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Healthy habits for disease prevention

Preventative chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia, are on the rise in Australia and account for up to 64% of deaths in Australia each year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Precursors to these diseases are abdominal obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar and elevated triglycerides, all of which are mostly preventable through good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. By choosing to create healthy habits around our diet and lifestyle, we can live longer and lessen the burden on Australia’s healthcare system (1, 2, 3).

Cardiovascular Disease is an umbrella term for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, there a number of subcategories, but common conditions include coronary heart disease and stroke. Studies strongly suggest that over 80% of cases of CVD could be prevented through lifestyle intervention (4).

Cancer is a group of several hundreds of diseases, and it is estimated that on average, 380 people are diagnosed with cancer in Australia each day (4). Whilst genetics may play a role in the development, there are lifestyle behaviours that are known to contribute to the burden of cancer. Studies suggest the major risk factors to cancer incidence include; physical inactivity, obesity, poor dietary choices, tobacco use and alcohol use (5).

Dementia is a term used to describe a group of similar conditions that gradually impair brain function (6). The number of people with dementia is steadily increasing each year, and the impact of the condition is widespread, deeply impacting many families and society. More research is supporting the idea that this is a mostly preventable disease, and by creating healthy habits in early life, we can mitigate our risk of developing dementia as we age (7).

The data shows us that we need to address our lifestyles, in order to lessen the impact of these three leading causes of death and hospitalisation. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that healthy habits such as good nutrition, participating in regular physical activity and stress management can play a significant role in avoiding obesity and other associated precursors to disease states.

We have the capacity to impact our own futures and quality of life. Investing in healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, healthy eating, sleep and stress management, is great insurance against disease, and can slow the progression of existing illness.

Take home message

  • Chronic lifestyle diseases are often preventable
  • Regular exercise, good nutrition, quality sleep and stress management help prevent disease states
  • You have the power to impact the health of your future by choosing healthy habits