Health is a resource for life. Our health status is influenced by several factors including genetics, personal habits, access to quality health care, the general external environment, and social circumstances.6-8
It may sound surprising, but the most dominant factor is our behavioral patterns, which represents approximately 39-40% of health determinants.1-5
Balanced nutritional habits and a healthy lifestyle are essential at every age and stage of life. Unhealthy dietary patterns, physical inactivity, smoking, abuse of alcohol, and other drugs collectively accounted for about 40% of premature deaths in 2016. This is more than 21 million deaths.1
The period of adolescence is characterized by continued physical and psychological development that generally occurs from puberty to legal adulthood. The Latin word ""adolescere"" means ""to grow up"". This physical growth and cognitive development is strongly affected by lifestyle choices. In addition, it has been found that parents' habits and lifestyle choices strongly determine their children's lifestyles and health, even into adulthood.
A study showed that parents' characteristics explained between 31 percent and 78 percent of their adult health, with a European average at 50 percent.59
Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the GBD (Global Burden of Disease Study).1
The exact composition of a balanced and healthy diet may vary depending on factors such as age, gender, physical activity, religious restrictions, cultural customs and availability of different foods, but the basic principles of what constitutes a healthy diet remain the same.
Adequate consumption of vegetables and fruit are vitally important to human health as sources of nutrients and non-nutritive food constituents. Inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruit contributed to more than 3.8 million deaths in 2016!1
A review of 95 studies, found that there was a 16% reduction in the risk of heart disease, a 28% reduction in the risk of stroke, a 22% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduction in the risk of cancer, and a 27% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality for an intake of 500 grams of fruits and vegetables per day, compared to 0-40 grams per day.3
Fruit and vegetables should make up over a third of the food we eat each day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least five 80 g portions of fruit and vegetables every day (total 400 grams per day)2
You do not meet fruit and vegetable intake recommendations! One of the easiest ways to improve your health may be through increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat. Make them a dominant part of your daily meals and snacks!
Dairy products provide a wide range of nutrients that may be difficult to obtain with limited or no dairy consumption. Aside from protein, nutrients concentrated in dairy foods include calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin D. In balanced omnivore diets, dairy products contribute around 52-75 % of the reference intake of calcium.4-12
Dietary guidelines of health organizations include the consumption of 2 to 3 servings of dairy products (500-750 ml of milk, or equivalent dairy products) per day - an amount that provides three-quarters of the recommended daily intake of calcium for the general population.9-13
If you are unable, or unwilling to consume dairy products, you should be aware of which foods provide the range of nutrients generally obtained from dairy, especially calcium.
Calcium choices for those who do not consume dairy products include green leafy vegetables such us collard and turnip greens, kale, bok choy, legumes including soybeans and other soy products (tofu made with calcium, soy yogurt, tempeh), some other beans, and calcium-fortified foods (juices, cereals, breads, rice milk, almond milk or other non-dairy ""milks"").
Fish and seafood, especially cold-water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, are the most valuable source of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. They play an important role in the maintenance of cardiovascular health, normal blood pressure, blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels, normal brain function, vision.14-19
Aiming for at least two servings of fish per week, including at least one portion of oily fish will ensure adequate amount of long chain omega-3 fatty acids for the maintenance of optimal health.
On the other hand, to obtain additional beneficial effect, such as the maintenance of normal blood pressure, or the maintenance of normal triglyceride levels, a daily intake of 2, or 3 grams, but no more than 5 grams of EPA and DHA is needed. That is why we made a high-quality omega-3 supplements as a base of your recommended supplement regimen.14-19
Water is essential for life. From the time that primeval species ventured from the oceans to live on land, a major key to survival has been prevention of dehydration. Without water, humans can survive only for days.
According to the European Food and Safety Authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) Adequate Intakes (AI) for adults and adolescents are estimated to be 2.0 L/day for females and 2.5 L/day for males.20
Water, lower fat milk, sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee all count. Sugary drinks are one of the main contributors to our excess sugar consumption. Swap sugary soft drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar varieties. Fruit juice and smoothies also count towards your fluid consumption, although they are a source of sugars and so you should limit consumption to no more than a combined total of 150ml per day.11, 12
(The reference values for total water intake can only apply to conditions of moderate environmental temperature and moderate physical activity levels.)
Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, accounting for 9% of premature mortality, translating to more than 5 million deaths per year. Physical inactivity is estimated to be responsible for 6% of coronary heart disease, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10% of breast cancer and 10% of colon cancer.1-3
Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and a widening variety of other chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer (colon and breast), obesity, hypertension, bone and joint diseases (osteoporosis and osteoarthritis), and depression.3-13
According to the WHO fact sheet on physical activity, people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active.18 Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It’s not just about keeping disease and premature death at bay, and bones, joints and muscles healthy. There are several hundred studies that summarize the potential of physical activity to upgrade life quality through enhanced self-esteem, improved mood, increased energy, reduced anxiety, resilience to stress, and improved sleep.14
According to the World Health Organization, in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, the following are recommended:
Children and young people aged 5-17 years old should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, while physical activity greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits. Most of daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated at least three times per week, including those that strengthen muscle and bone.2
Children and youth should be encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities that support natural development and are enjoyable and safe. This includes play, games, sports, transportation, recreation, physical education or planned exercise through family, school, or community groups.
To develop a healthy lifestyle associated with a longer, healthier, and happier life, you have to start early! It has been shown that health habits develop very early in life and, once well established, are exceedingly difficult to change. This is why it is so critically important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine while avoiding bad habits at a young age. Once problems and poor health habits emerge, they tend to be very difficult to change.
Tobacco and alcohol abuse are two lifestyle habits that get a lot of negative criticism in the health industry, and for good reason. They both cause multiple complications with our health that can range from mild to life-threatening.
Every five seconds, someone dies from tobacco use! In 2016, tobacco is estimated to be responsible for 7.1 million deaths and 177.3 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life-years). (One DALY can be thought of as one lost year of ""healthy"" life.)1-4
Globally in 2016, 0.9 million deaths were attributable to second-hand smoke exposure, of which more than 56 000 occurred among children younger than 10 years.1
According to the WHO fact sheet on smoking, half of long-term smokers will die from tobacco, and every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes of life on average - about the time taken to smoke it.5 Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death.
Quitting smoking can add years to your life. The earlier the better, but it's never too late to quit! Pick a date in the next few weeks, mark it on your calendar, and share it with your family and friends.
Plan to completely stop smoking on that date! It has been found that quitting smoking 'cold turkey' may be better! In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, those who stopped smoking abruptly were significantly more successful at quitting smoking, both at the 4-week and the 6-month follow-up, than those who cut down first.6
Globally in 2016, alcohol is estimated to be the seventh-leading risk factor in both deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALY). It is estimated to be responsible for 3.2 million deaths in 2016.1
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon, mental health problems such us depression and anxiety, learning and memory impairment, lost productivity, family and other social problems.7