Changing your habits for better health

Changing your habits for better health

Many people only focus on their careers and ignore their health. For food choices, fast food you eat always makes a sense of feeling good and save the preparation and cooking time. However, it is high in saturated fat and calorie. This bad habit leads to overweight and obesity.

A series of health issues such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar) can occur. Lack of physical activities is also very common for people who are busy with their work and families. Physical illness including mental health issues may occur due to not getting enough exercise. Setting a meal plan for healthy eating and doing regular exercise are so important to achieve better health.

 Make a meal plan

Having a good meal plan is vital to start with healthy habits menu. A balanced diet has a new nutrition guide called MyPlate that replaced MyPyramid in 2011. Compared to the previous MyPyramid nutrition guide, MyPlate is a circle that divided into four portions. Grains, vegetables, fruits and protein account for approximately 30 percent, 40 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent respectively.

 In addition to the big circle, a small complementary circle represents dairy products. The proportion of four sections is adjustable so that eating healthier is enjoyable.

Animal fat and processed vegetable oils that add hydrogen contain saturated and trans fat. For long-term consumption, low density liptein cholesterol (LDL) can increase the level of the blood cholesterol. High quality fat in healthy food should be high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. This healthy fat can enhance the level of high density liptein cholesterol (HDL) to reduce the overall blood cholesterol level.

 High-quality protein means non-processed food that does not have too much salt and preservative. Good sources of high-quality protein can get from fish, poultry, dairy products and beans.


Do regular physical activity

World Health Organization (W.H.O) recommends that doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for adults aged between 18 to 64 years or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise a week.

Additional health benefits can be achieved by moderate muscle training for at least 2 days a week. Unhealthy habit such as prolonged sitting should be limited. Replacing with any intensity of physical activity also provides health benefits. You can set fitness goals to do around 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity five days a week.


Benefits of getting a balanced diet and regular exercise


1. Reduce blood pressure

There are two types of high blood pressure – primary and secondary hypertension. People with primary hypertension normally have a family history of high blood pressure.

Primary hypertension occurs at the earlier age compared to secondary hypertension. In contrast, secondary hypertension is literally secondary to other conditions. For example, high cholesterol level, high sodium intake, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases and liver diseases can probably lead to secondary hypertension. A balanced diet can reduce sodium intake and the level of cholesterol.

Regular physical activities promote physical well being especially the function of cardiovascular and respiratory systems. People with secondary hypertension could get better control of their blood pressure. With primary hypertension, the affected gene determines the severe of high blood pressure. Regular exercises and a balanced diet may not greatly improve the condition of high blood pressure.


2. Reduce blood sugar level


Diabetes mellitus (DM) has type 1 and type 2. Type 1 DM involves more genetic factors than type 2 DM. Type 1 DM is insulin deficiency while type 2 DM is insulin resistance.


High sugar level in the blood stream can damage arteries and lead to sclerosis of arteries. High blood pressure is commonly secondary to uncontrolled DM.


Overweight and obesity can worsen insulin resistance that body cells cannot utilise sugar in the blood stream. Therefore, lose weight can improve insulin resistance and high blood pressure.


Type 1DM is also beneficial from healthy eating and regular physical activity.


3. Control body weight

Obesity increases the risk of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, DM and liver diseases. Obesity is even the risk factor of the certain types of cancer. Basal metabolic rate can be calculated according to genders, age and the intensity of physical. Control calories intake and increase the time and intensity of physical activity can lose weight and achieve overall physical health.


4. Improve mental health


Exercise not only improves physical health but also mental health.  The stimulation of exercise leads the brain to release endorphins and serotonin that improve the mood and reduce stress. Regular exercise can reduce the chance of having mental diseases such as depression and anxiety.


5. Maintain a good posture

Maintaining a good posture needs healthy and strong muscles. If you do not exercise regularly, you may feel fatigue easily. Upper cross syndrome (UCS) and lower cross syndrome (LCS) result from muscle strength imbalance.


UCS leads to head shifting forward, anterior shoulder roll and hunch back. LCS causes anterior pelvic tilt that make the abdomen and glutes become more obvious.


Strengthening the deep neck flexors, middle trapezius and rhomboid muscles can improve this condition. The stretch of upper trapezius, levator scapula and pectoralis major can further correct UCS. Headaches referred from neck muscles can be definitely released if UCS is corrected.


Core and glute training can effectively correct LCS while stretching lower back muscles and hip flexors. Having strong core muscles can effectively reduce the change of lower back injuries and the intensity of lower back pain.



6. Improve sleep quality

Doing exercise in the daytime helps to shorten the time to fall asleep. Exercise such as moderate aerobic exercise can also help to improve both sleep quality and sleep duration. However, exercising or vigorous physical activities before bedtime may interrupt the normal sleep pattern. Choosing the right time and strength of working out is crucial for improving the sleep quality.


Benefits of having a balanced diet and regular exercise are not all listed. You should set small goals for healthy lifestyle. The first step to improve your eating habits is to stop eating junk food. Then, you should follow the MyPlate guideline to find your healthy recipe. You should spend at least 150 minutes a week to do moderate intensity exercise to gain overall health. If your health problems still persist, you should consult your general practitioners (GP). Allied health professionals such as chiropractors can help to release muscular and joint pain. 



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