Chronic diseases are ailments that last for three months or more and persist for a long time. These illnesses cannot be cured by medication or prevented by vaccines. In addition, they do not simply disappear.
According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability globally.
Chronic diseases often become more common with age. However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing them even before you reach your 40s.
Health experts from a trusted family clinic in Dubai say that although chronic diseases cannot be prevented by vaccines, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting them. More importantly, these steps are simple and easy to follow.
Below are five tips that will help lower your risk of getting a chronic disease:
1. Get plenty of sleep
Although sleep is something that everyone does, not everyone understands the vital role it plays in keeping them healthy.
The health benefits of sleep include:
- Regulating your blood pressure, which can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease
- Reducing inflammation in the body and strengthening the immune system, enabling you to stay healthy
- Helping fight depression, which is also considered a chronic disease
Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night allows you to experience its health benefits.
However, for adults, it is more important to get quality sleep, which pertains to how well you sleep.
If you can sleep soundly for at least seven hours through the night, with no more than one awakening, and fall asleep within 20 minutes after waking up, you can experience all its health benefits. You will also reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases.
2. Work out regularly
If you spend hours sitting down due to your work and do not get enough exercise, you are putting yourself at greater risk of developing chronic diseases.
Reports show that having a sedentary lifestyle, or spending too much time sitting, reclining, or lying down, has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other chronic illnesses.
Getting enough exercise to avoid chronic diseases, however, does not mean going to the gym regularly or setting up one in your home. There are many simple ways to exercise and experience its benefits.
Walking is a simple way to work out. Going out for a walk for 20 to 60 minutes a day can help lower your risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and other chronic diseases.
Other simple activities you can do to get a good workout and avoid having a sedentary lifestyle are:
- Gardening and doing yard work
- Kayaking, canoeing, and rowing exercises
If you already have some health issues or want to engage in more intense workout routines, you will do well to see your doctor first to know which exercises and activities are safe for you.
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3. Follow a balanced diet
A diet rich in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats can put you at risk for different types of chronic illnesses.
One study showed that regularly consuming fried foods, such as fried chicken and fish, can put you at higher risk of different cardiovascular diseases and even mortality.
Making changes in your diet, therefore, can help you stay healthy and avoid chronic illnesses.
Start by adding more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains to your daily diet.
Try to add probiotic-rich foods to your diet as well since probiotics can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Don’t forget to drink more water every day since staying hydrated also strengthens your immune system and aids the body in flushing out toxins, thereby keeping you healthy.
If you want to make drastic changes in your diet or start taking supplements, consult your doctor and nutritionist to ensure you will go about the whole process correctly and safely.
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4. Quit unhealthy habits
Smoking or using tobacco products and drinking too much alcohol are unhealthy for the body. Prolonged use and consumption of these products can even cause irreparable and fatal ailments.
Smoking, for instance, increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, not to mention lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses.
Excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, dementia, cirrhosis, and other life-threatening diseases.
When you quit smoking, you will experience these health benefits:
- Improved circulation and lung function
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Reduced risk of coronary heart disease
- Lower risk of stroke
Avoiding or reducing your consumption of alcohol allows you to experience these health benefits:
- Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Healthier weight
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Better quality of sleep
- Improved mental and emotional health
All these benefits contribute to your better overall health, allowing you to keep chronic ailments at bay.
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5. Get regular health screenings
Health screenings become more and more important as you age. These tests detect the onset or presence of ailments or issues and give your doctor the information they need to provide you with the appropriate treatment.
The type and frequency of health screening tests vary based on your age, medical history, and overall health status. However, the most common exams are:
This test measures the level of cholesterol in your body. A sample of blood will be drawn from your arm. The result will state your levels of HDL or good cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Diabetes testing usually includes a haemoglobin A1C blood test, a fasting plasma glucose or FPG test, and an oral glucose tolerance test or OGTT.
Many health experts recommend that adults aged 50 and above undergo screening for colon cancer or colon polyps. It should also be done earlier if you have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal cancer.
Mental health screening
Since depression is also a chronic disease, people who have symptoms of this disorder are also advised to undergo regular mental health screening. A doctor will ask you specific questions and do a physical exam. In some instances, they will carry out blood and other lab tests to rule out other diagnoses.
By making important lifestyle changes and working with your medical specialist, you can prevent the start of chronic diseases and live a long, healthy life.
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Vanessa Batten is a marketing and communications specialist with 10 years of experience in the UAE healthcare industry and is the Senior Communications Officer at Mediclinic Middle East. Operating seven hospitals and 20 outpatient clinics with more than 900 inpatient beds in the UAE, Mediclinic is focused on providing specialist, multi-disciplinary services across the continuum of care and is regarded as the most respected and trusted provider of private healthcare services in the UAE.