Health & Wellness: Tips to prevent chronic diseases
Chronic diseases affect 6 in 10 Americans every day. With these alarming statistics, it’s time to bring awareness and education to the prevention side of things. It is essential to prepare ourselves to fight against the ever-rising issue of chronic diseases.
Taking steps to ensure your health can make a big difference in preventing a chronic disease. Staying active, maintaining your daily vitamin D intake and improving your mental health are all strides you can take to help eliminate potential diseases. Additionally, getting screened regularly and knowing your family’s medical history can be a vital component of identifying possible diseases.
It’s important to keep your body in shape to reduce your chance of contracting a chronic disease. Taking your physical health for granted can be detrimental since being physically inactive is a leading cause of many chronic diseases.
So, what does it mean to stay active? How long should you exercise for? Physical activity can look different for every person. Some may go to the gym, while others may play a game of tag with their children. However you decide to move your body, just remember to maintain 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense activities.
Maintain your vitamin D intake
It’s common knowledge that taking vitamins daily can make vast improvements to your health. However, did you know that vitamin D in particular can play a huge role in reducing your risk of becoming ill with a chronic disease? New studies have shown that “vitamin D is closely associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and others,” according to Aging and Disease.
Take the initiative today to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Consider including foods that are rich in vitamin D — like milk, oranges and eggs — in your diet. Another great way to get vitamin D is by spending a little extra time outdoors soaking up the sun.
Improve your mental health
Being healthy mentally can improve overall well-being, yet it’s something that can be easy to neglect. Recent studies have shown that about one-third of chronic patients suffer from depression. Many may think depression is a result of chronic diseases; however, those who suffer from a mental illness tend to not be as active or eat healthy, which we now know is crucial to preventing chronic disease.
There is no one way to improve your mental health. Try a few techniques that Mental Health America recommends:
- Make time to laugh and have fun.
- Sleep in cool temperatures.
- Take a relaxing bath.
- Play with your pet.
- Express gratitude.
Improving your quality of life can be a few laughs or gratitude notes away. Make taking care of yourself an important part of your day.
Be screened regularly
Last but not least, it is important to regularly be screened by your doctor and dentist for any abnormalities. There are many different screenings and times you should consider when getting checked for chronic diseases. Here are eight screenings UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests and when the best time is to start being checked:
- Cholesterol should be tested every five years starting at 20 years old.
- Colonoscopies should be done at 45 years old and will be determined by a doctor how often they will be performed after that.
- Diabetes should be tested at age 45, unless BMI is high and there is a family history of diabetes.
- Depression should be tested annually.
- Mammography should be done annually starting at 45 years old.
- Obesity should be tested annually.
- Pap smears should be done every three years for women 21 to 65 years old.
- Test for viral respiratory infections seasonally.
Taking time out of your busy schedule may seem like a chore, but your health is worth it. Invest in your long-term health by setting up necessary screenings with your doctor, staying active, taking your recommended vitamin D and staying on top of your mental health.
Lindsey Certonio is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.