6 Steps for Disease Prevention and Healthy Living
Disease prevention and keeping up with your health care and health screenings can be overwhelming. Everywhere you look, someone is telling you something different. Each day there is a new superfood or physical activity recommendation. The bookstore is filled with aisles of anti-aging books. All this makes health so complicated that many people just give up. Well, here’s the truth: disease prevention is actually not that hard.
Why Bother With Disease Prevention?
There are a lot of people out there who don’t take the trouble to take care of their bodies when there are simple things that you can do to make yourself healthier and prevent a number of diseases.
The great thing is that most of the disease prevention recommendations will also help you sleep better, have more energy and just plain feeling good. Meanwhile, you will potentially be preventing years of suffering, costly treatments, and even premature death. If that is not enough motivation, then do it for the people who love and depend on you (and will have to take care of you if you get a chronic illness).
If that is still not enough reason, then follow disease prevention guidelines to help the nation with the ongoing healthcare crisis. Many experts believe that the U.S. is in a healthcare crisis simply because we are an overweight, unhealthy nation to begin with that relies too heavily on modern medicine instead of healthy living principles. Think of the cost savings if everyone followed these simple disease prevention guidelines.
It is unfortunate to see so much unnecessary disease and suffering. So, below are the disease prevention guidelines that are out there and ways to get you started. Pick one of the six steps each week. Work on it for the whole week and get it as best you can, then move onto the next. Keep repeating the six-week cycles until you have mastered each one.
This disease prevention checklist is based on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s evaluation of the scientific literature on what health care, health screenings, and healthy living guidelines really work. There is no source more authoritative than this.
Of course, you should talk to your doctor about these recommendations—bring this article with you and discuss each point! There may be additional things for you to do based on your family history, health condition, and other factors. But this is a great starting place for navigating health care and disease prevention.
Tips for Healthy Living and Disease Prevention
There are six things that you need to do to live healthy, prevent diseases, increase your longevity, master health care and just feel better. You may already do some of these things, but chances are you can improve in each one.
- Get Your Health Screening Tests: (health screenings for women or health screenings for men). Lots of people have weird logic around health screening tests. They say things like “I don’t want to know if something is wrong with me.” But, these tests are specifically chosen because catching the specific illnesses early can make a huge difference in the course of the illness and can even work as disease prevention. So be sure to have these tests done.
- Don’t Smoke: It is simply incredible how much smoking shortens both the length of a person’s life and the quality. If you do smoke, quitting is your number one health priority.
- Be Active: Keeping yourself healthy means moving and using your body. There are standardized exercise recommendations for people. Exercise has a number of benefits, including improving your sex life and giving you more energy. Work exercise into your daily/weekly schedule for years more life.
- Eat Healthily: Sure, we all know that we should eat a healthy diet, but did you know that adding just two servings of fruit and vegetables a day could increase your life expectancy? Building healthy eating habits is possibly the single most important thing you can do to protect your health, prevent disease, and minimize the severity of any conditions you already have. Besides, once you get used to healthy foods, they taste better and give you more energy than all the processed junk foods out there (really, you just need about a week of no cheating to start feeling the difference).
- Lose Weight: Turns out that losing weight isn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be. If you switch out processed foods for fresh produce and get rid of sodas and other sugary foods you can save hundreds of calories a day. Start there.
- Take Your Medicine: There are some wonderful preventive medicines out there like statins (which lower cholesterol). These medicines can prevent heart attacks and even help reverse illnesses. For example, men older than 45 should talk with their doctor about taking a daily aspirin to help prevent heart disease (men younger than 45 with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or who smoke should talk to their doctor about it too). Also, everyone should stay up-to-date with their immunizations (most people 50+ should have a flu shot each year and most people 65+ should have a pneumonia shot). If your doctor has suggested a preventive medicine, please take it. By doing so, you are getting the full advantage of our high-tech scientific medical system. You will likely live longer and better. That’s pretty amazing for a little pill.
Start your disease prevention program by picking one of the items above each week to focus on. During the week, do your best to optimize that aspect of disease prevention. Some weeks will be easy while other weeks will be harder. But, keep working until you can cross off an item as “mastered.”
- Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age—Your Checklist for Health. AHRQ Publication No. 07-IP006-A, February 2007. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
- Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age—Your Checklist for Health. AHRQ Publication No. 07-IP005-A, February 2007. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.