Health, Mind & Body

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Easy ways to start living healthier every day

Contrary to popular belief, adopting a healthy lifestyle is not a difficult undertaking. In certain instances, convenience may need to be sacrificed in favor of nutrition, but many people find that living healthy is not nearly as difficult as they assumed it would be when they initially decided to make a change.

When men and women decide they want to start living healthier, many mistakenly assume they must abandon their existing habits entirely and start from scratch. But the following are some easy ways to start living healthier every day.

• Eat more fruits and vegetables. One of the best and easiest ways to live healthier is to begin eating more fruits and vegetables. Instead of unhealthy snacks like potato chips and cookies, snack on a piece of fruit, and never sit down to a meal unless you include some vegetables to go along with the main course. Studies have shown that men and women whose diets are high in fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop certain types of cancers, including cancers of the digestive tract. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture notes that people whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

• Slow down your eating routine. Some people may already be eating the right foods, but they may just be eating too much of them. It takes time for your body to let you know it's had too much to eat, so eating too fast can increase your risk of overeating. While eating, try to limit distractions that can take your attention away from how much you're eating. If you're always watching television or checking emails on your phone while eating, try a few days of distraction-free, careful eating, and you may find yourself eating less and feeling more energized after a meal.

• Skip the second glass of wine. The much publicized medical benefits of wine are somewhat misleading. According to the Mayo Clinic, when consumed in moderation, red wine can help prevent heart disease. That's because alcohol and antioxidants found in red wine have been shown to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein, often referred to as "good" cholesterol, and protect against artery damage. But wine also contains sugars that can fatten the liver, and a fatty liver can contribute to a host of serious health problems. If you already drink wine, limit yourself to one glass per day. If you are not a wine drinker, then it's important to note that many doctors believe the potential benefits of drinking wine do not outweigh the potentially negative consequences associated with alcohol consumption, which include neurological problems and an increased risk for heart disease.

• Get more sleep. Inadequate sleep affects the body in a variety of ways. Many people are aware that one poor night's sleep is certain to affect their energy levels the following day, but fewer may know of the link between sleep duration and chronic disease. For example, the Harvard Medical School notes that  studies have linked insufficient sleep to type 2 diabetes, as the body's ability to process glucose can be compromised by poor sleeping habits. Other medical conditions that have been linked to insufficient sleep include obesity, heart disease and mood disorders. While you might be proud of your ability to function on minimal sleep, the long-term effects of insufficient sleep can be dire, so be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Choosing to live healthier does not mean you need to completely overhaul your existing lifestyle. In fact, you can make several easy everyday changes to dramatically improve your overall health.

Maryland Pennysaver