We have an epidemic of chronic illness taking place worldwide, and you or someone you know has probably already been affected. Although cancer, diabetes, and heart disease kill millions of people each year, fortunately there are a number of lifestyle changes you can easily do to help prevent the causes—including oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and mutagens and carcinogens—of many of these chronic illnesses. Here are some suggestions that will help you make a significant difference in your life and your health.
1. Get Moving
Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to prevent chronic illness. You don’t have to have an elaborate fitness regime to get started—simply pick an activity and start moving. Dancing, playing a sport, cycling, swimming, yoga, and walking are all examples of great activities you can do to improve heart function, reduce feelings of stress, maintain a healthy weight, and support whole body wellness. If you have not been active, start small and slowly build up. Seek guidance if you have an injury or illness that impacts how you can move.
2. Get Your Zzzzzzs
A lack of proper sleep not only makes us feel groggy, agitated, and unfocused, it has also been linked to the development of several chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Remember, your body does the majority of its repair while you are sleeping, so it is vital to get enough quality hours of sleep. Although the jury is still out on the exact amount of sleep you should be getting each night, studies have shown somewhere between seven to eight hours is ideal for most.
3. Get Stress-Free Time
Modern life is full of stressful demands, and in small doses, it can help you perform better and motivate you to succeed. However, when you are frequently operating in panic mode, stress can raise your blood pressure, leaving you at higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. Plus, prolonged stress can set off mental health issues like depression and anxiety, cause digestive disturbance, alter immune function, lead to weight gain, disrupt hormones, and more. It is important to learn how to manage your stress levels, ideally before they get out of hand. The foundation of most stress management techniques is slow, deep breathing. Focused breathing is a part of meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. You might also find stress relief from creative activities like painting, journaling, gardening, and singing. Just make sure to incorporate stress management into your regular daily routine if you want to optimize the benefits for your health.
4. Get Your Nutrients
Improving your diet is an essential step toward preventing disease. It is important to avoid processed foods. In fact, Brazil recently changed their food guide to divide food into categories indicating the level of processing. They wisely focus on suggesting “natural and minimally processed foods, in great variety, and mainly of plant origin.” Fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds are all great options that will help reduce cholesterol, prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and provide key nutrients to help you improve your quality of life.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also combines food and herbal remedies, using foods as medicine and eating medicine as food. Goji berries (Chinese herb name gou qi zi) are one of the most commonly used Chinese herb foods in North America. They are a high antioxidant fruit that can aid healthy vision, support the immune system, boost energy, and lead to glowing skin.
Ginseng (Chinese herb name ren shen) is an even more powerful superfood—antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-cancerous—that can be consumed as a tea. A team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong stated, "The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of [these] ginsenosides, targeting different levels of immunological activity, and so contributing to the diverse actions of ginseng in humans." Panax ginseng can even help you achieve some of your lifestyle changes. It can support healthy energy levels so you can get the most of your workouts. It is also recognized as an adaptogen—a component that helps the body to manage stress.
Check back soon for more about Panax ginseng as a superfood in the next article.