Define Health Manifesto – How Do You Achieve Optimal Health, Wellness, and Nutrition?

While “healthy” is a term that gets thrown into conversations regularly, its flippant versatility can be confusing. If you search Instagram, you’ll find insight into what society collectively considers the healthy ideal: fitness models behind filters, bodybuilders and their supplements, detoxing and fad diet claims, the virtues of “clean-eating,” and an extreme amount of juicing. You get the picture—you’ve probably seen the pictures, too. 

Explore preventative care to make a healthier lifestyle achievable.

Researchers pinpoint some major problems with this near-constant imagery. First, media (particularly social media) plays a huge role in shaping what behaviors people consider important to reach a certain goal. But since these behaviors prioritize physical appearance, they’re generally linked with negative psychological effects and poorer physical health outcomes.

It comes down to this paradox: studies routinely show that someone’s body shape is not a good indicator of their health. In a world where poor body image is fairly common, it’s fair to question whether or not we may be missing the mark on what it means to be healthy.

Those fitness influencers aren’t exactly wrong—healthy foods, daily movement, and lifestyle factors such as not smoking are extremely important to a healthy life. But how many greens you eat isn’t the only thing you need to paint a full picture of wellness.

A healthy lifestyle is more multifaceted than what you see on social media and requires a good balance to maintain. New research published in the British Medical Journal breaks it down like this: you can’t outrun a poor diet at the gym, and all the juice cleansing in the world won’t make up for a sedentary lifestyle.

You don’t have to make sweeping changes to these parts of your lifestyle all at once. In fact, studies show that making small adjustments, bit by bit, sets you up for more sustainable long-term habits.


Importance of Nutrition - Star Health

In our culture of weight-loss diets, it can be easy to overlook balanced nutrition. While getting too much salt, sugar, and saturated fat in your diet raises your risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, it’s not all about what you should restrict and avoid.

Ensuring you’re eating enough nutrient-rich food is essential to all aspects of your health. For example, lacking nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K are linked with sleep problems.
Not getting enough protein can lead to slowed metabolism and weight gain.
Healthy fats are essential to help protect you against heart disease and can help keep your energy levels high.

In addition, “depression and nutrition are very closely linked,” says Briana Severine,  MS, LPC, LAC, CPRP, founder of Sanare Psychosocial Rehabilitation. “Healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet have been associated with reduced risk of depression symptoms,” she states. A balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help improve your overall health and reduce the risk of many health conditions. It is important to focus on what we should consume rather than just what we should limit or avoid. By prioritizing balanced nutrition, we can improve our sleep, metabolism, energy levels, and mental health. 


Regular physical activity doesn’t just help with weight management. It also has the potential to reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, help maintain healthy bones and joints, and contribute to better mental health and mood. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 60 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity daily.

According to researchers, people say they don’t exercise for pretty consistent reasons—there’s not enough time, they don’t have access to resources, and they’re tired.

But here’s the key: you don’t have to have a highly-skilled, time-consuming fitness regimen to reap the benefits of physical activity. Studies show:

Going on a brisk 10-minute walk every day could extend your lifespan.
Getting your heart rate up for just 12 minutes a day can help protect your cardiovascular system.

“Since sleep is a key time that your body uses to recover and rest, not getting enough of it can have consequences,” says  Jeffrey Dlott, Medical Director of Consumer Health at Quest Diagnostics.

While a bad night’s rest here and there is no big deal, health problems start to emerge if it becomes a regular thing. “Sleep deprivation” can lead to a weakened immune system, which in turn leads to more illness, and over time it can also increase your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more,” Dlott notes.

Chronic stress has a big effect on your health and well-being, too. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and high, sustained levels can suppress your immune system. “It can also lead to the development of other chronic health conditions, like heart disease and depression, over time if left unmanaged,” Dlott emphasizes.

How to Know If You’re Living a Healthy Life

“The human body and its various organs and tissues are the most complex structures in the known galaxy, and the hints they emit about underlying trouble can often be subtle,” says J. Wes Ulm, MD, Ph.D. “So be aware of yourself as much as possible—if you seem to be detecting that something is off, take it seriously and prime your internal antenna for possible underlying health conditions or the need for lifestyle changes.” 

What is Your Lifestyle IQ?

Keep in mind that a healthy, sustainable lifestyle for one person may not be what’s best for another. But the experts say to look out for these signs you’re living a healthy life. 

  • You have good energy levels throughout the day
  • You’re able to manage stress effectively
  • Your skin looks healthy and clear
  • You have regular bowel movements
  • You maintain a healthy weight
  • You sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed
  • You have a balanced and varied diet
  • You have a regular exercise routine
  • You have good mental and emotional health
  • You have healthy relationships and a support system. 

Your Energy Levels are Stable

Having good amounts of energy throughout the day is a tell-tale sign you’re getting high-quality sleep. But your energy levels can also offer clues on your nutritional intake, particularly of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The right combination of these macronutrients can be a bit different for everyone, especially depending on factors like your physical activity. But paying attention to your energy at different points of the day can help guide what’s right for you.

You Handle Stress Well

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Researchers say it can even be good for you when you approach it in a healthy way. One sign you’re dealing with stress well is in your ability to set boundaries. By learning to set boundaries, you’re recognizing and prioritizing your needs.

This could include boundaries for your physical space, emotional needs, the time you spend (or don’t spend) on certain things, sexual interactions, respect for your thoughts and ideas, and material possessions. 

You’ve Got Fresh Breath

“Dentists often say the mouth is a window into the health of the body,” says James E Galati, DDS, PC, President, New York State Dental Association. Poor oral health leads to a buildup of bacteria that can spread throughout your respiratory and digestive tracts.

“Studies suggest that increased bacteria entering your body can lower your immune response and make you more likely to develop general health problems, including heart disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia,” according to Galati. Chronic bad breath is a common sign of poor oral health.

You Check In With Your Doctor

Top Questions To Ask Your Family Doctor - Advanced Medical P.A.

“One important point I would also like to stress when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is how important it is to seek preventive care,” notes Dlott. A 2015 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only eight percent of U.S. adults received the appropriate preventive care recommended.

But routine health screenings and checkups may help prevent illness, disease, and chronic health conditions and help detect illnesses in earlier stages when treatment is likely to work best, he explains, which may lead to better health outcomes.

How to Know It’s Time for a Change

People know their bodies best, so if something feels off, it’s important to look at your lifestyle habits and be honest about changes that may need to be implemented to help improve our health and lessen our risk of chronic health conditions. Here are some signs that may indicate it’s time for a change:

Lack of energy: Feeling constantly tired and drained, even after getting enough sleep, could be a sign that your lifestyle needs some adjustments. It might be necessary to evaluate your sleep patterns, diet, exercise routine, and stress levels to identify potential changes that can boost your energy levels.

Persistent physical symptoms: Frequent headaches, digestive issues, muscle pain, and other physical symptoms that persist even after seeking medical help could be a signal that your body is in need of a change. It may be necessary to examine your diet, exercise habits, stress management techniques, and overall lifestyle to address any underlying issues.

Mental and emotional well-being: Excessive stress, frequent mood swings, persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, and a general decline in mental and emotional well-being are signs that your current lifestyle may not be supporting your mental health. It might be helpful to consider therapy, mindfulness activities, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes to prioritize self-care and promote emotional well-being.

Unhealthy habits: If you find yourself relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or overeating, it is likely time for a change. These habits can have serious long-term consequences on your health, and seeking healthier alternatives or professional help is essential to break free from these patterns.

Lack of fulfillment: Feeling unfulfilled, bored, or stuck in a rut in your personal or professional life is a sign that it’s time for a change. Reflecting on your values, goals, and aspirations can help you identify areas that need improvement or change. It might be necessary to explore new hobbies, pursue further education or training, or consider a career change to bring back a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life.

Relationship difficulties: Constant conflicts, lack of communication, or a general feeling of dissatisfaction in your relationships could indicate that changes are necessary. It’s important to address these issues and consider seeking therapy or counseling to improve relationship dynamics and promote healthy connections.

Feeling stagnant: If you feel like you’re not growing or progressing in your personal or professional life, it may be time for a change. Assess your goals, identify areas that need improvement or development, and take steps toward personal and professional growth.
Remember, change can be challenging, but it is often necessary for personal growth, well-being, and overall happiness. It’s important to be open to new possibilities, seek support when needed, and take proactive steps toward creating a healthier and more fulfilling life.

You’re Always Sick: There is virtually no way to keep from coming down with an illness from time to time—U.S. adults average two to four colds per year, although it can vary. However, when it becomes very cyclical, it can signal that there may be factors contributing to a weakened immune system that causes people to succumb to illnesses more easily.

Your Stomach is Constantly “Off”: Always feeling bloated, backed up, or plagued by acid reflux or indigestion? Poor diet, lack of fiber, insufficient physical movement, and low hydration are common causes of tummy troubles, Dr. Dlott explains. “One other potential culprit is chronic stress, as issues with digestion can also be a symptom triggered by stress.

Household Chores are Exhausting: Feeling winded from relatively minor physical activity like household chores is a hallmark of low aerobic tolerance. Poor stress tolerance, fatigue, difficulty in healing, and general malaise and a persistently foul mood can also be subtle signs of inadequate physical activity.

You’re Extra Irritable: Each individual is different in the warning signs present when their mental health suffers. But if you’re unusually irritable or quick to anger, that’s a common signal to prioritize your self-care and prevent a larger mental health crisis. Other signs include difficulty waking or getting out of bed, shifts in eating patterns, increased isolation from others, and difficulty concentrating.

The Definition of Healthy?

“Healthy” looks and feels different to everyone, so listening to your body and its cues is important. Don’t make any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle without talking to a doctor. Make time and connect with a healthcare provider who can help navigate any symptoms or changes you’re experiencing, including tips on integrating some lifestyle modifications that can help contribute to better overall health.

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