Being healthy often seems incredibly complicated. There are advertisements everywhere and various experts giving conflicting advice.
However… being healthy does not need to be complicated. People were much healthier in the past, before all the dieting and “health products” took hold of our society.
The rules haven’t changed since then… our genetics are the same and what worked for us back in the day can also work for us now. To gain optimal health, lose weight and feel better every day, then all you need to do is follow these 5 simple rules.
1. Do Not Put Toxic Things into Your Body
There are so many things in the environment that are downright toxic to our bodies. Given the addictive nature of some of these things, people often have a real hard time avoiding them.
This includes the usual suspects like cigarettes, alcohol and abusive drugs. If you’ve got a problem with those… then diet and exercise are the least of your worries.
Alcohol is fine in moderation for those who can tolerate it, but tobacco and abusive drugs are bad for everyone. But what is MUCH more common today is eating unhealthy, disease-promoting foods. If you want to gain optimal health, then you need to minimize your consumption of these foods.
Probably the single, most effective change you can make to improve your diet is to cut back on processed, packaged foods. This can be tough, because many of these foods have been altered by so-called food engineers to make them as addictive as possible (1).
Regarding specific ingredients, added sugars are by far the worst. This includes sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. Both can wreak havoc on your metabolism when consumed in excess, although some people can tolerate moderate amounts (2).
Avoiding wheat may also be of critical importance and this includes whole wheat… which can lead to all sorts of problems (3). Then it is a good idea to avoid all fats that require chemicals and factories to produce… this includes man-made trans-fats, as well as refined seed- and vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower oils (4, 5, 6, 7).
Bottom Line: You can’t be healthy if you keep putting disease-promoting things into your body. This includes the usual suspects like tobacco and alcohol, as well as certain foods and ingredients.
2. Lift Things and Move Around
It is extremely important for optimal health to use your muscles. No… it’s NOT just so that you can get a sixpack and a bulging vein on your biceps. Lifting weights and exercising goes way beyond just looking good.
True… if you exercise, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will improve your appearance and attractiveness to the opposite sex. But these benefits are just the tip of the iceberg… exercise is also crucial for your body, brain and hormones to function optimally.
Lifting weights lowers your blood sugar and insulin levels, improves cholesterol and lowers triglycerides (8, 9). It also raises your levels of testosterone and growth hormone, both associated with improved wellbeing (10, 11, 12). Then lifting weights (and other forms of exercise) can help reduce depression and your risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, including obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and many more (13).
Exercise can also help you lose fat, especially if it’s combined with a healthy diet. Not just because it burns calories, but because it improves your hormonal status and overall function of your body.
Fortunately, there are many ways to exercise. It doesn’t have to be in a gym. You can do all of this stuff for free in the comfort of your own home if you look on Google or YouTube for “bodyweight workouts” or something similar.
It’s also important to go outside and move around there, especially if you can get some sun while you’re at it (for a natural source of Vitamin D). Walking is a good choice and a highly underrated form of exercise.
The key is to choose something that you enjoy and can stick to in the long run. If you’re completely out of shape or you have any medical problems, then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor or qualified health professional before starting a new training program.
Bottom Line: Exercise doesn’t just make you look better, it also improves your hormonal status, makes you feel better and reduces your risk of all sorts of diseases.
3. Sleep Like a Baby
It is highly recommended to make time for good, quality sleep. If you can’t seem to sleep properly for some reason, then see a doctor. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and others are very common and in many cases easily treatable.
Here are a few effective ways to improve sleep:
- Do not drink coffee late in the day.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at similar times each day.
- Sleep in complete darkness, with no artificial lighting.
- Dampen the lights in your home a few hours before bedtime.
- More tips here.
Bottom Line: Getting quality sleep can improve your health in more ways than you can imagine. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally and lower your risk of all sorts of health problems down the line.
4. Avoid Excess Stress
Being healthy is about more than just diet, exercise and sleep. The way we feel and how we think is also very important… and being stressed all the time is a recipe for disaster.
Excess stress can raise cortisol levels and cause severe harmful effects on metabolism. It can increase junk food cravings, fat in the abdominal area and raise your risk of all sorts of diseases (18, 19, 20). There is also evidence that stress is a significant contributor to depression, which is a massive health problem today (21, 22).
In order to reduce stress, try to simplify your life. Do some exercise, practice deep breathing techniques and maybe even meditation. If you simply can not handle the burdens of daily life without becoming overly stressed, consider seeing a psychologist. There are many ways to learn how to deal with stress.
Not only will overcoming your stress make you healthier, it will also improve your life in other ways. Going through life worried, anxious and never being able to relax and enjoy yourself is a big waste.
Bottom Line: Stress can wreak havoc on your health, leading to weight gain and all sorts of diseases. There are many ways to learn how to deal with stress.
5. Nourish Your Body With Real Foods
The simplest and most effective way to eat healthy is to just focus on real foods. Choose unprocessed, whole foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
It is best to eat a combination of animals and plants… Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, as well as healthy fats, oils and high-fat dairy products. If you’re healthy, lean and active, then eating whole, unrefined carbs is absolutely fine. This includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes and non-gluten grains like oats and rice.
However… if you’re overweight/obese or have started to suffer from metabolic issues like diabetes or metabolic syndrome, then cutting back on major carbohydrate sources can lead to dramatic improvements (23, 24, 25).
People can often lose a lot of weight simply by cutting back on carbohydrates, because they subconsciously start eating less (26, 27). Whatever you do, make an effort to choose whole, unprocessed foods instead of foods that look like they were made in a factory.
You Need to Stick With it For Life
It’s important to keep in mind that the “dieting” mindset is a bad idea, because it almost never works in the long term. For this reason, it is critical to aim for a lifestyle change.
Being healthy is a marathon, not a race. It takes time… and you need to stick with it for life.