Health is wealth.6 July, 2011, by Seema Bhatnagar
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. - M.K Gandhi
Indeed, this quote has a million dollar advice packed in it. Several times I think how important our health is for us and we simply take it for granted. Imagine a day in your life when you wanted to visit some wonderful place, which is your dream, but due to simple fever or a pain in the leg you could not even get up from your bed and lost the opportunity to see that place. There might be many more such instances when you had everything with you, may be even million dollars in your bank account but due to your illness you could not enjoy it and had to come to terms with prevailing circumstances.
It might be a stale topic for you to read but believe me, what your health can give you, your money cannot. Money cannot buy you happiness, similarly, there are times when money cannot even buy you health also. Your money might enable you to buy treatment, cures but it cannot buy you real health. Maintaining good health demands a strong commitment and to live fit and fine needs persistent efforts.
Nowadays, more and more people are suffering from lifestyle related diseases which means more food, less work and less exercise. Most of the professions these days do not require physical efforts and people are sitting in air conditioned offices almost for the whole day and for commuting to and fro there are air conditioned buses/metros/cars etc. So overall there are hardly any physical efforts in a day. With digital revolution in the late 20th century, nowadays most of the jobs are assisted with computers and people make more use of mental energy than physical energy. With changes in the work style there came changes in the food habits also and in the race of outsmarting each other people prefer something fast and easy to cook food ignoring its nutritional aspect
If you are indifferent to the concept of good health then ask its importance from a sick or bed ridden person, you would quickly realize that you have a treasure in the form of your health.
With the grace of God, a child is born healthy but a slow deterioration is caused to health by mindlessly consuming junk food and by leading a sedentary lifestyle. Eventually blaming fast life for leaving less time for ourselves. In the words of Stephen R. Coveys from his book The Seven habit of highly effective people, it means, we are more focused on the production than on production capability.
Benefits of Good Health
Who can deny the benefits of having good health. There are several benefits but below is the quick list of top 10 off the top of my head.
- You can enjoy life more.
- You can travel and visit places.
- You can do more physical work.
- Have no medical bills which means saving huge money.
- You can take care of others.
- You can be more positive about life and have more positive energy.
- You can fulfil your dreams which might need physical or mental efforts.
- When you are healthy and believe in healthy life styles your children will automatically believe in healthy lifestyle so in a way you are educating one generation.
- You can make more money and can take more risks in life.
- You can expect a longer life and can spend more time with your family in this lifetime.
Reasons for ignoring health
Knowing the benefits of having good health, what could be the possible reasons that people are so lax in attitude about their health.My experience tells me following reasons for which people do not pay attention to their health.
Lack of awareness
The first and foremost is a lack of knowledge and awareness about what is healthy food. Some people do not know the definition of healthy food and according to them whatever is edible and tasty is a healthy food.
Lack of time
The life is so fast these days in metro cities that people spend 20-30% of waking hours in commuting to work. This leaves little time for preparation of healthy food and people are always in a rush to catch bus/metro/pooled car/train etc.
With today's life full of stress people take support of food to feel good about them. Sometimes, people eat food to please others or simply fall prey to their inability to say NO to others for junk food.
People work away from home and stays in metros for work and do not have a luxury of home cooked food and they simply fall in trap of consuming junk food. I feel myself fortunate enough to have a home cooked food since I stay with my family and get regular home cooked food in all meals.
The digital age has changed the way people work. Now, majority of work force use computers and spend maximum time sitting at one place in front of computers and there is minimal mobility in people lives. Having a physically inactive life combined with high calorific food make people to put on weight.
Culture and Food
Our culture has a strong influence on our food habits. Every culture in the world has its own food tradition. Though I have not tasted food from all the cultures of the world except a few like Italian, Swiss, English and Chinese but I know that all cultures have an inbuilt aspect of nutrition and health. I am Indian and have a maximum know-how of Indian food. In India, there is a diversity of culture and there is a specific food for every region/state. The traditional food culture of all regions has a nutritional aspect built into it suiting to climate of that particular region.
Interestingly, in Indian Hindu culture, there is a concept of fasting. All people who are into Hindu religious practice follows a fasting routine. Almost every 15th day or in a week there is a fast recommended for that specific day, for example, on a full moon or on a dark night etc.. Each fast has its own type of food prescription, sometimes, only water is allowed, in one there are only fruits allowed and in one there are sweet or salty foods items are allowed. That way, body gets cleansed weekly and also gets balanced nutritious food. In Hinduism, it is believed that vegetarian, nutritious and balanced food gives a positive energy to an individual, which further helps to have a better control over body and senses.
Personally, I am Hindu by religion (but do not practice any religious routines) and I am very particular about my health and avoid junk food at home and outside. My first preference is always a vegetarian food. These days I am following a raw vegan diet (not fully but partially). In Feb. 2011, I followed a 10 days of raw vegan diet and shed around 6 kg weight, only then I realized the power of nutritious raw food. From that time onwards, I have become a raw vegan fan and have advised it to my many clients.
Jump start to a good health.
If you are feeling that you are living an unhealthy lifestyle and want to know, how and from where to start living a healthy lifestyle then let's explore some basics of health first.
Concept of calories: You must have heard the word "calorie" either from books or from your health conscious friends around you. I am sure, you also must have observed how conscious people are about intake of calories.
If you don't know much about this term but want to walk the path of healthy lifestyle then it is essential to understand what does calorie means and how it can impact your health.
A calorie is a unit of measurement - is a unit of energy.
When you hear something contains 100 calories, it's a way of describing how much energy your body would get from eating or drinking that particular food item. Remember, each and every food item has some calorific value.
Our body needs energy to keep us active mentally and physically. Consuming calories is not bad rather it is a basic requirement of our body. Our bodily requirement of calories varies from person to person, a physically active person needs more calories than a person who is doing a mentally intensive job, also our age and physical built plays a significant role in determining our calorific needs. The problem arises when we stop taking into account our age and physical activities and start consuming foods more than what we need. This results in overweight body. Similarly, if we start consuming fewer calories than what we need we run into a problem of underweight. So, maintaining a good health means taking the right amount of calories.
There is also a second aspect to the calories and that is the quality of calories. We can have either empty calories or healthy calories.
The term empty calories describe foods that are very high in energy but low in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids. Every day you need a certain amount of these nutrients so that your body can function properly. Empty calories are bad because they only give you calories and usually, a high amount of sugar. Foods filled with empty calories include soda, candy and most junk foods. While healthy calories comes from natural food, like fruits, grains, dairy products etc..
So the key to good health is to have a food which can give you calories as well as nutrition. The examples of such foods are fruits, dry fruits, green leafy vegetables and whole grains.
With the understanding of the concept of calories, the next step is to know your BMI. BMI ( Body mass index) is a calculation that uses your height and weight to estimate how much body fat you have. Too much body fat is a problem because it can lead to illnesses and other health problems. Calculate your BMI and see how overweight or underweight you are right now, my favourite website is http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/bmi.php. It has rich details about calorific value of each food item.
Once you calculate your BMI, you will get a fair idea on which side of the scale you are and what could be a right food plan for you. Please do not think that being too thin is healthy. Too thin or too fat is equally harmful in its own way. Make your own goal to lose weight by choosing the nutritious food combining with exercise. Ensure your goal is realistic and you are not pushing yourself to limits. You cannot lose all the fat in a week if you have been eating junk food mindlessly for last several years. The site http://caloriecount.about.com/ will also advice you on the goal setting for weight lose.
Healthy life is the best life.
Remember, the most important part of your journey towards healthy life is your mindset about healthy life. If you start believing strongly about having a healthy life, you will get motivation from inside and will not give in to the temptations of having junk food. Here are some 20 tips for living a healthy lifestyle. Follow them if you can for at least 30 days to feel a difference in you.If you are suffering from some illness, please consult your doctor for a healthy diet.
Tips for living a healthy life.
- Develop a strong mindset about living a healthy lifestyle.
- Calculate your current BMI. If it is not in the recommended range, then plan your target weigh to lose.
- Plan a 20-30 minutes' walk or any physical exercise for everyday.
- Use stairs instead of lift in your office. If your office is in a high rise, climb at least 2 floors and then take a lift.
- Opt for green, healthy and nutritious food. Avoid taking non-vegetarian food.
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away. So, have plenty of fruits in a day.
- Subscribe to health newsletter or join health related forums to get motivated about healthy lifestyle.
- Join some aerobic class or any activity which can give a cardiac exercise.
- Prefer homemade food and carry your tiffin to work.
- Encourage and sensitize your family members about having healthy food and lifestyle.
- Exercise your body joints, since they become stiff after sitting for a long duration.
- Do deep breathing exercise by taking deep breaths whenever possible during a day time. It will help releasing mental stress.
- Take a 10-20 minutes stroll during a lunch time at office.
- Pay attention to your posture while sitting on a chair. A straight posture provides the required support to spine and it can save you from untimely back pain problems.
- Do not work continuously for more than an hour. Get up and walk for 5 minutes, may be for a water break.
- Plan a fast for once a week and eat only raw food.
- Park your car at a distance and take a walk to office.
- Get pictures of fruits and vegetables and paste them in your kitchen or in your dining room. This will remind you of your commitment towards healthy lifestyle.
- Try healthy food recipes from different food cultures of the world.
- Take at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep. This will recharge your batteries and will make you more productive and healthy.
Before it is too late and becomes impossible to remain healthy, it is better to take stock of your health and do whatever is possible to remain in good health. If at any time you are feeling less motivated then remind yourself - we all have to die one day in order to get a fresh life, but dying after leading a quality life will give a better satisfaction than dying of some lifestyle illness. So, invest time and money on your health rather than becoming only a money minting machine.