Avoiding disease and injury is core to living a healthy life. Fortunately, there are steps we can each take to prevent disease and injury. We can eat healthy foods, engage in physical activity, our healthcare providers when appropriate, take medicines as prescribed (including immunizations for children and adults), and avoid harmful substances and activities. As we take steps to prevent disease and injury, our cost of care can decrease, and we can enjoy improved health outcomes, more energy, better sleep, and living life to its fullest.
Disease prevention and health promotion: healthy eating and physical activity
One of the best ways to live the healthiest life possible is to prevent diseases and illnesses before they occur. Your primary care provider can help you in this regard and can help you develop a plan to manage your health to its fullest.
Ways to prevent disease and promote health include the following:
- Visit with your healthcare provider regularly
- Take your medications as they are prescribed
Engage in physical activity as often as possible, in activities that you enjoy: 5 days per week, 30 minutes each time is a good start
- Healthy eating consists of a diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and limiting the amount of sugar we take into our bodies. Drinking water is a great way to keep the sugar count lower.
- Avoid tobacco and if you currently use tobacco, talk with your healthcare provider about cessation programs and resources
- Visit our LiVe Well site for more information on healthy living.
Diabetes and high blood pressure
Prediabetes is a serious but reversible condition where blood sugars are higher than expected but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can occur at any age and, in most cases, be prevented. Without treatment, diabetes can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, and adverse limb conditions.
To prevent diabetes, a modest reduction of 5% of one’s body weight and regular physical activity, and healthy eating are the best prevention methods. For those needing a structured approach, a lifestyle program known as the Diabetes Prevention Program is available in all Intermountain Healthcare services areas. This program has substantial evidence to help people prevent the development of diabetes and is available in-person and virtually.
High blood pressure often has no symptoms and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke- two leading causes of death in the United States. Fortunately, the steps to prevent or manage high blood pressure are the same as diabetes: weight loss, medication management, regular physical activity, and healthy eating.
Immunizations are one of the most cost-effective health prevention strategies in reducing and eliminating diseases. Utah continues to have one of the lowest rates of childhood immunizations in the nation. In addition to the full schedule of available immunizations, Human papillomavirus is a prevalent virus that can lead to cancer. Intermountain has developed a strategy to increase HPV vaccinations and encourages vaccinations for children and adults, including the annual influenza vaccine.
Virtual self-management classes
Behavior change can be difficult, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Intermountain offers various programs, usually at no charge, to help you effectively self-manage your health conditions. Programs include: Living Well with Chronic Conditions, Living Well with Chronic Pain, Living Well with Diabetes, Tomando Control de Su Salud (Spanish chronic conditions program), and Manejo Personal de la Diabetes (Spanish diabetes program).
For any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and pain, these proven programs will help you take your health to the next level, with measurable improvements as the goal. Go to www.livingwell.utah.gov for more information or to register for a free class.