Unhealthy eating is a major contributing factor to reduced quality of life and several health problems. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, dementia and many types of cancer are closely related to an unhealthy diet.
In fact, in the U.S., dietary factors, high body mass index and physical inactivity cause more health loss than alcohol or drug use.
To improve your health, include organic fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, whole-grain products, low-fat dairy items and healthy fats in your diet.
Also, limit your processed food and salt intake. Plus, avoid caffeine. A healthy diet is incomplete without drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day.
In addition, do not skip breakfast and eat 3 small meals and some healthy snacks in between.
Lack of physical activity is the single most important factor that affects your longevity. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that lack of physical activity has long been associated with an increased risk of early death, independent of a person’s body mass index (BMI).
Physical activity boosts your immunity, improves cardiovascular and respiratory functions, slows the loss of muscular strength, increases bone mass, improves digestion, promotes sound sleep and prevents depression.
Even if you are busy, it is important to make some time for some sort of physical activity in your daily routine. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day, five or more times per week, can help extend your life.
Go for a walk or run for 20 to 30 minutes daily, enjoy aerobic exercises a few times a week and opt for swimming, bicycling, trekking or other sports on the weekends.
The amount of sleep you get daily can affect your lifespan. A 2007 study published in the Sleep journal showed that both a decrease and an increase in sleep duration are associated with increased mortality rates.
Sleeping less than six hours at night makes you more likely to die prematurely than people who sleep up to eight hours.
Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious health problems, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, a good night’s sleep can help ward off stress, depression and heart disease.
On average, an adult needs around eight hours of good quality sleep each night to function properly. As a rule, if you wake up feeling tired and look for opportunities to nap, it is a sure sign that you are not getting enough sleep.
To help enjoy good sleep, eat a light dinner, keep your bedroom dark and distraction-free, meditate, drink a glass of warm milk before going to sleep, enjoy a warm bath at night and keep the temperature in your bedroom on the cool side.
Too much stress can take a toll on your health and may actually shorten your life. Stress increases the hormone cortisol in the body, which has negative effects on your heart, metabolism and immune system.
A 2012 study published inthe British Medical Journal showed the link between increased risk of heart attacks or strokes and stress, which increases mortality rates.
By taking steps to reduce stress, you can improve your health as well as quality of life. Less stress and anxiety helps strengthen the immune system and decreases susceptibility to disease. It even reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.