A healthy lifestyle: what is it?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

The media or health professionals often remind us of the importance of following a healthy lifestyle.
But what does that mean? Here is my opinion as a dietitian – nutritionist.
A balanced diet

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

A balanced energy diet

Our diet helps provide our body with the energy necessary for it to function properly. Thus, our body needs the energy supplied to be equal to its energy expenditure. If we provide more energy than it expends, it will tend to store the surplus in the form of fat and if we do not provide enough energy, it will not be able to carry out our vital functions to function properly.

A balanced diet of nutrients

For the functioning of all its organs, the body needs nutrients.
These are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, fiber and water.
Needs vary depending on the nutrients concerned. A balanced and varied diet provides the majority of necessary nutrients. However, at certain times of the year or in our lives, supplementation may be necessary (see article “my opinion on nutritional supplements”).

alimentation équilibrée

An emotionally balanced diet

Food intake plays a role in our well-being and our emotional balance.
When we feel a painful emotion (sadness, anger, frustration, etc.), eating a comfort food can allow us to return to emotional balance by reducing emotional discomfort by eating a food that gives us pleasure .

Regular physical activity

Man is an active animal, who needs to move for his good health. Recommendations advise doing 30 minutes of dynamic physical activity per day.
Dynamic means activity of moderate intensity (moderate shortness of breath, a conversation is possible) to intense (marked shortness of breath and profuse sweating, having a conversation is difficult).
Indeed, activity has many benefits for our health:
Better flexibility, better balance (reduced risk of falling), more endurance…
A reduction in the risk of developing certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, etc.
A strengthening of our immune system.
Psychological benefits by combating stress, anxiety and improving mood and sleep.

It is also important to know that physical activity does not necessarily mean practicing a sporting activity. This can be a leisure activity (going for a bike ride, walking in the forest, etc.), a domestic activity (DIY, gardening, climbing the stairs, etc.) or during our daily journeys (walking to take your child to school or go to work…).
In addition, these 30 minutes can be distributed in multiple ways, for example 3 x 10 minutes over your day or in 1 hour every other day.
Here are some tips to help you be more active:
Make your daily trips on foot or by bike. If your journey is longer, park your car a little further away or get off the bus one stop earlier.
Doing activities outside: playing ball with your children, a game of ping pong with friends, going for a walk in the forest…
Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
Do a sports session or go to the swimming pool with your children (there are now parent/child activities or videos on media platforms)…

Quality sleep

Sleep constitutes a vital function and the consequences of a lack of sleep are numerous on the body: memory and mood disorders, less efficiency of our immune system leading to less good protection against diseases, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, weight gain…
It is therefore important to listen to our fatigue and plan for sufficient sleep time (7 to 9 hours/night for an adult).
Here are some tips to help you sleep well:
Good bedding.
A room where it is not too hot, the ideal temperature is between 16 and 20°C.
Shutters closed at night to allow darkness (essential for the secretion of melatonin) and open during the day.
From the end of the afternoon, avoid stimulants (tea, coffee, cola, etc.). Also avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening.
Listen to my fatigue signals (yawns, drooping eyelids, etc.).
Avoid exposure to the light of screens (video games, computer, etc.) at least 2 hours before bedtime. There are also anti-blue light optical lenses.

woman, asleep, girl-2197947.jpg

Stop smoking and moderate amounts of alcohol

The leading cause of preventable death, cancer mortality and mortality among those under 65, tobacco represents 1 in 8 deaths with 75,000 smoking deaths per year.
Quitting smoking has various benefits:
Reduced risk of cancer (lung, throat, pancreas, esophagus, etc.). Smoking is responsible for 20% of cancers in France
Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, smoking being the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases (stroke, myocardial infarction, etc.)
Better resistance to respiratory diseases, tobacco leading to an aggravation of diseases such as asthma, flu, sinusitis, etc.

As for alcohol, it has immediate effects on the brain (altered behavior, loss of memory, aggressiveness, loss of libido, etc.) and also long-term effects on our health such as:
Increased risk of cancers (esophagus, mouth and throat, liver, colon, breast, etc.) from one drink/day.
Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Risk of liver cirrhosis.
Cognitive disorders (impaired memory, attention disorders, mood disorders, etc.)
Mental disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
The recommendations established in 2020 by public health France are a maximum of 2 glasses of alcohol/day and not every day with a maximum of 10 glasses of alcohol/week.

So for your good health, keep in mind “0-5-30”, for 0 tobacco, 5 fruits and vegetables per day and 30 minutes of physical activity per day.