Easy Steps for Disease Prevention

6 Steps for Disease Prevention

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, I’m here to tell you that disease prevention is not that hard.

Why Bother With Disease Prevention?

I hope that seems like a silly question to you, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t take the trouble to take care of their bodies. This drives me crazy. 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 a 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 we are 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.

Sorry to “pull out the big guns” to try to get you to pay attention to these guidelines, but it really does just get on my nerves that so many people are ignoring what we all know if healthy behavior. It is sad to see so much unnecessary disease and suffering.

So what I’ve tried to do is boil down the disease prevention guidelines that are out there and include links to various resources to get you started. I recommend picking one of these 6 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 6-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. The problem is that the information just doesn’t get out there. Of course, you should talk with your doctor about these recommendations. Print this article and bring it 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 to navigating health care and disease prevention.

6 Steps to Healthy Living and Disease Prevention

There are 6 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:

  1. Get your health screening tests (see 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.” This, of course, is ridiculous (but understandable). 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. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend tests that don’t matter to the health outcome. So be sure to have these tests done. If you need help finding a doctor, try this guide to doctors in your area (choose the specialty “preventive medicine,” “general practice” or “family practice”).
  1. Don’t smoke. Really, just 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. Try these smoking cessation resources.
  2. 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.
  3. Eat Healthy. Sure, we all know that we should eat a healthy diet, but did you know that adding just 2 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).
  1. Lose Weight. I was going to write “stay at a healthy weight” but since 70% of U.S. adults are overweight, chances are you can stand to lose a few pounds. 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.
  1. 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 smokers should talk to their doctor about it too). 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). What is amazing to me is that so many people do not take advantage of what preventive medicines have to offer. People will take their medicines for a few months and then just stop. It is astounding. If your doctor has suggested a preventive medicine, 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.

    Getting Started With Disease Prevention

    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 (like “Take Your Medicine”) while other weeks will be harder (like lose weight). Keep working until you can cross off an item as “mastered.”

    Source(s):

    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. http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htm.

    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. http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthywom.htm.

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