Finding a better way to a healthy heart

“The touch of God is awesome not just because it is God who touches, but also because it is a touch. It is a real connection. ” quote Dr. John Piper

When (King) Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him.
1 Samuel 10:26, NLT
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“The touch of God is awesome not just because it is God who touches, but also because it is a touch. It is a real connection. That it involves the heart is awesome. That it involves God is awesome. And that it involves an actual touch is awesome.”

quote Dr. John Piper, Solid Joys devotional 

Solid Joys at Apple Podcasts.

Devotionals by Dr. John Piper, author of Desiring God 

Listen now to God, Touch Our Hearts  

(These are affiliate links, purchases made from them pay this blog a commission which funds our mission.)

IT IS THE SEEKING HEART THAT DETERMINES OUR ETERNAL DESTINY. quote PETER KREEFT
graphic courtesy of Lightstock.com, affiliate , stock photo site

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College.  He loves his five grandchildren, four children, one wife, one cat, and one God.  He has written 75 books including (affiliate link) MAKING SENSE OUT OF SUFFERING

and MAKING CHOICES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR EVERYDAY MORAL DECISIONS

 

What you should know about heart health 

Finding a better way to a healthy heart-watercresswords.com; picture of an open Bible

“Our brain controls the actions of the body’s other organs, but the heart supplies the power that keeps everything working smoothly, including the brain. Using the intricate “highway” system of arteries and veins, the heart pumps blood carrying oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell in the body.”   more at –

Exploring -the HEART

diagram of the human heart

“Anyone who has ever had a “broken heart” (and who hasn’t?) knows that sadness and grief cause not just emotional pain, but also physical pain. And since that pain is often felt in our chest, it makes sense that we call it “heart break”.” Continue at-

Exploring -when HEARTS break

EKG tracing
In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly

“Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the 7 risk factors what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.” Find them at –

7 Keys to a Healthy Heart

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Surprising myths and truths about dental care

Why people neglect dental care and why they should not

I notice more  television commercials for dental care products and services, and most of them follow a theme. In the past most advertisements were for toothpaste for preventing cavities. Now they focus on whitening, stain removal, straightening, dentures and dental implants.

There is a series of ads for dental clinics that promise “not to rob you” featuring skits portraying people afraid that dentists will demand huge amounts of money for dental care.

woman dentist with a patient

Myths about dental care

I think these ads reflect  myths about dental care that many of us believe and unfortunately base our behavior  on. We need to dispel these myths with some truths about oral health, which includes our teeth and mouth.

These myths include

  • Care of our teeth is mainly a cosmetic concern, affecting our appearance only.
  • Dental care is a luxury, nice but optional, not a necessity, it can be ignored.
  • Dental care is expensive and out of reach without insurance or a high income.
  • Tooth disease and loss is inevitable, so we might as well just accept it.
  • Dental care is low priority, behind food, housing, and medical care in importance.
Surprising myths and truths abut

Truths about dental care  

But the truth, based on recommendations from experts in oral and dental health, tells us differently.

  • Care of our teeth is functional- we need a healthy mouth for eating, drinking, breathing, and talking. Our mouths also help us interact with other people emotionally- frowning, smiling, kissing, singing.
  • Oral care is a basic component of health care, vitally important to overall health. I’ll say more about this later.
  • Dental care can be affordable; it’s probably more costly if neglected.
  • Loss or disease of teeth and other mouth disorders are preventable and treatable.
  • Dental and oral care is vital to overall good health, and ultimately can be cost effective.
Family of 4 sitting at a dining table.
Our mouth- eating, talking, smiling-connects us with our family and friends.

Our teeth and oral cavity, the “window to general health”

The oral cavity, or simply called the mouth ,includes the teeth and gums, as well as the lips, the tongue, the palate (roof of the mouth), and the mucosa (sides of the mouth).

diagram of the mouth from the National Cancer Institute
The underside of the tongue and nearby structures (lip, tongue, salivary glands, and floor of the mouth) are identified. Alan Hoofring (Illustrator) public domain

 


Why  dental care improves our overall health.

Over 100 diseases and at least 500 medications can affect our teeth and mouths. Regular dental care can monitor for these effects and prevent them from progressing into tooth disease.

Our mouths contain over 500 species of bacteria and other organisms, some of which are protective and some destructive to our teeth. Good oral care can keep these in proper balance to prevent tooth and gum disease.

People with poor dental health have a higher incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Experts have not determined if this is direct cause and effect or coincidence, but believe it may be due to increased atherosclerosis (hardened arteries from cholesterol) due to the chronic inflammation of gingivitis.

Bacteria from the mouth can lead to  pneumonia in susceptible persons, like those with emphysema or those hospitalized with critical illnesses or injuries.

Diabetes, when the blood sugar is not controlled, negatively impacts periodontal health, and periodontitis makes glucose control more difficult. Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

Poor oral health during pregnancy increases the risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and stillbirth.

 

Resources for understanding different types of dental and oral disease.

Gum Disease-Also called: Periodontal disease

Tooth disorders

Oral Cancer from the American Dental Association

Paying for dental care

Dental care should not be a luxury, and can be within financial reach with some research into available options. These sites can help you discover what you may quality for.

When You Don’t Have Dental Insurance

Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Dental Clinics

 

 

The importance of dental care for children

Health teeth in adults ideally starts with dental care in childhood. Jenny Silverstone, blogger at Mom Loves Best, has created this  infographic about caring for children’s teeth. I suggest you also read her in depth article about helping children have healthy teeth. 

How to care for your child's teeth

 

 

Don’t neglect adult dental care

Continuing good mouth and tooth care as an adult can help you avoid tooth loss, painful gums, or other problems. If you have any problems with your teeth or concerns about your mouth, see your doctor or dentist right away.

a doctor looking into a patient's mouth
Michael Munger, M.D., examines a patient at his medical office in Overland Park, Kan. courtesy American Academy of Family Physicians

 

Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth.
  • Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don’t heal, irritated gums, or other changes.
  • See your dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups and cleanings. 

(source: familydoctor.org)

Using a power toothbrush may keep your teeth healthier, especially if you have any difficulty using a manual brush.I use an Oral-B Rechargeable Toothbrush by Braun.

(This is an affiliate link. )

Oral B Rechargeable Toothbrush

I appreciate your reading and sharing  this post on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Dr. Aletha  , sharing the HEART of health 

stethoscope with a heart

6 tips to cope during a flu epidemic

To many people “the flu” is any respiratory illness characterized by some combination of fever, cough, congestion, headache, fatigue, and body aches. But it more correctly refers to influenza

  1. If you think you have “the flu”, you probably don’t. (This season may be an exception.) 

Another doctor posted on Twitter , “If you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck, but you haven’t , then you have the flu.”

To many people “the flu” is any respiratory illness characterized by some combination of fever, cough, congestion, headache, fatigue,  and body aches. That term has become so nonspecific even we doctors use it that way. But it more correctly refers to influenza, which is  one of many viruses that cause illness. The illnesses caused by the other viruses are usually called “colds”, upper respiratory infections, aka URIs, bronchitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis and pneumonia.

I recommend this resource  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand

influenza symptoms 

emergency warning symptoms that warrant an emergency room visit 

influenza complications 

The human respiratory system
The respiratory tract including the nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, trachea, bronchi in blue and the lungs (pink). Infections can involve the breathing organs from the nose all the way down to the lungs. (photo complimentary from Pixabay)
  1. If your doctor thinks you have “the flu”, you probably do.

Prior to the availability of the “rapid flu” test, we doctors diagnosed influenza by the characteristic symptoms, confirmatory findings on exam, and knowing there was an outbreak in the community. The test is not absolutely necessary but is helpful for confirmation in the event the illness doesn’t progress as expected.

3. The best way to prevent influenza is by vaccination.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) , the National Foundation for Infectious Disease and every other reputable medical organization recommends vaccination against influenza.

My family and I always get vaccinations which have successfully protected us without side effects or adverse reactions. There are risks, just like there are with any medical procedure, or lots of other things we do in life. In this case we have decided the benefit outweighs the risk.

  1. If you want to avoid getting influenza, avoid being around people who may be infected.

This means everyone, since one may be contagious 2 to 3 days before symptoms. It’s not a coincidence that influenza outbreaks coincide with the American holiday season (approximately November through January). So to protect us all,

  • Stay home if you are sick, and ask your family, co-workers and employees to do the same.
  • If you absolutely must go out among other people, put a mask over your nose and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Wash frequently touched surfaces frequently.
Hand hygiene saves lives.
a common sight now in public restrooms
  1. If you do get sick, don’t ask your doctor for an antibiotic.It will not help. 

    Antibiotics attack bacteria. Influenza and 99% of all respiratory illnesses are due to viruses.

Tamiflu

The antiviral drug Tamiflu, generic oseltamivir,  will “shorten the duration and severity of symptoms” by 1-2 days, if started early (within 24-48 hours). There is some evidence that it will also lessen the risk of serious complications , especially in higher risk people (see below ).

I warn people that even with Tamiflu they will still feel miserable for a few days. But if it gets you back to school or work a day earlier, it may be worth the cost.

Oseltamivir can also be prescribed for prevention, if you know you have had close contact with someone with confirmed influenza, such as a household member. It’s only effective though for that episode, a 10 day course taken as soon as possible after exposure.

Xofluza

Xofluza, generic baloxavir, is for treatment of uncomplicated influenza for children and adults 12 years and older, who have been sick for no more than 38 hours. Patients take 2 tablets as a single dose. It is not approved to prevent influenza.

Home care of influenza

Otherwise, the treatment is“symptomatic” or “supportive” care:

  • Rest; eat and drink as normally as possible; extra fluids if running a fever 
  • Non-prescription cough/congestion /pain/fever meds

Don’t confuse Tamiflu (generic oseltamivir) a prescription anti-viral drug with Theraflu, an over the counter drug that treats symptoms.

Theraflu does not affect the course of the illness.

Here are  general guidelines  on what to do if you get a respiratory illness.

  1. You can die from influenza, but you probably won’t.

Influenza causes uncomfortable disabling symptoms but most people recover fairly quickly and fully. In some cases influenza can progress rapidly and overwhelm the respiratory and/or nervous systems,  leading to death.

People also die from complications of influenza, and infants, young children and the elderly have greatest risk.The most common fatal complication is bacterial pneumonia, infection in the lung. Influenza can also attack the nervous system causing brain inflammation (encephalitis and/or meningitis) and paralysis in the form of Guillain Barre syndrome .

an xray of healthy lungs with no signs of pneumonia.
Healthy lungs with no signs of pneumonia.

High risk persons-take influenza seriously

Persons with chronic illnesses like diabetes, lung disorders, chronic liver or kidney disease, depressed immune systems and cancer , as well as infants and persons of advanced age are at greater risk of complications and should always consult a physician if feeling ill. If you are not sure if you fall into that category, ask your doctor.

sharing the HEART of health in flu season

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

And please share this vital information-you may help safe someone’s life.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Mammograms-who, when, and why

breast cancer screening reminder-who needs it and when #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month I want to remind you of physician recommendations for screening. Currently, the only test recommended for screening is mammography.

a woman having a mammogram done by a technician
image used courtesy of the Public Health Image Library, CDC

No other test has evidence that its use will decrease breast cancer deaths, although they may be useful for diagnosis in women who have breast symptoms.

These guidelines for screening  apply only to women at average risk of breast cancer, which is most women. They do not apply to women who have ever been diagnosed and/or treated for breast cancer, or to women who currently have symptoms related to their breasts, such as a lump, pain, discharge, or skin changes.

Guidelines for screening come chiefly from two organizations- The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Other organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) , of which I am a member, usually follow their recommendations .

 guidelines from the ACS

  • Offer annual screening to women age 40 to 44 years.
  • Perform a mammogram annually in women 45 to 54 years.
  • Perform a mammogram annually or every other year starting at age 55 years.
  • Continue screen mammography as long as a woman’s overall health is good, with a life expectancy of 10 years or longer.
  • Routine breast exams by either the patient  or a physician are not recommended.

 guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)  

  • For ages 40-49 years, individualize the decision to screen every 2 years
  • For ages 50-74 years, screen every 2 years
  • For ages 75 years and older there is no recommendation.

Both organizations recommend that physicians discuss the decision to screen or not to screen with patients and base the decision after considering possible harms versus potential benefit.These are guidelines for physicians to apply to each individual patient, not hard and fast rules.

a mammogram image
a mammogram revealing a breast cancer image source- National Library of Medicine, Open-i

Screening guidelines  are not used for high risk women- women with 

  • a history of previous breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • a suspected or confirmed genetic mutation , BRCA, known to increase breast cancer risk
  • a history of radiation to the chest
  • a close family history of breast history, usually meaning parent, sibling, child, grandparent, aunt/uncle, or first cousin.

Breast cancer in young women can be hereditary.
graphic courtesy of the CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Screening guidelines also do not apply to women with breast symptoms suggestive of cancer.

  • a lump in the breast or axilla (armpit)
  • pain, especially in only one breast
  • nipple discharge
  • persistent rash or skin changes over the breast

These women need appropriate diagnostic testing which might include

  • mammography,
  • ultrasound,
  • MRI, 
  • biopsy. 

Here are sources for more information

Breast Cancer

“Both women and men can get breast cancer, though it is much more common in women. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States.”

Mammography 

“You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of mammograms. Together, you can decide when to start and how often to have a mammogram.”

Screening Guidelines

“Mammograms are not perfect tests. They can miss some cancers, and they can find lesions that may look like cancers but are not actually cancers (false-positive results), resulting in additional testing and procedures. They can also find very low-risk cancers that would never have caused any health problems if they were never found or treated (overdiagnosis).”

Breast cancer screening benefits and harms 

“Each woman also has different personal values, especially toward the idea of unnecessary medical tests and treatments.

Talk to your doctor if you are younger than 50 years and have questions about whether you should get a mammogram.”

 

 

 

Get involved by sharing  this information with friends and colleagues

and on social media.

 

 

And please consider the affiliates which help make this blog happen. Thank you.


Try Amazon Home Services

5 steps to manage stress and strain

Many health issues would resolve or be easier to manage if life stressors would just go away. Three fourths of the patients treated by primary care physicians have problems aggravated by emotional, social, or behavioral issues.

As a college graduation gift, I gave a friend’s son a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble Bookseller. He earned a  mechanical engineering degree  and will work as a rocket structural engineer.

He sent me a nice handwritten thank you note (which few people do these days) and said he plans to use it to buy a book that other structural engineers recommend. The book is Roark’s Formulas for Stress and Strain.

Roark's Formulas for Stress and Strain- a book

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a formula for handling the stress and strain of life?

Many health issues would resolve or be easier to manage if life stressors would just go away.  Three fourths of the patients treated by primary care physicians have problems aggravated by  emotional, social, or behavioral issues.

Life’s  interruptions and disruptions won’t disappear, but you can make them less of a strain on your time, energy, and resources. There’s usually no quick fix but 5 steps can lessen their impact.

I learned the value of these steps when I dealt with the stress of a foot fracture that required surgery to correct it, and a longer convalescence than I expected. For someone who is used to being active, the prolonged inactivity stressed me both physically and emotionally. These 5 steps were already a part of my life, but consciously choosing them helped me cope with what would otherwise cause frustration and sadness.

5 steps to manage life’s stress and strain

 

1. Create and maintain a routine and schedule.

Having a plan for your time helps you feel more in control of your life.  Resist the tendency to become socially isolated or avoid activities you usually enjoy. 

a smartphone lying on a calendar page with a planner and cup of coffee
from Lightstock.com (affiliate) stock photo site

Times of crisis, loss, or illness may leave you feeling disconnected and adrift, but having a schedule provides structure and connection. When you are busy, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. 

 

 

 

2. Recognizing and reaching out to social supports

Your family and friends are your first line of  support during times of stress and duress. It’s nice if we don’t have to ask for their support, but their lives are busy too, so don’t be hesitant to ask for help if you need it. If they don’t call you, call them.

2 women talking over coffee with open bibles
Conversation over coffee can be therapeutic. graphic from the Lightstock collection( affiliate link)

Other sources for help include your healthcare professionals;  don’t be embarrassed to share that you need social and emotional support. Your doctor can help you identify and get connected with community resources.

Look for help from your or your spouse’s job, your religious community, organizations you belong to, your school, and online resources for support- educational sites, forums, support groups.  Although not as personal as face to face support, these are helpful  if  you are  geographically isolated or mobility is difficult.

 

 

3. Reframe by refocusing on the positive rather than the negative.

Recognizing and emphasizing the positive in life makes the problems less overwhelming and distressing. Look for something to be grateful for, or that brings a little joy into your day. It may be as simple as flowers blooming in your yard, your favorite tea and sweet,  a funny story in a magazine.  

balloons-get well IMG_2269.jpg
Balloons are nice, too.

Remembering and observing happy events, occasions, and celebrations can also be sources of renewed joy.

Norma, a woman facing terminal illness, reframed her crisis by finding joy in small things, like jigsaw puzzles, new foods, and a “good perm”. Read more about her at

Driving Miss Norma- a book review
Driving Miss Norma - a book cover

 

 

 

4. Stay active mentally and physically

Physical activity doesn’t have to be a chore, boring, or expensive. Many things can be done at home or in your neighborhood-walking, bicycling, cardio, yoga. If exercise isn’t your thing, try dancing, gardening, swimming. 

If your  physical mobility is limited,  try something stimulating mentally-sewing, crafts, games, puzzles, writing, cooking are just a few possibilities.

checkerboard

 

Consider a fitness app on your phone like Aaptiv, at this affiliate link (commission to blog if you use)

 

 

5. Nurture your inner self

woman with hands bowed in prayer

Sometimes we need to withdraw from outward activities and stimulation for times of quiet rest and reflection.

You may  find help from mindfulness, meditation, prayer, devotional reading, music, journaling,  or a combination of these approaches.

Breathing exercises can lessen anxiousness and tension.

I use the breathing exercises on the Aaptiv Fitness app to relax and unwind after a long day.


These affiliate links may help you deal with stress and strain. (At no extra cost to you, purchases through this link help me fund this blog.)

My Reader Rewards Club is a great way to earn free books and Bibles for yourself, friends, and family! Your journey to earning free faith-based products starts HERE.
(When you sign up through these links, I can earn free books too.)

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RoboForm Password Manager.

You’re likely reading this post on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, so you visit sites that require a password. How do you remember them all? You don’t have to if you use RoboForm Password Manager.

My husband introduced me to RoboForm years ago and I am glad he did. I have used it continually to remember my passwords so I don’t have to. It syncs to both my computer and my phone so my passwords are always available. It will even generate passwords for me.

Go to this link to try RoboForm Free; if you like it you can upgrade to RoboForm Everywhere version with all the features I mentioned above. With Roboform, you will have one less thing to feel stressed about.

Help with tech stress

If computer problems cause you stress, you may find help at my husband’s tech blog. He’s a computer guy with years of professional experience that he’s now sharing at

techsavvy.life

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Improving health with 7 life elements

7 ways to improve your health #MakeHealthPrimary#UCR

On this blog we explore the HEART of HEALTH

Many years ago Bruce Larson wrote,

“There’s a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick .”

 

He proposed health is not just the opposite of un-health, disease, illness, informity- and I agree.

There's a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick by Bruce Larson

I have seen this proven in the lives of countless patients.

I have treated patients who did not have a diagnosed disease, but yet did not feel or act healthy. Other patients who had a long list of ailments still managed to live active, healthy lives.

Defining Health

The WHO, World Health Organization, says

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

(The bibliographic citation for this definition is: Preamble to the Constitution of WHO as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June – 22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of WHO, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. The definition has not been amended since 1948.)

Improving health with 7 life elements- watercresswords.com

Health in 7 Dimensions

I recently discovered a definition of health that includes those points but goes even further. The University of California, Riverside, Human Resources department promotes wellness among its staff and students with a Seven Dimensions of Wellness program.

This program considers aspects of life which you might not think impact  health but do significantly affect wellbeing, or the lack of.

Let’s look at  their 7 points which I’m going to expand with my own thoughts.

Social Wellness- relating to and connecting  with other people in our world.

This includes family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, even strangers.

Loneliness is  a significant health problem: it contributes to ill health, and even risk of dying prematurely.

The New York Times health writer Jane Brody reviewed medical studies that show

Social interaction is critical for mental and physical healthstatue of 3 men dancing and playing instruments

Emotional Wellness- understanding our feelings and coping with life challenges.

Emotionally well people understand that feeling angry, sad, fearful or stressed will happen, and are able to not let those feelings cripple them. They use the times of  hope, love, joy and happiness to build a reserve on which to draw in difficult times.

Spiritual Wellness – what brings, peace, harmony, and purpose to our lives.

Our sense of ethics, morals, right, and wrong is usually based on what we believe to be true and meaningful,  woman with hands bowed in prayerand likely involves faith and support for an organized belief system or religion. Without belief in something, our lives can drift aimlessly and we can fall into restlessness, doubt our purpose, and lose hope for the future.

MOTHER TERESA-COME BE MY LIGHT a book cover
The saint, Mother Teresa, lived her life committed to the purpose she felt called to do- take care of the poor, sick, and suffering people in India.

Environmental Wellness – how you feel about where you live and work.

Whether it’s your own home, your neighborhood, city, country, or the world, your environment can make you feel safe and protected , or can make you feel uncomfortable and insecure, depending on the quality of the air, water, and physical surroundings.

Where you live often determines your access to basic services and goods necessary for health and wellness, what doctors call the social determinants of health  such as

  • doctor’s and dentist’s offices
  • hospitals
  • pharmacies
  • grocery stores that sell nutritious food

as well as access to schools, church, jobs, entertainment.

sign on an urgent care clinic

Environment may even change our genetic makeup. According to an article shared at Smithsonian.com

“A team of researchers from Northwestern University led by anthropology professor Thom McDade have shown that DNA can also be modified by your environment during childhood. What’s more, the authors conclude in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those modifications can affect how or when you develop certain illnesses during adulthood.”

Occupational Wellness- finding personal fulfillment from our jobs or our chosen career .

Feeling that we are contributing to the society we live in, whether it’s through employment, voluntary service, or nurturing a family unit can give us a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

When you realize that we often spend the majority of our waking hours at work, you can see why work has a major impact on our health. In my medical practice, I frequently encounter patients with job problems that impact their health.  This includes

  • physical demands, exposure to dangerous substances, environments, and situations
  • time demands, shift work, long hours, lack of time off
  • job insecurity due to uncertain employer stability, unclear job expectations, inadequate training
  • interpersonal conflicts with supervisors, other employees, clients, customers

These can lead to

  • physical injuries
  • fatigue, sleep deprivation
  • feelings of stress, anxiety, depression

Read about how a bad work environment may be worse than being unemployed in this CNN report.

 Bad work environment-bad for your health

drawing of a man reading a book which hides his face

Intellectual Wellness- opening  our minds to new ideas and experiences in order to increase our knowledge and skills

Whether through formal education in a school or through individual learning pursuits , keeping our minds active seems to be a key to remaining fit and active as we age, and may even slow or prevent the onset of dementia, as recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Stay Mentally Active.

THE SPIRIT OF LEARNING IS A LASTING FRONTIER
plaque in front of the Bizzell Library, at the University of Oklahoma

 “THE SPIRIT OF

LEARNING IS

A LASTING

FRONTIER.”

Physical Wellness-  the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life that allows us to get through our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress.

These dimensions of health aren’t linear so much as they are circular-one leads to another. Addressing our physical health makes the other 6 easier to accomplish. In this category we would consider

  • weight management
  • physical activity
  • avoiding substances like tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs
  • adequate quality sleep

WHO’s “Prerequisites for Health”

The World Health Organization later expanded their health definition .

They wrote, “To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, an individual  must be able

  • to identify and to realize aspirations,
  • to satisfy needs, and
  • to change or cope with the environment.

Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living.

Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”

I encourage you to read Rev. Larson’s book; There's a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick by Bruce Larsonit’s vintage but still challenging and inspirational.

Explore the 7 Dimensions of Wellness page and the other information the University of California, Riverside offers to their employees and to us, and for which I thank them.

 

Now think about which of the 7 dimensions you need to work on, devote more attention to, or change, to reach your optimal state of wellness. 

I’m certainly going to look harder at my own life to see where I need to make changes. Here are some questions to consider.

When was the last time I read a book about something I didn’t already know about?

How can I make more time for social activities with friends and family?

Is my job a source of intellectual stimulation and satisfaction, or does it drain my emotional and physical energy?

GOALS written on a sheet of paper
What new goals will help me achieve the health i want?

Are there habits I need to change to improve my physical well-being-lose weight, quit smoking, eat more nutritious foods?

Do I make time for goal setting, self-assessment,  meditation, nurturing and practicing my faith?

Who do I need to forgive, and what situations do I need to lay aside and move on?

I would love for you to leave a comment or send me a message if you just want me to know. 

Here are some other posts that might inspire you in your exploration.

Health is Primary
Health is Primary, a program committed to improving the health care system and patients’ health

7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope

Use your phone to get fit

Expert advice to sleep well every night

non-drug ways to get well and stay well

In a previous post I introduced you to Mind Over Meds by Dr. Andrew Weil . I reviewed 7 classes of medications he teaches we should use less often. MIND OVER MEDS- book cover

In another previous post I shared 7 drug classes I consider overused, 4 of which he discusses in his book.

In this follow up post I list alternatives to drug therapy. These are also adjuncts to medication- meaning we recommend using them even if you do need medication.

Dr. Weil mentions these in his book, and I’ve pulled from other sources too.

This is a brief overview of several approaches, not a complete list. If you are interested in knowing more, I suggest exploring the reference links. I invite you to send me a message about a topic you would like me to explore in more depth here.

This post uses affiliate links  that support this blog and non-affiliate links that don’t.

EAT TO TREAT

I, Dr. Weil and most physicians recommend diet changes to treat and prevent many common medical conditions. Almost any health issue can be improved with better food choices.

bottle of olive oil
Olive oil is an important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet .

The Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish,  and healthy fats like olive oil, seems to protect against heart disease and increase longevity.

The DASH diet is the first choice to lower blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and also emphasizes fresh foods and healthy choices.

The American Diabetes Association offers extensive information on eating to control diabetes.

Food choices are also important in treating high cholesterol, GERD, allergy, heart disease, overweight, gout, kidney stones and other kidney disease, and possibly other conditions.

PLANTS THAT TREAT

Herbal medicines are endorsed by Dr. Weil; he points out that early synthetic drugs were derived from plants. Unfortunately most physicians have not had extensive training in their use. They are also not regulated as stringently as prescription drugs so quality may not be uniform.

Herbal medicines are used to treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms including headaches, gastric distress, hot flushes, depression, insomnia, pain, allergy among others. Scientific confirmation of their effectiveness is lacking for most, but some patients find them helpful and some physicians endorse, or at best tolerate their use.

The unsupervised use of herbs and other dietary supplements can be dangerous, especially if combined with other drugs.

USING OUR MINDS

Mind-body therapies can be helpful in managing painful conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), migraine, joint pain, and anxiety/depressive disorders. These include

  • Hyposis
  • Biofeedback
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation techniques

 

 TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Breath work- changing habits of breathing and specific breathing techniques can relieve anxiety, and manage stress. Dr. Weil calls

Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing and teaches how to do it in this recording. 

GET MOVING

Exercise and other forms of physical activity help manage all kinds of musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, lowers blood pressure, aids weight loss,relieves anxiety and depression.  They may even have a role in preventing or delaying the onset of dementia. This includes

woman standing on a rock in a forest
Walking, especially outdoors, can relieve feelings of stress and tension as well as improve physical fitness.  Photo from Lightstock.com

graphic

Yoga

Tai chai

Aerobics

Strength training

Dance

Sports

Walking

Jogging

Bicycling

 TOUCH

Manual medicine is used to manage back, neck, and other musculoskeletal pain and headaches.

  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • TNS-transcutaneous nerve stimulation
  • Massage
  • Support with splints, wraps, slings, braces

TRAINING THE MIND

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other forms of psychotherapy should be a part of the treatment of most mental disorders and may be the only treatment needed for mild conditions. The use of therapy animals also fits here.

CHANGING OUR LIVES

Lifestyle evaluation and adjustments can improve any medical condition and is also one of the most important factors in prevention of disease.

 

Hygiene                           

a sink with colorful wall decorations
Who knew handwashing could be entertaining?

Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent many infections, especially those that can be transmitted by food and water. Proper food preparation and storage and kitchen clean up also contribute to safety.

 

 

 

 

Sleep

Habits that create sleep deprivation or poor sleep contribute to depression,musculoskeletal pain, headaches, fatigue, and even make us more prone to infection. Check out this previous post on how to get a good night’s sleep

a bed in a room
One’s sleep environment affects quality of sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chemicals and pollutants

Avoidance of allergens and toxins should be automatic. For allergy, any known allergens -substances that cause allergy symptoms-can often be eliminated from one’s immediate environment, although I have had patients who insisted on keeping pets that they were allergic to. If the allergens cannot be completely eliminated, you can at least minimize exposure.

At this affiliate link you can find products to help eliminate allergens in your home


 

It seems we call everything a “toxin” these days, and detox regimens are popular. (although our bodies naturally detox us every day).

Anything in excess can be harmful. But our overall health as a society would improve immensely if more people would avoid the obvious toxins of tobacco, excess alcohol, and illicit drugs.

sign says NO smoking, wilderness area
When walking, wear proper shoes; and don’t smoke.

Review 7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress management 

Many of the techniques I’ve mentioned help with stress management. In turn, managing the stressful events and situations in our lives can help us feel more rested, less tense, more relaxed, calmer, and able to manage our other medical problems better.

FamilyDoctor.org offers these steps to Managing Daily Stress 

 

 

Dr. Weil recommends these resources about  integrative and complementary medical treatments

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The Office of Dietary Supplements 

 

Dr. Weil’s books are also available at


Barnes & Noble – Free Shipping of $25+

 

If you found this post helpful, please share with friends and colleagues. And let me know too. I welcome feedback and use it to plan future posts.