Preventative health care measures are measures you can take to lower your chances of developing certain chronic diseases and disorders, such as cancer. Such diseases cause approximately 70 percent of annual deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By taking advantage of preventative health tactics, you can help take measures to diminish your chances of developing certain fatal diseases.
You may think you have to undergo medical screenings to avoid certain diseases or catch their presence within your body early. Such screenings are helpful. However, preventative health options are not limited to seeing your doctor regularly and undergoing medical screenings. You can also practice preventative health procedures at home. Adjusting your daily routine with your health in mind will allow you to take some control over your exposure to carcinogens and other unhealthy materials. Below are some examples of preventative care measures that you can perform at home.
Replace or Avoid Carcinogens in Your Home
Carcinogens, or cancer-causing materials, can be found in many common products you may have in your home. The most obvious source of carcinogens is cigarettes. According to the CDC, lung cancer is one of the top forms of cancer caused by smoking. Therefore, quitting smoking is an excellent preventative health measure you can do at home.
Your home may also be full of other carcinogens that should be avoided. Cancer-causing chemicals are often found in liquids and aerosol sprays used for household purposes like personal care and cleaning. Some of those products include:
- Hair sprays.
- Pet care products.
- Air fresheners.
- Car care products.
Avoiding such products entirely can be difficult. However, some can be substituted with healthier options. When you must use harsh chemicals in your home, such as when painting, wear gloves and a mask. By doing so, you will limit the amount of chemicals you breathe in. You will also avoid allowing those chemicals to come in direct contact with your skin. Other ways to limit chemical and carcinogen exposure in your home include:
- Not working with chemical-filled products in confined spaces.
- Learning how to interpret product labels.
- Storing household products safely in appropriate containers.
Regulate Your Cholesterol Levels
Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the leading cause of heart disease in the United States. Heart disease accounts for the majority of illness-caused deaths in the country. High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is actually good for your body because it will move potentially artery-blocking cholesterol deposits through and out of your body.
Your body produces the cholesterol necessary for you to stay healthy. However, when you consume foods rich in LDL cholesterol, plaque will accumulate in your blood vessels. Plaque can eventually cause illnesses like strokes or heart attacks. Weight is also an essential factor when regulating your cholesterol levels. Being overweight can cause:
- High LDL levels.
- Low HDL levels.
- High levels of unhealthy triglycerides.
It is equally unhealthy to weigh less than medical professionals recommend for your age, gender and size. If your body does not get enough food, you will suffer from malnutrition. As a result, you may suffer from a lowered immune system, making you more susceptible to disease. Therefore, you must strive for a healthy balance by regulating your caloric intake.
Modify Your Diet for Long-Term Health
Modifying your diet can help you regulate more than your cholesterol. You can use simple diet changes to help you improve your long-term health in many other ways as well. In fact, diet changes can reduce your risks of multiple illnesses, including diabetes. Eating a proper diet can regulate all of the following:
- Salt (sodium) levels.
- Sugar levels.
- Saturated fat levels.
- Blood pressure.
To modify your diet, you must examine all aspects of what you eat and how you eat your food. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and eliminating processed foods is a good first step. You must also:
- Learn to identify appropriate serving sizes.
- Use smaller plates to encourage yourself to eat appropriate servings.
- Create menus to help yourself plan meals ahead.
- Limit eating at restaurants because restaurant portions are often large and tend to contain unhealthy ingredients.
Exercise on a Regular Basis
Physical activity is essential for your health. It is particularly important if you want to regulate your weight and cholesterol levels. To understand how much to exercise, you must know how many calories you are eating each day. You can use an online food diary or calorie calculator to keep track of your caloric intake. Caloric intake is important because you will lose, maintain or gain weight based on how many calories you burn while exercising. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in when you eat.
Regardless of your weight goals, exercise can also benefit you in other ways. Some of the benefits of exercise include:
- Increased blood circulation.
- Strengthening of your heart muscle.
- Lowering of your blood pressure.
- Decreasing your heart disease risk factors.
The amount of exercise you need will also be influenced by your age and current activity level. The CDC recommends you exercise for approximately 2.5 hours per week if you are an adult. However, that time should be spread over smaller workouts performed three or more times per week. Change the intensity or difficulty levels of your exercise routines to fit your comfort level and needs.
Keep Your Skin Safe from Sun Exposure
One of the most important aspects of preventative health care is caring for your skin. It is the only organ located on the outside of your body. As such, it is exposed to many potentially harmful situations. For example, sun exposure can alter your skin cells permanently and lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is at the top of the list of diagnosed cancers in the United States, according to the CDC. Therefore, keeping your skin safe from sun exposure and other UV ray exposure is essential. Ways to limit your UV ray exposure include:
- Wearing clothing and hats to cover your skin.
- Reapplying sunscreen when necessary, such as after swimming.
- Wearing sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
- Staying in shady areas when outside.