Diseases can be passed on from generation to generation, which is why family history plays a significant factor in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of such conditions. However, just because an immediate family member has or had a particular disease doesn’t mean you are fated to go down the same path. The development of disease does not solely rely on genetics. Other factors, such as one’s lifestyle and environment, also come into play.
You cannot remove your genetic predisposition to diseases. You can, however, make changes in your lifestyle, behavior, and habits.
Learn about your risks
First things first, you need to find out what diseases run in your family, both the common and rare ones. Speak with your blood relatives and gather information on the conditions they have or have had in the past. Then, share this information with your primary healthcare provider, who can help determine your risk factors and come up with ways on how to minimize those risks.
Apart from determining your risk factors early on, this proactive action can also help you get appropriate health insurance, seek better AT&T 401k investment options, and perhaps invest in long-term care insurance as early as now.
Ensure proper nutrition
Nutrition plays a significant role in the prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Whether you have a genetic predisposition or not, having a balanced diet is one of the best ways to avoid infections and ultimately extend your life span.
Here are some tips on how to achieve better nutrition:
- Consult with a licensed dietitian who can help you achieve your ideal weight and minimize the risk of chronic disease through proper diet.
- If you are already hypertensive or pre-diabetic, follow your dietitian’s orders to the T to avoid exacerbating your conditions faster.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits; at least one serving per meal.
- Reduce your intake of heavily processed foods. Eat more whole and natural foods instead.
- Drink enough water every day.
- Avoid highly processed carbohydrates, saturated fat, trans fat, foods high in LDL cholesterol, etc.
- Minimize your consumption of caffeine and alcoholic drinks.
Get enough exercise
Regular exercise can help you manage your weight, reduce stress, and decrease the risk of non-communicable diseases, including heart diseases, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and mental illnesses. If your job entails you to sit around for the majority of the workday, get additional physical activity through moderate-intensity exercise. On the other hand, if you are already on your feet for most of the day, it won’t hurt to increase your exercise levels through walking or jogging a few times a week.
Go through genetic testing
Although you feel at your absolute prime physically, it’s still a good idea to get yourself tested for a specific genetic condition once in a while. Diagnostic testing can help catch a particular disease early on. If you’re lucky, you can eliminate the threat before it becomes a real disease (e.g., regular mammograms can detect breast cancer early, prompting immediate treatment).
If you are a smoker, find a treatment that can help you curb your addiction right away. Smoking can increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
Learn how to manage stress
High cortisol levels resulting from constant stress can increase your blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure, making you more susceptible to heart disease and hypertension. Hence, although stress is sometimes unavoidable, long-term stress should be addressed as early as possible to avoid developing heart conditions, especially if you are already genetically predisposed.
Here are several ways you can better manage stress:
- Learn to take a step back whenever you are feeling overwhelmed
- Limit your commitments at work, school, home, etc. to a manageable amount
- Let go of situations that you have no control over, as well as those that will get better if given time
- Consider re-prioritizing
- Stop trying to do everything at once
- Go to therapy
- Address the causes of your stress
- Get enough sleep every night
Lifestyle and behavior modifications won’t eliminate your risk of genetic diseases, but they can effectively reduce it. Hence, if you have a family history of certain conditions, start making the necessary changes that can help you avoid developing them for as long as possible.