including pancreatitis and cancer of mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast, liver, rectum, and colon, drinking alcohol occasionally is not safe either9.

There is no safe dose of alcohol! According to the Global Burden of Diseases study, 27.1% of deaths caused by cancer in women and 18.9% in men over 50 were linked to drinking10.

Moreover, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s absolutely necessary to abstain from drinking as people who drink alcohol are more likely to be unable to fight bacteria and viruses, so they are more likely to develop pneumonia or contract tuberculosis.

Emotional Health

Emotional health is just as important as physical health and should not be neglected or ignored. Emotional health implies that you are well aware of your feelings, thoughts, actions, and you can control them. Emotional health helps you overcome life challenges and achieve goals in life. Don’t underestimate the importance of your mental state, because if neglected, it can ruin your life.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence stands for the ability to cope with your emotions in a positive way. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Self-awareness means being aware of your emotional state: what you’re feeling and why; self-regulation is the ability to control your mood and actions; internal motivation is something beyond wealth and status that drives you to achieve more; empathy is the ability to understand what others feel and the ability to act in accordance with this understanding; and social skills imply the ability to build healthy relationships with people.

Stress-free lifestyle

According to Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, 90% of illness and disease is stress-related. Therefore, the ability to relieve stress or even lead a stress-free lifestyle is essential to your wellbeing. I have found the best way to relieve stress forever: and it’s not relaxation candles. Spoiler: in most cases, it’s your ego that is making you suffer.

You may also experience stress due to lack of confidence. In this case, read this article to find out how to boost your confidence.

Social anxiety that causes too much stress to 7% of Americans is also closely related to lack of self-confidence.

 As a person who suffered from social anxiety for 12 years and managed to cure myself, I have written my own full guide on how to overcome social anxiety based on what helped me.

Social media and Instagram in particular, are major causes of stress nowadays. Here is my story about my relationship with Instagram, why I eventually quit it, and what the benefits are.

Eventually, having changed my perception of reality, having got rid of illusions my mind was feeding me, I’ve managed to start living a stress-free lifestyle. If you’re interested, here is my list of 12 things I wish I had stopped sooner.

Mindfulness

Mindfulnessinspo.com is mainly dedicated to mindfulness which is a concept that includes many things but if you practice them, it will make you much happier.

I’ve read a lot of literature dedicated to mindfulness, so I’ve created a list of 30 actionable tips with explanations on how to practice mindfulness you can find here.

Intellectual Health

What is intellectual health? Intellectual health is associated with being open-minded as well as seeking new knowledge and professional challenges.

After 25, your brain functions start to decline. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in particular, are linked to decline in brain functioning. And it, in its turn, is linked to lack of involvement in mentally stimulating activities and low level of education11.

Therefore, lifelong learning is vital to intellectual health and health in general.

How to improve intellectual health?

  • Read more
  • Do crosswords or sudoku
  • Play board games
  • Take random tests and quizzes
  • Learn something new
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Do the math
  • Play a musical instrument
  • If you know two languages, translate or interpret
  • Write stories, novels, or just write down your thoughts in a diary
  • Study history and analyze events that happened

Social Health

Social health implies the ability to build healthy relationships and interact with others in a positive way as well as to quickly and easily adapt in new social situations.

Self-love and self-respect

Without self-love and self-respect, it’s impossible to build healthy relationships with others. You attract the kind of energy you produce. If you hate yourself, people can feel or even see it. It will be difficult for you to find someone who will genuinely love you in this case. We accept the kind of love we think we deserve.

Self-confidence

Self-confidence is key if you want to achieve success in any sphere of your life. Learn how to be more confident and succeed in life.

Strong communication skills

Whether you want to build a career as an employee or start your own business, you require strong communication skills. You should be able to convey your message clearly. You should be able to tell the truth no matter how bitter it may sound. You should be able to get straight to the point. Besides, your communication should be logical, complete, credible, honest, and friendly.

Healthy relationships

A healthy relationship means that you and your partner are loving and supportive; that there is no competition of any sort in your relationship; there is no jealousy; you communicate and discuss your problems; you share your personal problems and worries with each other; you are committed to each other; you can always find a compromise instead of arguing; you are honest with each other; you trust and respect each other; you are independent people who have boundaries; you have common values in life; you feel safe in the relationship: you know that your partner will not hurt you and will protect you in case of troubles. In a healthy relationship, you give love without expecting to get the same amount of affection in return. You are not afraid to show your feelings. In a healthy relationship, you appreciate your partner and every moment spent together. Also, a healthy relationship means encouraging each other.

On the other hand, an unhealthy or toxic relationship implies the obsessive desire to control your partner including checking his or her phone or social media; lying even about small things; criticizing; blaming; manipulating your partner. An unhealthy relationship is full of fear, anxiousness, despair, and often leads to violence.  

Environmental Health

Environmental health is concerned with physical hazards such as natural catastrophes, chemical hazards both natural and man-made; biological hazards such as viruses and bacteria; and social hazards influenced by your cultural background, social status, choices, etc. While we have little control over pandemics, there’s still something we can do when it comes to environmental health.

Clean air

People spend a lot of time at home, to be precise, around 90% of the time. And surprisingly, it turns out that the air indoors is several times worse than the air outdoors. There are biologic and chemical air pollutants in our homes. Biologic ones are viruses, bacteria, dust mites, molds, insects, pollen, animal dander, etc. All of them are allergens that can trigger asthma – a serious chronic disease. Chemical pollutants include lead, heavy metals, carbon dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde which can be found in building materials and furniture, etc.

In case you are susceptible to any allergen, you should be very cautious of mold. According to the Institute of Medicine, 15-50% of people who are genetically susceptible, are allergic to mold of different kinds. Mold develops due to excess moisture in premises, especially in the basement; certain areas like wall joints; and even appliances like dehumidifiers, fridges, and dishwashers. Sometimes mold can’t be seen during a visual inspection as it may grow in hidden spaces or may be not visible until its growth is large12.

To assess moisture levels in your home, purchase a moisture meter.

Mold and other types of pollutants, including carbon dioxide from fires, can be mitigated with the help of an air purifier with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Note that changing the filter in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations is vital.

People suffering from asthma, people allergic to dust, and pet owners need to vacuum clean their place with a vacuum with a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter is capable of removing 99.97% of 0.3 micrometer in diameter airborne particles from the air. To get the best results, choose a vacuum with water-based filtration, as such vacuums return much cleaner air and you won’t have to deal with dusty containers.

To achieve a new standard in cleaning, use a steam-cleaner machine. A steam-cleaner is capable of killing 99.99% of bacteria and germs, eliminating grease, grime, mold, stains, and bed bugs without the use of any chemicals, which makes a steam-cleaner a perfect choice for people suffering from allergies. The appliance is safe to use on ceramic tile, grout, granite, sealed wood flooring, laminate, appliances, grills, autos, and more.

Optimum climate

As we have discussed earlier, excessive moisture can trigger mold growth and lead to allergy, asthma, and pulmonology diseases. Excessive air humidity (more than 50%) not only causes mold growth, but also is a perfect environment for dust mites. However, too dry air makes you prone to viruses and bacteria. Moreover, it can cause a variety of skin problems from dry skin and lips to acne and eczema.

The ideal house temperature is 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius). The ideal humidity is 30-50%.

To maintain perfect humidity, consider buying a humidifier if the air in your house is too dry or a dehumidifier if it’s too wet.

Clean and safe water

Tap water in some areas contains contaminants that not only alter the taste, color, and odor of water, but also pose a threat to health. Some water sources like Lake Michigan, the Colorado River, and the Potomac River may be vulnerable to contamination13. If you are not sure about the quality of your water source or if one or more of your family members is a pregnant woman, a child, an elderly person, a person with a chronic disease, or a person with a weakened immune system, installing a reverse osmosis drinking water filter system is a good idea, as it is capable of removing up to 99% of contaminants such as chlorine, taste, odor, volatile organic compounds, as well as toxic fluoride, arsenic, lead, nitrates, heavy metals and 1000+ contaminants.

Don’t forget to replace your reverse osmosis filter every 12 months to ensure effectiveness of the system.

Spiritual Health

Spiritual health is a set of values, beliefs, and morals which guarantee growth and progress in life. Read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams by Deepak Chopra to boost your spiritual health.

Based on natural laws which govern all of creation, this book shatters the myth that success is the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition. In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra offers a life-altering perspective on the attainment of success: Once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life, and material abundance will spring forth easily and effortlessly. Filled with timeless wisdom and practical steps you can apply right away, this is a book you will want to read and refer to again and again.

Spiritual health means being at peace with yourself and the world. Spiritual health is about forgiveness, non-violence, compassion, care, calmness, and living a mindful life. Here’s a list of 30 best tips on how to practice mindfulness and be at peace.

As you can see, good health is not a gift, it’s rather an outcome of your daily choices.

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