Now that 2016 is in, most people have set goals and resolutions for the year. But none are more important than those related to health. With the cost of healthcare continually rising, it is vital to prevent disease in the first place. While one cannot prevent every disease, it is possible to take steps to prevent a significant number of the more common disorders which are chronic and prohibitively expensive to treat like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer. The first thing to understand is that it is important not to make unrealistic resolutions because they are often difficult to keep. Large scale changes in life are usually made in small incremental steps and not one huge giant leap. Below are some very simple health resolutions that will hopefully make you healthier and keep you disease free.
Drink water and skip the soda: drinking water is far healthier than drinking all the sugary beverages. Water can hydrate your body, get rid of all the waste products and make your skin look fresh. More important, water has no calories. Soda on the other hand contains 250 calories a can.
Become physically active: This does not mean running a marathon every weekend or cycling from SF to LA. Simple walking is a great form of exercise. Walking 45 minutes every day of the week can lead to weight loss, boost self-esteem, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your blood sugars and lipids. In addition, exercise can also improve your mood and best of all it is free- unless you bump into a light pole while texting. No matter what exercise you select, go slow and enjoy it. If you rush exercise, you will hate it and stop doing it in a few weeks.
Eat healthy and read labels: 2016 should be the year of reading food labels and making smart food choices. Try and incorporate more veggies and fruits into your diet. Cut down on processed foods. Both fruits and veggies have been shown to possess all the beneficial minerals and vitamins you can possibly want. At the same time, eat breakfast every day. This will provide you with energy for most of the day and allow you to make healthy food choices because you will not be hungry in the middle of the day.
Get adequate sleep: Most people are not aware that the body needs at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. This is necessary so that your body can perform all the repairs to the general wear and tear and re-energize the different organs. Sleep makes you feel better, improves concentration and prevents you from looking old.
Reduce stress: While some stress is beneficial in life, most people face too much stress in daily life. When stress is chronic it can lead to depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, heart disease and even obesity. Spending endless hours at the office, not getting inadequate sleep or eating a poor diet are things that can be altered to decrease stress. Other ways to relieve stress include taking a break from work, socializing, meditation or participating in some type of sporting activity.
Quit smoking: There is no habit worse than smoking. Besides increasing risk of lung cancer, this social habit is also associated with a foul body odor and bad breath. More important when you quit smoking, you will save money.
Reduce alcohol intake: Even though there is a lot written on the benefits of alcohol, most people over consume alcohol. Chronic intake of alcohol is associated with high blood pressure, liver damage, stroke and cancers of the mouth and throat. Worse, alcohol also affects mental function. So decrease the intake, or better still cut it all together and you can make up the benefits with exercise.
Do a good deed: Set the resolution to do good deeds in the upcoming year. After all you will not just be benefiting others but you will also be benefiting yourself. When you freely give to others (i.e. time or money), you will realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. The greater joy comes when you know that you helped someone and this will bring immense joy to you; it is an immeasurable gift. It is not often that we get a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Do it when you have the opportunity - it is soothing, refreshing and brings contentment.
-- Dr. Dale