While many people believe that life expectancy is fixed and absolutely based on genetics alone, the reality is far from this. Some people indeed possess genetic material that predisposes them to some diseases, whether congenital or acquired. However, our lifestyle practices, nutritional intake, and even stress levels can still alter whether we develop certain conditions. Even those innately born with good genetic material can develop illnesses if they do not care for their bodies. Several researchers and experts confirm that leading a healthy lifestyle and sticking to a balanced diet are the main determinants of a longer lifespan.
Here are 6 dietary habits you may want to develop to help you live a longer life.
Avoid Excessive Food Intake
Based on the survey done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), more than ⅔ of the American population are overweight. This is heavily attributed to the increase in junk food consumption, which can be easily accessed and bought wherever you go. Excessive food intake or overnutrition is often a precursor to obesity, a medical problem that can lead to other devastating health sequelae like diabetes and hypertension.
It is tough to pick healthier food options and avoid binging when fast-food restaurants are present everywhere we go. The same is true when groceries dedicate multiple aisles for junk food. However, one easy thing we can do is minimize the intake of sugary beverages and preservative-filled fast food. It may also be helpful to limit the number of times you order fast food every week and choose the healthiest option on the menu. You may also order smaller portions to cut off some of those extra calories, especially when you are not that hungry but still craving certain items.
It may seem like these are straightforward measures. Still, over time you’d be able to see tangible improvements such as increased energy levels, less fatigue, dramatically improved sleep quality, and even weight loss. It makes perfect sense that the fewer harmful products you consume, the better you will feel.
Adopt a Personal Diet That Works For You
Diet fads have reached every corner of the internet. You can type the word ‘diet’ in your search bar, and it will retrieve the countless number of one-size-fits-all meal plans. Some diets primarily consist of vegetables and fruits with the goal of weight loss. On the other hand, some diets are more protein-based to help build muscles. The problem with these standard diet plans is that every individual has different needs and goals. What may work for others may not necessarily be healthy for another. In fact, some diets may even be dangerous for your health if you follow it blindly. It is important to remember that a healthy diet should be curated on an individual level.
The question now is, how do you know what’s best for you? Choosing a nutritionist who is a perfect fit for you is highly recommended. They are trained experts in assessing your nutritional needs and health goals and making a detailed food plan just for you. The advent of technology has made this a much easier process. You may contact a nutritionist remotely over phone or video call. This way, you may also ask questions and clarify some concerns regarding your food plan without sacrificing travel and waiting time in the clinic.
Decrease Your Salt Consumption
The recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) is 5 grams of salt daily. Particularly for those with elevated blood pressure and a family history of hypertension, limiting your salt intake per day will benefit your long-term health. Once you develop hypertension, you are at risk of developing heart and kidney problems. You would need to take maintenance medications to keep your blood pressure at a manageable level.
Unfortunately, many of the widely available snacks are loaded with an incredible amount of salt. For example, a slice of frozen pizza can contain up to 700 mg salt, which is already 20% of your daily limit. To make sure you stay within the healthy daily salt intake, make a habit of checking food labels. You can also try switching to salt-free or less-sodium versions of your favorite snacks as much as possible. This way, you can still satisfy your cravings without sacrificing your future health status.
Drink Enough Water
To keep yourself adequately hydrated, you should drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day. According to the National Health Service (NHS), this consists of 6-8 glasses of water every day. This count does not include tea, coffee, or other beverages. Pertinent health benefits of drinking water are as follows: reduction in urinary infections, decreased risk for developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, improved cognition and brain function, and improved mood. You can also expect to have well-hydrated, plumper, and younger-looking skin as a great bonus.
Try Incorporating Yogurt in Your Meal Plan
Yoghurt is a probiotic that is packed with proteins, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. It also has health benefits, especially for the elderly, since it can cover the common nutritional deficiencies within this age group. A study has also shown that elderly individuals eating an average of 2.3 servings of yoghurt every week were also more likely to eat healthier foods than their non-yoghurt eating counterparts.
Greek yoghurt, in particular, is a denser and creamier version of ordinary yoghurt. It contains a substantial amount of proteins. For instance, one can of Greek yoghurt may contain 10 grams of protein per 100 grams of the product. One known benefit of high-protein food is reduced feeling of hunger. This will keep you away from constant snacking in between meals and will help you lose a bit of weight.
Cook Your Own Food
While living in a fast-paced world, cooking your own food probably ranks low in your list of priorities. It is so much faster and easier to just order take out or deliver food to your doorstep after all. But there is a major downside to this since you cannot control the salt level, carbohydrates, proteins, and calories when you order ready-made food. You also do not know if there are unhealthy ingredients in them.
If you are concerned about cooking time, meal prepping might be an option for you. You can do this whenever you are free, and it can be a bonding activity amongst your family and loved ones. You have full liberty on what and how much is going into your meal. Another upside to meal prepping is the lower cost of food since you will be buying them in bulk. You may even choose to spice it up with different sauces if it gets too repetitive for you. You can also make a habit of carrying your food in readily accessible containers to keep yourself from buying unhealthy snacks when going out.