Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke can be attributed to two out of three deaths in the United States every year. However, many of these deaths could be prevented if we made healthier food choices, got more exercise and stopped smoking, according to the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association. These organizations have launched a joint initiative called Everyday Choices for a Healthier Life designed to encourage prevention and early detection of these diseases. To put it simply, there are four steps you can take to a healthier, longer life.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent chronic disease to eat a healthy diet:
- Have at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Choose whole grains over processed grains. Check for “whole wheat” or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label.
- Limit your consumption of refined carbohydrates, including pastries, sweetened cereals, soft drinks, and other foods high in sugar.
- Substitute healthier fats for not-so-healthy ones. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil, instead of butter, margarine and lard.
- Watch your portion sizes. Most of us eat much more than we need.
Being physically active for at least 30 minutes on five or more days each week can help reduce your risk for disease:
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take a 10-minute activity break at work to stretch or take a quick walk, or use your lunch break to add some activity to your day.
- Wear a pedometer and strive to increase the number of steps you take each day.
- Join a sports or recreation team.
- Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. The habit causes almost one-third of all cancer deaths and one-fifth of deaths from heart disease and stroke. The good news - there are resources available to help you quit. Talk to your health care provider about smoking cessation programs to see what works best for you.
See your doctor
A good relationship with your health care provider is a boost to better health. If you do not have a primary care provider, click here to find a BSA provider near you. He or she can help you stay healthy by providing guidance:
- Prevention - Identify any unhealthy lifestyle habits and offer advice and resources, such as stress management.
- Screening - Tests can help find health problems early, when they can be treated more easily and effectively. Your doctor can recommend the most appropriate screenings for you.