Taking ownership of your health

With so many health issues facing the average person, it is more important than ever to take ownership of your health. But what does that mean?

It means:

  • that you take some responsibility for it. (I am referring to chronic conditions and not a mishap from an accident.)
  • not taking your doctor’s advice or prescription as gospel and looking for second and third opinions and researching side effects of medications. Too often doctors fail to realize that there is a nutritional alternative or they assume that their patient would not be interested.
  • Recognizing that what you eat, or don’t eat has an impact on your health. Same for lifestyle, exercise habits and choice of personal care and cleaning products.
  • That genetics does not always have to determine what happens to you in life. Genetics is like a loaded gun that we are born with. Our lifestyle, diet and environment “pull the trigger”. There is an emerging science called epigenetics. This is what impacts gene expression. So this is just another way of saying that how you live can determine which diseases you get or don’t get.
  • Making conscious decisions about how you live your life. Most of us make conscious decisions about a career. We research and apply to different schools, enroll in specific courses to further ourselves, but yet in many other areas of our lives, we are like “sheeple”. We just follow the crowd and do what others do. We eat less than ideal diets, purchase main stream products because a celebrity has endorsed it or maybe because it is most often seen in commercials or magazine ads.
  • Being willing to make changes for the betterment of your health or that of your family. I remember clearly speaking with a mother of an autistic child and I recommended that they eliminate processed foods from the house (chips, soda, candy, store bought cookies etc.) and only eat those things when out of the house so that the autistic child would not feel left out or different when he could not partake of what the rest of the family was eating. She told me that she and her husband would not do that. That was taking things too far. Even when I told her that her son’s chances of sticking with a new diet were seriously compromised when all the taboo foods were within his sight and reach.

I have heard many people say that life is short and they just want to enjoy it. That is all fine and most people could not argue with wanting to enjoy their life. But it is a very short sighted statement. Go visit a long term residence and see what ails our senior population. Actually, you don’t even need to do that. Just look around your community or think about some of the serious health issues that our society is facing. Most are chronic conditions that impact our quality of life. Who wants to spend the last 10-20 years of their life not being able to go on vacations (because insurance is too expensive or your mobility is not good), in a wheelchair or maybe worse, not remembering your loved ones.

On a personal note, I visited my 88-year-old father this week, who resides in a senior’s residence waiting for a long term bed. He is no longer able to get out of bed by himself and depends on a machine to lift him up and into a wheelchair so that he can go to the dining room for meals. He suffers from dementia and other health conditions. His memory has been failing for years, but just this past week, I noticed a discernable drop in his mental capacity. My biggest fear is that he stops recognizing close family. He already has trouble remembering grandchildren. My mother too, has many health issues and her mobility suffers, but not as bad as my Dad.

We should all be so lucky as to “Live until we die”.  It is a huge toll on our medical system to care for the elderly and most of them do not enjoy their lives at this point. What if we could all have a crystal ball and see into our future? Would you make any changes today based on how you might be living your last 10 years?

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