Simple Steps to Living a Healthier Lifestyle

St. Augustine is often credited as being the one to say, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Whether it was he who originally vocalized this idea or not, it conveys a very important message. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we should treat and preserve them as such.

Dr. Brian Donahue joined John Morales on Morning Air to talk about the different ways we can take better care of our bodies and in turn, make it easier to take care of our souls.

The first thing that Dr. Donahue and John discussed was sleep. Sleep is necessary. It’s as necessary as food and water. Without sleep, you are less effective, can get sick much more easily, and in rare cases of extreme sleep deprivation, you can even die. Sleep is our bodies’ chance to recharge, produce life-sustaining molecules, and provide rest that is necessary to help us continue functioning at a high level.

Dr. Donahue said that adults between the ages of 18-60 need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night to remain healthy. The bad news is that many Americans are consistently getting less than that. The good news is that this monumental failure is theoretically easy to fix.

“The thing we need to know about sleep is this: the number one cause of sleep deprivation is voluntary choices,” said Dr. Donahue. Our sleep deprivation is almost always an effect of the habits we’ve introduced to our daily lives: screen use before bed, too much caffeine, eating late at night, discussing serious decisions that can wait until morning, living a sedentary lifestyle, etc. The list is endless.

When we participate in things like that that give us pleasure, our brain releases dopamine. And we become accustomed to desiring those things at the times that we have them. That’s how we form habits, both good and bad. We have to take a step back, recognize when we’re indulging in something unhealthy, and cut it out of our lives as soon as possible.

And when we cut unhealthy habits out of our lives, we need to fill that void with something good, or else we’ll return to that vice. What better replacement to introduce into your life than exercise? The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Moderate activity includes things like jogging, biking, and swimming; anything that elevates our heart rate for the time that we’re engaging.

Alternatively, the AHA recommends 75 minutes of intense activity. Intense activity would include things like running, using an elliptical or treadmill, lifting weights, or doing calisthenics. As Dr. Donahue reminds us, “a body in motion stays in motion.” The best way to stay active is to get active whenever we can. Avoid the parking spot closest to your destination. Stand up and walk around throughout the workday. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The last thing John and Dr. Donahue covered regarding living a healthier lifestyle is diet. Poor diet leads to weight gain. That’s no secret. But what society has been systematically trying to hide from us these past few years is that weight gain is not an isolated condition. Obesity leads to heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, amongst other less common conditions. Unhealthy weight gain is caused by inflammation.

Dr. Donahue’s school of thought is focused on sticking to simple solutions and doing them exceptionally well. So, to reduce inflammation, cut back on two things: sugar and carbs. Carbs, in essence, are just long-acting forms of sugar. Make your drink of choice water. Beverages are the number one way to consume excessive amounts of sugar and cause inflammation. Cut out soda, iced tea, juice, and beer. Just drink water.

As for eliminating carbs, consume them in moderation. The most common carbs are rice, pasta, bread, and potato. Those can be found in so many dishes these days, but by reducing our consumption, we’re effectively destroying another pipeline for sugar into our bodies.

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.