An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is an OLD saying but its a saying that has become even more relevant than ever before in prevention for a healthy, happy life.
We are now enjoying longer life expectancies than ever before but there are many of us who suffer from chronic disease – these people are safely experiencing a lower quality of life. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
As of 2019, almost half of the Australian population (47%) were estimated to have 1 or more of the 10 top chronic conditions, including:
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic respiratory conditions
- coronary heart disease
- dementia, and
- mental health conditions.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to assist with the prevention of chronic disease and steps we can take everything to live a happy life. Here are 5 things you can do to ensure your own health and vitality!
Diet impacts health, so how can you eat to prevent disease?
Ditch the disease provoking foods like sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, foods containing trans fats, and processed foods. You know the ones: soft drinks, flavoured drinks, white flour, white sugar, fat-free and low-fat milk, canned fruit, cakes, slices, biscuits, bakery goods, French fries, chocolate bars, ice cream, white bread, lollies. The list goes on.
Instead opt for whole, nutrient-dense foods rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, and fibre. Eat a wide variety of:
- eggs, and
- poultry (unless you are vegan of course!).
These foods are perfectly designed by nature to help you!
Eat less! Reducing calorie intake can reduce the risk of developing chronic disease and extend your life so have a look at your portion sizes to see if they could be reduced. This really simple act could not only help you lose weight but could prolong your life and prevent disease.
A little stress is healthy and can helps us function but when stress becomes chronic it can have serious effects on an individual’s health.
The top 10 stress-related health problems are:
- cardiovascular disease
- depression & anxiety
- gastrointestinal problems
- Alzheimer’s disease
- accelerated ageing, and
- premature death.
The body produces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can increase blood pressure, heart rate and exacerbate mental health issues.
Developing stress management techniques is paramount for long and healthy life. There are literally hundreds of stress management ideas out there so pick the strategies that work best for you then create some daily routines that fill your cup.
Breathe deeply to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which will produce the opposite effect to the fight or flight response. Use relaxation music, reduce your caffeine intake, spend time with friends and family, meditate, practice mindfulness.
Are you getting enough sleep? Getting 8 hours of sleep has a myriad of health benefits. It:
- reduces our appetite
- increases our energy and motivation to exercise
- improves mood
- helps prevent insulin resistance, and
- reduces our risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Poor sleep is linked to:
- lowered immune function
- increased inflammation, and
- weight gain.
And the bonus good news? Skin restores itself 30 times faster whilst we are sleeping. Sleep yourself younger anyone?
Research shows that to reap these benefits you need at least 7-8 hours per night and to go to bed by 10 pm. It’s the timing of the sleep that is just as important as the amount.
Okinawa is an island off Japan which is home to the Okinawans, some of the longest living people in the world. Part of the reason for their longevity is that they nurture their emotional wellbeing by having an active social life, a strong sense of community, having a strong sense of purpose, and a strong engagement with living their lives with zest.
Research shows that people who are part of a group, whether it’s a friendship group or a book group and with a wide range of friendships, enjoy better health as they age and experience less cognitive decline than those who spend their time alone.
Exercise is great for cardiovascular and bone health, lowering blood sugar, improving mood and energy, promoting weight loss.
There is another factor to take into account and that is the loss of muscle as we age (known as sarcopenia). By the time we get to the age of 80, about 15% of our muscle mass has declined and studies show this is likely due to lack of physical activity more so than advancing years.
Staying physically active is the best way to avoid muscle decline.
Naturopathy is perfectly placed to help with disease prevention and health maintenance.
During your initial appointment, your practitioner will obtain your full health history and then order any necessary testing to ascertain any biochemical imbalances which need to be worked on in order to achieve optimal health. Head here to learn more about booking into an initial session.
One of the most common tests for health maintenance that we look at is a blood test to analyse your cholesterol, insulin, blood glucose levels, and inflammatory markers.
A naturopathic treatment plan will then be tailored for your individual health needs.