The Three Pillars of Living Well
As we age, taking care of our health becomes a bigger priority. Eating correctly, taking supplements when needed, and getting enough sleep and exercising are crucial elements for extending our lives and improving our quality of life. We get overwhelmed by so many different things in our lives, from chasing the kids, paying the rent or mortgage, trying to maintain relationships, and keeping on track with careers.
All of these can detract us from living a healthy lifestyle. Also, some people may not be aware of how to make healthy choices and live well. To do so, it’s essential to learn about the three pillars of healthy living: diet, sleep, and exercise.
The 3 Primary Keys to Healthy Living
Living a long, healthy life is in part determined by your genetics. While you don’t have control of your genetic background, there are three areas you do control that also have outsized impacts on your health and wellbeing. The first area you have control over is your diet and the type of nutrition you eat.
Nutrition: Avoiding processed foods, especially those high in salt and sugar, should be avoided as much as possible. Processed sugary and salty foods can impair heart and vascular health and may be a leading cause of certain cancers.
However, diets rich in plant-based foods bolstered by nutritional supplements to provide a balanced meal are crucial to provide the energy needed for your daily activities, stem off disease, and slow the aging process. The adage “you are what you eat” is only partially true. Yes, what you eat is essential, but eating fruits and vegetables alone aren’t enough to provide all your daily nutrient requirements.
That’s where adding supplements and vitamins to your diet is beneficial.
For example, for pregnant women or planning to be pregnant, supplements such as folate and folic acid can provide essential nutrients lost during pregnancy. Folate may also help stop the development of certain types of cancers in men as well. Research suggests that protein-rich diets significantly boost energy and enhance the immune system while also acting as a digestive aid and assisting with appetite control.
Along with eating well is the need to drink plenty of water. The daily suggested amount of water consumption for a grown adult is a simple formula. You should be drinking ½ to 1 oz. of water every day for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water a day.
Water helps the body replenish itself at the cellular level, repairs vital organs, and helps regulate body temperature, among other benefits. Unfortunately, too often, people mistake drinks as a supplement for water which typically has dehydration or an adverse effect than if the individual just drank water.
Exercise: There are a variety of benefits to daily exercise, from increased energy, an easier time getting to sleep, boosted moods, improved cognitive ability, and lower risk of injury and illness, just to name a few. Additionally, regular exercise can improve cardiovascular and respiratory health, aid in digestion and appetite control, slow the aging process down, as well as burn calories long after the activity has concluded.
The Center for Disease Control, or CDC standards for exercise, claims that to receive the maximum benefits of exercise, an adult person should receive a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week or 150 minutes of low-impact activity per week.
Exercise is defined as an activity that raises the heart rate and respiration of the individual. It can range from vigorous activities such as running, biking, weight lifting, and swimming. Meanwhile, low-impact activities that raise the heart rate, such as walking, hiking, Tai Chi, and yoga, are all good options as well.
Benefits of regular exercise include:
- Lowering the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke
- Decrease the risk of some cancers
- Limit or control the effects of and development of diabetes
A sneaky benefit to exercise is elevated moods and improved libido. This is because exercise releases powerful neurochemicals that affect the brain, heightening moods long after exercise concludes. Also, as we get older, our libido suffers. One valid option is to take libido supplements, but exercise is also known for boosting libido, especially in older adults, and can assist the efficacy of supplements.
Sleep: The one area people sacrifice first when stressed out is sleep. Sleep is the third pillar of healthy living as it performs several vital functions to our health. First, sleep is rejuvenating, meaning it helps the body heal and repairs itself from daily activity.
Sleep is shown to directly impact moods, energy levels, memory, focus, and other cognitive abilities to help ward off illness and chronic disease and is fundamental in slowing the aging process. Sleep also aids in digestion, and weight control boosts heart health, lowers the risk of cancers, and assists with injury prevention.
It’s generally recommended that adults should get between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a nightly basis. To get the best out of your sleep, don’t drink caffeine after 4 pm, don’t drink alcohol an hour prior to bedtime, turn off any devices that emit blue light, such as phones, computers, and tablets, and sleep in a dark, cool room.
Quality of Life
A combination of exercise and proper diet, and adequate sleep are the foundations to living healthy and healthy living provides a quality of life, especially in advanced years. Quality of life is defined as a person’s health, comfort, and ability to participate in and enjoy life’s activities. By choosing a healthy lifestyle, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity to enjoy the people and things in your life that bring you the greatest joy.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle that focuses on doing the little things such as eating the correct types of foods for ultimate nutrition, getting enough exercise to aid the body in digestion and energy production, as well as getting enough recuperative sleep will go a long way in helping you live a long, fruitful life.