Health News

What Does It Mean to Be “Healthy”

The word “Healthy” is often used in everyday conversations, but its meaning can be somewhat ambiguous. A quick search on social media platforms will reveal a multitude of interpretations of success: luxurious vacations, flashy cars, designer clothes, expensive gadgets, and so on. It can be challenging to define success when bombarded with a seemingly endless array of images and messages that purport to represent it. The popular notion of success can be overwhelming and at times misleading, leaving many individuals unsure of what it truly means to be successful.

Experts have identified significant issues with the prevalence of constant visual representation in our daily lives. Social media, in particular, has a significant influence on shaping people’s perceptions of what actions are crucial to achieving certain objectives. Unfortunately, these behaviors often prioritize appearance and can lead to negative psychological consequences and poorer physical health outcomes.

This predicament arises from a paradoxical situation. Multiple studies have consistently shown that an individual’s physical shape is not a reliable indicator of their overall health status. Despite this, society often fixates on body image, which can lead to misconceptions about what it means to be healthy. As such, there is a growing concern that we may be overlooking essential components of healthy living.

What makes up a “Healthy Life”

It’s true that fitness influencers often emphasize the importance of healthy foods, exercise, and avoiding harmful habits such as smoking. However, living a healthy life is much more complex than simply focusing on these individual components. A holistic approach is necessary, and research has shown that even if you exercise regularly, you cannot fully compensate for a poor diet. Similarly, engaging in juice cleanses or other extreme measures won’t make up for a lack of physical activity.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle requires balance, and making gradual changes over time can lead to more sustainable habits in the long run. Instead of attempting to overhaul your entire lifestyle at once, small adjustments can add up to significant improvements over time. Ultimately, true wellness is about taking care of your mind and body through a variety of factors, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, and overall lifestyle choices.

Amidst the prevalent trend of weight-loss fad diets, it’s crucial not to neglect the significance of a well-balanced diet. While consuming excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat can increase the likelihood of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, the focus shouldn’t solely be on restricting and eliminating certain foods from one’s diet.

Making sure you’re eating enough nutrient-rich food is essential to all aspects of your health. For example:

  • Lacking nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K is linked with sleep problems.
  • Not getting enough protein can lead to slowed metabolism and weight gain

According to Briana Severine, the founder of Sanare Psychosocial Rehabilitation, depression and nutrition have a strong correlation. She highlights that adopting a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, has been linked to a decrease in the risk of experiencing depression symptoms.

Movement

Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis offers a multitude of benefits beyond simply managing weight. It has the potential to lower your risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, promote healthy bones and joints, and enhance your overall mental well-being and mood. Despite the numerous advantages, however, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that a significant portion of the American population, approximately 60 percent, fails to meet recommended daily physical activity levels.

Even a brisk 10-minute walk is proven to boost mood in folks who are experiencing stress.

Studies suggest that people often cite common reasons for not exercising, such as the lack of time, limited access to resources, and fatigue. However, it’s important to note that one doesn’t need a complex or time-consuming exercise routine to enjoy the advantages of physical activity. In fact, research indicates that even modest amounts of exercise can have significant positive effects on both physical and mental health.       .

Going on a brisk 10-minute walk every day could extend your lifespan.

Getting your heart rate up for just 12 minutes a day can help protect your cardiovascular system

Additional Wellness Factors

 

According to Jeffrey Dlott, Medical Director of Consumer Health at Quest Diagnostics, sleep is an essential period for your body to recover and rejuvenate. Failing to get adequate sleep can lead to severe consequences for your health. While occasional sleep deprivation is not a cause for concern, consistent lack of sleep can result in a weakened immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses, and increase the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Chronic stress is also detrimental to your health and well-being. Cortisol, a hormone released during stress, can suppress your immune system when sustained at high levels. Furthermore, unmanaged stress can lead to other chronic health conditions such as heart disease and depression over time, as emphasized by Dlott.

How to Know If you’re living a Healthy Life

The intricacy of the human body, consisting of its diverse organs and tissues, makes it the most complex system in the universe. Despite the body’s ability to reveal subtle signs of potential issues, detecting underlying health problems may not be easy. It’s essential to pay close attention to your body and listen to its signals; even the slightest hint of something being off could be significant. You should always be alert and ready to make necessary lifestyle changes or seek medical attention if needed. What works for one person may not work for another, so finding a sustainable and healthy lifestyle requires a personalized approach. Therefore, it’s crucial to look for specific indicators that signal you’re leading a healthy life, according to experts.

Your Energy Levels are Stable

Regular exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but it can be tough to stay motivated. The good news is that there are many ways to make your workouts more enjoyable and effective, from trying new activities to setting achievable goals. By finding the right balance and making exercise a habit, you can improve your physical and mental health and achieve your fitness goals.

You Handle Stress Well

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Researchers say it can even be good for you when you approach it in a healthy way. One sign you’re dealing with stress well is in your ability to set boundaries. By learning to set boundaries, you’re recognizing and prioritizing your needs, Severine explains. This could include boundaries for your physical space, emotional needs, the time you spend (or don’t spend) on certain things, sexual interactions, respect for your thoughts and ideas, and material possessions. 

You’ve Got Fresh Breath

“Dentists often say the mouth is a window into the health of the body,” says James E Galati, DDS, PC, President, and New York State Dental Association. Poor oral health leads to a buildup of bacteria that can spread throughout your respiratory and digestive tracts.

“Studies suggest that increased bacteria entering your body can lower your immune response and make you more likely to develop general health problems, including heart disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia,” according to Galati. Chronic bad breath is a common sign of poor oral health.

You Check In With Your Doctor

“One important point I would also like to stress when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is how important it is to seek preventive care,” notes Dlott. A 2015 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only eight percent of U.S. adults received the appropriate preventive care recommended.

But routine health screenings and checkups may help prevent illness, disease, and chronic health conditions and help detect illnesses in earlier stages when treatment is likely to work best, he explains, which may lead to better health outcomes.

How to know it’s Time for a Change

“People know their bodies best, so if something feels off, it’s important to look at your lifestyle habits and be honest about changes that may need to be implemented to help improve our health and lessen our risk of chronic health conditions,” encourages Dlott. 

You’re Always Sick

“There is virtually no way to keep from coming down with an illness from time to time—U.S. adults average two to four colds per year, although it can vary,” says Dlott. “But when it becomes very cyclical, it can signal that there may be factors contributing to a weakened immune system that causes people to succumb to illnesses more easily.”

Your Stomach is constantly “Off”

Always feeling bloated, backed-up, or plagued by acid reflux or indigestion? Poor diet, lack of fiber in your diet, not enough physical movement, and low hydration are each common causes of tummy troubles, Dr. Dlott explain. “One other potential culprit is chronic stress, as issues with digestion can also be a symptom triggered by stress.”

Household Chores are exhausting     

Feeling winded from relatively minor physical activity like household chores is a hallmark of low aerobic tolerance, according to Ulm. “Poor stress tolerance, fatigue, difficulty in healing, and general malaise and a persistently foul mood can also be subtle signs of inadequate physical activity

“Each individual is different in the warning signs that present when their mental health is suffering,” Severing advises. But if you’re unusually irritable or quick to anger, that’s a common signal to prioritize your self-care and prevent a larger mental health crisis. Other signs include difficulty walking or getting out of bed, increased isolation from others, and difficulty concentrating, Severing adds.

You Struggle to Fall Asleep

Dolt points out that difficulty falling asleep are often another sign of chronic stress. But it can also point to problems with your nutrition. Research published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences says that skipping meals, eating too quickly, large meals, irregular mealtimes, and poor food quality are all dietary contributors to sleep disorders like insomnia.