Updated: Mar 7
A healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and fitness can help you live a long and healthy life. Many people are surprised to learn that the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle can extend beyond just living longer. By maintaining a healthy diet and fitness, you can also improve your overall quality of life. You’ll start to enjoy better health and live longer because you’ll be able to perform better in all areas, including at work and in your relationships.
With the obesity crisis at an all-time high in the US—nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese—many people could benefit from losing weight. However, weight loss is difficult for a variety of reasons. Also, certain people are tempted to choose a different diet every month or a strategy they've read online or learned about from friends and relatives. Unfortunately, these diets are also not the most nutritious, and even with any weight reduction, they do not ultimately boost overall wellbeing.
The Positive Effects of a Healthy Diet
Is there any benefit from improving the quality of one's diet without weight loss? The answer is YES.
Healthy diets can defend the human body against some forms of diseases, particularly non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, coronary diseases, some types of cancer, and skeletal conditions. Healthy diets can also lead to optimal body weight.
One research looked at the effect of DASH (Dietary Interventions to Avoid Hypertension) diet on blood pressure. Researchers recruited 460 overweight and obese individuals with borderline high blood pressure.
They gave food to participants in compliance with the DASH diet recommendations.
The DASH diet is characterized as low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol; high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fibre; high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products; including fish, poultry, nuts, and seeds; and reducing red meat, candy, and sugary drinks.
At the end of the 11-week study, the participants' blood pressure was significantly reduced compared to their baseline blood pressure.
A second study looked at the already very healthy DASH diet and then added sodium limits.
Study participants in the DASH diet assigned to the lowest sodium limit (1,500 milligrams per day) experienced a drop in blood pressure similar to what typical blood pressure medication would achieve.
A third study examined whether modifying a few components of the original DASH diet could result in an even greater improvement in risk factors.
This study, called OMNI Heart (Optimal Macronutrient Intake to Prevent Heart Disease), examined 164 overweight and obese adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension and replaced some of the carbohydrates in the DASH diet with either healthy protein (fish, nuts, beans, and legumes) or unsaturated fat (from olive oil, nuts, avocado, and nut butter).
Calories were kept neutral again to avoid weight gain or loss.
Results have shown that replacing some carbohydrates with healthy proteins or healthy fats lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides even further than the DASH diet alone.
In summary, overweight or obese people with borderline high blood pressure following a DASH diet focusing on daily consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat milk, nuts, and lean proteins could reduce blood pressure.
Limiting high sodium sources, including any canned, convenient and processed foods and high-sodium condiments, such as salad dressing, pickles, and soya sauce, may result in even greater blood pressure reductions.
Substituting some healthy fat or protein in place of some carbohydrates in your diet may improve your cardiac risk factors even more by lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
The bottom line is that weight loss is not the only way to improve your health for those who are overweight or obese. Choosing healthy food every day can make a positive difference.
Eating a healthy diet can help you to live longer
We've all heard it before: to be as healthy as you can, choose a healthy diet. And while that's easier said than done, the impact of improving your diet may be significant. According to a recent study, the effect of dietary changes in premature cardiovascular deaths in this country have been estimated. The verdict? More than 400,000 deaths per year could be prevented through dietary improvement.
Limiting unhealthy food is a good start. Fewer processed foods, less salt and less sugar are all good ideas and make sense. It's not just what you don't eat. What you're eating matters, too. It is also important to eat more healthy foods.
In this study, researchers analyzed patient survey data on food availability from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations between 1990 and 2012 and data on cardiovascular deaths in 2015.
It was estimated that the biggest contributors to premature cardiovascular deaths in more than 220,000 men and about 190,000 women were due to:
High intake of salt and trans fat (a particularly unhealthy form of unsaturated fat commonly found in processed foods as "partially hydrogenated oils") Low consumption of nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grain.
Fitness improves your health and helps you live longer.
Exercise has a remarkable range of health advantages, ranging from improving muscles to improved mood changes to reducing the risk of serious diabetes and heart disease conditions.
Data since the late 1980s has repeatedly demonstrated that aerobic exercise can help sustain life.
The research investigates the connection between long-term mortality and different degrees of cardio-respiratory health (CRF). CRF measures how well the heart and lungs pump blood and oxygen around the body during sustained exercise. The more fit you are, the higher your CRF rating is. Regular exercise and intense exercise will also stimulate CRF.
The researchers looked at more than 122,000 patients at a major university medical center that completed a treadmill exercise test, an objective CRF indicator. However, the average age was 53, participants aged from 18 to over 80 years of age. Similar to the results of previous research, exercise was correlated with longer life. This was valid at any age. This was more evident in older adults and people with elevated blood pressure.
Unless there is a strong medical contraindication, we should aspire to reach and sustain a high degree of health and fitness. Present recommendations prescribe between 150 and 300 minutes of mild physical exercise a week (walking, running, swimming, biking), 75 minutes of intense activity or a combination of both.
Twice weekly endurance exercise to improve muscles is also advised. Unfortunately, only around one in five adults and teenagers has adequate exercise to maintain good health.
Next, think about safety. Walking and other less strenuous activity are usually healthy for the majority of people. But consult with the doctor before beginning or making any improvements to your workout regimen if you have a history of heart failure or any other medical problem that may impair your exercise resistance.
Take it step-by-step. If you set the bar low, you'll be more effective.
For example, start with an easy walking routine of 10 to 20 minutes three days a week. Add five minutes per walk per week or two before you hit a target of 30 minutes. Then, every week or two, add a day until you hit at least 150 minutes a week.
Don't be scared of a gym or workout. Any movement is a positive one and a step in the right direction. The gym scares many people—maybe you're overweight or inexperienced, and you're afraid that someone may stare at you or evaluate you. At one point in time, everybody was new to fitness. Rely on the target and stop spending resources on things that don't matter.
Plan ahead of time. Prep accordingly to optimize your progress in embracing a long-term lifestyle change. Look at your calendar in advance every week, and commit to when you're going to work out next week. Think of the chance to schedule an appointment rather than "I'll get to it if I have time."
Expect to lose any of the fights. Bear in mind that, realistically, most individuals can get derailed at any stage while they're focusing on behavioral improvement. Don't let this crush your inspiration. Instead, recognize barriers that could have clashed with it, strategize a plan that goes ahead, and try again.
A takeaway is eating a healthy diet and maintaining a fitness routine; you can improve your overall quality of life.
If you are still unsure how to start and want more in-depth information buy a copy of our eBook (short version) with inspiration and motivation guide to get you started with action steps and recipes. If you prefer more accountability and expert support, contact us by booking a 1-on-1 consultation.