The new year 2022 is coming, and many people have set goals to improve their health in the new year. Here are 15 health tips which are quite easy to implement to help you have a better health in 2022.
1. Eat a healthy diet
You should eat a combination of different foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Adults should eat at least five portions (400g) of fruit and vegetables per day. You can increase your intake of fruits and vegetables by always including veggies in your meal; eating fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks; eating a variety of fruits and vegetables; and eating them in season. By eating healthy, you will reduce your risk of malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
2. Consume less salt and sugar
Many people in our country consume twice the recommended amount of sodium, putting them at risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Most people get their sodium through salt. You should reduce your salt intake to 5g per day, equivalent to about one teaspoon. It’s easier to do this by limiting the amount of salt, soy sauce, fish sauce and other high-sodium condiments when preparing meals; removing salt, seasonings and condiments from your meal table; avoiding salty snacks; and choosing low-sodium products.
On the other hand, consuming excessive amounts of sugars increases the risk of tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain. In both adults and children, the intake of free sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake. This is equivalent to 50g or about 12 teaspoons for an adult. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming sugar less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. You can reduce your sugar intake by limiting the consumption of sugary snacks, candies and sugar-sweetened beverages.
3. Reduce intake of harmful fats
Fats consumed should be less than 30% of your total energy intake. This limit will help prevent unhealthy weight gain and diseases. There are different types of fats, but unsaturated fats are preferable over saturated fats and trans-fats. WHO recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 10% of total energy intake; reducing trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake; and replacing both saturated fats and trans-fats with unsaturated fats.
The unsaturated fats are found in fish, avocado and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils; saturated fats are found in fatty meat, butter, palm oil and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard; and trans-fats are found in baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods, such as frozen pizza, cookies, biscuits, and cooking oils and spreads.
4. Limit drinking alcohol
Consuming alcohol can lead to health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, including alcohol dependence, serious diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and heart diseases, as well as injuries resulting from violence and road accidents.
5. Don’t smoke tobacco
Smoking tobacco causes diseases such as lung disease, heart disease and stroke. Tobacco not only harms the direct smokers but even non-smokers through second-hand smoke.
If you are currently a smoker, it’s not too late to quit. Once you quit smoking, you will experience immediate and long-term health benefits. If you are not a smoker, that’s great! Do not start smoking and fight for your right to breathe tobacco-smoke-free air.
6. Be physically active
Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. These activities includes exercise and activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits. The amount of physical activity you need depends on your age group, but adults aged 18-64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week. Increase moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week for additional health benefits.
7. Check your blood pressure regularly
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is called a “silent killer”. The reason is that many people who have hypertension may not be aware of the problem as it may not cause any symptoms. If left uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly by a health worker. If your blood pressure is high, get the advice of a health worker. This is vital in the prevention and control of hypertension.
8. Get vaccinated
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent diseases. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defences to build protection against diseases like cervical cancer, cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, pneumonia, polio, rabies, rubella, tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, and Covid-19.
9. Practice safe sex
Looking after your sexual health is important for your overall health and well-being. Practice safe sex to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea and syphilis. There are available prevention measures such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that will protect you from HIV and condoms that will protect you from HIV and other sexual transmission diseases.
10. Follow traffic laws
Road crashes cause over one million deaths around the world and millions of people to be injured. Road traffic injuries are preventable through a variety of measures implemented by the government, such as strong legislation and enforcement, safer infrastructure and vehicle standards, and improved post-crash care. You yourself can also prevent road crashes by following traffic laws such as using the seatbelt for adults and child restraint for your kids, wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle, not drinking and driving, and not using your mobile phone while driving.
11. Breastfeeding babies from 0 to 2 years and beyond
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide the ideal food for newborns and infants. WHO recommends that mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Breastfeeding for the first six months is crucial for the baby to grow up healthy. It is recommended that breastfeeding is continued for up to two years and beyond. Aside from being beneficial to babies, breastfeeding is also good for the mother as it reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression.
12. Take antibiotics only as prescribed
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health threats in our generation. When antibiotics lose their power, bacterial infections become harder to treat, leading to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality. Antibiotics are losing their power because of misuse and overuse in humans and animals. Make sure you only take antibiotics if prescribed by a qualified health professional. And once prescribed, complete the treatment days as instructed. Never share antibiotics.
13. Clean your hands properly
Hand hygiene is critical not only for health workers but for everyone. Clean hands can prevent the spread of infectious diseases. You should wash your hands with soap and water when your hands are visibly soiled or rub your hands with an alcohol-based product.
14. Prepare your food safely
Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. When buying food at the market or store, check the labels or the actual produce to ensure it is safe to eat. If you are preparing food, make sure you follow these 5 rules: (1) keep clean; (2) separate raw foods and cooked foods; (3) cook thoroughly; (4) keep food at safe temperatures; and (5) use safe water and raw materials.
15. Have regular health check-ups
Regular health check-ups can help find health problems before they start. Health professionals can help find and diagnose health issues early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.