A respected physician who works on a Phoenix area Indian reservation tells his diabetic patients that out of the 8,760 hours there are in a year, they see their health care providers on average only 10 of those hours. That leaves more than 99% of the time that they, the patients, are in charge of their own health. After all, it is their health. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to help patients understand how to do the best job possible to manage it.
Great perspective and great advice that is relevant to all of us. We are the deciders when it comes to our well-being.
Here are a few ways to help you take charge of your own health as you age:
1) Educate yourself. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. You have an unlimited resource at your fingertips, but there’s also a lot of misinformation. Read widely but with a healthy skepticism. Remember, there’s never just one answer to good health and one study does not establish a scientific truth. You are unique and what works for someone else, may not be right for you. Nonetheless, be informed and do your homework.
2) Do some serious soul searching. What are your biggest health hurdles? Do you have any serious conditions or minor ones that could become serious? Are you overweight? Do you exercise enough? Do you see your doctor for regular checkups? Are you worried about your health as you age? What are you willing to do to be healthy? Do you have the discipline to make changes and stick to them? Once you’ve surveyed your status quo, make a checklist and then make a sincere commitment to take steps.
3) Food is your ally. An abundance of long term studies and surveys continue to show a strong connection between diet and disease. In other words, what you eat can influence whether you fall victim to many aging-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and others. Some good reads on the topic include Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. In this evidence-based book, author and clinical researcher, Dr. Neal Barnard, explains the nutrition-diabetes relationship. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. presents a strong argument for implementing a plant-based diet in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Perhaps the most compelling case for adopting a healthy diet is The China Study, authored by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II. This comprehensive study of nutrition has been called “one of the most important books about nutrition every written.”
4) Exercise. Science shows that exercise at any age or stage of life will benefit you. And it’s never too late to start an exercise program. Join a gym, sign up for yoga or get together with friends for morning walks. You’ll find that the benefits of exercise are instantaneous and invigorating. Remember, it doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial. When you do something as simple as walking, it raises your heart rate, increases your respiration, burns calories and gives your muscles a workout.
5) Hormonal balance is vital. Your long term health depends on more than just diet and exercise. Hormonal balance is key to maintaining many important internal body functions. As you age, the production of certain vital hormones—i.e. estradiol and testosterone—stops or slows down. You need physiologic levels of these hormones to stay healthy. They impact every system, cell, gland and organ in your body. Your brain, muscles, bones, heart, lungs, and so on, all depend on hormones to keep them healthy. As an essential part of managing your health as you age, see a hormone replacement expert like SottoPelle® to have your hormone health checkup.