What Is Disease Prevention?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Disease prevention is all about keeping people healthy! Although a large portion of Western medicine focuses on the treatment of disease, preventing it in the first place should be the highest priority on everyone’s list. I spend a large portion of my time treating patients who have serious health problems. It is important to me to educate them on how to heal and prevent further decline.
When I speak online and in person I always try to teach people how NOT to become sick. I focus on the tremendous blessing of good health and why it needs to be preserved and protected as if our lives depend on it. Because they do!
Why Disease Prevention Is Important
When you are young, energetic and carefree, it can be easy to live recklessly- paying little attention to diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle habits. Although you may not notice consequences immediately, eventually these habits will catch up with you and lead to chronic illness and disease. Better to start choosing healthy routines as soon as possible. If you make health a priority, it is going to be of tremendous benefit to you and your family over the years.
What Are Disease Prevention Strategies?
The following are ways to improve your health as well as prevent problems down the road. You want to have a good balance between all of these areas- any one of them, if ignored, has the potential to tip the scale in your health and well being.
Eating Nutrient-Dense Food
Fill your diet with wholesome, healing, real foods. Choose foods with no ingredients list. I suggest filling your grocery cart, pantry and meals with a diverse variety of the following:
- Leafy greens
- Fruits, berries
- Nuts and seeds
- Wild-caught fish
- Some red meats
- Bone broth
- Coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee
- Whole grains
- Fermented foods
- Raw, unpasteurized cheese
- Yogurt (choose one with low sugar content)
- Anti-inflammatory Foods
- Green leafy vegetables
- Coconut oil
- Fatty fish
One of the best things you can do to improve your health is cooking more at home. When you make your own meals, you have control and awareness about each ingredient that goes into your body. It is also a great family bonding activity to prepare food together. Make an effort to improve your cooking skills, explore new recipes as a family, diversify your diet by using recipes from other cultures, and learn to have fun in the kitchen!
The more I study the human body and work as a physician, the more I realize how important it is to stay in motion. I am not talking about exercise necessarily, though that can certainly be a healthy habit. I am talking about creating regular habits of movement during normal waking hours.
Our ancestors moved much more then we do now. The body is made to move and thrives in an active lifestyle. You have a heart that beats 24/7, blood flowing continuously through your arteries and veins, a digestive system that is always available and in action, organs that are functioning constantly, a nervous system always reacting to stimuli, and a brain that never sleeps. You are not a rock or an object meant to be sedentary. Every cell in your body is made to MOVE.
Regular, scheduled exercise has many benefits, I encourage my patients to make more movement a lifestyle rather than a scheduled event every day. For example, go on family walks. Play sports. Garden. Spend time outside in nature. Find hobbies that get you out of the house and moving more. Plan family activities that involve physical activity like bowling, golf, hiking, swimming, etc. Park farther away from the store. Take the stairs. There are endless opportunities for movement.
Spending Time Outside, Gardening
I am passionate about families gardening together. It is incredibly beneficial to your gut and microbiome to spend time out in the dirt. Not only that, but it helps to build a better mindset about food when you are growing it yourself. It feels extremely satisfying to bite into a fresh vegetable grown in your backyard and it has powerful benefits to your health.
Being in contact with the earth exposes your immune system to trillions of microorganisms that exist in the ground and on plants. Studies have found that exposure to soil bacteria can improve quality of life by increasing feelings of happiness, vitality and improving cognitive function.
I know as well as you that it’s nearly impossible to avoid stress altogether, but there are techniques you can use to help manage your stress. For one, take a moment to evaluate how you react to stress: normal reactions include anger, feeling pain, over-eating, depression, and negativity. While it’s okay to react to stress in your own way, there may be a healthier approach that helps you reduce stress and avoid burnout in the long run.
Try to cut back on your obligations at work and at home. Is it possible to delegate a portion of your responsibilities to someone else? Being better prepared and setting realistic goals for any task — from writing reports to washing dishes — can help alleviate stress. Hanging with good friends or engaging in a hobby you enjoy can also be relaxing.
If you feel your stress level is beyond self-management, definitely talk to your doctor. Living with chronic stress and burnout can pose danger to your health, and your doctor will be able to help you get back on track.
Studies have found that poor quality of sleep is linked to increased risk for inflammation and health problems. Your body needs adequate time at night to rest, process, heal and regenerate. When sleep is interrupted frequently or not enough quality sleep is achieved, it can lead to problems overtime.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your quality of sleep:
- Sleep in a cool, very dark room with no electronics or blinking lights of any kind
- Avoid any screens or blue-light exposure at least 90 minutes before bedtime (if you must use your phone or computer, use a blue-light blocking app or setting)
- Only consume caffeine in the morning and don’t drink any after noon
- Get at least 20 minutes of sunlight during the day
- Exercise in the morning
- Create a consistent nighttime routine
- Drink golden milk tea
- Avoid these digestive-system-disturbing foods before bed
Regular Checkups With A Physician
I suggest having a trusted, well-trained physician on your wellness team. Regular visits to their office can help you to stay on top of your physical needs. They may also recommend going to various specialists like chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc.
Creating Joy & Purpose
I talk about this in depth in my book, Ask Dr Nandi. 5 Steps To Becoming Your Own Health Hero.
When you are on a healing journey, it is important to look the whole picture and not just physical symptoms. What is your purpose that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? What is your motivation to heal? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I invite you to take some time to ponder them carefully. Without a deep, underlying purpose to everything you do, your journey is going to feel like trudging through mud. With a powerful, intentional purpose in your heart, you are 100x more likely to succeed.
Here are some more questions to meditate and take action on:
- What do I need to let go of in life to get closer to joy?
- What is causing me chronic stress and worry?
- How can I reduce stress and overwhelm in my life?
- What can I say “no” to so that I can focus more on healing and what matters most?
- When am I the most happy/excited/joyful and how can I create that more often?
- How healthy are my current relationships? Which ones do I need to nurture? And which do I need to let go?
The more energy you put towards disease prevention now, the more likely you will be to live a healthy, vibrant life without the need for extensive medical care or expenses. Your good health enables you to create more positive impact in your family and in your community. If you are sick, you will be severely limited in your ability to do good. Beyond that- when you feel good, it’s easier to be happier and go through your days joyfully! Make your health a priority TODAY- don’t wait.