“The right food and exercise can add life to your years”
Even though we have heard this all before, the right food and exercise really is the basis of a healthy lifestyle. People are living longer, with life expectancy increasing because many of us are eating better and exercising more.
Now that the average age of people in the Western world is about 20 years older than at the beginning of the century, how can we make those ‘bonus’ years healthy ones? Along with regular exercise, a good diet can help you live longer, keep you more alert mentally, and protect against many of today’s diseases.
We now know a lot more about the dietary needs of people. Dietitians are recommending five servings of vegetables every day (one serving equals approximately a half-cup). This is because there is good evidence that a diet high in fruit and vegetables helps prevent major health problems. As well as the vitamins and minerals they contain, there are also thousands of substances in plant foods (vegetables, fruit, dried peas and beans, cereals and soy foods) that all work to protect our health.
The more varied one’s diet is, the healthier it is. Eating a wide variety of plant foods, as well as some fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy products, makes you less likely to miss out on important nutrients. However, do not try to vary your diet by eating more sweets, chocolate, chips and soft drinks as these are less nutritious and can contribute to weight gain, so it’s best to eat them only occasionally. It is good to eat fish two or three times a week. Besides helping to prevent heart disease, some research suggests that eating more fish may also help diseases caused by inflammation, especially oily fish like mullet, salmon, deep sea perch, tuna, and sardines.
A healthy, varied diet and regular exercise can also help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Eat less salt by flavouring foods with extra herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, onion, garlic or chili. Always taste food before adding salt it may not need it!
Don’t forget that plenty of non-alcoholic fluids are an important part of a healthy diet. Aim for six to eight cups of fluid every day, including some water, and always drink more in hot weather.
Small changes in your diet and regular exercise can make the world of difference to your health. Try it, you’ll be amazed at how you feel in a short period of time!