Living a long, healthy life is a goal many would like to achieve. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help stack the deck in your favor. From lifestyle changes to good nutrition to eating specific foods, the following list will help you find out how to help reduce your risk for disease and illness. There are also plenty of suggestions to help prevent specific illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Creating a healthier environment for yourself and others will help reduce your risk for cancer and other illnesses. Follow these suggestions to help prevent serious health problems.
- Avoid herbicides and pesticides. With plenty of natural ways to get rid of unwanted insects and solutions to eliminate weeds, you can easily avoid using these chemicals.
- Keep plastics out of foods. Don’t microwave plastic or put hot foods in plastic. Also, avoid using canned foods with white linings inside–these contain bisphenol-A.
- Drink filtered water. Whether you use a filtration pitcher or a more elaborate system for your house, switch to filtered water that has fewer impurities such as pesticides, lead, and dangerous bacteria.
- Choose beauty products wisely. Select beauty products that do not have synthetic fragrances or phthalates (usually found in nail polish), and don’t overuse products, either.
- Avoid bad air days. On days when the air quality drops below "moderate," stay indoors to avoid breathing in toxic air–especially if you have lung or heart issues.
- Use natural cleaning products. Cleaning your house doesn’t mean you have to fill it with toxic chemicals. Instead, use natural products that clean just as well and are safer.
- Use non-toxic paint. Before your next painting project around the house, do your research and find a non-toxic paint that is safer for your health.
- Be aware of carbon monoxide dangers. From faulty space heaters to idling your car in the garage, learn about the hidden dangers of carbon monoxide, which can contribute to heart disease and even death.
- Learn about environmental threats. Many people don’t realize the way our environment impacts health. Reading research-based articles such as Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging will help you stay informed about connections between your health and the environment.
- Live green. Whether you purchase a green-built house or just make conscious choices about the products you buy (and even how you will bring them home), by living green, you are doing your part to reduce the negative environmental effects on your health.
Good nutrition helps prevent a number of diseases. These tips will get you started with a better way of eating.
- Eat a balanced diet. Make sure your diet includes a variety of foods that include grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
- Get plenty of antioxidants. Foods that are high in antioxidants are an excellent choice for preventing health risks. Antioxidants work to counteract free radicals, which damage cell structure.
- Eat hormone-free meat. The best meat you can eat to reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer is organic meat that has not been given hormones.
- Avoid fish with high mercury content. Fish is an excellent choice for brain health, but only if you aren’t putting tons of mercury into your body at the same time. Find out which types of fish have the least amount of mercury and stick with those.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being too heavy or too thin or fluctuating wildly between sizes puts your body at risk for plenty of health problems. Get to a healthy weight gradually and stick with it.
- Reduce fast foods. Reducing, making wise fast food choices, or even eliminating fast food from your diet is one of the healthiest nutritional changes you can make.
- Store food wisely. Follow guidelines for food storage to ensure you are not eating old food that can make you sick or contaminating your food with harmful bacteria.
- An apple a day. The old adage is true–an apple a day may keep the doctor away. Apples are shown to help reduce the risk for heart disease, some cancers, asthma, and Type II diabetes.
- Go vegetarian. Many advocate a vegetarian diet to reduce risk for many problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer because of the low fat and high fiber nature of a vegetarian diet.
- Eat organic. Eliminate unnecessary chemicals by eating organic foods that don’t have all the pesticides and herbicides the regular food does. Also, organic food is thought to have more nutrients and is not made with artificial colorings or flavorings (even more unnecessary chemicals).
The connection between exercise and reducing risk for a number of health issues from cancer to heart disease to Alzheimer’s are well known. These tips will help you get the exercise you need to keep illness at bay. If you have been sedentary, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
- Do something every day. Whether you take a walk, go to the gym, or head to the courts for a little one-on-one, do something physically active every day.
- Park at a distance. Don’t vie for the closest parking spot, but choose a location further from where you need to go. The extra walking will add up, and you will reduce the stress brought on by fighting with other shoppers trying to get the close spots.
- Bike to work. If you live close enough, try to ride your bike to work at least one day each week.
- Take the stairs. If you work or live in a building with an elevator and you only need to go one or two flights, take the stairs. If you need to go higher, walk a few flights, then take the elevator.
- Get a pedometer. You may be surprised at how little you actually walk each day. Get a pedometer for a few dollars and not only determine how much you are already walking, but use it as a motivational tool to help you walk more each day.
- Do yard work. Between mowing the lawn and keeping your yard in top health and looking beautiful, you can really put in some exercise.
- Find a buddy. Find someone who will be an exercise partner a few times a week to help keep your motivation up. Choose something you both enjoy such as walking, tennis, or going to the gym.
- Find motivation. Whether you need a routine, a variety of different exercises, or a well-stocked iPod, find what you need to make your exercise time enjoyable and motivating.
- Make it easy. Learn ways to incorporate quick and easy exercises into your everyday activities and you will create an exercise habit with very little effort.
- Be realistic. You probably won’t be running a marathon in two weeks and you may even fall off the exercise wagon completely a few times. Realize that it takes time to get in the habit and work your way to good fitness, so set realistic expectations for yourself.
From self-exams to sleeping well, find out what type of changes you can make in you life to help prevent disease.
- Do self-exams. Breast, prostate, and testicular self-exams are important tools that can alert you to any health issues early when treatment is more effective.
- Practice safe sex. Reduce the risk of HIV and other STDs by practicing safe sex.
- Reduce stress. Living in a constant state of stress leaves your body vulnerable to illness and disease. Eliminate chronic stress from your life to reduce health risks.
- Fly safely. Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis when flying by standing up and moving around occasionally during your flight, staying hydrated, and taking aspirin.
- Drive safely. Always buckle up when in the car and learn to drive defensively. Safe driving habits will help prevent injury due to accidents.
- Drink in moderation. While one or two drinks may actually promote health, excessive drinking causes many health risks you want to avoid.
- Stop smoking. Not only is smoking a cancer risk, it also causes lung disease, heart attack, stroke, and a whole host of other health problems. Get help to stop smoking today.
- Sleep well. Getting enough sleep each night will not only help reduce stress, but studies show it may also reduce the risk of cancer in women who are also exercising.
- Think positively. Not only will you will feel empowered to make positive, healthy changes in your life, but many people credit positive thinking with helping them overcome serious illness.
- Find balance. Too much work can send your life into an unhealthy way of living. Learn to find the balance between work and personal time.
While good nutrition is important for a healthy life, some foods are touted as better for preventing illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Check out this list to see what you should be eating for preventing disease.
- Dark chocolate. With plenty of antioxidants as well as benefits for cardiovascular health and stress relief, this delicious treat is one you in which you can indulge with relatively little guilt.
- Green tea. Full of antioxidants and free of sugar, green tea is a healthy drink that is thought to help prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, boost immunity, and more.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked with preventing many types of cancers. Not only is this food good for you, it tastes great too.
- Red wine. The health benefits of red wine have gained plenty of attention recently. From heart health to cancer prevention, red wine (in moderation) is said to have plenty of positive health benefits.
- Salmon. This super food is high in omega-3 EFAs and protein, low in cholesterol and contains B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.
- Blueberries. Known as a superfood, blueberries are high in antioxidants and full of vitamins C, K, fiber, and manganese.
- Avocado. This delicious fruit is also nutritious. Avocados have lots of B-complex vitamins and are an anti-inflammatory.
- Whole grains. Not only are whole grains full of vitamins and minerals, they are also touted as a preventative food to help protect you from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and digestive problems.
- Hazelnuts. A great source of vitamin E, hazelnuts also offer protection against cancer and heart disease.
- Broccoli. High in calcium, potassium, and B vitamins, broccoli is also thought to help prevent certain illnesses such as cancer.
Take this advice to help prevent cancer. From skin care to selenium, these tips offer great ways to reduce your risks.
- No tobacco. Whether you smoke, dip, or chew, stop using tobacco to help reduce the risk of lung, mouth, throat, and other cancers.
- Sun protection. Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun every time you are outside. Use sun block with an SPF factor of at least 15, even in the winter, and get in the habit of wearing a hat. Also, avoid being outside at peak sun times.
- Get screened. Don’t skip on the recommended screenings for your age and gender. Early detection is an important defense against cancer.
- Know family history. There is often a genetic connection to certain cancers. If possible, know your family history to determine what your risk factors for cancer may be.
- Low fat, high fiber. A diet low in fat and high in fiber (preferably from fruits and vegetables) has been shown to reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
- Exercise. There is a strong correlation between exercise and cancer prevention. Not only is exercise important for overall health, but some say it can prevent up to 50% of cancers.
- Avoid the microwave. Some studies indicate that microwaving food destroys almost all of the cancer-preventing qualities of healthy food. Steam your broccoli instead of microwaving it.
- Avoid unnecessary x-rays. The radiation from x-rays puts you at risk for cancer, so unless that x-ray is absolutely necessary, think twice about getting it.
- Selenium. This supplement is thought to help prevent cancer and there are even indications that it may slow or stop tumor growth.
- Opt for thermography. Women, consider getting thermography screening instead of a mammogram. There is no radiation involved and may be able to detect cancer sooner than a mammogram.
Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke
Cardiovascular illnesses are certainly preventable. These suggestions will tell you what you should do to help prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Control blood pressure. High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke. Controlling blood pressure greatly reduces your risk for both heart disease and stroke.
- Reduce stress. Stress is a major contributor to heart disease. Reducing your stress levels will reduce your risk.
- Lower cholesterol. High cholesterol indicates that your arteries are being clogged with fat. Lower your cholesterol to improve your health and reduce your risk for heart disease.
- Lose weight. Obesity and being over weight leads to heart disease. A Body Mass Index of 25 or greater indicates you may be at risk for heart disease and stroke. Measure your BMI and see where you fall.
- Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol can create high blood pressure, which can lead to heart failure or stroke.
- Eat heart-healthy. A heart-healthy diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and protein options.
- Get screenings. Make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol are within healthy ranges by getting screened at the recommended intervals.
- Reduce salt. Reducing the salt in your diet can significantly cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Be aware that even if you aren’t adding much salt to your food, processed and fast food are heavily salted already.
- Take B vitamins. A good quality B complex vitamin may lead to reduced levels of homocysteine, thereby reducing risk for heart disease.
- Drink tea. Both black and green tea seem to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke in studies done in Japan and Europe.
Type II diabetes is a growing concern in America with more and more people being diagnosed each day. Find out how to protect yourself from developing this disease with the tips below.
- Learn about prediabetes. For many people who are at risk for developing Type II diabetes, prediabetes is a warning sign that require changes in order to prevent full-blown diabetes from developing.
- Reduce weight. Many doctors recommend overweight people lose 5 to 7% of of their weight to prevent diabetes from occurring.
- Know about body shape. People who gain weight around their mid-section are at higher risk for diabetes and should be more vigilant in prevention.
- Increase exercise. Shoot for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week to insure you are getting enough exercise to reduce your diabetes risk.
- Learn your history. If you have parents or siblings with diabetes, your chances increase significantly for getting diabetes. Also, certain ethnic groups are at higher risk.
- Reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for diabetes. Controlling your blood pressure will help reduce your risk.
- Reduce cholesterol. High cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood are risks for diabetes. Monitor and control the amount of fats in your blood to help prevent diabetes.
- Eat vitamin C. Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C has shown to reduce the risk for diabetes. This study indicates that supplements won’t do the trick, so seek out the best produce for the job.
- Drink less sugar. From sodas to fruit juices, many drinks contain high amounts of sugar. Switch to water, tea, or other healthy drinks without all the sugar.
- Choose carbohydrates wisely. Carbohydrates like pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread get converted to sugar much more quickly than complex carbohydrates like whole grains and beans.
As science finds ways for people to live longer, the risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s grows, too. Find out what you can do to help protect yourself from developing Alzheimer’s with these suggestions.
- Omega-3. Many studies have concluded that getting omega-3s through foods such as salmon or though fish oil supplements work to delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
- Keep your mind active. Do crossword puzzles, play chess, or participate in any other activities that keep your mind sharpened.
- Avoid unnecessary chemicals. Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides has been linked with brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s.
- Caffeine. One study has shown strong evidence that caffeine may prevent Alzheimer’s as well as help those who have already developed it.
- Vitamins and minerals. A balanced intake of vitamins and minerals can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Determine if you have a deficit and add any necessary supplements to help you find your balance.
- Fresh foods. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is better for your overall health as well as reduces the amount of chemicals that are found in processed foods that may put you at risk for Alzheimer’s.
- Stay socially active. Being connected with others and avoiding isolation has shown to improve your chances for preventing Alzheimer’s.
- Stay away from heavy metals. Avoid fish and seafood high in mercury, don’t cook in aluminum cookware, avoid using deodorant with aluminum in it, and avoid lead exposure.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. Taking medications like ibuprofen have been shown to reduce the nerve cell damage that occurs in those who develop Alzheimer’s. While this treatment probably won’t prevent Alzheimer’s, it does retain brain function that may have been lost.
- Maintain good cardiovascular health. There is a connection between good cardiovascular health and brain health, so make sure you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol down.
Preventing Respiratory Disorders
From asthma to allergies to lung cancer, learn how you can help prevent these respiratory illnesses from occurring or getting worse.
- Avoid smoke. If you smoke, stop now. If you do not smoke, avoid second-hand smoke and smoke-filled places like bars. Cigarette smoke is especially dangerous for those with compromised lung health.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise stretches the lungs and bronchial tubes to help promote easier breathing. If you already have asthma, you may need to use an inhaler prior to exercise, but don’t let it stop you from this important element of prevention and healing.
- Avoid pollen. For allergy and asthma sufferers, certain pollens can trigger reactions. Stay inside on high pollen days or talk to your doctor about medications or natural treatments for allergy control.
- Control dust inside. Dust mites are a source of allergy agony for many people. Keeping dust cleaned up, using an air purifier, and wrapping mattresses and pillows in hypoallergenic covers can all help reduce lung problems.
- Get a flu shot. Those susceptible to lung problems should consider getting a flu shot prior to the flu season. Getting the flu can quickly deteriorate to a dangerous case of pneumonia.
- Wash hands. Keeping hands germ-free by proper washing goes far to preventing colds and the flu, which can quickly turn into a respiratory illness such as bronchitis.
- Reduce indoor air pollution. With simple solutions such as switching to chemical-free cleaners, using high-end air filters, and even having house plants in your home, you can improve the quality of the air in your house.
- Wear a mask. If you are working with harsh chemicals, sawing wood, or any other project that releases particles in the air, be sure to wear a mask over your mouth and nose to ensure you are not breathing in contaminants that may harm your lungs.
- Vitamin E. Some researchers have determined that vitamin E, especially in oranges, may be effective in preventing lung disease.
- Test for radon. Radon is an odorless gas that is emitted from the earth’s crust. Radon is not a problem when released in the open air, but when it is captured in a house, it does not dissipate as well. Breathing radon causes lung cancer, so testing for radon is an important step to prevent serious lung illness.