Benefits of Making Positive Lifestyle Changes

An active lifestyle and healthy diet is our greatest hope for personal health, vitality and well-being throughout our lives – and it’s never too late to make changes.

The health care systems in many countries are currently under way too much pressure to cope with the influx of patients suffering from metabolic disease. Unfortunately, the general population has made many poor activity and nutritional choices, contributing directly to chronic illness and disease, including obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer.

In my part of the world, Australia, obesity has been linked to more than 64% of all premature deaths. While in the U.S., approximately 400,000 deaths per year are thought to be caused by inactivity and poor diet, with 70% of those deaths directly related to cardiovascular diseases, variations of cancer, and diabetes. Shockingly, it is estimated that around 60% of adults in westernised societies are overweight or obese with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25.  Even more shockingly, overweight and obesity rates are expected to increase in the coming years and decades.

Enjoy regular physical activity

Regular physical activity has long been known to improve health and well-being by increasing or improving cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance, haemoglobin concentration and oxygen transport in the blood, fatigue, depression and anxiety, body size and quality of life. A combined effect of physical activity and healthy diet in studies focusing on metabolic disease found decreases in the amount of coronary artery disease events occurring by up to 82%.

In contrast, inactivity is known to be a precursor towards the following conditions and diseases in westernised society including cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension, stroke, and heart failure, in addition to metabolic diseases such as, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer.

Make better diet and nutritional choices

In addition to physical activity, diet and nutrition are equal as important when improving or maintaining the health and well-being of the general population. A regular dietary intake, involving the consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and quality fat and protein led to a decreased risk of CAD. Furthermore, the consumption of high-fiber foods can lower blood cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity to assist in the treatment of type II diabetes and dyslipidemia (cholesterol in the blood).

In order to decrease LDL ‘bad’ (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, while in turn increasing HDL ‘good’ (High-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, there must be an increase in the consumption of ‘good’ fats by including fats, such as flax seed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil into the diet. In addition, soluble fiber, which are found in oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are known to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.

In contrast, a typical westernised diet is highly processed by removal of vital nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. A high consumption of red and processed meats, sweets/desserts, dairy products and refined grains led to a range of health problems including arterial/heart disease and other chronic diseases. Nutritional strategies that involve limiting saturating fats and sweets, such as ice cream and baked goods, and replacing them with healthier snack choices, such as seeds and nuts, which have less kilojoules and contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are considered important for modifying your diet for improved health.

Get more sleep and take naps

Not only is diet and nutrition beneficial to health, but in most regards, sleep is often neglected, despite of how valuable it is to the quality of life. The effect of an inadequate amount of sleep was found to decrease work productivity and overall health. Neuropsychological research had explored sleep and nap-related benefits in learning and memory mechanisms, to which they observed an improved cognitive function after a brief 15 to 20 minute nap.

Start today

To successfully modify your lifestyle, it is important to identify your rational and goals by adopting a variety of exercise and nutritional behavior strategies to incorporate into your daily life. Begin today by jotting down 2 or 3 changes you can implement this week.

It’s also a good idea to have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor your health and to give you an idea on changes in your body that you cannot see.

 

Sources and references

Park, A., (2013). Obesity linked to half of early deaths. SBS.com.au, Australia

Brukner, P., & Khan, K. (2009). Clinical Sports Medicine. Sydney: McGraw-Hill.

Roberts, C. K., & Barnard, R. J. (2005). Effects of exercise and diet on chronic disease. Journal of Applied Physiology, 98(1), 3-30.

Schwartz, A. L. (2008). Physical activity. Semin Oncol Nurs, 24(3), 164-170.

Sharkey, B. J., Gaskil, S. E. (2007), Fitness and Health, 6th edn, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

Takahashi, M. (2012). Prioritizing sleep for healthy work schedules. J Physiol Anthropol, 31(1), 6.

 

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