Many people depend on health insurance offered through their work. But think for a moment: Your best insurance for getting to work is your health. If you’re not healthy, you’re not working in the first place. Ensuring you’re healthy is your best health insurance.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is attributed with saying, ““A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.” That means looking to causes of ill health and making changes, like eliminating bad habits.
True, not all diseases result from bad habits. Some illnesses have no known causes or cures. However, for most illnesses due to bad eating, drinking, and other lifestyle habits, there’s hope to prevent, maintain, or cure major illnesses that decrease quality of life.
How To Ensure Good Health
1. Proper Diet
What’s the proper diet for you? Well, you can visit the Dietary Guidelines for Americans website and read about what and how much should be on your plate. There you’ll find nutrition information and recommended food variety and intake.
But diet is not a one-size fits all proposition. Yes, our body composition requires us to consume a variety of foods to fuel cells and energy. We need a balance of carbohydrates for energy, proteins to build and repair cells, fats for energy, cell development, warmth, hormone production, and nutrient absorption, vitamins and minerals to perform chemical reactions in the body, and phytochemicals from foods with antioxidants to fight off disease.
But eaters adapt diets to their needs. If you have celiac disease, you’re not going to get your carbohydrates from grains or a whole host of foods with gluten in them. Other food allergies requires other dietary restrictions to avoid illness or even death (anaphylactic shock). And age also dictates dietary needs. Some diets restrict foods that cause inflammation for autoimmune diseases.
And if you’re eating to lose weight, your challenges are not just what to eat but how, why, when, and where. Breaking bad eating habits is difficult. The Internet offers loads of advice on how to change your eating habits, but some standbys include:
- baby steps (tackle one habit at a time, like eliminating dessert at dinner, for example)
- meal planning (to avoid too-hungry-to-cook moments),
- mindful eating (appreciating and taking your time to eat),
- setting realistic goals,
- and reducing stress.
Exercise is important for health. It also helps prevent chronic diseases, like cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, obesity, and cancer. It also aids in weight loss for those who are overweight and therefore risk high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, gallbladder disease, and arthritis.
Stretching, aerobic activity, and anaerobic exercise constitute a full-spectrum body workout, building strong muscles and heart functioning. Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 5 times a week is optimal, but any exercise is better than none. Adequate rest in between exercising is as important as the exercise itself to avoid injury.
3. Skin Protection
The most common cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer. Reducing sun (or tanning booth) exposure by wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen (minimum 15 SPF) year round to avoid exposed skin helps prevent skin cancer.
4. Health Care
Get regular checkups and follow up with medical, dental, and vision care. In other words, properly managed care or treatment of existing health problems improves overall health. Use your health benefits for your whole health care and take time to learn which services your health insurance plan covers.
Ask your doctor which services your plan covers, whether you should have an annual physical, how many calories you should be ingesting, when you should have cancer screenings, and how to eat healthy, lose weight, stop smoking or stop substance abuse.
Preventative care screenings for breast, colorectal, cervical, and other cancers are crucial to detect and avoid disease. Likewise, keeping current on vaccinations and taking medications as directed avoid preventable illness.
5. Emotional Health
Physical and mental health are intimately tied. Investing in optimal emotional wellbeing is as important as taking time to eat right, exercise, and protect your body from harm. Living a balanced life between work, domestic demands, and pleasurable activity reduces harmful stress that can lead to depression, fatigue, and serious bodily illness.
Engage in healthy relationships and take time for yourself to practice some self-love and contentedness. Concentrate on all of the positives in your life and adopt an attitude of gratitude. Daily meditation over time not only calms but centers, improving your focus for what you truly want to do and be.
6. Safe Sex
For emotional and physical health, engage in safe sex using protection against STD’s by using condoms. The practice will reduce life stress and improve intimacy. Of course, maintaining healthy sexual relations in trust and love improves emotional, mental, and physical health in a myriad of ways. Consult a doctor for the best methods of protection for you.
7. Tobacco and Other Substances
Get help quitting smoking or otherwise ingesting tobacco. Smokers risk heart disease and cancer of the lungs, mouth, or throat. They also risk emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), The good news is that once you quit, you can reverse damage to your body from smoking almost immediately and increase your lifespan.
Drinking too much alcohol may damage your liver and cause throat, liver, or pancreas cancer, not to mention death or injury from drunk driving. Alcohol abuse also contributes to the annual murder and suicide rates as well as fetal alcohol syndrome in babies of pregnant alcohol abusers.
Too much alcohol for men is more than 4 drinks a day or 14 per week and for women more than 3 drinks on any day or 7 per week. A standard drink contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Health is vigilance. Keeping the right balance of what your mind and body needs, avoiding what’s toxic, and maintaining a positive attitude all help your health. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, visiting nature outdoors, spending time with friends, gardening, tending to your hobbies, and feeding your life’s passions ensure that you’ll enjoy your life more and need your health insurance less.