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A healthy lifestyle, in simple terms, is one that lowers your chances of getting seriously ill or increases your life expectancy. While we can’t prevent all diseases, there are ways to reduce the risk of serious illness.

While the non-communicable disease is the leading cause for death worldwide, they can be linked to lifestyle factors like obesity, smoking, and poor nutrition. One-third of deaths in high-income countries each year are due to heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for health.

A large meta-analysis found that people who live an unhealthy lifestyle ( have a 66% greater risk of dying than those who adopt at least four healthy habits.

A healthy lifestyle does not just mean avoiding illness and death. To enjoy life to the fullest, a healthy lifestyle is about improving your social, mental, and physical well-being.

What are the key features of a healthy lifestyle and how can you help?

A large-scale prospective cohort study was conducted in the United States to examine the health habits of around 120,000 adults over a 30-year period. This information was used to determine how lifestyle factors affect lifespan and the risk of dying from non-communicable illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Five healthy characteristics were identified.

Healthy eating habits

Healthy eating means eating healthy foods in the right proportions. It also involves eating healthy calories. This will vary for everyone. However, the following should be a guideline:

  • A minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed each day. This is one-third of your daily food intake. This requirement has been shown to reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease. A meta-analysis showed that there was a dose-response relation between vegetable intake and heart disease. The risk of dying from heart disease dropped by 8% for every ten ounces of fruit or vegetables eaten daily. Cancer risk fell by 3% per ounce.
  • Starchy foods such as whole grains, which have more nutrients and fiber than white varieties, are especially good. Whole grains are known to lower the risk of many cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. They also promote healthy gut bacteria.
  • White meats, fish, eggs, and lean proteins are vital for cell repair and offer a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Dairy products and their alternatives are good sources of protein as well as calcium.
  • There are very few unsaturated fats.

Physical activity

According to the World Health Organisation, all adults should engage in regular physical activity. This includes at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise daily and at least two sessions of weight bearing activity per week. Physical fitness helps prevent diseases like cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes mellitus, and osteoporosis. It also aids in secondary prevention (i.e. the worsening symptoms) of these conditions.

Healthy weight

Healthy body weight is important for your overall health and protection against many diseases. The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of how healthy your body weight is. It’s calculated by combining height and weight. Normal BMI scores range from 18.5 to 24.9. A score between 25.0 and 29.9 indicates an individual is overweight. A score of 30+ signifies obesity. Higher scores indicate a higher risk of many diseases.

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Hypertension
  • Mood disorders
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Cancer risk

Obesity or being overweight can lead to the development of diseases by altering your hormonal and metabolic profile and placing an additional physical burden on different body sites and organs.

Tobacco consumption

Tobacco use and smoking are not safe. The best health outcomes are achieved by not smoking.

Around eight million people die each year from smoking-related illnesses. Approximately 70% of all cases of lung cancer are directly related to smoking. It can also cause cancer in other parts of the body such as the stomach, stomach, pancreas, and stomach. Smoking causes damage to the heart tissue, circulation, and increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and myocardial injury.

Smoking can also cause damage to the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia, chronic obstructive lung disorder, and other respiratory diseases.

Moderate alcohol consumption

Moderate alcohol consumption is one to two drinks per day for men, and one for women. Drinking more alcohol than this can lead to poor health outcomes. Over-consumption of alcohol can cause blood triglycerides to rise, which increases the risk for stroke and heart attack. It can also cause high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac arrhythmia.

The liver is vulnerable to alcohol due to its role in neutralizing toxic substances within the body. People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are more likely to develop liver diseases related to alcohol, such as the fatty liver. In severe cases, liver cells can become inflamed and eventually die. They are replaced by scar tissue, which leads to cirrhosis, which can eventually lead to death.