5 simple steps for disease prevention

You have probably heard that we have become the most unhealthy society in human history. In 2011 over 52% of Canadian adults were reported as being overweight or obese, putting them at risk of contracting severe health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

But the news is not all bad. Even losing as little as 7% of your body weight will help prevent these conditions. Eating healthy and being active is critical. There is no special secret or magical diet that will help you more than exercising and eating nutritious food.

So, where do you start? The weight-loss journey can be a long and winding one and your only companion will sometimes be your common sense:

1. Make choices that will last: Small steps are key. If you drink soda, switch to diet soda before cutting it out completely. If you eat fast food a few times a week, see if you drop even a single trip to the counter. You can’t do everything on day one but it’s about making progress rather than making an abrupt change.

2. Don’t skip being active: Human bodies were made to move. One of the greatest threats to health is a sedentary lifestyle. Ideally you should be active for at least 30 minutes per day, approximately 2% of the full 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be a workout but it be enough to raise your heart rate. This could be a brisk walk or hike, dancing or bicycling.

3. Consistency is everything: When you plan out what groceries to buy make sure to choose healthy food that you know you will eat. This could be as simple as not buying bread made with enriched white flour. It has to be simple enough for you to want to stick with it. After 6 months you will be able to feel the difference. It only takes commitment.

4. Focus on health: While it may be your goal to weigh a certain amount or fit a certain size, it’s the prevention of disease and bettering your quality of life that really matters. Make choices that will enhance your health: read labels, plan what you will eat and keep healthy snacks made in advance so you won’t be tempted by packaged products such as chips and chocolate bars.

5. Find where your weight comes from: Are you likely to eat when stressed? Or if you are bored? Eating as an effort to distract yourself from something is an unhealthy habit that can leads to weight gain. Physical activity is a great way to deal with stress by filling your body with endorphins — neurotransmitters that give us a natural feeling of wellbeing.

Living a healthy lifestyle by keeping weight within a safe range could prevent up to 90% of diabetes, 80% of heart disease and as many as 60% of cancer cases. Those with high blood pressure and cholesterol problems have been able to stop using medications simply by losing even the slightest amount of weight.