What is a chronic disease and how can I avoid it?
Chronic disease is a disease or condition that lasts for 3 months or longer and may get worse as time goes on. According to the CDC, the most common chronic diseases are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. The CDC claims that 6 out of 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease, and 4 out of 10 have two or more.
So, now that we know what the most common chronic diseases are and how prevalent they are…how can we avoid them?
There are a handful of daily habits that can help prevent, delay, or manage chronic disease.
The first one is one that we hear quite often from healthcare professionals, coaches, commercials, and any “fitness guru” – Eat healthily! By simply cleaning up the diet, Type II diabetes can be prevented, delayed, or managed, obesity can be managed or avoided completely, and heart disease can be prevented or managed. What does eating clean mean? The easiest way to look at it is by focusing on eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch, and no sugar. Keep your food intake at a level that will support your current activity level but won’t support body fat. Not sure what that looks like for you? Set up a nutrition consultation and find out what cleaning up your diet can do for you!
Next! Get regular physical activity! The recommended amount is based on ACSM guidelines (American College of Sports Medicine). They recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week with 2 days of resistance training. Getting regular physical activity can help prevent chronic disease by keeping your heart strong, lowering your blood pressure, lowing your LDL levels (bad cholesterol), and raising your HDL levels (good cholesterol). Regular physical activity can also ease depression and anxiety, and who doesn’t need that from time to time? So get into the gym, go for regular walks outside, lift some weights, and make it a habit that has many benefits over your lifetime.
Get screened for diseases through your primary care doctor. Your doctor can help prevent disease, catch diseases early, and can look at family history to discuss any illnesses that you may be more susceptible to. If you have a family history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc., you may be more likely to develop that same disease or illness. With that knowledge, you and your doctor can come up with a plan to help prevent those conditions.
Sleep, sleep, sleep! Getting insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and poor management of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. How much sleep should you be getting? The national sleep foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for healthy adults and even more for teens and children. If you are not sleeping enough, you are not allowing your body time to recover and restore, which can have drastically negative impacts on your health. Try setting a sleep schedule, so you are sleeping and waking at consistent times. Yes, even on the weekends!
Finally, stress relief. Chronic stress is bad for the immune system and can cause disruptions in sleep quality. Working on mindfulness, meditation, or gratitude can help relieve stress and improve physical and mental health.
What habits LEAD to chronic illness?
Smoking. If you currently smoke, quitting can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, lung disease, and premature death. If you don’t smoke, it is still important to know about all of the chronic diseases that you can possibly avoid by continuing to stay away from the habit. While this may be a fairly obvious habit to avoid for those who have seen any infomercial about smoking cessation, it is still a major problem for Americans.
Overconsumption of alcohol! Drinking socially every now and then is one thing, but drinking daily or binge drinking can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and/or liver disease. If you recall, those are among the top chronic diseases in the US. Be mindful of how much you drink, especially if you have a family history of any of the above conditions.
You can take any of the items listed in the ways to avoid illness, reverse them, and place them here as well. Poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, poor sleep, high stress, and avoiding the doctor can all take a negative toll on your health.
If you need a jump start or some accountability to help with managing or preventing chronic disease, set up a nutrition consultation, start one on one coaching, or speak with a coach to try and figure out your next steps.
All you need to do is send us an email at email@example.com 🙂