Chronic disease can be defined as a condition that lasts one year or longer and requires ongoing medical care or limits daily activities. Type 2 diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and chronic kidney disease are the most common chronic diseases. They are the principal causes of death and disability in the US and worldwide.
According to the National Council on Aging, about 80 % of older adults suffer from one chronic disease, and 68 % suffer from two or more1. Furthermore, according to the CDC, six out of ten US adults suffer from a chronic disease, and four out of ten suffer from at least two chronic diseases. According to our survey, almost one in two seniors live with more than one chronic condition. They are also among the top drivers of the nation’s health care costs, which total more than $3.8 trillion annually.
The major risk factors or drivers of chronic diseases are:
- Use of tobacco and secondhand smoke.
- Getting too little exercise.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
- A poor diet consists of processed foods, fewer fruits and vegetables, and high saturated fats and sodium.
Studies have shown that adopting a healthy lifestyle or engaging in healthy behaviors can reduce the risk of chronic diseases as well as enhance the quality of life. Read on to learn how you can prevent these life-shortening diseases by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Smoking cessation (or never starting) is associated with lower rates of various chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and heart disease, even for longtime smokers. When you smoke, a fatty substance builds up in your arteries, which eventually leads to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. As a result, your organs become less effective, and you are at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Try to avoid smoking to decrease the likelihood of getting these chronic diseases. Also, avoid secondhand smoke as this can negatively affect your health as well.
Eat Healthy Diet
Hundreds of research studies have revealed that a healthy diet can help you prevent, minimize, and control type 2 diabetes, heart disease, coronary artery disease (CAD), ischemic stroke, and other chronic diseases. Taking a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products is essential for every age group. The following changes can be made to your diet to prevent chronic diseases:
- Reduce saturated and trans fats by substituting unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Make sure to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and adequate folic acid.
- Consume cereal products that are whole grain and high in fiber.
- Don’t consume sugar or sugar-based beverages.
- Consume as little sodium as possible.
The principal reason for limiting sodium intake is that it affects blood pressure, increasing stroke and coronary risk. The WHO recommends that you consume no more than 1.7 grams of sodium (equivalent to 5 grams of salt)
Keep A Healthy Weight and Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Obesity is the root cause of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers of the kidney, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium, colon, and other sites. In contrast to lean individuals, overweight people have increased risks for CAD and hypertension two to three times. Moreover, type 2 diabetes is more than ten times more likely in overweight people than in lean individuals5.
If you are overweight, a decrease in weight even of 5% to 7% can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recommend that you should exercise at least 30 minutes per day and 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Exercise doesn’t need to be intense. Being active is key6.
Exercise is one way to maintain a healthy weight. You should balance the number of calories you eat with the amount of activity you do. Establish healthy weight loss goals by finding out your body mass index. Maintaining a healthy weight helps lower your blood pressure and reduces your risk for other complications7.
Get Enough Sleep
Poor sleep is associated with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression. Exercise has also been shown to improve sleep in patients with insomnia. Sleep restores us and positively affects our feelings8. It is advisable that you sleep for seven hours a night.
Try to establish a schedule for sleep if you have difficulty sleeping. To get enough sleep, it is important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and to avoid eating or drinking heavy meals. Also, it would be best if you stop using your devices two hours before bedtime9.
Manage Your Stress
You can’t have a healthy immune system when you are constantly stressed. Besides causing sleep loss, pain and headaches, it can exhaust the body. Stress can make the heart work harder. There are many stress-reducing habits that you can adopt in order to improve your health.
You can reduce stress through physical activity or exercise. Gratitude, mindfulness, and meditation can also relieve stress and make you feel better. The use of relaxation techniques or breathing exercises, such as yoga, can also help calm the mind. Let the worries go and spend more time with your family and friends to get a healthy and relaxed lifestyle
Avoid Use of Alcohol
Consuming excessive alcohol can result in high blood pressure, various types of cancer, and heart problems, strokes, and liver disease. By avoiding excessive drinking, you can reduce the risk of these chronic diseases
Catch Chronic Diseases Early
You are more likely to develop chronic diseases if your family history includes cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis. You can prevent these conditions or catch them early by discussing your family’s medical history with your doctor and doing regular health screenings.
The Bottom Line
Poor dietary habits, little physical activity, stress, and tobacco and alcohol use are the major causes of the onset of chronic diseases. You can prevent, delay or even treat these life-shortening diseases and improve your life quality by making healthy lifestyle changes. Changing your habits overnight isn’t realistic. It’s important to make sure you take the necessary steps to maintain your health to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- National Council on Aging. The Top 10 Most Common Chronic Conditions in Older Adults. https://www.ncoa.org/article/the-top-10-most-common-chronic-conditions-in-older-adults
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How You Can Prevent Chronic Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/prevent/index.htm
- Jha P, Chaloupka FJ, Moore J, et al. Tobacco Addiction. In: Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd Ed. 2006. Chapter 46. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11741/
- Willett WC, Koplan JP, Nugent R, et al. Prevention of Chronic Disease by Means of Diet and Lifestyle Changes. In: Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd Ed. 2006. Chapter 44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11795/
- Rodgers A, Lawes CMM, Gaziano T, et al. The Growing Burden of Risk from High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Bodyweight. In: Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd Ed. 2006. Chapter 45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11738/
- Mayo Clinic. Strategies to prevent heart disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd Ed. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=43
- Knutson, K. L., Ryden, A. M., Mander, B. A., & Van Cauter, E. (2006). Role of sleep duration and quality in the risk and severity of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Archives of internal medicine, 166(16), 1768–1774. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16983057/
- Taheri S. (2006). The link between short sleep duration and obesity: we should recommend more sleep to prevent obesity. Archives of disease in childhood, 91(11), 881–884. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2082964/
- American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/FAQs-About-Stress_UCM_307982_Article.jsp#.V5bI4o7Njy8
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive Alcohol Use. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/alcohol.htm
3 thoughts on “A Guide on How You Can Prevent Chronic Diseases by Adopting A Healthy Lifestyle”
I wanted to thank you for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you postÖ
Itís hard to find educated people on this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read content from other authors and use something from their websites.