A new campaign encourages Kentuckians to boost their overall health and immunity to combat chronic conditions and COVID-19, the effects of which are still being felt across the state.
Raise Your Guard, Kentucky is a partnership between the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the State Cabinet for Health and Family Services to encourage Kentuckians to adopt habits that will improve their health and reverse negative health effects.
Since the epidemic began nearly three years ago, the prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease has increased in Kentucky, particularly among African Americans.
“Kentuckians have long struggled with chronic conditions, but the pandemic has certainly made it worse,” said foundation president and CEO Ben Chandler. “We don’t have to accept this as the status quo. There are steps we can take to help put our bodies in better shape to fight off the next virus – whether it’s a new Covid-19 variant, the flu or another illness, as well as chronic diseases.”
Raise your guard, Kentucky encourages people to:
Eat well: Emphasize fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Limit saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Move more. Physical activity is one of the most important aspects of overall health.
Stay up to date on all immunizations. Children and adults need protection from vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, shingles, flu and COVID-19.
Schedule annual check-ups and screenings: Preventive check-ups with your health-care provider and dentist can catch potential problems in the early stages. Get recommended screenings, including mammograms, colonoscopies, bone density and lung cancer screenings.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can affect how your body works. It can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines for numerous diseases, including influenza, hepatitis B and tetanus.
Drink plenty of water: It’s important to drink enough water each day to prevent dehydration, a condition that can lead to unclear thinking, mood swings, overheating of your body, and constipation and kidney stones.
Get enough sleep: Studies show that not getting enough sleep can negatively affect the immune system and is linked to many chronic diseases and conditions.
Quit smoking and vaping. They damage the immune system and make the body less able to fight disease.
If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of various short- and long-term health effects, such as heart disease, cancer, and getting sick from colds or viruses.
Try to reduce stress. Long-term, stress increases inflammation and imbalances in immune cell function. Learning to cope with daily stressors and challenges is vital to success in life, school and work.
Wash your hands. Good personal hygiene can prevent the spread of infection.
“Small healthy choices add up to a big positive impact to ensure that every Kentuckian has the opportunity to reach their full human potential,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the state’s Department of Public Health. “Working together, we can create the conditions that enable every Kentuckian to thrive.”
The Raise Your Guard, Kentucky campaign features a video series featuring everyday people from across the state who share why and how they stay healthy.
Kentucky organizations are encouraged to download videos, graphics and other educational materials to share with their contacts and use on social media. Materials can be downloaded for free.
Campaign resources are available in English, Spanish and Swahili. Learn more at RaiseYourGuardKY.org.