Maintaining good health and wellness is essential for a long and fulfilling life. While genetics and other factors may play a role in health outcomes, adopting evidence-based strategies in the 5 key holistic pillars of health can help to optimize health and extend your healthspan.
In this article, we'll explore these pillars and strategies for each, backed by scientific research.
Sleep is a crucial pillar of health that is essential for optimal physical and cognitive functioning. Inadequate sleep has been associated with a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Strategies for improving sleep quality include establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing sleep environment, and minimizing screen time before bedtime.
Research-backed tips for better sleep include:
- Get plenty of natural light exposure during the day, particularly in the morning
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoons and alcohol close to bedtime
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining health and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Consuming a balanced diet rich in whole foods that meets your unique caloric and nutrient needs is important to optimising health.
Research-backed tips for better nutrition include:
- Find a long-term nutrition strategy that suits your individual lifestyle
- Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Ensure that you get sufficient protein (for most people at least 1.6g/kg/day)
- Limit intake of processed foods and added sugars
Regular exercise is possibly the most powerful tool we have for improving the quality of our physical and mental health while also increasing our lifespan. Building a broad foundation of strength, aerobic fitness and stability are key.
Research-backed tips for better exercise include:
- Include strength-training to improve metabolic and bone health
- Incorporate both high-intensity and low-intensity aerobic training
- Get moving throughout the day - take short breaks to walk or stretch
- Find activities that you enjoy and are motivated to stick with
4. Mental and Emotional Health
Prioritising mental health is not just important in preventing physical and mental disease, but is a vital aspect of healthspan. Life means little without mental and emotional well-being, and we must focus efforts on it if we hope to live longer, more fulfilling lifespans.
Research-backed tips for better mental wellness include:
- Practice mindfulness and meditation to reduce stress and anxiety
- Seek social support and connections through community activities or hobbies
- Make time for activities that promote relaxation and enjoyment, like reading or spending time in nature
- Prioritise self-care activities, like getting enough sleep and engaging in physical activity
While not truly a foundational pillar of health, supplements and medication remain one of our best tools to support specific health goals. Supplements are highly individual and should be selected based on your objectives and personal risk-reward analysis.
Start adopting some of the above strategies today
In conclusion, adopting evidence-based strategies in the 5 key holistic pillars of health - Sleep, Nutrition, Supplements, Exercise, and Mental wellness - can help to optimize health and extend your healthspan. By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can improve your overall well-being and enjoy a long and fulfilling life.