- Poor diet and lack of physical exercise are the biggest health risks globally.
If you want to be healthier, here are some simple tips and good habits to adopt to adopt a healthier lifestyle and keep your weight in shape for the long term.
Unsurprisingly, it is above all a question of not forgetting to move: to maintain a healthy body weight, the World Health Organization recommends adopting a physical activity of moderate or sustained intensity. “Walking, cycling, wheeling, sports in general, active relaxation and play are all common ways of practicing physical activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, whatever their level”. Start slowly if the word sport horrifies you, take advantage of the good weather to practice in nature and do not hesitate to motivate yourself if you have trouble. A watchword: avoid a sedentary lifestyle which has harmful effects on health.
The benefits of physical activity are numerous: “Beyond the number of calories expended, the physiological effects of physical activity are at the origin of a virtuous circle: it will largely maintain the muscle mass at the origin of the use of energy substrates. Indeed, the more physically active you are, the higher the heat dissipation – including at rest. Its practice also participates in the regulation of glycemia (blood sugar level) and hormonal and energy metabolism” explains Irène Margaritis, Deputy Director of Risk Assessment and Head of the “Food, Animal and Plant Health” area at ANSES’s Risk Assessment Department.
On the diet side, we have known for decades the physiological or psychological harms of weight loss diets that entail real health risks. “One of the major and recurring consequences of the deprivations and exclusions practiced, whatever the diet, is, paradoxically, weight regain, even overweight. The more you diet, the more you promote weight regain” indicates ANSES.
It is therefore not a question of depriving yourself but of adopting a varied and balanced healthy diet by first avoiding consuming (too much) sugar in drinks in particular and in processed products: “Excess calories consumed from foods and drinks high in free sugars also contribute to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to overweight or obesity. The latest evidence also shows that free sugars have an effect on blood pressure and serum lipids, and suggests that reduced intake of free sugars reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease.” says the WHO.
Limiting free sugars intake should be less than 10% of total energy intake and it is suggested to go even further and go below 5% of total energy intake to increase health benefits. A good way to avoid harmful added sugar intake is to cook yourself, not to eat industrial dishes and drinks.
Prefer unsaturated fats
In summary, a healthy diet consists of the following: at least 400 g (or 5 servings) of fruits and vegetables per day, legumes (eg, lentils and peas), dried fruits and whole grains ( for example unprocessed corn, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice) which are rich in fibre, help us feel full and guarantee the good health of our intestinal bacteria and our transit. Less than 30% of total energy intake should come from fat.
Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado and nuts, as well as sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are preferred over saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, clarified butter and lard) and trans fatty acids from ruminant animals such as cows. “Industrial trans fatty acids found in baked and fried foods as well as in snacks and pre-packaged foods, such as frozen pizzas, pies, cookies, biscuits, waffles or yet cooking oils and spreads cannot be part of a healthy diet and should be excluded”, says the WHO.
You should not avoid proteins which bring a feeling of satiety and contribute to the health of the muscles but by favoring vegetable proteins (we find the most in the super algae: spirulina, soy, hemp, pumpkin seeds , peanuts, tree nuts, legumes) or lean meats such as poultry.
And as we can tend to eat without being hungry, because we are bored or because we are stressed or tired, practicing a mindfulness meditation activity will not make the pounds fly away but can help to stay in the present moment, be more aware of certain eating behaviors and thus move away from them to feel good in your body and in your head.