Preventing Chronic Disease: Fight back by getting on the right track.

By Sue Musial Bigelow

Chronic disease is preventable and often reversible. Yet it is the failure point of modern Western medicine, which is superb at applying Band-Aids to ease symptoms, but fails to get to the root of the problems.

Chronic disease is defined as any condition that persists over a long period of time, at least three months or more. Broken down, the definition of chronic means persisting for a long time, and disease means an unhealthy condition of the body or mind. Dis-ease also can be defined as not being in a state of ease.

The biggest issue with chronic disease is that it can attack victims without them ever knowing—until some major event happens. At that time, perhaps, many symptoms may have gone unnoticed but now become evident. Or, no symptoms were present at all until the tipping point. When a condition slowly progresses, the symptoms are often so subtle that each day of decline becomes the new norm. So many people view their decline as just getting older, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Finding the Way

The best way to assure good health and avoid chronic disease and long-term health decline is to embrace in the following lifestyle habits:

  • Get enough regular physical activity—at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, with a longer-term goal of about 30 minutes a day (210 minutes per week).
  • Eat healthy—I recommend eating a plant-based whole food diet; foods that are in their natural state, unrefined and unprocessed.
  • Don’t smoke—It is a high-cost, self-infliction that destroys the body (not just the lungs) and shortens life expectancy. It also reduces the quality of life, especially in the final years.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption—Alcohol is absorbed faster than it is metabolized and consuming excessive amounts will damage the liver, brain and heart, among other parts of the body.
  • Have a good sleep regime—sleep seven to eight hours every day.
  • Avoid stress—simplify life when possible; stress ages the body and can destroy mental health as well as physical health.

Chronic diseases include heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), type II diabetes, arthritis, asthma, cancer, Alzheimer disease and dementia, and numerous autoimmune diseases. Many of these afflictions can be reversed or the severity of the symptoms can be diminished with diet and life style changes. Making changes does, however, come with some fairly drastic side effects that include:

Weight loss—the reduction of excess unhealthy weight, mostly adipose tissue (fat).

Increased energy—creating the desire to be more active.

Improved digestion—less gas, regularity of bowel movements, less constipation, and improved absorption of nutrients.

Increased happiness—decreased depression, when you feel better you are happier.

Lower pharmacy bills—reduction or elimination of prescriptions.

Increased mental clarity—the clouds will part on those foggy minds.

Decreased body aches—reduction of overall inflammation and increased joint. movement

Improved complexion—the skin detoxifies and beauty finds its way to the surface.

The question you may want to ask yourself is, “How much do you value the quality of your life?” If you’re happy being the jolly fat person and don’t care if you die in your 50s, then you won’t fret about your chronic issues, and having them consume you should be the apparent expectation. However, if your wish is to live a long and healthy life, see your grandchildren grow, travel the entire map to exotic places and fulfill the adventures on your bucket list, then avoiding and reversing chronic disease should be very important to you.

The Time to Care is Now!

If you think the cost of eating healthy is expensive, then take a look at the cost of being unhealthy! How much are those prescriptions, doctor copays and insurance deductibles? How about loss of income because of illness? What about new clothes because the others don’t fit anymore? Wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and specialized home equipment all come with a hefty price tag ,not to mention those upcoming nursing home stays that can cripple finances and burden your children.

Maybe those organic fruits and vegetables don’t seem so expensive anymore when put into perspective. You don’t always have to buy organic to eat healthy, either. For example, understanding the dirty dozen and the clean 15 can save you money. (See box) Eliminating or greatly reducing meat and dairy in the diet can free up lots of funds to buy healthier foods, too. Driving past the fast food restaurants and finding ways to cook for yourself and prepare your own beverages that are free of salt and sugar will save money and pounds. A plant-base diet can do wonders for your health. Plant a garden if you can for the very best fresh vegetables or start visiting farmers markets.

Health Coaches Can Help

If you are having trouble navigating the life changes needed to create a happier, healthier you, then hiring the services of a Health Coach should be prioritized. The cost of this service is minimal when compared to the cost of the being on the path of chronic disease, a journey that only gets worse over time. Once you have one chronic disease such as type II diabetes, you are at higher risk of succumbing to other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Quality of life diminishes with any chronic disease to the point of total consumption. How do you want to live your final years?

The final question to ask yourself is, “Do you want to spend more of your life living or more of your life dying?” A healthy lifestyle can help you with the former, modern medicine and pharmaceutical companies are terrific with the latter. The choice is yours!

Dirty Dozen: 12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (imported)
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes


Clean 15: The Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Sweet Corn
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas frozen
  7. Papayas*
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit


Stacy Musial is president of Health Coach Connect and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a passion for whole-person wellness. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work at Colorado State University and has been providing mental health therapy to individuals in community mental health, private practice and online therapy venues. She began her journey into health when she realized her own was not optimal and it impacted the way she felt physically, emotionally and spiritually. Her journey led her to earn a certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.® She enjoys running, biking, yoga and fermenting yummy foods. Visit Health Coach Connect online at


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