I’m sure that while picking through leftover Halloween candy, scanning Pinterest for the best Thanksgiving recipe, and fighting off the urge to stay in bed now that it’s dark outside, the last thing you want is another article on diet and exercise. However, with the New Year approaching, this is a perfect time to evaluate the habits that fundamentally shape our health and therefore, our life.
Healthy lifestyle changes are what I recommend most frequently to patients. Why? Because healthy lifestyle changes, specifically healthy diet and regular exercise, significantly reduce the risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. In fact, they can also treat or reverse these conditions. Why do we care? Because these conditions lead to the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that deliver oxygen to your organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. This is called cardiovascular disease. Plaque buildup causes narrowing or blockage of those blood vessels, preventing blood flow and therefore oxygen supply to that tissue, leading to tissue death. This is typically the mechanism behind a stroke or heart attack. This is also how cardiovascular disease becomes the leading cause of death in the United States.
Brielle Green is a physicians assistant with One Health.