AT the beginning of every year, living healthier is almost always one of the many resolutions for a lot of people but sadly it is most often the first to be dropped. For example, it is very easy to say one wants to give up unhealthy habits, or for some ladies drop a few dress sizes but very hard to say no to a plate of burger, chips and a glass of milkshake.
Helping people take decisions to improve their health is essential.
Health promotion is as stated in the 1986 World Health Organization (WHO) Ottawa charter for Health promotion, “the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health. This definition in line with the WHO theme for World Health Day 2019, Universal health coverage – “everyone, everywhere”, encourages individuals to take control, and strive towards better health. Being in control takes conscious effort and active participation on the part of individuals and government as it should not be left in the hands of government alone.
Promoting health is a duty for all members of the community and maintaining sufficient health enables individuals gain higher potentials for growth and development and contributes towards nation building.
Every action or inaction affects health positively or negatively. Therefore, health promotion involves every individual’s decisions/lifestyle, activities of health care workers and government policies. This is to say that all levels of society are involved in promoting the health of the community.
For people to promote their health, they need to know that health is not merely the absence of disease but a state of wellbeing. Health has also been described by WHO as a resource for living.
Many believe in prevention of disease or health promotion rather than cure.” There is a line of thought that health systems will be stronger if more provisions were made to prevent disease/promote health than cure diseases.
The more people are informed about health promotion and encouraged to practice it, the more people will be healthy. Health promotion should not be seen in isolation because it cuts across all sectors of the economy.
Some health promoting practices include:-
> Healthy eating:- This involves having adequate diet. It remains very useful in maintaining and improving the health of people. A healthy diet is one that contains the appropriate proportions of the different classes of food i.e proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The plant sources of proteins e.g lentils, beans, soya beans are preferred over the animal sources for example eggs, diary products and meat in adults. Example of carbohydrates which are healthy choices, are whole grains include unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice). Unsaturated fats are preferred e.g oily fish, canola, olive oil. Over saturated fat for example butter, cream, cheese regular–fat milk and fruits, nuts all in adequate amounts.
Adequate nutrition can be achieved by
> Eating variety of fruits and vegetables daily
> Eating more of plant protein, nuts, whole grains
> Reducing fat intake
> Choosing healthy cooking methods like steaming, boiling or baking instead of frying.
> Cutting off visible fat from meat and consuming low fat dairy products.
> Curbing the consumption of prepackaged and processed foods.
> Avoiding excessive salt intake
> Limiting consumption of refined sugar eg as found in pastries, biscuits, candies, beverages.
> Adequate exercise: It is recommended that an adult should get at least 150minutes of moderate exercise/activity or 75minutes of vigorous exercise/activity a week.
However, no matter how small the amount of exercise obtained it is still very essential.
Moderate exercises like brisk walking, swimming and vigorous exercises like running, aerobic dancing amongst others are advised. It is generally recommended that individuals aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.
> Adequate rest and sleep: Depends on age of the individual. However, for adults seven to eight hours of sleep is required every night. To help one sleep better it is advisable to avoid taking stimulants like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
> Moderate alcohol consumption:- Heavy drinking and binge drinking should be avoided.
> Adequate water intake:-This is essential for normal body function. Drinking about 8-10 glasses of water a day is ideal. A check for adequate hydration is colourless or slightly yellow urine while deep yellow urine, dry lips/mouth may indicate dehydration in an individual.
> Meditate often:- This calms your mind and helps to manage stress.
> Cessation of smoking and passive smoking: Smoking increases risk of diseases e.g coronary heart disease, cancers (hinge kidney) and is harmful to not just the primary person smoking, but to the people around the smoker while smoking. It can lead to chronic diseases. Second hand (passive) smokers are those around people who are actively smoking.
> Maintain healthy relationships: This provides support through stressful situations and improves mental health.