Now that the year is beginning and that it is time for good resolutions, it is time to incorporate these healthy lifestyle habits into your routines.
After the passing of Christmas, and the departure of the Three Wise Men, either due to excesses or simply as part of "New Year's resolutions", there are many individuals who consider starting to practice some healthy lifestyle habits: eating better, join the gym or just do a little more exercise or quit smoking are some of them.
That is why today we will review what healthy lifestyle habits should be basic to start, focusing especially on those that have to do with food, and applying a little common sense. Although it is true that as a doctor my mission should be to prohibit many things and advise many others, the extremes are terrible, and we are going to try to give a more pleasant and realistic approach to the matter.
How to eat better: Meet the Harvard dish
As there are many and very diverse messages on "balanced and / or healthy diet" that flood the Internet, we are going to try to give it a more summary and simplistic touch (although it is appropriate to try to delve into the concept progressively). Therefore, the easiest way to recommend a "healthy diet" would be to look at the famous Harvard dish, which tries to replace the typical and old-fashioned food pyramid.
Basically, the Harvard dish advises, if possible, at each meal, half should be vegetables and / or fruits, about a quarter carbohydrate, and another quarter protein. Obviously, it is necessary not to go overboard with the amounts of the latter two, although the more vegetables and fruits the better.
Likewise, the Harvard dish advises the use of vegetable oils as the main form of fat, specifically olive oil, and if possible, in its raw form as a dressing for vegetables and salads (although it is also possible to use it to make sauteed, always without going overboard). with the amount and without actually burning it). For his part, he advises avoiding margarine and trans fats.
Be mindful of what you eat: learn to read labels
You have probably heard many times that " eat quality carbohydrates " or " quality proteins ", or " healthy fats ". But what exactly are the highest quality and healthiest ones?
Regarding the issue of hydrates, the matter is easy: whole grains ("whole", which does not mean rich in fiber, but the grain is whole and preserves all its nutrients), nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits. And, essentially, those products rich in unprocessed carbohydrates, and without added sugars. Sugar is a white poison and, although it is often believed that the worst is the sugar that we add to coffee, the reality is that the worst sugar is the one that is added to food without our knowing it (but that is described in the labels and therefore we must read them). In fact, a recent study claims that sugar is even more harmful than we thought.
For its part, the quality proteins recommended by Harvard are fish, lean meats (especially poultry), eggs, dairy and also legumes (which are 25% protein) and nuts. Although Harvard advises reducing the consumption of red meat, the most recent studies emphasize processed meats (cold cuts, sausages, bacon) and not so much in this type of meat (beef, lamb), although at the moment its association with cardiovascular disease requires further study.
Finally, when it comes to healthy fats, the most recent studies are not entirely clear. Typically, the healthy fats have been unsaturated (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), which contains, for example, olive oil, fish, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, legumes and avocado. However, saturated fats (mostly of animal origin, such as red meat or dairy) do not seem to have just demonstrated their relationship with cardiovascular diseases Rather, what studies have seen is that increasing unsaturated fats improves health, not others make it worse. In fact, whole dairy has not been shown to worsen cardiovascular health, and not the other way around as is often believed, according to a recent review on the subject. And, in fact, it appears that drinking skim milk increases the risk of obesity.
Finally, one last tip: avoid especially any food that is advertised with a huge "SIN" on its cover, be it "without salt", "without sugar", "without fat" ... or those that add a " light ". All of them are processed foods, and we can probably obtain them ourselves from fresh products, and cooking them at home, knowing what we eat.
How many times a day should you eat?
As some of you may imagine, it is a trick question: there is no specific number of meals a day. And no, breakfast is not the most important meal, nor is it bad not to eat breakfast. Actually, the number of meals is indifferent, as long as the amount consumed in each one is properly controlled; If we eat two donuts and a chocolate shake eight times a day, we will not be eating a healthy diet.
Although it has always been recommended to eat 5 meals a day, the reality is that many individuals carry out a good diet with only three meals, and others with six, depending a lot on working hours, on whether they carry out physical exercise intense, some preparation for a competition and a long etcetera. For example, I usually do 5 or 6, depending on the day, out of habit and because I am very aware of what I eat, but making this recommendation to everyone out of inertia is useless.
Eating more times, a day has not been shown to improve metabolism. And, in fact, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve everything that the "five meals a day" seemed to improve, such as insulin resistance or weight control, among other benefits.
Walking is "better" than running
Again, this is advice that we must know how to interpret. Normally, with the beginning of the year, we tend to seek perfection and " go to the top “. Trying to go from nothing to everything is a serious mistake, and this usually happens mainly with those who do not usually do sports and suddenly start running or cycling, when on a normal day they do not even walk enough.
Currently, the recommendation for good cardiovascular health is to walk, at least, between 10,000 and 15,000 steps a day. This is about 10-12 km on average and, although it seems like a lot, it can be done throughout the day. And yes, walking also helps you lose weight and keep fit.
When we manage to carry out this habit of life, or at least in part, we will be able to consider going up one more step and looking for more intense exercises.
Finally, although it is advice that is usually taken as active and passive, we are going to repeat it: water is the best way to stay properly hydrated, and any other substitute will not be better.
And no, it is not necessary to drink two liters or eight glasses a day, or anything like that. You should drink when you are thirsty when you are not suffering from any disease, or increase your intake if you exercise, more heat than usual, or against certain diseases such as infections.
Okay, it is true that its low flavor does not make it seductive, but there are some tricks to give it flavor, such as adding pieces of fruits or vegetables, or even using natural or artificial non-caloric sweeteners (which, according to some studies, can increase obesity risk, but this is still controversial research).
Likewise, it is advisable to avoid any sugary drink (soft drinks), and alcohol. In the case of soft drinks, even drinking two sugary drinks a week has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and hypertension; And as far as alcohol is concerned, the latest works claim that it can cause up to seven different types of cancers.
And here I add again the "extremes are terrible"; I personally advise against any sugary drink, but I do drink beer (although very little, and only on weekends). I do not recommend its consumption, nor the taking of "a glass of wine a day", at least not for health reasons, but perfection does not exist and no doctor or nutritionist can swear that he strictly complies with all the advice he gives, because Hedonism or enjoyment with food and / or drink is also an important part of eating.
The only basic and overriding advice is to minimize risks, as " drinking in moderation " is a fallacy that no one should believe.
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