The Chronic Disease Crisis: How to Protect Yourself

What if I told you that you had the ability to protect yourself from some of the biggest driver of health insurance cost across the world? 8 trillion dollars is spent worldwide on healthcare. Roughly 6 trillion of that is spent on chronic diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Over 40% of Americans are suffering from a chronic disease. Over 50% of adults have a chronic disease.

The good news is that one of the main drivers of these disease is in your power to control. The bad news is if you do not take proactive action to prevent chronic diseases, you will likely get one as you get older.

Characteristics of Chronic Diseases

Most chronic diseases have the following characteristics in common:

  • They have a strong behavioral component.

  • The effects of these diseases play out over a long period of time.

Behavioral Component of Chronic Diseases

The behavior of an individual is a massive factor on whether they will get many chronic diseases in their lifetime. Behaviors such as smoking, diet, exercise, stress level, outdoor time and sleeping patterns form a basis for total body health.

Sedentary lifestyles coupled with poor eating choices is a massive risk factor for many chronic diseases.

Chronic Diseases Play out Over Many Years

Just like your behavioral patterns are developed over a long period of time, chronic diseases develop and are a result of those behavioral patterns. And once you are diagnosed with a chronic disease it is not going away.

Preventing Chronic Diseases

Since many chronic diseases are caused by behavior choices, we need to change our behavior. And since chronic diseases develop and play out over a long period of time, we need to have a long-term view to making healthy behavioral decisions.

Quit Smoking!

Smoking not only increases your risk for cancer, it also is a major contributor towards issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease. Even if you are a long-time smoker, you can significantly lessen the damage by stopping now.

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for help, coaching and local resources!

Start Exercising!

Our bodies were not designed to sit behind a desk all day, lounge on the couch or stare down at our phones for hours on end. You must get your body moving! This can take any number of forms; the most important thing is that you spend consistent time every day doing some type of physical activity.

Eat Healthy!

Don’t get me wrong. I love sweets, pizza and other unhealthy foods as much as the next person. The key to changing your dietary habits is moderation! You can still eat the unhealthy things you enjoy on occasion, be realistic! But the main portion of your diet should consist of lean meats, fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, dairy and other such products. If you stick to unprocessed food and smaller portions, you will be on the right track.

Avoid Drinking Too Much!

This one is tricky, it seems obvious on the surface but over drinking can sneak up on someone as it becomes part of their routine. Moderate drinking is defined as 2 drinks per day for men and 1 per day for women. Enjoy your drinks in moderation as it can have a severe negative impact on your health if you don’t.

Get Screened!

Go see your primary care doctor at least once a year. Get your eye exam and dental cleanings done every year. Take advantage of the free scans your health insurance plan may provide. If you are older, look into the many free heart scans that are available.

Not only can seeing a doctor regularly help catch problems early, a good doctor will warn you about lifestyle choices that will lead to increased risk for chronic diseases.

Get Enough Sleep!

At east 7 hours of sleep a day, that is what the average adult needs. More and more studies are coming out that link poor sleeping habits to a host of other issues, including development and poor management of chronic diseases. Give your body the rest it needs so that it can properly function.

No one can stop all chronic diseases and sometimes people get them despite being healthy. However, you are much less likely to develop a chronic disease if you try and implement the advice listed above.

Think small and long-term! That is how these diseases develop and that is how you fight them! Take small, measured steps to improve your health today.


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