4 Habits You Can Change to Help Prevent Chronic Disease
The truth is, lifestyle diseases aren’t something that randomly happens to people. There is usually something wrong with their lifestyle, and it’s having a direct effect on their health.
It’s no surprise that lifestyle diseases, aka chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, can be life threatening. But did you know that there are four personal behaviors that can increase your risk of developing a chronic illness? Yes, it’s true!
- poor nutrition
- excessive alcohol use
- insufficient physical exercise
These are all lifestyle disease risk factors you can change right now to help prevent or manage the development of chronic diseases.
What are Lifestyle Diseases?
You don’t “Get” It… Literally!
When it comes to lifestyle diseases, the phrase “you don’t get it” takes on a whole new meaning. That’s because these conditions aren’t something you “get” (or catch) — they usually develop over time as a result of lifestyle choices like diet and exercise.
Let’s dive into the specifics.
What You Eat Matters
When it comes to preventing lifestyle diseases, your diet is key.
Eating a balanced diet that is low in processed foods and high in fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats will give your body the nutrition it needs. In the meantime, proper nutrition helps regulate hormones that affect hunger levels and cravings.
A lot of us get caught up in our day-to-day lives and don’t take the time to eat healthy meals. Eating foods high in fat, sugar and sodium only increase our risk of feeling and being chronically ill.
That said, simply eating healthy isn’t enough; portion control is equally important. By watching serving sizes—especially when eating processed foods like snack chips or candy—you can ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need while still keeping calories in check.
I know most of us have very busy lives. Try finding the time in your day to plan and prepare nutritious meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Your body will thank you!
But food isn’t just nutrition…
Some people view food only as a source of fuel; they eat simply to survive or maintain their health.
While it’s true that food provides us with energy and nutrients, there’s more to our relationship with food than just nutrition.
Food can play an emotional role in our lives, too. For example, some of us use food as a reward for a job well done, or as comfort during times of stress.
It’s okay to enjoy treats from time to time but try not to rely on them too heavily. Opt instead for healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit, or yogurt parfaits topped with nuts or granola. That way you’ll still have something sweet without overdoing it on sugar!
When it comes down to it, eating healthy is about more than just avoiding certain conditions. It’s about taking care of yourself so you can feel your best every day.
By taking the time to understand what you’re putting into your body—and learning how different foods affect your health—you’ll be able to make smart decisions that lead to lasting results. And that is something we can all get behind!
Learn to Avoid Lifestyle Diseases!
We need physical activity in order to maintain proper muscle tone and strength; however, physical exercise also helps keep us balanced mentally.
When we don’t get enough exercise throughout the week we put ourselves at greater risk for developing certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer or breast cancer. These are due to increased levels of inflammation in our bodies over time.
Get up and around this weekend – stretch those legs and arms – go out for a nice brisk walk around the block!
We all know smoking isn’t good for our health, but what many people don’t realize is just how much it increases our chances of developing chronic diseases such as cancer or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
Furthermore, smoking can cause cardiovascular disease, and other respiratory diseases like emphysema or asthma.
If you’re a smoker looking to kick the habit, try talking with your doctor about ways to quit smoking safely. There are also plenty of great resources online or at local health centers that can help you on your journey to quitting cigarettes for good!
I know how hard it is to quit smoking but I can’t stress enough how important it is to quit. Not only will your body thank you, you will thank you, because it’s not just your body you’re harming when you smoke. It’s also your “others” that are affected… And, it’s all those things you “can’t do” because you smoke. (If you are or were a smoker, you know what I’m talking about!)
Alcohol & Drug Use
Too much drinking not only messes with our mental health, but it can also be detrimental to our physical well-being.
Overindulging can take a heavy toll on your body. One of the worst medical conditions associated is cancer. Moreover, alcohol and drug abuse could lead to liver disease such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.
Consuming more than one alcoholic beverage per day (for women) or two alcoholic beverages per day (for men) increases your risk for liver problems, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.
If you’re someone who drinks excessively every once in a while, consider cutting back on the amount.
Limiting yourself to one drink per day may have an immediate impact on your overall health!
Basically, the recommended amount of alcohol varies between men and women because men typically have a higher tolerance for alcohol due to differences in body size and composition.
Women also metabolize alcohol differently, leading to a greater risk of heart-related health problems if they instead consume the same amount as men. That is why it’s important for women to limit their intake to one drink per day in order to maintain heart health. [Excerpt from this post]
What About Your Mindset?
The first step to understanding why you don’t “get” these life-altering conditions is to understand your mindset.
If you think that eating unhealthy foods or living an inactive lifestyle won’t have any consequences, chances are you don’t care enough about your health and well-being. At least, not as much as you should.
This type of thinking will inevitably lead to poor habits down the line, which can be detrimental to your health in the long run.
Your Habits Matter
Lifestyle doesn’t only refer to what goes on inside your head; it also has a lot to do with our habits and behaviors.
As we discussed, eating an unhealthy diet high in processed foods and sugars can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and other unwanted health outcomes over time.
Not exercising regularly also increases your risk of developing lifestyle diseases because it weakens your immune system and increases inflammation in the body.
That doesn’t mean you need to become a gymnast; even making small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going for a walk after dinner, can make a difference in the long run.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to making healthy choices—for both our minds and bodies—on a daily basis.
We are all responsible for our own health outcomes and recognizing that is key if we want to prevent life-altering diseases from becoming part of our reality one day down the line.
While it may be hard work sometimes, living a healthier lifestyle is always worth it in the end!
Enjoy a healthy life!