Whether you’re 21 or 51 (or any age for that matter), there is no time like the present to take charge of your health. No one is going to do it for you. The time you put in will determine the time you get out. Will you live a long, quality life because of the proactive role you took in healthy living? Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Make Preventative Care a Priority: It is far better to be on the offense than the defense when it comes to your health, so be sure to schedule regular screenings and exams. Also, take advantage of free screening opportunities (i.e., free blood pressure screenings in pharmacies). Know if you are at higher risk – due to genetics, obesity, etc. – for developing conditions like breast cancer, heart disease, or colon cancer because you need to do your screenings earlier than the recommended age.
2. Stay Organized: Keep all your healthcare paperwork (doctor’s notes, prescriptions, exam results, etc.) together in one file. Also, keep all your prescriptions at one pharmacy. The more organized you are, the better it will be for you and your caretakers to know exactly what your needs are, what medications you are taking, and what potential risks you might have.
3. Clean It Out: For better health, do some “spring cleaning” of your life. Get rid of unhealthy relationships (i.e., “emotional vampires” and “energy suckers”). Clean out your cupboards of sugary, high-fat snacks that have no nutritional value. And, clean up your schedule to make more time for love, conversations, and communing with those you care about.
4. Drop the Fat: If you are overweight or obese, consider losing weight. Some tips? Replace grains and starches with non-starchy vegetables, eat lean protein with every meal (enough that can fit in the palm of your hand), and drink at least two glasses of water before each meal (thus reducing calorie intake by 14 percent).
5. Get More Fiber: No age group is coming close to their need for dietary fiber. Most people get far less than half of the recommended grams per day. Yet, if we increased our dietary fiber intake, we’d at the same accomplish other key nutrition goals: eating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
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6. Supplement with Vitamin D: Multiple studies have shown that most Americans are vitamin D deficient. Keeping vitamin D at optimal levels in our bodies helps our immune systems stay strong and ready to combat cold and flu, as well as diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
7. Get Your Zzzz’s: It is vitally important to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day. Less sleep increases insulin levels, which can increase the accumulation of body fat. Plus, sleep deprivation leads to stress, which leads to wear and tear on your cells, which ultimately leads to disease. So, sleep tight each night.