Check if your lifestyle is certainly healthy
Following a healthy lifestyle often seems incredibly complicated. Find out if your lifestyle needs to be redesigned in the name of personal peace and health with this test.
With so many information on the importance of good nutrition and regular physical activity for healthy lifestyle, one would assume that a significant part of the population leads a healthy lifestyle. Finally, new research appears daily that shows how important diet and exercise are for good health. Every day we hear about it on television, on the radio, we read on the Internet and in newspapers. But most importantly do we implement this information in practice?
4 simple criteria defining a healthy lifestyleIn a recent study, the researchers decided to check how many people actually lead a healthy lifestyle.
What we consider a healthy lifestyle is debatable. In the study, the researchers came up with 4 criteria or health habits that fit into a healthy approach to life. Based on them, they decided to assess how many of the respondents lead a healthy lifestyle. Although the criteria accepted by the researchers were simple, only a small percentage of people who participated in the study were able to achieve all four of them. Most importantly these criteria were consistent with the doctors’ recommendations for maintaining heart health and improving overall health.
„We are not moving enough, we eat too much processed food, and far too little fruit and vegetables. The percentage of people who are overweight and obese is growing dangerously. The problem concerns not only adults, but also children.”
The 4 healthy living criteria in this study included:
- not smoking,
- normal level of body fat,
- at least 150 minutes of moderate and intensive exercise per week,
- use of a healthy diet compliant with the USDA guidelines (United States Department of Agriculture responsible for creating and implementing nutritional policies).
Researchers analyzed lifestyle habits of 4,745 people who took part in a study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Beside that t study did not only refer to the information declared by the participants in the questionnaire. Researchers actually measured the body fat percentage and documented how many exercises they performed each week, asking them to set up an accelerometer. They even conducted blood tests to ensure that participants do not have any decomposition products associated with smoking in the blood. Researchers also measured various biomarkers that check the health of the cardiovascular system, such as blood sugar levels, lipid levels and blood pressure.
Only 2.7% of the participants met all 4 criteria. Only 16% met the 3 criteria, 37% met 2 criteria, 34% only 1 of the criteria, and 11% did not meet any of the criteria. According to the results of the study, Americans have the biggest problem with maintaining the normal level of body fat. Only 10% of the respondents were in the normal range (the level of adipose tissue was measured using X-ray absorptiometry).
The best results, however, concerned the criterion related to smoking cigarettes. Over 70% of respondents were non-smokers or quit smoking.
When it comes to diet and physical activity, more participants maintain the recommended amount of exercise (46%) than a healthy diet (38%). The level of activity, as expected, was lower in men and women over 60 years of age. In this study, it was also noted that men more often did physical activity than women. On the other hand, it was noticed that women were eating healthily more often than men.
These results agree with the previous study from 2009. The study found that in the last 20 years the American obesity rate has increased from 28% to 36%, while the number of people who exercised a sufficient, recommended amount of exercise has dropped from 53% to 43%. The study also analyzed vegetable and alcohol consumption, and the results were disappointing. The number of people who ate 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables decreased from 42% to 26% and alcohol consumption increased.
Everything indicates that we are heading in the wrong direction. Despite the fact that the research presented here was made on Americans, the results for rest of the world would probably be very similar. We are not moving enough, we eat too much processed food, and far too little fruit and vegetables. The percentage of people who are overweight and obese is growing dangerously. The problem concerns not only adults, but also children.
A healthy diet, or what?
Ask a few nutrition experts for a healthy diet and you’ll probably get a few different answers. Many opinions are based on currently prevailing trends. For a long time, fat was a part of the diet that everyone was afraid of. Then the fat returned to favor, and the cause of all evil was blamed on carbohydrates. There is currently one fashion for high-fat diets, and carbohydrates are rebuilding their position. The best solution is not to follow the currently prevailing extreme fashions and a more moderate and reasonable approach to defining a healthy diet.
To eat healthy based on these criteria:
- limit sugar (table sugar, sweets, honey) in your diet, no more than up to 10% of the total calories,
- reduce saturated fats (fatty meat, bacon, butter, cream),
lean protein sources (poultry, fish) should account for 25% of food on the plate,
- reach for whole grain carbohydrates (groats, oatmeal, wholemeal bread) – they should constitute about 25% of what you have on your plate,
- half the contents of the plate should consist of fresh fruit and vegetables,
- eat the right amount of calories to maintain your normal body mass and body fat percentage,
limit food with the addition of sodium,
- enrich your meals with omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish, nuts) and omega 9 (olive oil, avocado),
choose mainly low-processed foods.
If you meet all the criteria for a healthy lifestyle presented in today’s article, you are in an elite group that treats your health seriously. Congratulations! If not, you can still change the way you eat and increase the amount of daily activity. Take small steps instead of drastic changes, and the probability of achieving them will be greater.