8 things you should know about preventing disease

How can you lower your risk of common health conditions?

We all want to keep ourselves healthy and free from serious conditions, as much as we possibly can.

Fortunately, most Australians have access to healthy and diverse food, a broad education, clean water and free or affordable health care. After the discovery of antibiotics and the development of vaccines, we can expect greater quality of life and to live longer than any of our ancestors.

However, the growth in population and advances in transport, communications and technology have also seen a dramatic change in the ‘average’ behaviour of Australians. We are more connected and yet less healthy.

Here are a few things we all need to know about health, wellbeing and preventing disease.

1. As we get older, weight gain is more likely

There is a worldwide tendency for people to put on weight as they age, and to eat more fat and exercise less as they become more affluent. We are consuming excess calories in the form of sweetened sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, and processed meat. As a consequence, we see greater rates of childhood and adult obesity.

2. Being overweight can have a serious impact on your health and lifestyle

Excess weight can increasing your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and gall bladder disease, gout, arthritis and other joint issues, sleeping problems including sleep apnoea, and certain types of cancer.

3. Each year, over 10,000 Australians die of a heart attack

And a further 8,000 will die of a stroke. Many of the causes of these cardiovascular diseases are preventable, and are related to our lifestyle.

“Those Australians most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes include smokers, as well as those with a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, or excess abdominal fat.”

4. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Australia

This can lead to long-term health problems, increasing your risk of heart disease (including heart attacks and stroke), blindness, altered sensation in lower limbs, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction.

5. Lifestyle factors can impact your risk of type 2 diabetes

Those Australians most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes include smokers, as well as those with a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, or excess abdominal fat.

6. Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia

Bowel cancer is associated with a family history of bowel polyps, inadequate intake of dietary fibre, smoking, diets high in processed foods and excess red meat, excess alcohol consumption, and obesity.

7. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women

The average survival rate for breast cancer is 89% at five years. Many women develop breast cancer because they have a genetic predisposition, but lifestyle factors including obesity, excess alcohol consumption and inactivity also play a significant role.

8. Our lifestyles play a role in our risk of many chronic conditions

Many other chronic conditions resulting from our lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on our quality of life – for example, peripheral vascular disease, fatty infiltration of the liver from excess alcohol consumption, obstructive sleep apnoea from obesity, and osteoarthritis.

Want to learn more about the body? Head to the Medibank School of Better, where Dr Bridie O’Donnell takes you through some short, practical lessons on how the body works.

Recommended reading - Issue Nine Spring 2014

Community

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Revel in the breathtaking vineyards, forests and beaches of Margaret River this November.

Read more
Lifestyle

Health symbols through the ages

Red crosses to skull and crossbones, take a look at the histories of universal wellness symbols

Read more
Lifestyle

7 things I know about health: Peter Russell-Clarke

We can’t think of a better person to share their wisdom on health than Peter Russell-Clarke.

Read more
Recipes

Berry bircher for babies recipe

Some for baby, some for you! This delicious bircher muesli goes down a treat.

Read more
Lifestyle

The forgotten beauty of old school gyms

Why it's sometimes best to go back to the fitness classics.

Read more
Community

Cate Campbell: Striving for success

Olympic medalist and Uncle Toby’s Ambassador Cate Campbell is looking long-term: to Rio.

Read more
Recipes

Zucchini slice for babies recipe

Food Babies Love author Emily Dupuche shares a yummy idea for your little one - and you!

Read more
Lifestyle

Health food stores that stand the test of time

These sole traders have championed nutritious products since before health food stores were trendy.

Read more
Recipes

Strawberry parfaits with pomegranate and pistachio recipe

A juicy burst of pomegranate makes these sweet vegan parfaits a real treat.

Read more
Community

Healthy tech and gadgets Pt. 1

From music to swim to, to smart socks, we round up the latest gadgets to revitalise your health.

Read more
Community

Healthy tech and gadgets Pt. 2

Shiny new toys to boost your health, fitness and wellbeing.

Read more
Community

Healthy tech and gadgets Pt. 3

The latest fitness, food and wellbeing gadgets to fire up your healthy lifestyle.

Read more
Community

Healthy tech and gadgets Pt. 4

Fire up your health and fitness with the latest tech gear.

Read more
Lifestyle

The history of orange juice

Health humorist Nick Snelling documents the ups and downs of a much-loved breakfast beverage.

Read more
Experts

Having your cake and eating it too

How to let go of guilt and enjoy good food – the healthy way.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.