Health: Your Most Valuable Commodity
I became a wellness counselor to help people understand what’s going on with their bodies so they can take responsibility for their health. In recent years we have largely given up our control and placed our most valuable commodity in the hands of the “experts.” Unfortunately, despite what I’m certain are good intentions, modern medicine, although excellent at treating acute situations like infections, trauma, and any other form of emergency, is not so good at handling chronic health issues. I’m talking about those diagnoses that are largely due to lifestyle choices like poor diet or too little exercise, or sometimes simply lack of knowledge. So if we really are convinced of the importance of good health, what will help us avoid hobbling through life fatigued and in pain? The answer: KNOWLEDGE.
Is allopathic medicine just treating our symptoms?
We are a culture that has grown up with allopathic medicine: a system that treats disease by doing something to get the opposite effect – like how we treat constipation with laxatives or take a fever reducer to get rid of a fever. Instead of finding and treating the underlying cause of constipation or fever, we treat only the obvious symptoms.
Are we wise to give up control of our health to the “experts”?
In addition to treating symptoms, we place our health, our well-being, in the hands of somebody else. Most of the time this “somebody else” is a well-schooled, well-intentioned practitioner who really does want us to be healthy. But, to rely on this person alone is like one person leading a charge against a fully armed militia! We really don’t have a chance unless we educate ourselves and stay informed.
Only you know what you’re truly up against, and only you can change it.
The “militia” I referred to is made up of our diet, our environment, stress, and the media. Some of these things are not in our control. For instance, if you happen to be for taking care of an elderly parent or a loved one who is sick, that’s stress that you probably won’t change. The same is true for typical, everyday family relationships, not to mention your job. The point is that there is bound to be a degree of stress in our everyday lives, even though it varies from day to day and from person to person.
Our environment is another variable that is somewhat out of our control. We can control the products we use in our homes, making sure they are clean and natural. But the outside air we breathe may be tainted with more pollutants and chemicals than we may even realize.
The media is also a contributor to poor health and disease in our culture. Television commercials enthusiastically recommending medications, vaccines, and processed food can be convincing. I have to laugh when I see a commercial of a woman running through a meadow in the sunshine, so very happy because she is finally able to go outside without sneezing, only to hear the long list of possible side effects at the end of the commercial. After hearing some of them, I’m sure I’d rather sneeze!!
Commercials often target our children. The marketing of soda and sports drinks is a good example of this. Using sports idols and the promise of improved athletic performance, it’s no wonder the kids choose this stuff instead of water! The same goes for processed food. It’s easy to make the incorrect assumption that, if they sell it, it must be okay for us to eat. Did you ever read the label on a frozen dinner or other processed food? The list is long and filled with terminology that I’m sure only chemists can decipher. Then, of course, there is the “natural” food that we all KNOW is great for our health: fresh fruits and vegetables. The only problem is, they’re not so fresh by the time they get to the supermarket and unless you’re purchasing Certified Organic produce, some are loaded with remnants of chemicals and pesticides.
That’s enough of the negative. Let’s talk about the positives!
The good news: you can take back control of your health.
So what can we possibly do to take control? Can we alone make the choice to be healthy and free of chronic health issues as we age? Absolutely. Without a doubt. YES!
So much of a doctor’s time is spent dealing with patients’ chronic conditions: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, diabetes. The list could go on. How many of these conditions can be prevented or even reversed by YOU? The answer is all of them. And please note that I am not suggesting that conventional medicine and pharmaceutical treatment has no place, because it certainly can help many people. However, if everyone began to take control of their own health by eating a healthy diet, moderately exercising and adhering to natural methods of relaxation and stress reduction, the doctors’ time would be freed up to spend with those critically ill patients who desperately need more time and care.
Knowledge is power.
The first thing we must do is educate ourselves on the nutrients that our body needs and what effects a deficiency of those nutrients will have on us. Find a naturopathic practitioner who can provide you with this information (schedule a phone session to find out how I can help you). It’s important to note that every body is different, so we all have different nutrient needs based on age, gender, stress level, etc. What works for you may not work for somebody else, and vice versa.
Secondly, realize that if you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, you can do a lot to eliminate it on your own. Ask your doctor if you could make some lifestyle changes prior to going on any suggested medication, and then re-evaluate in 4-6 weeks. Even if your physician determines that it’s not safe for you to put off starting meds, a lifestyle change will provide good support. You’d be surprised what conditions can be reversed in a short period of time with changes in diet and exercise.
Be certain that you have a way to diffuse stress. Let’s face it, the stress isn’t going to go away anytime soon, so we need to learn how to handle it. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga … all of these are viable, proven ways to eliminate the devastating effects of stress on your body.
Meds affect all systems of the body. Be aware.
Research any medication that you are prescribed. Ask your doctor and pharmacist about side effects and be sure to inform them of all other medications and nutritional supplements you are taking. Many supplements have similar properties to pharmaceutical drugs – i.e. fish oil acts as a blood thinner, as does garlic. You shouldn’t take these if you are on Coumadin or another blood-thinning drug. And keep in mind that, although pharmaceutical medications are meant to correct a specific issue, they have an effect on every system of your body. For instance, if you take an antacid for heartburn, it is actually suppressing acid production in your digestive system, as advertised. But the problem is that your body needs that acid for certain functions, including the absorption of important nutrients, so taking it can have a detrimental effect on the rest of your body.
Do you consider health to be your most valuable commodity?
There’s no doubt that it can take a lot of time and energy to learn how your body works and what it needs to perform … to live … at its best. I know that time is one thing that most of us are short on. But let’s face it, time does us no good if we are suffering and unable to live our life as we would like. If we don’t have our health, what do we have? Would you agree that health is, in fact, our most valuable commodity?
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