Health and well-being is a complex and multi faceted interaction between our genes and environment.
Our diet and lifestyle, which is mostly within our control, are the main environmental factors that have the largest effect on our health. The effect can either be positive or negative depending on our consistency around foundational diet and lifestyle habits that influence our health, wellbeing, longevity and chronic disease risk.
The foundational diet and lifestyle habits that are essential to good health are as follows:
- Eating a whole-food, minimally processed diet
- Getting adequate amounts of exersize and increase low intensity movement throughout the day
- Getting adequate amounts of sleep
- Minimising stress by learning techniques to reduce stress and respond to external situations in a healthy manner
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Abstaining from smoking and drugs
- Making time for social connection, self-care, being in nature, to have fun, relax, rest and engage in hobbies.
Research has consistently shown that people who have a consistent balance, over extended periods of time, between these diet and lifestyle habits, tend to be healthier than those who don’t. Following these foundational habits have the most profound effect on improving your health compared to anything else.
Within our modern world many people lack consistency around some or all of these diet and lifestyle habits (for various reasons) in varying degrees, with some being worse than others. This is a large driver behind our high chronic disease rates. This is because poor diet and lifestyle habits can increase inflammation in the body and deplete the body of resources.
Chronic diseases are driven by inflammation. Changing these foundational diet and lifestyle habits and having consistency around them on a day to day basis will increase health and longevity, as well as decrease the risk of chronic health issues. Also, if a person is suffering from a chronic health issue, addressing these diet and lifestyle habits can help decrease symptoms because it removes underlying causes and exacerbating factors. This can lead to increased quality of life, decreased disease progression, as well as decreased side effects and dose/amount of medications. Improving underlying diet and lifestyle habits will in fact improve the medications effectiveness.
The reasons as to why people struggle to get consistency around diet and lifestyle habits is because modern life presents various obstacles and threats to engaging in healthy diet and lifestyle habits.
However, this doesn’t mean people can’t be coached to change their habits around the inconsistencies in their diet and lifestyle, and to prioritise new habits for the sake of their wellbeing. Coaching needs to be done in an achievable and habit based manner. Where sustainable habits around diet and lifestyle are drip fed to people over a few weeks in order to not overwhelm them, as well as increase the likelihood of compliance.
It is possible to work a diet and lifestyle plan to suit people’s dynamic lives. The foundational habits that are necessary to integrate into peoples lifestyles won’t change, however, how they are integrated can differ from person to person depending on their lives.
Everyone can benefit from diet and lifestyle changes, no matter what age and what the presenting health issue. It may not be a cure, but it almost certainly will always improve peoples symptoms and quality of life, as well as decreasing disease risk or disease progression. Changing these foundational habits give people the best bang for their buck in terms of health outcomes, and without improving these, everything else will have negligible effects on improving health outcomes.