Want to know how to safeguard your health from chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? Well according to research taking your ‘lifestyle antibiotics’ daily may just do that. Although numerous lifestyle drivers of chronic disease have been identified, the standout four are poor nutrition, inactivity, high stress, and inadequate sleep, in that order of impact on our health. But health messages are so confusing that is it difficult to know exactly what to do about these lifestyle factors – what exactly is the right thing to do?
Nutrition ‘Antibiotic’ – the general message here is to eat less provided variety in your diet is still maintained. By this I mean, you can pretty much eat anything you like as long as you do not eat too much of it. This is the basis of moderation to which our French friends are so familiar with. Their diets are high in calorie-rich foods and saturated fats, the very things we are told to invariably avoid, yet they remain amongst the healthiest and leanest citizens on earth. Their trick is that they keep portions small and often keep dinner the lightest meal of the day. The next trick with keeping your nutrition sound is to avoid processed foods. Keeping it fresh is always best.
Exercise ‘Antibiotic’ – seeing exercise as an opportunity and not an inconvenience is the healthy perspective with regards to getting enough daily physical activity. Any exercise is better than none and more is better than a little. Try to incorporate small bursts of physical activity into your everyday routine such as taking the stairs instead of the lifts.
Stress ‘Antibiotic’ – we live in a stress-addicted society. It seems that busyness is a necessity for living and even a badge of honour for some. Recognising your warning signs of too much stress is the first key to getting on top of it. These warning signs are your ‘red line’ and include anxiety and/or depression, inability to sleep, inability to concentrate, neglecting family or friends, fatigue, and/or heart palpitations. Keeping your stress levels below the ‘red line’ is key. To control stress consider using escapism – either in the mind (meditation, taking a break, calling a friend etc) or physically (doing some exercise, having a massage etc).
Sleep ‘Antibiotic’ – with one in five Australians suffering from poor sleep a technique to try to improve sleep is to reduce screen-time thirty minutes before bed. Looking at screens disrupts the production of our sleep hormone melatonin. Reducing stress levels and getting some physical activity will also help sleep.
So to sum up taking our lifestyle antibiotics daily largely safeguards our health against chronic diseases – all without having to take a single pill. That really is the best medicine.
Remember that better health is through simple habits!