It’s time to start thinking about little more exercise, healthy fruits and vegetables, cut some processed foods, limit sugar intake and junk foods can help you stay healthier and happier in 2021.
In this blog, we will be discussing some simple habits or practices that you apply in your day to day life, which can have a big impact on your overall health.
So here are healthy lifestyle habits in 2021 for you:
Eat a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables
Our bodies are incredibly complex, and (with the exception of breast milk for babies) no single food contains all the nutrients we need for them to work at their best. Our diets must, therefore, contain a wide variety of fresh and nutritious foods to keep us going strong.
Some tips to ensure a balanced diet:
- In your daily diet, aim to eat a mix of staple foods such as wheat, rice and potatoes with legumes like lentils and beans, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).
- Choose whole-grain foods like unprocessed oats, wheat and brown rice when you can; they are rich in valuable fibre and can help you feel full for longer.
- For snacks, choose raw vegetables, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit, rather than foods that are high in sugars, fats or salt.
Cutting Back on Salt in Processed Foods
Too much salt can raise blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most people around the world eat too much salt: on average, we consume double the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended a limit of 5 grams (equivalent to a teaspoon) a day.
Some tips to reduce your salt intake:
- Use fresh, rather than packaged, meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken or pork contain natural sodium, but the content is still much less than the hidden extra sodium added during processing in products like bacon or ham. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, that’s a tip-off that the sodium content is too high.
- Choose fresh fruit and vegetables, as well, since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium.
- When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labelled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
- Begin reading food labels as a matter of course. Sodium content is always listed on the label. Sometimes the high sugar content in a product like an apple pie can mask the high sodium content so it’s important to check every label for sodium content.
- Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content since this will vary from brand to brand.
- Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.
- Before dining out, do your research. Visit the restaurant’s website which should list the sodium content of various dishes served there. Alternatively, when you’re at the restaurant and ready to order, you can request that the dish is served without salt.
- Beware of products that don’t taste especially salty but still have high sodium content, such as cottage cheese.
- If you have elevated blood pressure, dietary sodium restriction can not only lower your blood pressure but can enhance your response to blood pressure medications.
- Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to eating food with much lower quantities of salt, but once it’s done, it’s actually difficult to eat foods like potato chips because they taste way too salty.
Eat Less Saturated Fat
Whether you are trying to lose weight, lower your low-density lipoproteins (“bad”) cholesterol, or simply want to be more heart-healthy, minimizing foods high in saturated fats is a good idea. While some high-saturated fat foods may already be on your radar (beef, cheese), others, like ice cream and coffee creamer, may surprise you.
Although following a cholesterol-lowering diet does not ban you from eating animal meat entirely, consuming these products at every meal can add up.
With that, limiting your intake of meat is one easy way to lower your intake of saturated fats. You can also choose “lean” or “extra-lean” meats. Lean meats contain less than 4.5 grams of saturated and trans fats, while extra-lean meats contain less than 2 grams of saturated fats and trans fats.
Paying attention to trans fats is also important, since they decrease high-density lipoproteins (“good cholesterol”) and, like saturated fats, also raise low-density lipoproteins, increasing your risk for heart disease.
Limit Sugar Intake and Sugary Drinks
The most beneficial modelled scenario for health was reformulation (reduction of sugar content by 15% for ‘mid-sugar’ drinks and 30% for ‘high-sugar’ drinks), with an estimate of 140,000 fewer adults and children with obesity; 19,000 fewer incident cases of diabetes each year, and 270,000 fewer decayed, missing or filled teeth annually.
Important reductions in disease were also associated with the maximum expected price increase (equivalent to half the levy cost being passed onto consumers) and changes in marketing share.
The least beneficial modelled scenario for health was a change in market share that resulted in consumers switching not only from high-sugar drinks but also from diet drinks to low sugar drinks.
This might result in a (small) increase in consumption of sugary drinks and consequent (small) increase in disease (using the measures we looked at). If the price is passed on to all soft drinks (rather than just sugary drinks) the health benefits were also substantially reduced.
Across the scenarios, the most striking finding was the concentration of the health benefits in terms of obesity and dental caries amongst children and younger adults.
They are the major consumers of sugary drinks. Diabetes follows a different pattern with many more cases likely to be prevented amongst adults than children because there are relatively few incident cases of type 2 diabetes among children and young adults.
In doing this, we have not made an overall estimate of the health benefits of the new levy, rather we have identified the benefits attributable to different industry responses to the levy and put upper and lower bounds on those responses.
Say No to Junk Foods
A lot has been said about the adverse effects of junk food; with consumption on the rise and junk food becoming a convenient food choice across the globe, there are many reasons why cutting back on those calorie-laden foods is a good idea.
Sure, it’s a quick and sometimes cheap, way to quell your hunger pangs, but the joy of regularly indulging in junk foods comes at the cost of your health. The good news is, most people are aware of this and are taking baby steps towards staying away from junk for good.
If you are looking to lose weight, you will have to limit or stop binging on junk food as it only adds up to the calories, saturated fat and sodium with zero nutritional value.
It is understood that giving up on junk food wouldn’t be easy, considering it is a tempting food choice. So, you should follow a gradual process of quitting junk food rather than doing it abruptly.