Every year, about 74% of all deaths in the U.S. are the result of 10 causes. Seven out of these 10 causes are chronic health conditions including heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and Alzheimer's.
Chronic illnesses are the result of many different factors including genetics and lifestyle choices. While you can't prevent chronic illnesses altogether, there are a few ways you can reduce your risk of developing them.
That said, here are a few simple things you can do to improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic illness.
Find yourself a primary care physician
It's true that there's currently a shortage of primary care physicians. In fact, according to current data, the U.S. needs approximately 52,000 more primary care physicians to meet our healthcare needs by 2025. But that doesn't mean you should rely only on urgent care centers when you need healthcare treatment.
Primary care physicians (PCPs) are important for maintaining your overall health. Unlike nurses and doctors at urgent care centers or the Emergency Room, your PCP sees you regularly and knows what medical issues they need to be on the lookout for based on your family history and previous medical tests.
For instance, cardiac catheterization is a valuable tool in the diagnosis of heart disease. But your PCP can help you reduce your risk of heart disease in the first place. That said, if you don't already have a PCP, consider doing your research and finding one that works for you.
Get the recommended amount of exercise
When you think of exercise and getting active, chances are you think of buying a gym membership, investing in workout clothes, making a workout schedule, and sweating your life away on the treadmill. But getting active doesn't have to mean changing your entire life to be healthier.
All you need to do is find a way to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. You can choose any activity that works for you at any time of the day.
If you don't like jogging, don't do it. Take a swim class instead.
Hate yoga? Try hiking or strength training.
The goal is to get your heart rate up and your muscles working. Exercise shouldn't make you miserable. Find something fun you can enjoy. Remember you're doing this for your health and not as a punishment.
Eat more organic foods
The reason why many people have been going organic is that organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants compared to conventionally-grown foods. Organic produce also contains fewer pesticides than conventionally-grown produce.
If it's in your budget, consider making the switch to organic-only food. If it isn't, consider eating more organic foods rather than conventionally-grown produce.
Foods that contain pesticides can increase your risk of chronic illness including cancer. According to the Pesticide Action Network, pesticides can cause cancer by disrupting hormones, damaging your DNA, and inflaming tissues. About 23,800 adults are diagnosed with cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord every year.
You reduce your exposure to pesticides when you make a few changes by eating more organic produce. This helps to reduce your cancer risk.
By making a few changes to your lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic illnesses, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.