In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to maintain optimal health, but people who have experienced both sides of the coin prefer feeling fit and healthy to the alternative. Developing healthy habits helps people feel good right now and protects them from disease and disability that come with aging. Four healthy living habits in particular offer great benefits now and years into the future.
1. Adopt a Plant-Based Diet
Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes, a plant-based diet offers a rich source of nutrients and fiber and may help prevent disease. Populations who eat plant-based diets show very low incidence of heart disease, and this type of diet may help lower cholesterol.
Researchers from Stanford University's Department of Medicine followed 125 subjects who were randomly assigned a low-fat, plant-based diet or a standard low-fat diet to determine the effects on cholesterol levels. Results after four weeks showed significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol for people consuming the plant-based diet compared to those consuming the standard low-fat diet.
2. Take a Daily Multivitamin
Multivitamins help compensate for missing nutrients, promote overall health, and may lower risks for cancer according to the Physicians' Health Study II, which tracked roughly 15,000 male doctors. Researchers found that subjects who followed a multivitamin regimen showed an eight percent lower risk for developing any type of cancer when compared to subjects who did not take a daily multivitamin.
3. Eat Plenty of Leafy Greens
Chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, leafy greens offer a host of health benefits. Adding more leafy greens to the diet can help encourage a healthy body weight and reduce chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.
In a review study published in The British Medical Journal, researchers looked at six prior studies examining the effects of vegetable consumption on risks for diabetes in 220,000 adult subjects. While eating more vegetables in general did not appear to lower risks for diabetes, consuming at least 1 ½ servings of leafy green or cruciferous vegetables lowered risks for diabetes by 14 percent.
4. Get Regular Exercise
Perhaps one of the best healthy living habits, regular exercise provides benefits for balance, muscle mass, and bones, but it also helps people maintain a bigger brain. A study published in Neurology involved roughly 700 people who answered questions about their leisure and physical activities at age 70 and received brain scans at age 73. Subjects who reported the most physical activity showed more healthy brain matter and less atrophy than people who were not physically active. They also showed less white-matter lesions, often linked to poor thinking and memory. For optimal health, most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, five times per week.
Everyone wants to feel good well into their golden years, and healthy living habits can help. Making a few simple changes can offer immediate effects that only expand with time. Adopting a plant-based diet with plenty of leafy greens, taking a daily multivitamin, and getting regular exercise offer a healthy foundation for a longer, happier life.