What Makes A Healthy Life?


While a healthy, sustainable lifestyle for one individual may not be the best option for another, can experts point out signs of a healthy life?

Healthy Life

Being or living a healthy life is a phrase that can be confusing. Researchers examine some major areas of concern with constant imagery like social media’s role in shaping what behaviors people consider important to reach a physical fitness/health goal. These behaviors prioritize physical appearance and are often linked with negative psychological effects and worsening physical health outcomes. (Binder A, et al., 2021) Studies routinely show that someone’s body shape is not a good indicator of how healthy they really are. (Uhlmann LR, et al., 2018)

Living a healthy life is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires maintaining a balance. New research has shown that “adhering to both quality diet and sufficient physical activity is important for optimally reducing the risk of mortality from all causes, CVD and PDAR cancers.” (Ding D, et al., 2022) Individuals do not need to make extreme changes to these areas of their lifestyle. Studies show that making small adjustments, little by little, prepares the individual to develop long-term sustainable habits. (Adhikari P, Gollub E. 2021)

Nutritional Health

Too much salt, sugar, and saturated fat increases the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. (National Institutes of Health, 2017) It can be easy to overlook balanced nutrition and it is not all about what should be restricted and avoided. It is about making sure the body gets the proper amount of nutrient-rich foods essential to overall health. Examples include:

  • Deficiency of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K are with sleep problems. (Ikonte CJ, et al., 2019)
  • Not acquiring enough protein can lead to slowed metabolism and weight gain. (Pezeshki A, et al., 2016)
  • Healthy fats are essential to protect against heart disease and can help maintain high energy levels. (Gammone MA, et al., 2018)
  • Research has found that depression and nutrition are linked.
  • Incorporating a diet like the Mediterranean has been associated with a reduced risk of depression symptoms. (Oddo VM, et al., 2022)

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity helps with weight management, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, maintains healthy bones and joints, and contributes to positive mental health and mood.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 60 percent of the population does not get enough daily physical activity. (Surgeon General Report, CDC. 1999)
  • According to the research, individuals don’t exercise for consistent reasons that include: not having enough time, no access to resources, and being too tired to work out. (Yen Sin Koh, et al., 2022)
  • Studies show that going on a brisk 10-minute daily walk can extend lifespan. (Pedro F Saint-Maurice, et al., 2022)
  • Increasing the heart rate for only 12 minutes a day can protect the cardiovascular system. (Matthew Nayor, et al., 2020)


A few signs that an individual is healthy.

Stable Energy Levels

  • Having energy throughout the day is a sign you’re getting high-quality sleep.
  • Energy levels can also offer clues on nutritional intake, particularly of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. (Yohannes Adama Melaku, et al., 2019)
  • The right combination of macronutrients can be different for everyone, especially depending on factors like age, job, medical history, and physical activity.
  • Paying attention to energy levels at different times of the day can help guide fitness and health goals.

Can Handle Stress Healthily

  • Stress is a part of life.
  • Research says it can even be beneficial when it is approached in a healthy way. (Jeremy P Jamieson, et al., 2021)
  • One sign that the mind and body are dealing with stress well is the ability to set boundaries.
  • Setting boundaries shows recognition and priority for their needs.
  • This could be boundaries for respect of thoughts and ideas, physical space, emotional needs, the time spent on certain things, sex life, and material possessions.

Fresh Breath

  • The mouth can show what is going on as far as the health of the body.
  • Poor oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of bacteria that can spread throughout the respiratory and digestive tracts.
  • Chronic bad breath is a common sign of poor oral health.
  • Studies suggest that increased bacteria entering the body can lower immune system response and increase the development of general health problems. (NIH. 2018)

Time to Change

Signs that the mind and body are not healthy include:

  • Always sick or feel as if you’re coming down with something.
  • The stomach is constantly feeling like it is bloated, backed up, or dealing with acid reflux or indigestion.
  • Digestion problems caused by stress.
  • Minor physical activities cause major fatigue.
  • Increased irritability
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and insomnia. (Filippo Vernia, et al., 2021)

The human body, organs, and tissues are complex structures, and the signals they transmit about underlying issues can be subtle which individuals tend to not notice until the little problems become major ones. It’s important to look at life habits and be honest about changes that may need to be implemented to improve health, lessen the risk of chronic health conditions, and improve quality of life.

Multidisciplinary Evaluations and Treatment


Binder, A., Noetzel, S., Spielvogel, I., & Matthes, J. (2021). “Context, Please?” The Effects of Appearance- and Health-Frames and Media Context on Body-Related Outcomes. Frontiers in public health, 9, 637354.

Uhlmann, L. R., Donovan, C. L., Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., Bell, H. S., & Ramme, R. A. (2018). The fit beauty ideal: A healthy alternative to thinness or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Body image, 25, 23–30.

Ding, D., Van Buskirk, J., Nguyen, B., Stamatakis, E., Elbarbary, M., Veronese, N., Clare, P. J., Lee, I. M., Ekelund, U., & Fontana, L. (2022). Physical activity, diet quality and all-cause cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: a prospective study of 346 627 UK Biobank participants. British Journal of sports medicine, bj sports-2021-105195. Advanced online publication.

Adhikari, P., & Gollub, E. (2021). Evaluation of the Small Changes, Healthy Habits Pilot Program: Its Influence on Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Behaviors of Adults in Louisiana. European journal of investigation in health, psychology, and education, 11(1), 251–262.

How dietary factors influence disease risk. National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Ikonte, C. J., Mun, J. G., Reider, C. A., Grant, R. W., & Mitmesser, S. H. (2019). Micronutrient Inadequacy in Short Sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005-2016. Nutrients, 11(10), 2335.

Pezeshki, A., Zapata, R. C., Singh, A., Yee, N. J., & Chelikani, P. K. (2016). Low protein diets produce divergent effects on energy balance. Scientific reports, 6, 25145.

Gammone, M. A., Riccioni, G., Parrinello, G., & D’Orazio, N. (2018). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport. Nutrients, 11(1), 46.

Oddo, V. M., Welke, L., McLeod, A., Pezley, L., Xia, Y., Maki, P., Koenig, M. D., Kominiarek, M. A., Langenecker, S., & Tussing-Humphreys, L. (2022). Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet Is Associated with Lower Depressive Symptoms among U.S. Adults. Nutrients, 14(2), 278.

Adults, Surgeon General Report, CDC.

Koh, Y. S., Asharani, P. V., Devi, F., Roystonn, K., Wang, P., Vaingankar, J. A., Abdin, E., Sum, C. F., Lee, E. S., Müller-Riemenschneider, F., Chong, S. A., & Subramaniam, M. (2022). A cross-sectional study on the perceived barriers to physical activity and their associations with domain-specific physical activity and sedentary behavior. BMC public health, 22(1), 1051.

Saint-Maurice, P. F., Graubard, B. I., Troiano, R. P., Berrigan, D., Galuska, D. A., Fulton, J. E., & Matthews, C. E. (2022). Estimated Number of Deaths Prevented Through Increased Physical Activity Among US Adults. JAMA internal medicine, 182(3), 349–352.

Nayor, M., Shah, R. V., Miller, P. E., Blodgett, J. B., Tanguay, M., Pico, A. R., Murthy, V. L., Malhotra, R., Houstis, N. E., Deik, A., Pierce, K. A., Bullock, K., Dailey, L., Velagaleti, R. S., Moore, S. A., Ho, J. E., Baggish, A. L., Clish, C. B., Larson, M. G., Vasan, R. S., … Lewis, G. D. (2020). Metabolic Architecture of Acute Exercise Response in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community. Circulation, 142(20), 1905–1924.

Melaku, Y. A., Reynolds, A. C., Gill, T. K., Appleton, S., & Adams, R. (2019). Association between Macronutrient Intake and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: An Iso-Caloric Substitution Analysis from the North West Adelaide Health Study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2374.

Jamieson, J. P., Black, A. E., Pelaia, L. E., Gravelding, H., Gordils, J., & Reis, H. T. (2022). Reappraising stress arousal improves affective, neuroendocrine, and academic performance outcomes in community college classrooms. Journal of experimental psychology. General, 151(1), 197–212.

Smelling Sickness, Body Odor May Be A Sign of Disease. NIH, News in

Vernia, F., Di Ruscio, M., Ciccone, A., Viscido, A., Frieri, G., Stefanelli, G., & Latella, G. (2021). Sleep disorders related to nutrition and digestive diseases: a neglected clinical condition. International journal of medical sciences, 18(3), 593–603.

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The information herein on "What Makes A Healthy Life?" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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