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Your health is the single most important thing that you need to take care of in life. It dictates your happiness, longevity, and quality of life, but even then, it’s commonplace for many people to ignore the warning signs and let themselves go. In the past, humans did not have the knowledge to understand what being healthy truly meant. But in this day and age, there is really no excuse for anyone to let their physical health go to waste.
The world is slowly becoming more and more health conscious, as people are leaning more towards fitness as a way of life. Exercise has taken the kind of precedence that it never had earlier as bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and combat sports champions like Conor McGregor have inspired the masses to hit the gym in an effort to get the perfect body.
This is reflected in the huge growth of the health and fitness industry. There are new gyms popping up in every corner, many of them offering a mix of traditional weightlifting equipment, cross-fit, MMA training, and more. According to Statista, the global health and fitness industry in 2014 was worth over $84 billion, an increase of more than $17 billion compared to the 2009 figure. It increased further to $87 billion in 2017.
The human body is a very complex machine, and just like any other machine, it needs to be maintained well in order for it to function to the best of its ability. We require a complex range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, sugar and carbohydrates in our diet in order to be healthy: think of it as the fuel to your body's engines.
Without the right quantities, there's a high chance that you'll fall victim to some disease or live your life with some health impediment that will hold you back from living to the fullest. Of course, dieting alone won't help you reach peak level fitness. It is also necessary to go for some form of exercise that will help you burn all this fuel in the right way. In fact, working out can transform your life by making you stronger, faster and better.
Let's take a look at some of the benefits of working out:
The impact that a healthy body can have on your mind is astounding. Being fit can help you have a more positive outlook on life itself, and this has even been proved by science! Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which promote positive feelings and lessen the perception of pain. In addition to this, it can boost the brain's sensitivity to serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of anxiety and sadness.
The framework of your body is made up of your bones and muscles, on which exercise has a massive impact. Working out helps you build muscles and also improve bone density. This helps counter the wear and tear that aging can bring about, so you are better protected against injuries and disabilities.
One of the biggest causes of disease is a lack of physical activity. This leads to the build-up of fats in the body, which in turn can lead to major health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiac issues and diabetes. Working out helps cut down that risk drastically by reducing the overall fat in your body and replacing that with lean muscle.
One marked change that people start noticing right after they start working out is that their energy levels are much higher. In fact, exercise plays a major role in combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It has also been shown to improve energy levels in people suffering from major illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.
You must have heard the old adage 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day.' The first meal of your day plays a big role in kick-starting your body after sleep and providing it with the right nutrition to get through the day. This meal needs to have a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and healthy sugar.
Some of the popular breakfast options from around the world are-
This is one of the lightest breakfasts that one can have. It typically includes tea, coffee, or juice, accompanied by fruits and different kinds of pastries. It's heavy on sugar and light on protein, but it is perfect for those who don't want to eat too much in the morning.
The English Breakfast is now a global phenomenon, as it's perfect for those looking for a heavy meal to start off the day. This breakfast usually comes packed with bread, baked beans, sausages, eggs, ham and boiled vegetables with tea and juice to wash it all down.
This breakfast is high on carbohydrates, with most of the meal based around Indian bread like parathas or puris, that are gulped down with a curry that's typically made of potatoes and chickpeas. Another variety is the South Indian breakfast, which is one of the healthiest in the world. It usually consists of steamed rice cakes called 'idlis' or the crepe-like 'masala dosa' and filter coffee.
This breakfast has taken on different avatars in countries around the world. It usually includes buns stuffed with meat, soup and that quintessential Chinese drink- tea. It gives you the right amount of protein that you need and is very easy on the tummy.
These are just a handful of different breakfast options that are popular around the world. There are still others which feature a mix of well-known breakfast staples such as oatmeal, muesli, bananas, cereal, bread and rolls.
However, a lot of people are pretty confused about breakfast. There is a misplaced notion that skipping breakfast might help you lose weight, but that's completely inaccurate. In fact, skipping breakfast has been linked to weight gain, cardiac problems and mental health issues.
A study from Harvard University found that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent greater risk of heart attack or heart disease than those who dug in. Although they haven’t pinpointed a direct cause, researchers suspect that remaining in a fasting state for longer is stressful and makes the body work harder, causing metabolic changes.
The key to staying fit is eating healthy. There is a wide range of junk food loaded with sugar and fats that is advertised to you on a daily basis, but in order to stay healthy, you need to say no to all of them. An occasional indulgence is fine, but your midday meal needs to be made of sterner stuff.
Nowadays people are so caught up with work that they don't have the time to think about what to have for lunch, which is why the best idea is to pack a healthy lunch for the office. This needs to be your heaviest meal of the day and has to be packed with the essential proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates. One of the most popular options for the fitness conscious these days is salads.
Salads are easy to whip up at home and can include any number of your favourite fruits and vegetables. The most popular salad ingredients are lettuce, broccoli, kale, zucchini, and olives. But you can literally drop anything you like into a salad without compromising on the taste. There are also a variety of salad dressings available such as Caesar’s and Thousand Island, which can help make your salad taste that much better.
However, people who like to have a heavier meal think that a salad might not be enough to satiate their midday hunger. There's nothing wrong with having a nice rice-based meal as well. However, one needs to have a standard measure of rice, with a sumptuous helping of sides and gravy; otherwise, the meal becomes heavy on carbohydrates and starch. Packing a rice bowl to work is a healthy option, and you can choose from some healthy fruits and vegetable to make a side. Chicken and fish are great options because they come packed with protein. Vegetarians can go for chickpeas, mixed vegetables, tofu or paneer, which should also fulfill your protein needs.
You need to stay conscious about what you consume throughout the day. While pizza, burgers, fries and the like can seem like the perfect option to enjoy for a snack, there are other alternatives that give you the right dose of nutrition and help boost your bodily functions.
One of the best things to snack on is dry fruits and nuts. They pack a whole lot of protein and vitamins in a small dose. You can try munching on raisins, dates, apricots, almonds and cashew nuts to help manage your hunger pangs. Another really good option is yoghurt, which is also high on protein and is absolutely delicious. There are many yoghurt varieties available in the supermarket, with a mix of fruit and even chocolate flavours.
One of the healthiest beverages around is green tea; it is rich in antioxidants and is known to help in weight loss. A few cups of green tea a day would definitely improve your diet. Apart from that, you have a plethora of fruit juices that provide a perfect mix of vitamins and minerals. Some of the best choices in this regard are papaya, kiwi fruit, orange, lemon, watermelon, apple and pineapple.
Those who want to take it a step further can consumer various vegetable juices, such as carrot and beetroot juices, with cold-pressed juices helping you extract the maximum nutrients from all these fruits and vegetables.
When you want to take your fitness goals to the next level, then you need to turn to nutritional supplements. The most popular supplement for bodybuilders these days is whey protein, which helps boost strength and athletic performance. Other supplements that are commonly used by bodybuilders are Creatine, Branched Amino Acid (BCAA), Glutamine and Beta-Alanine.
These are the major supplements that you should take only if you are following an intensive workout routine. If you're not hitting the gym every day with a vengeance, then it is strongly advisable to avoid taking them. Don't worry about it though, because there are a lot of supplements available for those with a less intensive workout routine as well.
Flax oil, amla, glucosamine, spirulina and aloe vera capsules are very popular among fitness enthusiasts. They contain a mix of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants, and are highly recommended for those suffering from numerous conditions such as obesity, low immunity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigued muscles and more.
We hope all of this gives you a good idea of how to plan your diet in order to achieve the best of health. As the Buddha once said, 'To keep the body in good health is a duty; otherwise, we will not be able to keep our mind strong and clear'.