Restore your health — a lifestyle Rx

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Now is the best time to take small steps to improve health and build immune resilience. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of adults are living with one chronic disease and 40% have two or more. Astoundingly, 12% of adults are living with five or more chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension. An empowering concept people need to understand is that these diseases can be prevented, managed and even reversed with the power of lifestyle choices.

The silver lining

No matter what health condition people are living with, practicing healthier lifestyle choices can reduce systemic inflammation and the symptoms it causes, including brain fog, depression, anxiety, fatigue and joint pain.

There are basically two states of being where we are building up or breaking down our health. Our modern processed-food diet, high stress and sedentary living fans the fires of inflammation, leading to a host of chronic illness and suffering. There is hope and it’s more powerful than any pill. By practicing an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, people can live happier, healthier and largely pain-free!

What is inflammation?

Our immune system uses inflammation to protect us against injury and infections. When you cut your finger, immune cells are sent to kill invading bacteria and begin the process of wound healing. This is acute inflammation that goes away in days or weeks when the body is healed.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation lasts a long time, from months to years. It’s basically an abnormal immune response that causes damage to and dysfunction of cells, tissues and organs. Chronic inflammation is at the root of most, if not all, chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and joint disease.

Lifestyle matters

The good news is that deliberate and healthier lifestyle choices can prevent, manage and even reverse chronic inflammatory disease, the most important cause of morbidity and mortality facing people today. It’s empowering to know that if you have, or want to prevent, a chronic disease, you can regain your health and vitality by choosing real whole foods, optimizing sleep, reducing stress, being social, and moving more.

It may feel overwhelming and you may wonder, “Where do I start?” Please understand that healing is a gradual process of awareness, learning and exploration. It’s about practicing, not perfection. A healing journey begins by taking one small step at a time.

Start today by exploring lifestyle behaviors that decrease inflammation and can put your health back on track so you can live with less pain, more energy, and greater vitality. A lifestyle prescription to restore health includes:

• Reducing stress with deep breathing.

• Getting good quality sleep by going to bed and rising at the same time.

• Eating a plant-based diet rich in a rainbow of vegetables.

• Hydrating with filtered water in the morning and during the day.

• Nurturing relationships and engaging with positive people.

• Moving well with good posture when performing daily activities and exercise.

As you begin to feel better, you will naturally be motivated to continue learning and making better lifestyle choices because healthy feels so good!

Cate Reade, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and functional medicine practitioner candidate on a mission to improve functional mobility and health span utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine. For additional information, contact Cate@MoveMor.com, 303-515-7070.

This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next virtual online presentation Feb. 4 at 10 a.m., when Cate Reade will be our presenter and provide an overview of the principles and practices of why and how lifestyle choices can help prevent, manage and reverse chronic conditions. For more information, please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.

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