It is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But sometimes an apple is not enough.
Taking steps to alter your lifestyle can have huge effects on the likelihood of suffering many of the major health conditions that currently affect people in the UK.
Prevention is often the best medicine. Whether its primary prevention to stop a disease from occurring, or secondary prevention to reduce the symptoms of an existing condition, taking control of your life and how you live it can reap vast benefits.
You can reduce your chances of developing some of the most common conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction, by taking a few simple steps to stay healthy.
Stay healthy by stopping smoking
Smoking can cause the body’s arteries to become damaged and blocked by fatty deposits, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
This causes them to harden and narrow, making it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.
Stopping smoking will help prevent:
- Heart disease – Not only does smoking narrow the arteries, but chemicals in tobacco smoke also make the heart beat faster, putting stress on the muscle. Smoking can also thicken the blood, making even more work for the struggling organ.
- Stroke – Narrow arteries are more likely to form clots. When clots travel to the brain and prevent blood flow to a part of it, this is known as a stroke.
- Cancer – Around a quarter of the cancer deaths in the UK are down to lung cancer. Tobacco smoke contains up to 60 toxins that are known to cause cancer. Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction – Atherosclerosis can lead to a narrowing of the blood vessels to the penis. This reduces blood flow to the penis, impairing erection. If you are concerned about erectile dysfunction, why not take our FREE ED online assessment, and one of our doctors will get back to you with suggestions for treatment.
Many people find it very difficult to stop smoking (see Why is it difficult to quit smoking?). If you are having trouble quitting, and would like advice on how prescription medicines could help you, click the link below to visit our Stop Smoking Clinic.
Stay healthy by getting regular exercise
This can prevent:
- Heart disease – Keeping fit through regular exercise improves the circulatory system and lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood, keeping your blood pressure down.
- Stroke – Low cholesterol levels reduce the chances of atherosclerosis.
- Cancer – Exercise can help to keep weight at a healthy level. It has been shown that being overweight or obese can make you more susceptible to developing a number of cancers, including pancreatic, bowel, oesophageal, womb, and kidney cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction – Exercise improves blood flow and keeps the circulatory system in tip top condition. This helps blood to flow more freely to the penis.
- Arthritis – Not only does exercise help you lose weight, thereby taking pressure off the joints, but it can also build muscle, which helps to fight the effects of arthritis. Walking and other gentle exercises can also ease stiffness and improve joint movement.
Stay healthy by eating a healthy diet.
This will help prevent:
- Heart disease – High blood pressure and increased levels of cholesterol are two of the main causes of heart disease. Eating foods low in salt, sugar and saturated fats can help to keep levels healthy.
- Stroke – Foods high in saturated fat and salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, both leading causes of stroke. Reducing the fat in your diet and watching out for too much salt can stave off both these conditions.
- Diabetes – Eating regularly and healthily is crucial for people with diabetes or those hoping to avoid it. Glucose control is key to managing diabetes, so reducing sugar in your diet will work wonders. Starchy carbohydrates also supply your body with regular, slow-release energy, helping you maintain even levels of glucose.
- Erectile dysfunction – Maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system also helps to combat erectile dysfunction. Food high in fat, salt and sugar all contribute to atherosclerosis, a major cause of erectile dysfunction.
Nothing can guarantee that you won’t develop one or more of these conditions as you get older, but looking after yourself will give your body the best chance of staying fit and healthy for as long as possible.