The 2010 Affordable Care Act called for the creation of The National Prevention Council, which is composed of the heads of 17 Federal agencies and chaired by the Surgeon General. The goal of the Council is to promote prevention and lifestyle changes as a way to help reduce chronic disease and the cost associated with chronic disease.
There are good reasons for the creation of the Council. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 percent of adults have at least one chronic condition, and 7 out of 10 deaths each year are caused by these largely preventable conditions.
Here are a few suggestions for taking control of your health:
GET PREVENTIVE SCREENINGS. Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings. Important screenings for men and women are often included in an annual physical exam. Since genetics plays a role in health, discuss your family history with your physicians.
STAY ACTIVE. Along with reduced calorie intake, regular activity is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise also helps with mood, and can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Try walking, running, biking, or swimming; even golf or tennis is a great way to get your daily exercise. Aim for being active at least 30 minutes every day during the week and at least an hour on the weekend.
EAT HEALTHY. Eating healthy isn’t really that difficult—and the health payoff is incredible. To reduce your risk of diet-related health issues:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—at least seven servings per day, mainly vegetables and seek a colorful variety of seasonal offerings
- Eat whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice—and avoid white grains
- Choose lean proteins, including fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, beans and legumes, eggs. Nuts are a protein source that also deliver healthy fat.
- Cook primarily with monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil
- Limit saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and excess sugars
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation — Mayo Clinic recommends no more than 1 drink per day for healthy women of all ages and men above the age of 65, and 2 drinks per day for healthy men under the age of 65.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP AND MANAGE STRESS. Try to get a good night’s rest every night. Adequate sleep (7–8 hours per night) makes you more productive and energetic. Recognize the signs of stress and take action when you notice them. Focus on controlling what you can, and let the rest of it go.
SUPPLEMENT WISELY. Since it’s impossible to eat perfectly every day and our produce is less nutritious than it used to be, it is prudent to take a basic array of supplements starting with a multivitamin, additional omega-3s and added Vitamin D.
AVOID UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS. Smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet are all unsafe habits and not part of a healthy and safe life. The key to preventing chronic conditions is becoming an active participant in your own health. Your lifestyle choices offer you the best chance you have to take control of your current and future health.