When it comes to food and exercise, there’s an ongoing conflict between instant gratification and long-term objectives. The question on everyone’s mind is whether it’s worth it to forsake the enjoyment of sugary sweets to ensure that they are as healthy as possible.

With over 30 years of experience in the field, certified nutrition specialist and optometric physician Dr. Michael Lange believes that a healthy lifestyle is the basis for a long and happy life. But how does one achieve that elusive healthy lifestyle? And is it a healthy lifestyle worth the things that you might have to give up achieving it?

A Healthy Diet

Dr. Michael Lange

Humans need food. It’s the number one motivation that gets most people out of bed in the morning, and sometimes in the middle of the night for that midnight snack. But people of different ages require different types, and amounts, of food. What’s good for a strapping young person with fleet-footed metabolism isn’t right for a middle-aged person whose system will wrestle with an ice cream cone for hours on end.

According to Dr. Michael Lange, a healthy diet means eating three full meals a day and doing away with snacks between meals as much as possible. “When you have a healthy breakfast,” he elaborates, “with fruits, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, you will find you always have enough to get you through to lunchtime.”

Both lunch and dinner should also be substantial and satisfying meals that can include lean meat, poultry, or fish. In addition, a good portion of vegetables, beans, eggs, and nuts on a daily basis will stave off hunger between meals and make snacks redundant. Foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, salt, added sugar, and cholesterol are not healthy and should be cut down to maintain good health and body weight. While you do not need to completely remove these foods from your diet, you should moderate how often you eat them and use them as a reward for hard work.

An Active Life

It is safe to say that humans were born to be always on the run. Whether they were chasing prey or evading a predator, early humans had nimble feet. However, modern life changed that. Today, people don’t have to break into a short-lived jog unless they are chasing a cab. “It’s this sedentary life,” explains Dr. Michael Lange, “that’s the main cause of obesity, weak muscles, low-density bones, and poor immune system.”

Regular exercise is the key to good health and a rejuvenated body. Many age-related diseases are caused by or increased by a lack of exercise. From stiff joints to cardiovascular diseases, the human body, which is used to being on the move, can’t cope with a life of physical inactivity. The good news is, even a 10-minute session of low- to moderate-intensity exercise a day can make a big difference and slow or reverse the effects of age and indolence.

A Healthy Lifestyle for Longevity

A life free of disease is certainly a life worth living. But as it turns out, there’s more to a healthy lifestyle than meets the eye. People who ensure that they lead a healthy, active life not only see fewer health concerns, they also live longer on average.

In the words of Dr. Michael Lange, longevity and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand. “A recent Harvard study,” he adds, “that followed 120,000 people over a period of 34 years found strong indications that leading a healthy lifestyle helped people live longer. In the case of women, they had on average 14 years while men had 12 years of added life expectancy.”

A Well-Balanced Life

While resisting reaching into the cookie jar for a second helping might seem like a small sacrifice in exchange for double digits of extra years on earth, that’s not all that a healthy lifestyle has to offer. People who commit to leading a healthy lifestyle often find that their mental health is better as well – another benefit to the lifestyle that already has lots.

The way Dr. Michael Lange sees it, getting enough sleep, taking relaxing walks, and eating healthy food all help keep mental illnesses at bay and promote a positive outlook toward life.

Dr. Michael Lange concludes that leading a healthy lifestyle can take some effort and sacrifices to start up but once you have started up, the only regret you will have is that you did not start being healthy sooner.