Eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep are challenges when staying healthy requires staying home. Perhaps it’s time for a gentle reminder of some other ways to prevent developing lifestyle diseases. Let’s start with a few important but less-discussed things to do to reduce your chances of developing a lifestyle disease.
Know Your Family History
Risk for some chronic conditions is higher if you have a family history of a disease. Take inventory from members of your family about whether your grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, or siblings have had heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, or breast, colon or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can explain whether you should begin screenings at a younger age than usually recommended and if you should take other steps to reduce your risk of these conditions.
Go for Screenings
Regular screenings are important for preventing the development or progression of lifestyle diseases. Colon cancer is a preventable disease—and curable in its early stages. Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should get a colonoscopy to check for polyps that could turn into cancer. Other important screening tests include mammograms, Pap smears, and blood tests to look for signs of diabetes. Tests for cholesterol levels and blood pressure can give early warnings of heart disease and stroke.
Some people have put off potentially lifesaving screenings due to the pandemic. If you’re due for a routine screening, contact your physician’s office about measures they’re taking to keep staff and patients safe and about when you should come in for your tests.
It isn’t necessary to say more than that, is it? By now, everyone knows that smoking increases risks for heart disease, strokes, and lung disease. Even long-term smokers can quit. If you need help quitting smoking, get it. Now.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Guidelines keep shifting downward on this one—most sources say to cut down to no more than two drinks a day. Women have even been advised to limit alcohol to one drink a day. Too much booze damages blood vessels and can lead to strokes. Excess alcohol use heightens your risk of heart disease, liver disease, depression, anxiety, and many types of cancers.
All the Other Obvious Stuff
Eat healthily by cutting out highly processed foods, increasing your fiber intake, and eating more fruits, fish, legumes, and green, leafy vegetables. Cut out or cut down on red meat, refined carbs, and sugary sodas, and watch your sodium intake. Choose real, whole foods over highly processed items.
Also make sure to exercise 30 minutes a day or at a moderate intensity, mixing cardio with strength exercises. Get your eight hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep has been associated with insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Try to destress. Find a healthy way to laugh and have some fun. Changing your habits is a great way to prevent developing lifestyle diseases. The results of the positive changes you make will improve your health and make you feel better, which in turn should help you feel happier and less stressed out.