4 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Health

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bicycle-familySome of the top causes of death amongst Americans are related to lifestyle. The good news is that the risk of heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness and stroke can all be reduced with lifestyle changes.

Research suggests that the United States spends well over $7,000 per person per year on healthcare, more than twice the average of many other countries. Yet, the average life expectancy in the United States is far below many other nations that spend less on healthcare each year.

Here are four lifestyle changes to improve your health and help prevent disease.

1. Stop smoking. Tobacco use is the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Although we all know the detrimental effects that smoking has on our bodies, one in five Americans still smokes. The health benefits of quitting smoking are numerous, and many are experienced rapidly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, heart attack risk begins to drop and lung function begins to improve. One year after quitting, excess risk for heart disease is reduced by half, and 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a current smoker. Fifteen years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk for heart disease is about the same as that of a lifelong nonsmoker.

2. Cut down on drinking. Although there may be benefits to a glass of wine or a pint of beer, excessive drinking is the U.S.’s third leading lifestyle-related cause of death and is associated
with a wide range of health and social problems, including acute myocardial infarction, liver failure, unintended pregnancy, and violence.

3. Get moving. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things a person can do to stay healthy. Not only will physical activity increase one’s chances of living longer – it can also help control weight; reduce risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers; strengthen bones and muscles; improve mental health and mood; and improve ability to do daily activities and prevent falls among older adults.

4. Lose excess weight. This may be the most difficult, but good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight can help lower risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk for heart disease and certain cancers, as well.

If you would like help with any of these lifestyle changes, we offer nutritional counseling with naturopathic doctors, herbalists and nutritionists. To book a consultation, please click here.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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June 2015
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