Here are 10 simple things you can do to improve overall health and focus on non-communicable disease prevention:
1. Drink up!
A survey of 300 GPs found that 1 in 5 patients see their doctor with symptoms that can be cured by drinking more water. Start as soon as you wake up to get internal organs working, set reminders on your phone throughout the day and even infuse your water for a fun kick. Find out how much you should drink and other tips on how to fit it into your busy life.
2. Eat 2 portions of fruits or veggies at every meal
Many of us don’t get the recommended daily 5 fruits and veggies. The good news is eating more plant-based food can be easy and studies have shown a correlation between increased intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and decreased incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease, two deadly NCDs. Have carrots with your hummus appetizer, add a refreshing fruit after your meal instead of a processed sugar dessert, or throw some frozen berries in your cereal for a fresh kick.
3. Get sweaty
You don’t have to be a gym rat to keep your heart in tip-top shape. Round up your co-workers for a brisk half-hour walk at lunch or organize a post-work yoga session. One study found that skipping during breaks significantly increased energy levels. Experts suggest a mix of aerobic activity and strength training each week and you can find out more here about what is right for you.
4. 8 hours of Zzzzzz
We know, we know, 8 hours seems impossible these days, but you can start by cutting down on Facebook browsing before bed. Science shows that light from your phone can disrupt the production of melatonin that let’s our bodies know it is nighttime and time to fall asleep. This may prevent us from falling asleep by even as much as an hour! Try reading a book or a magazine, chances are you will fall asleep faster and deeper, and maybe learn something new.
5. Stretch it out
Stretching isn’t just for pre- and post-workouts, it should be incorporated throughout the day, especially if you are often seated. Stretching can eliminate aches and pains in muscles and joints, increase blood flow, especially to the brain, and prevent lethargy and tiredness. Sounds good to us!
6. Take the stairs
If you live in a city, cycling may be even faster than taking public transport. But in cases where walk-, run- or cycle-commuting isn’t possible, take the stairs. In the GDPQ building there are 30 stairs to get to our second floor office. We go up and down 4 times per day (arrival, lunch, departure), which means 120 stairs per day, 600 per week and 2,400 per month!
7. Sit up straight
One study found that when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think positive thoughts. Another found that standing in expansive, powerful poses alters a person’s cortisol and testosterone levels improving overall disease resistance. Most common posture-related pain areas are shoulder, low back, neck and wrist, so sit up straight!
8. Cut back on salt, alcohol and tobacco
The World Health Organization suggests that excessive alcohol, tobacco and salt are main contributing factors to NCDs. Not well known to most, more than 1.7 million deaths each year are from cardiovascular complications from excessive salt intake. By 2030, 8 million deaths per year will be due to tobacco exposure. If you want advice on an amicable breakup with alcohol or tobacco, talk to your GP who can support you each step along the way.
9. Don’t be afraid of your GP
Part of prevention is catching small problems in the early stages before they become critical. This means you should see a GP if something seems off both to receive the treatment you may need and to put your mind at ease. If you are over 35, you should visit your GP yearly to get a Wellwoman/Wellman check, even if you are seemingly healthy.
10. Talk & laugh with a friend
Friends and social support is essential for our overall health, especially for stress reduction and solid mental health. The Global Alliance for Chronic Disease found that the risk factors for NCDs discussed above (ie. raised blood pressure, increased blood glucose, obesity) are intensified by poor mental health. Mental illness increases the chance that someone will suffer from an NCD, will decrease the chance that the person seeks medical help for the NCD and decrease the likelihood that the person will do what the doctor has recommended. So go ahead, find a friend you trust and chat away!
This may seem overwhelming, but that’s okay! Just start with one and you’ll be on your way to staying NCD-free.
If you do need to see a doctor, GPDQ can get a GP to your door within an average of 90 minutes in London. Book Now