Lifestyle diseases are on the rise – are you at risk?

Lifestyle diseases are directly associated with the way a person lives, and the type of lifestyle they lead. These diseases include arteriosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers including colon, bowel and lung cancer, and diseases associated with smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.

The good news is lifestyle diseases are PREVENTABLE and in some cases can be REVERSED if a person is willing to quit any bad habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you’re suffering from a lifestyle disease, this means you need to start eating better, exercising regularly and doing whatever it takes to stop smoking, drinking or taking drugs – if they’re the cause of your illness. As a matter of interest, when it comes to cancer, studies have shown that an estimated 40% of them are lifestyle related and can be prevented, while only 10% of cancers are caused by hereditary factors.

Are you at risk?
Without putting the fear of the health gods into you, it’s quite simple. If you smoke, drink excessively, take recreational drugs, are obese and eat unhealthily, have repeated overexposure to the sun, or don’t do any regular exercise, then you have a higher risk of developing a lifestyle related disease.

What can you do to prevent or reverse a lifestyle disease?
Remember, it’s never too late to do something about your health or fitness levels. Every positive lifestyle change you make (and stick to!), has benefits, and goes a long way to helping you prevent or reverse a lifestyle disease.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to start turning your life around.

  1. Get moving. Whether it’s walking, jogging, swimming or playing tennis, aim to exercise for 30 minutes a day 3-5 times a week. If you’ve never really been an exercise fanatic, remember to start off slowly and work your way up to a more intensive, lengthy workout.
  2. Start eating healthier. Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables (organic if possible), lean meat and healthy snacks such as avocados, rye bread, nuts and dried fruit. Throw out any unhealthy snacks and sweets in your house – this way you won’t be tempted every time you open your cupboard.
  3. Make an appointment with a dietician. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what foods you should be eating, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with a lifestyle disease. A dietician takes into consideration conditions you’re suffering from, and your current physical condition, and creates a meal plan and food guide specifically for you.
  4. Take a good daily multivitamin. Even when we try our best to eat the right food and get our ‘five-a-day’, it’s not always possible. A daily multivitamin or omega oil supplement ensures we’re getting the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty oils our bodies need to function at the their best.
  5. Make time for yourself. A number of illnesses are a direct result of stress. When we’re stressed, we’re not focused on what we’re eating, or whether we’re getting enough exercise, when in truth – that’s exactly what we need to be doing to help reduce stress levels. Join a gym, a hiking group, a meditation or yoga class or simply make a point of being on your own, doing something you enjoy, for at least 30 minutes a day. The effects and benefits are often immediate, which means if you make it a long-term priority, your stress levels should be drastically reduced.
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These are all simple, but important changes that should be fairly easy to implement in your daily routine. Remember, lifestyle diseases are largely preventable and reversible, so even small changes make a big difference and go a long way towards bettering or preventing certain conditions.