The United States of America is becoming one of the most obese countries in the world. With a startling percentage of 36.20% obese men and women over the age of eighteen recorded in 2020 by the CDC(“Obesity Rate By State 2020”), we are currently ranked 12th in the world for obesity”(“Obesity Rate By State”). Obesity is a continuous epidemic that is spreading throughout not only the United States but the world. The MayoClinic defines obesity as “a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat” (“Obesity Rate By State”). This disease occurs when a person consumes so much unhealthy food on a daily basis that body fat percentage rises to levels far above what they should be, thus causing their BMI (Body Mass Index) to show the difference in what they should weigh versus what a person currently weighs. Obesity is caused by living an unhealthy lifestyle, typically full of unhealthy foods and an abundance of other factors. The lifestyle a person chooses to live will impact the way they look, feel, and most importantly their health. The benefits of living a healthier lifestyle vastly outweigh the benefits of an unhealthy one. Each lifestyle has four key factors that make a lifestyle either healthy or unhealthy. These factors are sleep, diet, exercise, and mental health. Each of which has an impact on a person’s physical and mental health. The healthier your choices are the more beneficial they become to you.
For example, sleep is the body’s main way of self-repair and growth. While one sleeps your body undergoes heavy maintenance to prepare you for the next day. The “American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society” recommend “adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being”(“1 in 3 Adults Don’t Get Enough Sleep”). Now seven hours of sleep doesn’t sound too bad, huh? Well, did you know that more than a third of adults are not getting the amount of sleep that they should be getting? And I can almost guarantee that you are one of them. Let’s do a little test. Do you often crave junk food? Do you often feel moody and/or depressed? Do you struggle with getting out of bed in the morning? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you’re not getting the rest that your body needs.
A proper good night’s rest is often overlooked and unprioritized by the day to day tasks and projects that eat up our time. But, think about the benefits that would come if you didn’t put off your sleep. Did you know that getting the recommended amount of sleep each night can do things such as: lower your risk to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more? Sleep is such a beneficial function of the human body and should be looked at as such. Too many people view sleep as just a “thing” that people do at night and continue to put it off for unimportant activities, such as video games, eating, going out with friends, and TV. All of which are signs of an unhealthy lifestyle. Choosing to do these things instead of sleeping at night is terrible for your health and longevity. Data gathered by three large cross-sectional epidemiological studies revealed “sleeping five hours or less per night increased mortality risk from all causes by roughly 15 percent” (“Sleep and Disease Risk”).
Sleep is beneficial to a person’s health in so many ways and should be taken more seriously by all who want to lead a long and healthy life. Sleep is not the only way to do this though and should not be seen as such. People also need to prioritize the most important factor, your diet.
The human diet is meant to consist of a certain amount of a certain type of food for optimal performance. A lot of people in the world don’t eat a healthy well-balanced diet. And even more people don’t know what a healthy well-balanced diet even is. And the truth is, there isn’t necessarily just one. A diet changes from person to person based on their day to day activities and goals. For example, in the fitness industry, there are two specific terms used widely for the diet aspect of being healthy. These two terms are “bulking” and “cutting”. Their names are quite self-explanatory. When a person is “bulking” they want to be in a caloric surplus, meaning that they are consuming more calories than they are burning the whole day. This type of diet is used to maximize muscle growth within the body to gain weight and gain muscle. Now, on the other side, they can be “cutting” which is a term used to signify being in a caloric deficit to lose a certain amount of total body fat percentage while maintaining the muscle gained through bulking.
Each diet is different and unique in each way, all having their range of benefits and losses. For example, Dr. Anh stated in one of her podcasts the effect that a healthy diet has on cancer. Dr. Anh talked to Mr. Chris Mork who is a cancer survivor and helps people recover from cancer and other illnesses naturally. He expresses his findings through his experience with battling colon cancer at the young age of 26. He expresses the journey of resisting the chemotherapy and instead turns to nutrition for treatment. He went from a traditional western diet to a new raw food diet. This means he transitioned from eating burgers, fries, and pizza to eating foods that are uncooked and unprocessed. He began this diet and not long after he was found cancer-free. The Cancer had completely gone away just by changing the way he ate. Chris was able to go from deathly ill from cancer to thriving and healthy by sculpting his diet to fit his health needs. He was able to transition from one diet to another smoothly and confidently to make himself healthy once again. Through this, he also became happier and more satisfied with life. He expresses his mood change from “depressed” (“Food As Medicine With Dr. Anh”)and “isolated”(“Food As Medicine With Dr.Anh”) to transform into an ecstatic person full of life once again. A healthy diet is the key to longevity and overall healthiness. Without the proper fuel for our bodies, we will simply breakdown, but with the correct nourishment, our bodies can do extraordinary things. Extraordinary things like the way the brain can remember events from 10 years ago, the way the brain can keep us alert and attentive. The way the body functions to be able to do things such as run, walk, and exercise.
The fitness industry is currently booming with a stupendous influx of individuals who are exercising more often and becoming more healthy. Many individuals believe this is because of the surplus of health benefits that it provides. I work out for more than just my physical appearance. My father’s father who died long before I was born was diagnosed with heart disease, and as was his father. It’s a condition that runs in the family along with high cholesterol. Both of which are conditions caused by a lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. I work out to lower my risk of diseases as such and to keep my body healthy and my mind happy. Exercise is so much more than becoming physically stronger or more appealing, it’s a way to strengthen your mind.
In a ted talk spoken by Wendy Suzuki, she states “Exercise actually changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology, and function.” (“The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise”). She tells the listeners about the many benefits of exercise, especially the long term benefits such as lowering a person’s risk of dementia and Alzheimers or the major benefit that it has on the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the section of the human brain that stores memories both long term and short. She says “The more you’re working out, the bigger and stronger your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex gets” ( “The Brain Changing Benefits Of Exercise”). This becomes immensely beneficial to a person who exercises frequently because of the true effect it has on them. It not only will strengthen one’s brain, just like any other muscle; but, it will affect one’s personality. Exercising frequently will make a person happier, more motivated, more outgoing, and healthier in the long run. Building a strong passion for physical fitness has sculpted me into the person I am now and the person I will be for years down the road.
A healthy lifestyle does not come easy, nor are they just handed out to individuals. To live a healthy lifestyle consisting of a proper sleep regime, a well balanced and beneficial diet, and a strong exercise routine takes time, effort, money, and consistency. A lifestyle worth living does not have to be healthy in any way. But the benefits that come with living a healthy one are astonishing. The things that the human body can do when given the tools are magnificent. Ranging from just being happier with one’s day to day life, to tackling and defeating diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Deciding to switch to a healthier lifestyle is, in my opinion, one of the greatest things a person can do for oneself.