Commercials on TV bombard us with information about all the different pills that we must take to lower cholesterol, help constipation, build our bones or relieve our symptoms of depression.
It seems inevitable that we will all eventually succumb to one or more of these health issues and will need to choke down a fistfull of pills every day to deal with it all. Dealing with an assortment of chronic health issues seems to be an expected and accepted part of life for many people.
What we don't hear mentioned often, however, is that most of these health issues are lifestyle-related and can be avoided, eliminated or reversed with a just change in lifestyle!
Let me give you an example of how most health issues are dealt with in this country today. Several years ago, my husband went to the doctor and had some blood work done. He had been travelling a lot in his job - eating out too much and exercising too little. As a result, his cholesterol was elevated.
His doctor immediately pulled out his little white pad and started to write a prescription for a statin drug. Now, my husband has lived (and put up) with me long enough to understand that simply popping a pill (without first making any lifestyle changes) to try to lower his cholesterol was just plain crazy. He told his doctor to put his pad away - he would improve his diet and exercise and come back for follow-up blood work in a couple of months.
Well, my husband starting eating more of the healthy foods while traveling (click here to see my list of healthy foods) and stopped eating the really unhealthy foods(click here for my list of unhealthyfoods). He took up jumping rope and playing a little basketball (both of which he absolutely loves - click here for more information on the benefits of exercise). To make a long story short, his follow-up blood work was perfect, as it has been every visit since.
My husband's story illustrates how we in this country are conditioned to deal with any health issue. We turn to drugs or surgery first, before anything else. Now, I am a nurse, and I realize that drugs and surgery do, and should, play a vital role in healthcare. When somebody comes down with an acute illness or suffers from an injury, drugs or surgery most definitely make the difference between life and death.
But, most of the common health issues today are chronic, not acute. Chronic conditions are those that develop over time and can last for the rest of your life (and are usually lifestyle-dependent). These chronic conditions can and should be dealt with first by dealing with the lifestyle choices that caused them. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, acid reflux, constipation, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and even some cases of depression are largely caused by lifestyle choices and are often under our control.
But, it takes work to change one's lifestyle. It's so much easier just to take a pill, right? And, it costs more to eat fresh, healthy foods, plus the cost of the gym and all that high-tech workout gear. And, when you're out, a fast food meal for a few bucks sure sounds a lot better than a quality meal at a sit-down restaurant costing several times that.
I can't tell you how many people I've cared for in the hospital who have let their health go so much that there's no turning back. I've listened as they've cried and told me they would give anything in the world to have a second chance - to start their lives over and do it right this time. Don't let that be you - second chances don't always come. The cost of being UNhealthy is far, far greater than the cost of being healthy.
I do want to stress, before I go any further, that if you do suffer from any chronic conditions, or are on any medications at this point, please see your doctor before you make any drastic lifestyle changes. Get a thorough check-up before you start a new exercise program. And please, never just stop taking any medication you're on.
Healthy lifestylechanges may make it possible for you to decrease the amount of medication you're on, or discontinue it entirely. But, work with your doctor to safely accomplish this goal. Becoming healthy is a process. Keep your doctor informed of the changes you make and involve him or her in your journey.
With all that being said (thanks for listening - OK, reading), I'll discuss some of the chronic health issues that I encounter most often. I'll give you information about each condition: causes, signs and or symptoms and popular prescription treatments.
But, my real intent here, is to give you the information you need to take back control over your own body and your own health. I'll let you know what you can do to potentially prevent, control or eliminate each condition.
First up is osteoporosis, a health issue that is of particular concern to me. Osteoporosis affects millions of men and women and is responsible for scores of deaths resulting from hip fractures. I'll share with you what I've learned about this condition, and offer some preventive solutions. If you've been diagnosed with osteopenia (low bone mass - the pre-cursor to osteoporosis), make sure to read this.
When I first became a nurse and started working in a hospital, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the percentage of my patients who were on medications for depression. I also have many people in my life - friends, family members and co-workers - who have been diagnosed with either depression or anxiety, a related disorder. I've learned that sometimes prescription medication really is the best solution, but for many people, lifestyle changes or supplements work just as well, if not better.
If you haven't yet looked at all I've written about type 2 diabetes, click here. I am not the only one who considers diabetes to be the number one health issue in this country right now. What's more, type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease and can be prevented and oftentimes completely reversed by lifestyle changes. Poor lifestyle choices can result in obesity - and obesity can result in SO many health issues, including diabetes.
Staying healthy is largely under your control. You can decide to be proactive and make the choices in your life that will hopefully keep you from spending your later years in and out of the hospital nd on line at the pharmacy filling prescriptions. I see way too many people who want to take the easy way out, by simply popping a pill. Believe me, that is not the easy way - in the long run it is a lot harder. It will cost you financially, but more importantly, in your quality of life. Don't believe that chronic ailments and handfuls of prescription pills are just part of life and aging. Take back your control!
As I grow this website, I will be adding information on more health issues that may be of concern to you. I am also working on an e-zine that will give the tools you need to live the healthy lifestyle you deserve. So, please check back often!
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