As I was thinking about a potential topic to write about for youths, nothing was coming to mind. I wanted to write about something that would benefit the youth readers of this magazine more than any other generation. Not only that, I wanted to address an “issue” – something that youth are facing in the western civilization. Many topics came to mind – drugs, cigarette smoking, gay/lesbian phenomena, attendance in mosques, interracial marriages, part-time jobs, however, all seemed to give me a writer’s block.
I gave up until the next day when I was sitting at work and the light bulb went off! Youth and Health. Being in the field of health and nutrition, the topic could not be any better to address. As I have helped many people with their health issues, I have concluded to one of several points – youths do not take care of their health and do not realize the repercussion it will have in their golden years.
As I begin to leave my youth years behind, I realize that many of my past health choices were poor. However, there was really no one out there to guide and advise me. Now, there are so many individuals within our community who have made it their life’s pursuit and mission to aid those who want to be helped. We should take the initiative to utilize these talented people to ensure our health is optimum as we age.
What is health and where does it all begin? Health begins at a cellular level. Healthy cells equal a healthy body, which in turn gives us health. When cells are not “healthy” we get incidences of cancer, iron deficiency, anemia, respiratory problems, etc. Think about it; all of those conditions I have mentioned relate to how healthy one’s cellular structure is. Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cancerous cells. Anemia is a decrease in the number of red cells in the blood, cause by too little iron.
There are many ways to help oneself in reaching optimal health. It begins with mentality. One has to accept that they are not healthy and want to bring about a revolution inside of themselves. Without accessing where one stands on the ladder of health, one will not know how far they have to continue climbing to reach the last step.
Secondly, comes diet and nutrition. Half of our diet is junk food and sugar. This not only provides us with unnecessary calories and weight gain, but also effects our behaviour and though. Youths need to maintain a clear and sharp mind in order to excel in education, work, and other personal activities. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, certain types of grains, and protein, provide he necessary minerals and vitamins that our body crave for each and every day. The brain and skin require essential fatty acids to maintain its optimum health. The blood requires iron to ensure adequate haemoglobin levels leading to sufficient oxygen flow. Bones and teeth need calcium and magnesium to be strong. Muscles require protein to ensure proper maintenance. One surely cannot find these in junk food. Water is also part of our diet we ignore most often. On any given day, one must drink 8 to 12 glasses every day. This is vital for a proper immune and organ maintenance. In the summer, one requires more water due to sweating and heat. Here is a little testing tool I use – if you feel thirsty, you have already become dehydrated. Another tidbit about thirst is that a majority of individuals misinterpret thirst of hunger. This is another reason why keeping oneself hydrated helps the body reach its optimal health.
This is exercise. With the introduction of the telephone, television, computer games, and the crazy of today – internet, more and more youths are sitting for over 5 hours a day, engaging themselves in these commodities. To maintain health, a young, on average, needs to exercise at least thirty minutes to one hour every day. (Mind you, this is vigorous exercise. And no, walking to school does not count). One should remember, as with any other activity, the body adjusts and gets “use-to” things. So if one wants to make their walk to and from school or work an exercise, one should modify the routine every week. For example, the first week one simply walks to school. The second week one can walk briskly to school. The third week, add light weights holding them in your hands, and so no. Working out at a gym is also a consideration. Talk to a weight trainer and find out what to do in order to achieve one’s goal.
Sleep is the fourth element of good health. Youths should be sleeping eight to ten hours every day to recharge their body for the next day’s activities. Even thinking expends energy. However, even sleep comes in good and bad packages. Ideally, when one sleeps, they should be sleeping constantly from the time the go to bed until they wake up. This means no washroom breaks, waking up to drink water, snoring, nor tossing and turning. If one finds themselves performing one or more of the following, there is probably some underlying issue that is not being dealt with (for a majority, it can simply be stress).
There are the four basic elements I believe are vital for good health. As I mentioned earlier, there are many individuals in our community who have the expertise to aid one in reaching great heights in the jump to a good lifestyle and health. A note for the readers is that the information I have written is only for educational purposes. If you have a serious medical condition, you should consult with a physician.