Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, ischemic stroke, coronary artery diseases, COPD, and cancer, are collectively a significant reason behind mortality and morbidity worldwide. The risk of developing a chronic illness becomes higher when individuals grow older, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or family history. The National Council Of Aging states that around 77 percent of older human beings suffer from two or more chronic illnesses. In comparison, 80 percent suffer from at least one chronic condition.
The CDC states that a few common human behaviors increase the risk of chronic illnesses. Depending on your current lifestyle, you might have to adjust a couple of habits or make significant changes to reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease. However, before taking any action, get in touch with your primary care physician. And together, you can determine the changes you can safely incorporate into your lifestyle. That said, the most impactful changes you can make to reduce the risk of chronic illness include;
Do your research and get a check-up
In order to stay away from various chronic diseases, you firstly need to understand the different types that exist. Most chronic diseases, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and stroke result from risky behavior such as overeating fatty foods, smoking, and alcohol consumption. For example, smoking too many cigarettes can cause high blood pressure, while drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may lead to liver failure.
It is wise to know about these diseases as early as possible so you can take the necessary steps to avoid them. You can do your research independently or consult a healthcare professional. The latter is the wiser of the two. Fortunately, you do not need to book an appointment with a doctor. Technology has made it easy for nurses to skill-up via online DNP programs and master’s degrees and provide some of the diagnostic services doctors provide after licensure. This way, you won’t have to wait for months in an appointment queue for a check-up.
Reduce alcohol consumption
Two glasses of wine or two or three cans of beer every day is alright. However, drinking large quantities can increase your risk of developing different types of chronic illnesses. Consuming more than six or seven drinks in a single sitting might lead to severe health conditions such as cancer, strokes, heart disease, liver psoriasis, and high blood pressure. Therefore, drink less and drink responsibly.
Work on your mental health
Mental health has a strong connection with your physical health, and it can take on the human body. Suppose you are going through a phase of chronic anxiety. In that case, side effects such as digestive issues, diabetes, and other chronic diseases will flare-up. Long-term chronic health issues include heart disease, hypertension, and strokes.
To improve your mental health, schedule an appointment with a doctor. The therapist will assess your mental condition and refer you to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
Get ample amounts of exercise
Physical activity is a must for your body if you want to keep it functioning like a well-oiled machine. Plus, doing so will allow you to stay away from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Engaging yourself in moderate-intensity activities such as gardening or brisk walking for at least an hour a day for five days a week will lower your risk of developing chronic conditions caused by a sedentary lifestyle. To maintain a healthy heart, try to do high-intensity exercises for 30 minutes per day at least four times a week. Furthermore, regular strength training keeps your bones and muscles strong, reducing the risk of osteoarthritis.
Count your calories and make dietary changes
Keeping your body weight in check and eating a healthy diet reduces the chances of developing almost every type of chronic disease. Maintain a food journal and keep track of what you put inside your mouth. At your next doctor’s appointment, ask her/him to determine the number of calories you need to eat to maintain a healthy weight.
Also, you can discuss your dietary choices to see whether or not you’re at risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or osteoporosis. Commit to the changes your doctor prescribes, and you’ll be fit and healthy. These changes might include incorporating vegetables and fruits into your diet or lowering your sodium intake.
Eliminate tobacco use
Tobacco usage, primarily via smoking, puts you at a higher risk of developing severe health issues. These include COPD, cancer, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Quitting smoking might be challenging at first, but you can always try gradually. Use nicotine patches and gum to help. You can also join a support group to manage withdrawal symptoms in case of high dependency.
In the end, don’t try to tackle everything all at once. Gradually incorporate the changes mentioned above to see the best results. The challenge of completing a single step first is far easier than meeting a triathlon of numerous stages. Small victories will motivate you and allow you to stay in the game for a long time. After all, you owe it to yourself to stay healthy and enjoy a long and prosperous life.
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