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ABC’s Tips: 5 Practices to Prevent Prevalent Chronic Diseases

Updated: Feb 17

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In today’s fast-paced world, it’s a must to prioritize growth that concerns work and relationships. People have been so busy piling up one progress on top of the other, which is of course, an undeniably effective human behavior to achieve life goals.


However, if there’s one thing that people forget to carry in their day-to-day progress, it’s health.


We are so focused on achieving our goals that we often forget to take care of our health - the very foundation of every step we take towards our goals.


With this, it’s safe to say that staying healthy is non-negotiable. Relationships, work, self-image, and our future plans can all be affected by the persistently growing concern,especially the prevalent chronic diseases in the Philippines.


Fruits, vegetables, and water on the table while a woman is doing yoga at the back.

True enough, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to these chronic diseases when we have a lot of things on our plate. However, the inability to shield ourselves from these diseases makes it more difficult for us to move along the rhythm of the hustle and bustle world - thus, compromising progress with regards to success.


To avoid that, this article will help you discover lifestyle practices that serve as the first line of defense against chronic diseases.


1. Nutritional Nourishment


The foundation of a healthy body begins with what we put into it. A nutrient-rich diet helps prevent chronic diseases and contributes to overall vitality.


Pinggang Pinoy


Pinggang Pinoy has been developed by the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) to assist in eating the appropriate amount of food at each meal. It’s a quick and easy visual aid that guides in determining the portion of food needed for each meal to be healthy.


Pinggang Pinoy is expected to improve people’s nutritional status, especially in preventing obesity, cancer, cardiovascular illnesses, hypertension, and other non-communicable diseases.


A food plate model to show recommended proportion by food group every meal. The proportions are categorized as Grow, Glow, and Go foods.

Portions

The Pinggang Pinoy is divided into portions, each of which has their equivalent sizes per meal.


GO

Rice & Alternatives

Any of the following:

  • 1 ½ cups of cooked rice 

  • 6 pieces of small Pandesal

  • 6 slices of small loaf bread

  • 1 ½ cups of cooked noodles

  • 1 ½ medium pieces of root crop


GROW

Fish & Alternatives

  • 2 pieces medium variety of fish

  • 3 slices of large variety of fish

  • 2 pieces of medium chicken leg

  • 3 servings of lean meat, 30g each

  • 3 pieces of tofu, 6 x 6 x 2 cm each

  • 1 piece of small chicken egg and 1-2 pieces of any food items mentioned above


GLOW Vegetables
  • 1- 1 ½ cups of cooked vegetables


GLOW Fruits
  • 1 medium size fruit 

  • 1 slice of big fruit


The food guide also recommends consumption of eight or more glasses of water daily.


Aside from Pinggang Pinoy, there are also other recommendations for diet per disease entity.


DASH Diet


The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH Diet is a nutritious eating plan created to assist in the control or prevention of hypertension, or high blood pressure. It may also aid in lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the type of cholesterol linked to heart disease.


The DASH Plate which is a guide to how much serving of each food group should be eaten every day, based on 2,000 eating calories per day.

Here's the recommended servings from each food group for a 2,000-calorie-a-day DASH Diet:

  • Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day

  • Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day

  • Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products: 2 to 3 servings a day

  • Lean meats, poultry and fish: six 1-ounce servings or fewer a day

  • Nuts, seeds, or dry beans and peas: 4 to 5 servings a week

  • Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day

  • Sweets and added sugars: 5 servings or fewer a week


Diabetes Plate Method


In the Philippines, Diabetes has emerged as a significant health issue. To solve this, the simplest way to prepare nutritious meals that can aid with blood glucose (blood sugar) management is to use the Diabetes Plate Method by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). With a balanced combination of veggies, protein, and carbohydrates, one may make precisely portioned meals without having to do any measuring, weighing, or counting.


The Diabetes Plate Method that guides the food portioning every meal to create healthy meals that can help manage blood sugar.

Below is the recommended portion for the Diabetes Plate Method:

  • Half to the plate: Non-starchy vegetables

  • One-quarter of the plate: Lean protein foods

  • One-quarter of the plate: Carbohydrate foods

  • Drink: Water or low-calorie drink


KDIGO’s Diet Plate


In the Philippines, kidney disease continues to be a major cause of mortality. Additionally, it is frequently associated with conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With this, nutrition is an essential component in the management and treatment of Chronic Kidney Diseases.


A three-portioned meal plate for patients with Kidney Disease.

To do this, the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes recommends a Diet Plate with portions of the meal into:


  • Half to the plate: Fruits and vegetables

  • One-quarter of the plate: Protein foods

  • One-quarter of the plate: Whole grains or starchy vegetables

  • Drink: Water


Specific dietary plans tailored to address health conditions further underscore the importance of mindful eating. These dietary guidelines empower individuals to take charge of their health through informed and mindful food choices. By incorporating these into daily life, one can pave the way for a healthier future.


2. Regular Physical Activity and Exercise


Regular physical activity and exercise are both helpful ways to not only have a good physique, but also to protect oneself from chronic diseases. 


While both can be interchanged, it is important to note that physical activity and exercise are different.


Physical activity encompasses any bodily movement that expends energy and contributes to overall calorie expenditure throughout the day.


Regular exercise, on the other hand, is a planned and structured repetitive activity aimed at improving or maintaining physical fitness, often adhering to specific routines, durations, and intensities.


The following physical activities and exercises are recommended:


Muscle-strengthening activities (at least 2 days a week)

  • Wheeling A Wheelchair

  • Lifting And Carrying Children

  • Carrying Heavy Shopping Bags

  • Heavy Gardening, Such As Digging And Shoveling


Muscle-strengthening exercises (at least 2 days a week)

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Tai Chi

  • Lifting Weights

  • Working With Resistance Bands

  • Doing Exercises That Use Your Own Body Weight, Such As Push-Ups And Sit-Ups


Moderate-intensity cardio activities (at least 150 minutes a week)

  • Walking

  • Riding A Bike

  • Pushing A Lawn Mower

  • Rollerblading


Moderate-intensity cardio exercises (at least 150 minutes a week)

  • Brisk Walking

  • Water Aerobics

  • Dancing

  • Hiking


Vigorous-intensity activities (75 minutes a week)

  • Riding A Bike Fast Or On Hills

  • Walking Up The Stairs


Vigorous-intensity exercises (75 minutes a week)

  • Running

  • Swimming

  • Sports, Like Football, Rugby, Netball And Hockey

  • Skipping

  • Aerobics

  • Gymnastics

  • Martial Arts


Regular physical activity and exercise not only strengthens muscles, bones, and cardiovascular health but also releases endorphins which are “feel-good” chemicals that can put you in a positive state of mind.


3. The Importance of Quality Sleep


In the hustle and bustle of daily life, sleep often takes a back seat. However, its role in preventing chronic diseases cannot be overstated. Research shows that worse sleep quality is associated with higher odds of chronic diseases and prevalence in older adults.


Adults need more than seven hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule. While children aged 13 to 19 years old need eight to ten hours of sleep.


For children 12 years old and below, nine to fourteen hours of sleep, including naps, is recommended.


Individuals experiencing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) face an elevated risk to various cardiovascular conditions. It's important to keep in mind that people with OSA not only have a higher chance of acquiring cardiovascular comorbidities, but their chances of suffering from cardiovascular illness are also worse.


OSA raises the risk of coronary artery disease by 30%, the chance of heart failure by 140%, and the risk of stroke by 60%.


Studies show that OSA is one of the major associated illnesses in 70% of obese patients. Being overweight not only contributes to OSA but also affects how it influences respiratory factors, making it an important consideration in understanding and managing the condition.


Therefore, diet and regular activity and exercises are highly needed in order to have quality sleep.


A good night's sleep is not only about the total number of hours of sleep. It’s about the quality of the routine that refreshes the body and mind.


4. Stress Management


The silent contributor to many chronic diseases is stress. Hypertension, heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, and arthritis are the diseases commonly linked to stress. 


Some of the chronic stressors include daily hassles, frustration of traffic jams, work overload, financial difficulties, marital arguments or family problems.


If stress continues without relief, it can eventually deplete our body's resources, causing potential breakdown.


Stress management can be done in several ways:


Exercises

  • Running

  • Swimming

  • Dancing

  • Cycling

  • Aerobics

Balanced Diet


Healthy Sleeping Habits

  • Set a sleep schedule.

  • Drink less alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime.

  • Don’t look at your electronics 30-60 minutes before bed.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Deep breathing

  • Connect with people

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy


5. Kicking Harmful Habits to the Curb


Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are considered as harmful habits that lead to chronic diseases.


As of 2015, more than 16 million people in the United States live with at least one serious illness or disease caused by smoking.


Compared to nonsmokers, current and former smokers were 5.5 times more likely to have chronic lung disease, 2.8 times more likely to have heart disease, 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes, 1.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure, 1.2 times more likely to have high cholesterol, and 1.4 times more likely to have cancer.


While nearly 34,000 nonsmokers die of heart disease attributable to secondhand smoke exposure.


On the other hand,  Twenty-five chronic disease and condition codes in the International Classification of Disease (ICD)-10 are entirely attributable to alcohol.


A study found that alcohol use uniformly increases blood pressure and stroke risk; even moderate drinking (2 drinks per day or less) increased the risk of stroke by about 15%.


Keeping these harmful habits would only worsen the risk of having chronic diseases. Thus, creating a commitment to leave detrimental behaviors behind makes people one step closer to their desired healthy lifestyle.

 

In life, every action and decision matters. By adopting these lifestyle practices into your daily routine, you're not just guarding against chronic diseases. You're shaping a life full of well-being.


Share your journey towards a healthier lifestyle in the comments below. Let's inspire each other to make wellness a way of life.


For a deeper understanding of chronic diseases, you may read: Prevalent Chronic Diseases in the Philippines: A Comprehensive Overview”


About ABC's for Global Health: 

ABC's for Global Health is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and non-government organization in the Philippines dedicated to finding practical solutions to the health problems of disadvantaged and underserved communities, focusing on emerging chronic non-communicable diseases that threaten the already limited resources of families, individuals, and governments.


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