The start of a new decade brings with it new resolutions to improve one’s life, including a healthier lifestyle. Here are 20 practical health tips to help you start off towards healthy living in 2020.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Eat a combination of different foods, including fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Adults should eat at least five portions (400g) of fruit and vegetables per day. You can improve your intake of fruits and vegetables by always including veggies in your meal; eating fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks; eating a variety of fruits and vegetables; eating them in season.
- Consume Less Salt and Sugar: Most people get their sodium through salt. Reduce your salt intake to 5g per day, equivalent to about one teaspoon.
- Reduce Intake of Harmful Fats: The World Health Organization recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 10% of total energy intake; reducing trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake; replacing both saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats.
- Avoid Harmful Use of Alcohol: Consuming alcohol can lead to health problems such as mental and behavioral disorders, including alcohol dependence.
- Don’t Smoke: Tobacco kills not only the direct smokers but even non-smokers through second-hand exposure.
- Be active: Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. This includes exercise and activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, traveling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.
- Check Your Blood Pressure Regularly: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is called a “silent killer”. This is because many people who have hypertension may not be aware of the problem as it may not have any symptoms.
- Get Tested: Getting yourself tested is an important step in knowing your health status, especially when it comes to HIV, hepatitis B, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB).
- Get Vaccinated: Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent diseases. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to build protection against diseases like cervical cancer, cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, pneumonia, polio, rabies, rubella, tetanus, typhoid, and yellow fever.
- Practice Safe Sex: Looking after your sexual health is important for your overall health and well-being. Practice safe sex to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and syphilis.
- Cover Your Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing: Diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis are transmitted through the air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, infectious agents may be passed on to others through airborne droplets.
- Prevent Mosquito Bites: You can take simple measures to protect yourself and your loved ones against mosquito-borne diseases. If you’re traveling to an area with known mosquito-borne diseases, consult a physician for a vaccine to prevent diseases such as Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever or if you need to take antimalarial medicines.
- Follow Traffic Laws: You yourself can also prevent road crashes by ensuring that you follow traffic laws such as using the seatbelt for adults and child restraint for your kids, wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle, not drinking and driving, and not using your mobile phone while driving.
- Drink Only Safe Water: Drinking unsafe water can lead to water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
- Breastfeed Babies from 0 to 2 Years and Beyond: Breastfeeding is the best way to provide the ideal food for newborns and infants. WHO recommends that mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Breastfeeding for the first six months is crucial for the baby to grow up healthy.
- Talk to Someone You trust if you’re feeling down: Depression is a common illness worldwide with over 260 million people affected. Depression can manifest in different ways, but it might make you feel hopeless or worthless, or you might think about negative and disturbing thoughts a lot or have an overwhelming sense of pain.
- Take Antibiotics Only as Prescribed: Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health threats in our generation. When antibiotics lose their power, bacterial infections become harder to treat, leading to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
- Clean Your Hands Properly: Hand hygiene is critical not only for health workers but for everyone. Clean hands can prevent the spread of infectious illnesses.
- Prepare Your Food Correctly: Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhea to cancers. When buying food at the market or store, check the labels or the actual produce to ensure it is safe to eat.
- Have Regular Check-Ups: Regular check-ups can help find health problems before they start. Health professionals can help find and diagnose health issues early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.
Disclaimer: Health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start, change or modify your medications, lifestyle or current treatment regimen.
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