When it comes to your health, a good offense is often the best defense. That means doing your part to take risk factors down a notch and keep serious health issues from rearing their ugly head. It may also save your life.
According to new research published in the New England Journal of medicine last month, improving your diet by eating healthy foods may significantly reduce the risk of premature death by up to 14 percent. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that we could save over 100,000 lives each year if everyone in the U.S. received their recommended clinical preventive care.
Taking some basic preventive measures—even when you don’t have any symptoms—can help you reduce your risk of certain illness and may help detect issues early, when there are more treatment options available.
Here is a basic checklist to help you cover all your bases:
Understand Your Numbers: What’s all this talk about “good” cholesterol? And what the heck is a triglyceride? Visiting your physician for an annual checkup or attending a biometric screening is a great way to get your health metrics. But just knowing those numbers isn’t enough. Taking some time to understand what they mean can help you decide what to do to improve your health going forward. Why not log in to your wellness portal and see if there are any resources you can take advantage of?
Know Your Risk Factors: Nowadays, it seems like everything is out to get you. While avoiding risk completely might be impossible, understanding the risk factors associated with chronic conditions can help you decide what you need to do to protect yourself. Sure, you may not be able to control your genetics, ethnicity, or age, but you’re the president and CEO when it comes to which screenings you participate in, what you eat, and how much physical exercise you get.
Research Your Family History: When it comes to some chronic illnesses—like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and osteoporosis—sometimes the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. That’s why it’s important to gather information about your family’s medical history and see if you’re at a higher risk for certain conditions. Knowing where you stand can help you make healthier choices to address those risks.
Ask for Age-based Recommendations: Getting older and wiser means making smarter choices when it comes to your health. It’s no secret that certain health risks increase with age. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about additional age-based preventive care screenings. If you’re curious about what you should ask about, visit the CDC website and enter your age and gender to view a complete checklist of age- and gender-based suggestions.
Immunize Yourself: You may not be crazy about needles, but staying current on your immunizations can prevent many avoidable illnesses. And those vaccines aren’t just for children. According to a recent study, people 50 years and older who got a flu vaccine reduced their risk of hospitalization from the flu by 57 percent. In addition to getting a flu shot each year, it’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor about additional vaccinations to protect against illnesses like shingles or pneumonia.
The final item on your checklist should be to commit yourself to action. That may come in the form of dietary changes, increased physical activity, specific screenings, or a combination of all the above. While you may not be able to deliver a knock-out blow to every health issue that comes your way, taking a more proactive approach to your well-being can go a long way toward helping you enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle.