Incorporating these five lifestyle behaviors is changing the way people approach their chronic disease and prevent progression.
Chronic disease has become an epidemic in the United States. It’s the leading cause of death and disability in America, and the leading contributor to healthcare spending. The statistics are alarming with six out of 10 adults in the US having at least one chronic illness and four in 10 having two or more.
What is a Chronic Disease?
Chronic diseases can be complex, and include diagnoses such as heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s type dementia, and chronic kidney disease.
In 2016, chronic diseases, also called non-communicable diseases, accounted for 71% of the world’s deaths. Heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes accounted for 80% of all premature NCD-related deaths globally.
However, there is a significant opportunity to make dramatic, lasting improvements in our health and happiness when greater emphasis is placed on lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine is the practice of using diet, exercise, sleep, stress, or substance use and exposure habits to prevent, treat, and potentially reverse lifestyle-related chronic disease.
5 Lifestyle Factors to Improve Chronic Disease Symptoms:
- Sleep and Relaxation: On average, we are sleeping a whole hour less than we were 80 years ago. Seven hours is the minimum amount of sleep recommended for an adult, with women often needing more sleep than men. Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can be a sign of hormone imbalance, nutritional deficiencies and sleep-related disorders.
- Exercise and Movement: Sitting for long periods of time or for most of the day is now considered a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and all-cause mortality, with many considering it the “new smoking”. Moving at least 30 minutes a day can significantly improve overall health.
- Nutrition: Food is information to our body, but unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has become one of the greatest detriments to our health. Most of our diets consist of processed foods which are high in sugar and inflammatory oils. Opting for more whole foods, like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and minimally processed foods is recommended.
- Stress: Stress leads to increased cortisol formation, which when chronically elevated has huge implications for development of insulin resistance and type II diabetes, as well as inhibition of the production of our sex hormones (i.e. testosterone and estrogens). We all know stress is bad for our health, but this prolonged stress can create irreparable damage to our health.
- Relationships: Loneliness has been shown to be a predictor of mortality and increased cardiovascular morbidity. Loneliness and isolation have been associated with poorer cognitive function among older adults, higher odds of having a mental health problem, and higher odds of reporting one’s health as being fair/poor. Maintaining healthy, supportive relationships can improve your outlook and quality of life.
If you are looking for more ways to prevent chronic disease from developing, or have been recently diagnosed with a chronic disease and need help navigating your health journey, contact us today!