It is important to eat well, exercise regularly and avoid alcohol or reduce your intake (if you drink alcohol that is) to help reduce your risk of developing conditions such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. Below you will find some brief advice on changes that you could make to your day-to-day life that can help to reduce your risks of developing these conditions:
Drinking alcohol can be harmful to your health as it increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and liver disease, and any amount of alcohol consumption poses this risk, however keeping within recommended limits is considered to be ‘low risk’ for these conditions.
The recommendations are:
- Drinking no more than 14 units per week on a regular basis – this is the same for men and women
- Spreading your drinking across 3 or more days
- Trying to have several ‘drink-free’ days each week
Alcohol recommendations are expressed in units, but what does this really mean? Well one pint of lower strength lager, beer or cider is the equivalent of 2 units, or a large glass (250ml) of red, white or rose wine is equivalent to 3 units.
Further information on alcohol recommendations and units are available on the NHS Alcohol Support website.
Regular exercise, along with a balanced diet, is important to maintaining a healthy weight. Regular exercise doesn’t necessarily mean attending a gym – you could go swimming, have a brisk walk or even maintain your garden.
- For adults, it is recommended that you exercise for 30 minutes each day for 5 days each week
- For children this increases to 60 minutes every day
Smoking is linked to development of a variety of cancers, such as lung and bowel. It also increases your risk of strokes and heart attacks, however by quitting smoking your risk of developing these conditions will reduce over time. In addition, quitting smoking can prolong your life too – if you stop smoking at 60 years of age, you could be adding 3 years to your life expectancy.
Other benefits of stopping smoking include:
- Being able to breathe more easily
- Having more energy
- Feeling less stressed
- Improved fertility
- Improved taste and smell
Stopping smoking can be difficult, and it is completely normal to relapse during your quit attempt. The important thing is to maintain your motivation and be willing to try again. Treatments available to help you stop smoking include products containing nicotine, such as patches and gums, or prescription-only medicines such as Varenicline (Champix). E-cigarettes are a cleaner form of smoking as they do not contain tobacco, however they still contain nicotine so pose the risks associated with inhaling nicotine. Support when quitting is important, and you may find it beneficial to have a friend or other family member quit at the same time, and you are four times more likely to be successful if you combine stop smoking treatment with support from a stop smoking service. You can search for your local NHS Stop Smoking service by clicking here.
More information about stopping smoking can be found here.
Further information is available from the NHS Live Well website, available at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/