How to grow old with vitality, not get old with disease

Sadly, the Coronavirus is not the only pandemic the world is dealing with. Millions of people suffer day to day with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. As a result, our “health” care system is often focused on “sick” care, not wellness and prevention. In this article we explore some easy strategies to better care for your health, courtesy of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) and Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute.

It’s easy to blame genetics and family history, but what we eat, how active we are, how we manage stress, what kind relationships we have, our sleep and our sense of purpose has the biggest impact on our health. Our lifestyle can mean the difference between putting ourselves at risk of disease and enjoying a life of health, wellness and vitality. You only need to look at the ”Blue Zone” communities – the areas around the world where people live the longest – to see proof of this. These areas have more people who are over 100 years old than anywhere else. Their secret? They eat well, they sleep regularly, they are physically active and they have strong social support networks.

So how can you change your daily habits and reduce your risk of disease? According to the Lifestyle Medicine Institute, the key is understanding the value of food, sleep, stress management, physical activity and socialisation. Dr Sal, Medical Director at the Lifestyle Medicine Institute, has these top tips:

Boost your immunity by eating whole foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of non-meat proteins to reduce chronic inflammation. If you do choose processed foods, be sure to take a careful look at food labels. If you don’t recognize something, chances are it’s a chemical or pesticide.

Choose organic fruit and vegetables where possible. Although these are sometimes more expensive, your health is priceless. If you can’t always buy organic, prioritize buying organic produce with a thin skin such as apples, celery, grapes or berries. Pesticides can penetrate these more easily than those with thicker skins such as bananas or oranges.

Ensure your bones are strong by making sure you’re getting plenty of calcium, vitamin K (found in leafy green vegetables), vitamin D (by having some outside time whilst being mindful of the potentially harmful effects of too much sun). This will help to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.

Consider a supplement – ask your physician to test your vitamin D, B12 and iron levels during your next health check. Although you should be getting vitamins from your food primarily, a supplement can sometimes be beneficial.

Keep physically active – get outdoors or enjoy a home workout (especially if you feel concerned about returning to the gym during the coronavirus pandemic). Including weight training as well as aerobic exercise is ideal.

Look at your overall lifestyle – the food you eat, your weight, sleep, your stress levels and your relationships all play their part in the levels of inflammation in your body. The foundation of many chronic illnesses such a cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis is inflammation so do everything you can to reduce it.

Get free help to get your back on track – Dr Sal runs a free weekly webinar sharing his years of professional medical experience. Ask him questions and listen to some of his guest speakers.

For more on the lifestyle medicine approach to good health and healing, join us live every Wednesday at 3pm for our ‘Ask Dr. Sal’ series with Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Medical Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute. Previous sessions are available via the CHIP website.

Join the movement that sees employers, health care systems, hospitals and physicians achieve real and positive health outcomes for their employees and patients. CHIP is the first Certified Lifestyle Medicine Program that has helped thousands of people prevent, halt and even reverse chronic illness.