Wellness has three basic components: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and wise lifestyle choices. Incorporating all three into your daily routine can help you live a longer, healthier life. Adopting even one of them can improve your well-being.
A healthful diet can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other nutrition experts, a healthy diet is:
High in complex carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes should make up 45 to 65 percent of an adult's diet. A daily diet that contains two cups of fruit, 2-1/2 cups of vegetables, and three or more servings of whole grains (approximately three ounces per day) will also provide the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber.
High in variety. Eating a variety of foods helps you meet the dietary reference intakes for essential vitamins and minerals.
Low in fat. You should get no more than 20 to 35 percent of your total calories from fat. To reduce your fat intake: Choose lean meats over fatty cuts; skinless white-meat poultry over dark-meat poultry with skin; nonfat salad dressings over regular dressings; nonfat or low-fat dairy products over full-fat products; and baked or broiled entrées over fried ones.
Low in cholesterol. Keep your daily intake to 300 mg or less. Eat the recommended number of servings from the meat group (six to nine ounces per day), but don't overindulge. Remember only animal products or foods made with animal products will be high in cholesterol.
See the choosemyplate.gov website for additional information.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and osteoporosis. The 2005 USDA guidelines for exercise include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week for adults and 60 or more minutes daily for children. Be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
A balanced exercise program includes:
Aerobic exercise. This type of exercise makes your heart beat faster. It increases your cardiovascular endurance.
Weight or resistance training. Muscle strength and endurance help you maintain a sustained effort while you're playing sports, doing household chores, gardening, or carrying things and helps prevent falling in older adults.
These healthful habits can help prolong your life:
Not smoking. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of lung cancer and heart disease.
Drinking alcohol moderately, if at all. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and people older than age 65, and no more than two drinks a day for men younger than age 65. One drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a four-ounce glass of wine, or a 1-ounce shot of liquor. Heavy use of alcohol increases your risk for liver disease and heart failure.
Scheduling regular medical checkups. Many potentially fatal illnesses, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease, can be treated effectively if diagnosed early.
Wearing an SPF 15 sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA on exposed skin year-round when you are outdoors. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, strikes one in eight Americans. Sunscreen can provide effective protection. Be sure to apply the sunscreen correctly and use adequate amounts.
Remember that one small change a day can provide you with major, positive health results. Make a commitment to your future by taking one small step to better health!
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