I recently read study that indicated that people who thought they were taking a multi vitamin were more likely to make poor nutrition and health care choices during the day. The gist of the article is that people feel a false sense of security when taking supplements. They feelthe supplements give them permission to cheat when making choices related to diet during the day.
This article made me think about an experience I had recently while speaking to an individual about their health. I was taking a health history and asked if he had any chronic medical conditions. When the person said they had no health care issues, I then continued my history by asking about current medications. He mentioned a drug used to treat high blood pressure. I asked why they didn’t mention that he had high blood pressure earlier. The response was, “Oh, because I take that medication I don’t have to worry about my blood pressure. Everything is normal.”
It would be so deceptively simple to think that by taking a medication that you no longer need to worry about your health. However, there is a reason why diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol are known as lifestyle diseases. The small choices that we make everyday have a cumulative effect upon our health. Medications are sometimes necessary, but most medications do not cure disease, they alleviate a symptom. A better health care option is addressing the cause of the symptom and controlling lifestyle factors that cause or exacerbate the symptoms.
I know that when patients learn they have a diagnosis of a lifestyle disease, it is life changing. The choices to make and the changes that need to be made in our lives seem overwhelming. In cases like these, education is key. Learning as much as we can about our particular disease and creating a plan to address and treat the disorder can help patients successfully negotiate overwhelming option. In general, I always look with suspicion upon treatment plans that only involve medication. Almost every health issue can be improved by nutritional, behavioral and/or exercise supports. A holistic health care plan addresses these issues and minimizes the need, dependency and side effects caused by medication.
Sometime, lifestyle plans seem deceptively simple. I think this leads people to discount them. For example, in the case of diabetes, lifestyle changes are generally common sense, reduce intake of foods that have a high sugar content and exercise more. Actually following through on this treatment plan is much harder. Often it is easiest to incorporate these changes in small manageable steps. Commit to an exercise program by 15 minutes a day. Make it a habit. Once you have done this successfully for a few weeks, increase your time, add new routines. Change your diet by looking at 1 or 2 changes that you want to make. Incorporate those first, then slowly add more. Small successes will build over time and will create powerful changes in your health.
To your good health.