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The coronavirus and its effects around the world have led many to rethink their lifestyles, and it’s also shedding light on the prevalent and also the risks of chronic diseases. People who have chronic underlying illnesses may be at risk of more severe outcomes if they contract the novel coronavirus.
Many types of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer may be linked to genetics but also lifestyle factors. Other chronic diseases include diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
You can’t avoid all illnesses, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and live a healthier lifestyle overall.
The following are simple, fundamental things you might be able to change relatively easily in your life to reduce your disease risk.
Make Healthy Diet Choices
Eating a diet high in unhealthy fats and processed items is more likely to cause weight gain, and it can also lead to chronic inflammation which is a key component of many chronic diseases. Along with generally trying to focus your diet primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, you should also incorporate foods with inflammation-fighting properties.
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines
- Nuts including walnuts and almonds
- Leafy green vegetables such as collards, spinach, and kale
- Fruits like blueberries and cherries
When you cut out processed foods and eat more inflammation-lowering, whole foods, you’re likely to feel a difference in terms of your mood and quality of life too. Our physical health is very much intertwined with our mental health.
Get Regular Screenings with Your Health Care Provider
Health screenings can often be done with your primary care doctor, and they are a good way to be proactive about your health and identify any red flags before they become more serious health issues.
Conditions that are frequently screened for in various ways include:
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Prostate cancer
The types of screenings you might need to undergo can vary depending on your sex, age, and your family history as well as risk factors you may have.
Move Your Body
Physical activity is one of the most important tools you have for health and longevity. Unfortunately, due to the nature of modern life, most of us are pretty sedentary and don’t get nearly enough physical activity daily.
Even if you’re not very fit, just do what you can to start out.
Take walks or bike around the neighborhood. Maybe you do some stretching or yoga. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing when it comes to your physical activity. When you get enough activity, it can also help reduce your anxiety, help you feel better overall, and help you sleep better.
Even if you already have a chronic disease such as obesity or heart disease, starting to be more physically active can help you manage it and reduce your symptoms and complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting enough physical activity has the potential to prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths. It could help prevent 1 in 8 cases of breast cancer and colorectal cancer, and 1 in 12 cases of diabetes.
When you’re older, regular exercise can help improve your functionality as well as reducing illness risks.
Alcohol use at a moderate level may not be harmful, but excessive alcohol is responsible for an estimated 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. It’s responsible for 1 in 10 total deaths among working-age adults.
Over time, excessive alcohol use can contribute to chronic illnesses. These can include high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Drinking too much can also cause fatty liver disease and other types of liver diseases such as fibrosis, hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
Excessive alcohol use is linked to cancers of the mouth and throat, colon and rectum, liver, breast, and esophagus.
The less you drink, the more you can lower your risk of developing cancer.
Cut Out Tobacco
Finally, tobacco is one of the top causes of preventable disease, as well as death and disability in the U.S.
Smoking cigarettes causes more than 480,000 deaths a year, and for every American who dies due to smoking, at least 30 have a serious illness related to smoking. Smoking is linked to several different types of cancer, and heart disease, and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher likelihood of developing diabetes and lung disease.