Americans are more at risk of developing certain health problems than other people around the world. These issues are major contributors to mental illness and death in what people like to call the “greatest country on Earth.” However, most are preventable.
Here are five of the most common health problems to look out for and how to avoid them.
About 47% of American adults have hypertension or high blood pressure, yet most are completely unaware of it. Hypertension was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 116,000 people in 2019, making it a widespread — and deadly — health problem.
Lower your risk of hypertension by maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and eating plenty of whole foods. Developing a consistent stretching routine may also help. Techniques like yoga and meditation have proven to lower systolic blood pressure by 5 millimeters of mercury or more.
2. Gum Disease
Americans might want to rethink their flossing and brushing habits. Gum disease is practically as common as hypertension in the US, and nearly half of Americans have some form of it. This common condition increases your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious issues. However, it’s largely preventable with good dental hygiene.
Floss at least once a day and brush twice. Get regular dental cleanings and, if you smoke, try quitting. Tobacco has strong ties to the onset of gum disease — and plenty of other health issues — so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
If you’ve thought about getting back in the gym, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for. Nearly one in three US adults are overweight, and more than 42% are obese. Another 9.2% are severely obese. These Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, joint problems, liver disease, cancer, and more, all because they’re carrying around extra weight.
Luckily, you can prevent and even reverse obesity with a healthy diet and exercise routine. It might seem counterintuitive, but even weightlifting can help you lose weight. It will improve muscle mass and tone and help you shed excess pounds so you look, feel, and live healthier. Find an activity you love and stick with it to experience long-lasting results.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting nearly one in 10 Americans. It’s a major risk factor for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma, cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. However, many people never receive diagnosis or treatment for this mental illness. Thus, the number of individuals who actually struggle with depression may be much higher than anyone realizes.
Ward off depression by spending time with loved ones and investing in self-care. Discover purpose and meaning by giving your time, money, and resources to those who need it most. You may even want to get a pet for companionship and to make sure you get out of bed every morning. All these ideas can benefit your mental and physical health in the long run.
5. Substance Use Disorder
More than 60% of Americans age 12 and older currently use drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. While you might not consider substance abuse a health problem, it can lead to serious conditions, including liver and kidney damage, pancreatitis, nutritional deficiency, and even bowel necrosis.
The best way to avoid substance use, addictions and disorders is to stay away from drugs and alcohol altogether. However, consuming legal substances in moderation is the next best choice if you wish to partake. Cultivate healthier habits and hobbies like running, journaling, or meditating to replace substance use and enjoy a more fulfilling life.
Improving Your Quality of Life
Awareness is key to preventing health problems, especially regarding common issues. The more you know, the more proactively you can avoid these problems.
Remember to eat well, move often, and prioritize your mental health to improve your quality of life and minimize mishaps. Above all, find ways to add meaning and joy to your existence. The less stressed you are, the more likely you will live a long and healthy life.
Feature Image by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash