Combating a History of Chronic Illness | Whittier, CA | PIH Health

Combating a History of Chronic Illness

How One Family Stays Committed to a Healthy Lifestyle

Photo of the Cervantes family posing next to a pickup truck

Members of the Cervantes family

Sylvia posing with their two children.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can benefit everyone, but people with a family history of chronic diseases may have the most to gain. Even though you can’t change your genes, a healthy lifestyle can positively impact your health.

The Cervantes family knows this well, which is why Sylvia, Santiago and their two children, have taken active steps to live a healthier life.

“Diabetes and high blood pressure run on my side of the family,” said Sylvia, “And on Santiago’s side there is a history of colon cancer, breast cancer, kidney failure and heart disease. In fact, his father passed away from heart disease at the age of 55.”

Healthy eating is a big focus. Sylvia does most of the cooking and resists going out to eat more than twice a month. She shops for healthier food alternatives, and always keeps fruit in the house for an easy snack. She also incorporates a lot of vegetables in her meal-planning and regularly uses her air fryer and oven-bakes her food.

Santiago is a police officer and because of his unpredictable schedule, he often ate on the go, which led to weight issues. Today, Sylvia packs healthy lunches and snacks for him so he won’t be tempted by fast food.

The Cervantes family is also committed to staying active. To cut down on her kids’ electronics time, Sylvia enrolled them in Jujitsu and mixed martial arts classes.

Her tip for maintaining a healthy family lifestyle? “Focus on gradual but consistent effort,” she said. “Start with small changes but make them a part of your life.”

Speak to your doctor if you are looking for additional tips on changing your lifestyle. To find a PIH Health Family Medicine doctor, visit

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