Should you wait for illness, or take care of your health now?

In America, unhealthy habits are just a short drive around the corner (pretty much to any chain store or restaurant people frequent regularly).

That’s not to say other countries are the gold standard of health either, but I wouldn’t know first hand.

The staggering statistic is that 6 out of 10 Americans has a chronic disease.

To put that into perspective, if you’re in a room of 100 people, there are only 40 there who have either good genetics, or are taking great care of themselves (or both). That’s 40%, and that’s just not okay.

Now, some illnesses cannot be prevented (that should be an obvious statement), because if we knew how to completely eliminate illness, then everyone could follow a simple program to stay healthy enough to celebrate their centennial!

But, there are steps to take in order to prevent some common diseases. By staying diligent with your health, and not relying on a yearly physical exam to catch a potential issue.

Read on to see what steps you can take to lower your chances of getting bad news about something preventable.

Disclaimer: I am not a dietician, personal trainer, or “life coach”. The following are researched information in combination with opinion. In no way should you take my advice without first consulting a doctor or professional.

STOP SMOKING (or never start)

This should go without saying, but with all of the research and information on the effects of smoking, I’m not sure how anybody would not believe smoking can put people at risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease.

Eat Healthy

With all of the trendy diets floating around the interweb these days, who knows what is the best method?

A dietician will be the best first stop if you have no idea how your body uses calories and macros to balance things out.

By rule of thumb you’ll want to limit the following:

  • Carbohydrates (unless you are hypoglycemic [naturally low blood sugar] or if you have naturally low energy).
  • Refined Sugars (in America, added sugar is almost a given in all of the “easy” meals or fast food chains).
  • Sodium (While it’s good in moderation, excess can be detrimental to your bottom line. By rule of thumb, don’t add extra salt to already salty foods).

You’ll want to get the following in your diet:

  • Protein (A typical, healthy human is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight).
  • Whole grains (A good source of fiber, and key vitamins)
  • Fresh Vegetables (The motherly voice echoes in our heads to eat vegetables, but she was right. Not only are vegetables filling to your stomach, but they provide antioxidants, and vitamins our bodies need to operate at an optimal level).

Those are just a few recommendations, and not an inclusive list of what a dietician will suggest.

Dieticians will create an inclusive nutrition plan for your body type, age and gender. It is very important to be getting the proper nutrition in order to sustain a healthy and happy life.

Exercise!

We’ve been hearing this since grade school! If it has taken this long, and this blog post to finally get you motivated, then please start now, it’s not too late.

The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. [That’s 22 minutes per day]. The exercise could be as little as gardening, or brisk walking, while the benefits are improved with lengthier exercise, or more intense workouts.

Do not do intense workouts without first being cleared by your primary doctor to do so. Some people are so far out of shape, the extra strain could be more destructive than the benefits associated with the workout.

Limit intake of alcohol

It’s great to kick back at the end of a long week and enjoy an ice cold brew with the boys, or in front of the TV for Friday Night Football.

But, when it gets to be a six pack every night, you’re walking on thin ice, and the older you get, the thinner that ice gets.

This distinction becomes more serious if the beverage of choice is more potent (I’m talking to you, Bourbon lovers).

I enjoy a nice glass of Kentucky Straight Bourbon, of 90 proof or better on occasion, but moderation is the key to the whole deal.

Get Screened

As a fail-safe for your life, it’s advised to get to your doctor regularly for a checkup.

Most of these are done yearly, as a physical examination. However, the older you get, the more you should be examining yourself regularly between doctor visits. If you notice anything off, schedule an appointment to voice your concerns; the doctor might call for lab work, x-rays, or advanced testing.

Get enough sleep!

I personally never believed this until recently.

Coming from a family that believes in hard work, getting up at 5AM or earlier has never been a problem for me (even going to bed at 11PM or Midnight).

Some people do function “okay” on less sleep, those people naturally need less than the average.

For a grown, healthy adult, the average sleep requirements fall in the 7-9 hours per night range.

If you have insomnia or some other condition that does not allow you to fall asleep to get the adequate number, see your physician.

What is your family history?

Knowing this information is the first defense in the battle of health.

A lot of our health problems are predetermined by our family history, and taking precautions could limit the chances of those illnesses coming up.

History of diabetes, cancer or heart disease running in the family are causes for concern, and taking those risks seriously can really benefit in the long run.

This information can be gone over with your doctor to determine the appropriate path, and regular checks that should be done to monitor your health.

Last but not least…

Make Healthy Choices!

It’s easy to grab a burger from the closest fast food chain for lunch, but is that going to be a benefit or a detriment?

It’s easy to be weak minded and go to the path of least resistance (it can seem like a majority mindset to do this).

However, practicing some self-restraint and discipline in life will always get us closer to the marks we have set for ourselves.

While not every illness is avoidable, we can absolutely put in an effort to limit the chance of having a serious problem that will need your attention.

Don’t take shortcuts in your daily life, to get ahead financially either. Like choosing the unhealthy options (dietary, sleep, physical or mental) in order to make more money, or seem more productive, because it will catch up later in life.

“We sacrifice our health in order to make wealth, then we sacrifice our wealth in order to get back our health.”

Dalai Lama

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