“Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise,” is a proverb that places physical and mental wellbeing above material riches and even knowledge born of experience.
What is this “health” thing, then? In one sense, health is the absence of disease. It is basically a state of complete emotional and physical ease. But a healthy person also has the ability to heal quickly and recover fully from all types of trauma.
Anyone suffering from poor health knows how important it is to get better as quickly as possible. In some cases, as we know, some patients never recover from their diseased conditions.
Most people are born in very good health but some are genetically challenged by inherited conditions. Years of environmental toxins, stress, and self-destructive personal habits take their toll on human health, too, and help drive the $3.2 trillion annual healthcare costs Americans racked up in 2015.
Education is very important when it comes to personal health and hygiene. Good intentions coupled with helpful information – much of it easy to find online, free of charge – can lead self-improvement seekers to victory. Professional nutritionists, personal trainers, and life coaches are also available to provide up-to-date best personal health practices.
A healthy person has it all going on:
- Well-balanced diet
- Regular and sufficient physical activity / exercise
- Able to cope with stress / obstacles / challenges
The best way to achieve good health is to preserve it. If that isn’t an option, there are many tips to share about how to improve personal health.
Following are nine ways to improve how you feel and how you look:
- Eat breakfast – even if you drink it. Get your body’s motor running with a shot of protein, fats, and carbs, in whatever proportion you favor. Folks on ketonic regimes might prefer butter-fried eggs and greasy-good bacon to low-fat yogurt and fruit or cereal with oat milk.
- Speaking of eating, take probiotics and fiber to promote a healthy gut. Studies have shown a two-way physiological link between the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A well-balanced gut biome (environment) with enough good gut bacteria to counteract the bad gut bacteria (collectively called the gut microbiota) is key to overall good health. Obesity and all its complications have been linked to an overabundance of bad gut microbiota.
- Drink more water throughout the day. If you want to shed some pounds, pour down some water before eating. Research showed that drinking 2.1 cups (500 ml) of water 30 minutes before each meal increased weight loss by 44 percent. Water contains zero calories, of course, and hydrates all the cells inside our bodies. Drink more H2O after vigorous exercise.
- Kick the sugary beverages. One way I avoid putting on excess pounds is by sticking to this basic rule: never drink sugar; save it for chocolate. The one exception I make to my own rule is to allow one cup of orange juice at breakfast with one optional additional cup later in the day if I want it. Did you know that the human brain measures calories from liquid sugar differently from how it does for solid food? That’s why it’s so easy to slurp up a zillion calories from sweet liquids.
- Eat whole foods. This means that putting a frozen meal in the microwave is your last resort, not the first. Buy cuts of meat and cook them in ways you find delicious. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. Avoid highly processed “junk” foods which are loaded with unhealthy chemical preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and additives.
- Stretch, relax, and meditate. Morning stretches get your blood moving and wake up your digestive system, getting you ready for breakfast. Unkink your back and prevent pain later in the day by being proactive and reaching for the ceiling and the floor a few times. I like to touch my toes in the shower with hot water running over my spine. Ahhhhh. Be mindful throughout the day to pause and look within, count your blessings, and consider how you might help others in need.
- Join a class. Meeting new people with a common interest can be great for improving your mental outlook. Get fit in a group that bikes, hikes, or meets at the gym. Go fish. Play bridge. Quilt. Scrapbook. Stay within or go well beyond your comfort zone – the idea is to put yourself in a position to get and give social support and validation. It may take a few attempts before finding your health-boosting niche.
- Cultivate good relationships. Imagine that your life is a garden full of people and experience plants. Just as with a backyard garden, nurture and encourage the positive and don’t be afraid to prune away the deadwood. When “friends” stop acting friendly, although it may be difficult, lighten your emotional load and snip out of your life the Debbie Downers and other nay-sayers. Abusive parents or other relatives are likely to be even more difficult to rise above so seek professional help as needed.
- Get yours. If you are a giver by nature or habit, be sure to indulge yourself from time to time. Be ready to take compliments, help, and gifts from others. Avoid compassion fatigue and open yourself to the generosity of others.
There are thousands of ways to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. The worst thing you can do is…nothing.