You must practice good health habits in every area that affects your body and mind.
That can seem overwhelming, and you won’t do it overnight.
But if you just live your life without paying attention (like most people do), you’ll have the same unhealthy habits everybody else does.
Then you’ll get sick or prematurely old like everyone else.
If you do what everybody else does, you’ll get what everybody else does.
And you should want to do better.
Because, sad to say, the vast majority of Americans are unhealthy.
Therefore, let’s take a look at the 7 Foundations.
If that sounds too serious, just think of them ss the 7 areas of your life that most affect your health and longevity.
According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, what people eat is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Many athletic people tell themselves that regular exercise makes up for their unhealthy eating. However, this is wishful thinking.
Responsible experts agree you “can’t outrun your mouth.”
Of course, the big problem in this area is there’s absolutely NO agreement among the many health and diet gurus about what exactly the optimal diet is.
Keto? Paleo? Vegan? Raw vegan? Gluten-free? One of the hundreds of variants popularized by books and podcasts?
The only thing the experts agree on is the Standard American Diet is unhealthy – truly SAD.
It’s too high in protein, fat, refined carbohydrates, salt, refined grains, food processing chemicals and on and on.
Diet is also complicated because it’s not only what you eat and what you don’t eat – but when you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat.
Our definition of what’s healthy in this area has also changed over the years.
The only real agreement is that the typical American couch potato lifestyle is not enough exercise.
And in the last 5 years or so, science has found regular movement throughout the day could more effective than isolated workouts.
Don’t sit still for more than 30 minutes at a day.
Many experts would not include sleep, but recent research shows it’s much more important to health and anti-aging than we used to believe.
You can eat well and exercise regularly, and still be at high risk for disease and an early death if you are sleep-deprived.
Jeff Bezos is famous for insisting on sleeping 8 hours every night despite the high tech world’s culture of working long hours. And he’s now the richest man in the world. That’s not a coincidence.
Matthew Walker is a professor who’s spreading the word about the importance of getting enough sleep every night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXflBZXAucQ
4. Stress Management
Fear and anger trigger our fight or flight response. This primes our hormones to ready our bodies for immediate physical action. We breath hard and fast. Our hearts race. That’s so we can mobilize our strength to either fight back against a threat or to run away.
When the threat’s over, we’re supposed to go back to gathering food or hanging out.
But in the modern world, we face constant threats. Our bosses. Traffic. Paying the mortgage. 9:00 PM emails. The political party we hate.
It seems like it never stops. That puts our bodies into an everlasting state of readiness to fight or flee.
That’s taking its toll on our health, so you need to find ways to relax.
This is an extremely broad category, unfortunately.
I think of it as including everything that goes into our bodies that’s not actual nutrition or air.
It includes a large number of toxins we are exposed to involuntarily.
And, despite over 50 years of widely publicized studies proving smoking tobacco is unhealthy (still the 2nd largest risk factor for death and disability according to the study I cited above), many people continue to smoke.
We can limit our exposure to some toxins by taking measures (drinking only purified water – and I don’t mean out of a plastic bottle).
But some are inescapable, such as background radiation.
We take this for granted because we don’t have to think about it.
However, most people breath shallowly and don’t take in as much oxygen as their bodies need for optimum health.
This category covers a wide range of psychological, emotional and – for want of a better term – spiritual factors.
By relationships, I mean our relationships with ourselves, family, friends, community, the world and “God” – or whatever you prefer to call whatever you see as larger than yourself.
It’s not recognized by most doctors, but many practitioners see better healing results for physical ailments when they can get patients to also heal themselves emotionally.
Also, much research shows that loneliness is a prime risk factor for disease and premature death.
We need to see, hear and touch other people on a regular basis.
And this includes having a purpose in your life. Have a reason to get up every morning.
Those are the 7 major areas you need to focus on for better health and longer life.
As I mentioned, they do interrelate.
Many people who want to have good health and a long life focus on diet and/or exercise.
Too many health-conscious people still don’t realize the importance of getting 8 hours of sleep, managing their stress and maintaining harmonic relationships.
If you want to live to celebrate your 100th birthday, work on all 7 of these areas.