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The Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle: Chronic Disease Prevention and Mental Health Wellness
What if the lifestyle you lead could help you avoid chronic disease and mental illness? What if, just by making a few simple choices, you could be healthier and live longer?
According to degreed counselor and health coach Dr. Kamilah Stevenson, people have the power to assure their own health and wellness. “Lifestyle and diet play the most predominant role in preventing and managing chronic conditions,” she says. Indeed, scientific research suggests that eating healthy food and engaging in other healthy habits has both mental and physical benefits and may even extend your lifespan.
“If we can quickly address lifestyle habits that are disruptive to healthy living, then we’d all have a higher chance of living a healthier life overall,” Dr. Stevenson says. “This does not disregard the variances and small percentage of cases that do involve true genetic mutation to the body that causes sickness. However, if we are to address humanity overall, we would discover that diet and lifestyle have the ability to prevent physical degenerative conditions and, more often than not, even reverse them.”
Yes — “reverse them.” Making good decisions offers hope not just for those who are healthy, but also for those who are currently ill.
The most important thing to do for health and well-being
According to Dr. Stevenson, the most important thing people should do to prevent and manage chronic disease is to reduce or eliminate sugar, particularly processed sugar, which is often the cause of inflammation and disease.
“People need to recognize the damage that sugar does to the body,” she says. “Sugar is addictive. The standard diet most people consume is full of sugar, which causes an overutilization of insulin and is very hard on the organs like the pancreas and liver. If people reduce their sugar intake, then we’d see a drastic decrease in chronic disease.”
Similarly, Dr. Stevenson recommends eating a healthy diet of nutritious foods. “The right foods can be medicine to the body,” she says. “Supplemental nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can also add positive health effects.”
The second most important thing Dr. Stevenson advises people to do is manage stress. “Stress throws the body’s entire operating system into chaos,” she says. To restore balance, she advises “improving quality of sleep, adding recovery routines, and including therapy practices.”
Other effective methods of managing stress include fast-acting interventions like breathing techniques as well as long-term habits like meditation.
With a physical approach, she suggests that creating consistent opportunities for mobility, movement, and exercise can be a great way to decrease stress and challenge your overall well-being. “The nervous system is hard-wired for comfort,” Dr. Stevenson explains.
How to reverse chronic disease
Even people who have already been diagnosed with a chronic condition can hope to improve their situation through diet and lifestyle changes. “Most diseases are reversible,” Dr. Stevenson says. “With the right adjustments, patients have the possibility of overcoming their condition. The truth is many people have reversed disease and have gotten healthier than they have ever been in the past.”
For Dr. Stevenson, patients risk becoming hopeless and fearful when they receive a diagnosis of chronic disease, and this negative mindset can interfere with their recovery. “Many times, chronic disease can impact the mind and emotions in a way that makes it hard to heal,” she explains. “Chronic disease adds stress and trauma to the body that must be addressed in order to have a proper health plan in place.”
Therefore, Dr. Stevenson advises patients to take heart and hope even during difficult times. “What we should all aim for is pure healing from within that is mediated by the mind,” she says.
Action is required for positive outcomes, however. “First, seek professional help to get a plan in place that will give you the knowledge you need,” Dr. Stevenson advises, “then seek a community that will hold you accountable.”
Healthy mind, healthy body
While many people underestimate the importance of mental health in recovering from chronic illness, Dr. Stevenson prioritizes it. “The more people continue to damage their brains through eating a poor diet or other toxic habits, the more mental instability arises,” she says. “Mental illness at times can represent an inflamed brain.” Along the same lines, a recent article in the Washington Post states that inflammation, which can result from excessive sugar intake, may cause a mental state of depression.
For Dr. Stevenson, the solution is to pay attention to mental health. “If people can create mental stability and health, then they have a higher chance to address their physical limitations,” she says. “Many people have cured themselves of various diseases with the mind alone which just proves how powerful mental health can be to the body.”
Toward that end, she recommends getting support from a mental health professional. “The support of a mental health professional can lay out the principles and practices that actively allow the body to sync to stability and create opportunities to reverse disease.”
Choose for yourself
By bringing lifestyle changes to the forefront, Dr. Stevenson empowers people to seize control of their own destinies. “It is always our responsibility to manage our own well-being,” she says. “We all have the ability to respond in a way that can either help or further hurt the condition.”
To give yourself the healthiest, longest life, start following her expert guidance today.
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