A Shift from Treating Illness to Maintaining Wellness & Good Health

By: Erica Cardenas

When you’re sick, thinking about your health isn’t an option because it’s right there, plain as day – you feel awful. But what about when illness isn’t present? On this month’s episode of “Your Health”, we talk about the importance of preventative health and how it’s one of the best ways to stave off disease. Did you know that Americans only use about half the recommended amount of prevention health services? I found that to be a pretty alarming statistic, one that suggests that collectively we need to do a better job of taking care of ourselves (and one another) and develop healthier habits along the way.

Eat Well, Stay Well

It’s no surprise that there is a real connection between food and our health. What we eat and drink matters. According to the Harvard Center for Cancer Research, 35 percent of all cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. The good news – diets containing many different vegetables and fruits may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

I’ve shared this before and I’ll share it again. I often take photos of what’s in my cart because I know it’s going to end up going in my mouth. It’s all about accountability, plus it makes for a great Instagram photo opp, double win in my book! 😉

Of your daily meals, breakfast should be the most substantial and dinner the lightest. This allows the body to properly digest and use this nutrition before you sleep, and prevents the body from storing it, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. The United States Department of Agriculture has developed a recommended guide for daily eating through ChooseMyPlate.gov. It’s a terrific resource for the entire family and shows you how to build a healthy eating style.

Get Your ZZZs

Sleep is a major factor in preventive healthcare. Maintaining a consistent schedule for when you go to sleep and wake up trains your body and the result is a more restful night’s sleep, and a happier you. It’s recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, but teenagers and children need more sleep as part of their growth and development. Oh, and that evening and late night snacking…try and resist. Studies show that eating just before sleeping prevents restful sleep, because your digestive system continues to work and process food. I’m as guilty as ever on this one, I’m definitely an evening ‘grazer.’

Moving on! 🙂

Let’s Get Physical(s)

It’s important to visit your primary care doctor at least once a year, even if you’re healthy, for a health evaluation and recommended screenings and immunizations. Changes in lifestyle, activities, and environment can change the state of your health from year to year and many health conditions and diseases can be avoided or successfully controlled if caught early. Some cancers, like prostate, lung and colon, don’t have warning signs, so it’s extra important to get the recommended screenings. Most preventive care services are covered at no charge, so be sure to check with your health plan prior to your appointment.

Also, regular physical activity, in particular cardiovascular exercise, both conditions and strengthens muscles. When muscles are not regularly challenged and used, muscular atrophy—the wasting away of muscle—can occur over time. Exercise also contributes to your body’s ability to regulate your hypothalamus, which controls hunger, fatigue, and the quality of your sleep.

IMAGE CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Ultimately, preventive care provides the benefit of saving lives and improving the quality of your health for years to come.

Stay healthy, my friends – this world needs YOU!

Erica Cardenas (@ericacardenas1)

Watch the latest episode of Your Health here: