It's probably a fair assessment to say that a lot of us take our health for granted. It isn't until we get sick or have an accident that we genuinely appreciate the feeling of being at our best. Some people assume we're predisposed to certain illnesses, but this isn't necessarily the case - getting sick is not inevitable. So what can we do to prevent the onset of disease and illness? Here are the top five tips to help you with just that.
1. Think About Your Diet
We can attribute a huge part of getting sick to our lifestyle choices, which includes the food choices we make. As a general rule, try and avoid processed foods and instead get into the habit of eating homemade meals using simple, good quality ingredients. Processed foods may seem innocuous, but when consumption is high (around 4 or more daily servings) it can cause chronic inflammation, leading to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Foods to avoid - or at least moderate - include chips, donuts, soda, breakfast cereals, and anything else that is full of artificial ingredients.
2. Keep An Eye On Your Blood Pressure
Incredibly, around 45% of adults in the US have blood pressure that would not be medically defined as 'normal' (less than 120/80 mmHg). If you have hypertension then you're putting yourself at risk of heart disease and stroke, some of the leading causes of death in the United States. If your high blood pressure is linked to your weight, then even a small increase in physical activity can help alleviate the condition. Either way, this is something to keep an eye on.
3. Stop Smoking
This is certainly easier said than done, as the nicotine in cigarettes is incredibly addictive. However, if you are currently a smoker then there is not one single choice you could make to improve your overall health than to quit. Smoking increases the likelihood of stroke, heart disease, and a whole host of cancers, and will, on average, decrease life expectancy by 10 years compared to non-smokers. The good news? If you manage to quit before the age of 40 you'll reduce your risk of smoking-related death by an astonishing 90%.
4. Get Some Exercise
When it comes to exercise, there is no right or wrong way to do it. All that matters is that you get moving if you're not doing so already. Don't worry about gym memberships or fancy fitness clothes, just start introducing some physical activity into your day or week. The options are endless, so find what works for you. It's far more important to enjoy exercise and be consistent with it than anything else, so if you're a natural swimmer and can't stand running then just focus your efforts on the pool. Even if it's just introducing a short daily walk, something is always better than nothing.
This might be the easiest tip to implement, but it is also one of the most important, as getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep every night will do wonders to your body's ability to ward off illness. If you struggle to doze off, try turning off your screens at least 2 hours before you turn the lights out, listen to some calming music, or get stuck into a good book.