7 questions about health you need to ask now

What does “health” mean to you?

Health- flux and adaptation

Let’s continue exploring the heart of health by looking at a couple of interesting books. In a previous post we considered the WHO (World Health Organization)definition of health

“a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being

and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Or you could also say

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

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

So, what is “a lot more”? 

I’m introducing you to two medical writers who believe  health is multifaceted and not centered around the presence or absence of disease.

(Note: this post uses affiliate links to sites where you might make a purchase which will help fund this blog; your help is appreciated. )

Enjoying life to the fullest

Despite the author’s  impressive credentials, I was skeptical about a health book called “The Lucky Years”, as if health is just a matter of the luck of the draw or throw of the dice.  book cover- The LUCKY YEARS by David B. Agus, M.D.

The author is David B. Agus, M.D. , Professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California , , author of two bestselling books and a CBS News contributor.

In The Lucky Years- How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health Dr. Agus covers some hefty topics including

  • how the human body ages
  • Innovative cancer treatments with immunotherapy , DNA sequencing, and molecular targeting
  • The use of clinical trials to study new treatments for cancer and other diseases
  • How cancers metastasize (spread)
  • Potential uses for stem cells
  • New insights into the development of antibiotic resistance
  • Proteomics- study of the body’s proteins
  • The relationship of antibodies to common viruses to onset of chronic diseases

Rather than highly technical detail he offers a broad overview of these new technologies and how they may help treat and potentially prevent the main causes of death, that is cancer and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

He recommends patients understand and use technology to maintain and improve their health and not rely solely on their doctor to do so and to actively participate in the healthcare system.

He believes that health data will be used to prevent, detect and treat disease and to prolong life.

Large quantities of such data, organized in a secure database, will help us predict risk and recommend preventive measures, such as already done with

  • Colonoscopy to prevent deaths from colon cancer
  • Aspirin and statin use to prevent cardiac deaths
  • Management of low grade cancers conservatively, avoiding the use of surgery or chemotherapy

Health is in perpetual flux. 

I agree with Dr. Agus’ views on what health is, or rather what it is not.

“I don’t know what true health is, particularly on an individual basis.

For person A, health can be living totally free of illness and disability.

For person B, however, perhaps health means managing a condition well and enjoying life to the fullest despite some disability.

While we can certainly try to measure health in a variety of ways- weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood cell count, hormone levels, markers of inflammation, how you look, and how well you sleep, for example- none of those figures or generalizations will tell the whole picture.

And they won’t reveal how many years and days you might have left on this planet.”

He offers this advice –

“I encourage you to view your total health as a complex network of processes that cannot be explained by looking at any one pathway or focal point. Health is in perpetual flux.

The body is an incredible self-regulating machine. You don’t need to do much to support its health and optimal wellness.”

A constant state of healthy adaptation

Nutritionist Hailey Pomroy, author of Fast Metabolism Food Rx, recommends using food as “metabolic medicine.”  book cover- FAST METABOLISM FOOD RX BY HAYLIE POMROY

“Food integrates with your body to create health in a powerful way.”

She explains health using a formula E + M = H which means

Eating, Exercise, Environment  plus

Metabolism, metabolic pathways, Me  equals

Health, Homeostasis, Harmony

In this formula, E stands for everything we put into our bodies as well as everything around us, including people, your job, the weather.

M is what is inside of you, including your genetic makeup, and what happens when your body processes (or metabolizes) food, nutrients, toxins, medications.

“Health doesn’t always mean you are disease free, It means your body has created a homeostasis or internal balance, …is a constant state of healthy adaptation or flux.”

Considering their advice, think about what health means to you.

Use these questions to get started.

  1. Do you use any type of technology to manage your health and medical care? If so, is it helpful, or just more busy work?
  2. What is your relationship with your personal physician? Do you rely on your doctor to tell you what you should do, or recommend what you should do to stay healthy and treat ailments?
  3. Do you know what  medical conditions you are at risk for, and what you can  do to prevent them?
  4. What health measures are important to you, like blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, BMI, mammogram, and why?
  5. Are you “living life to the fullness” and if not, why not? What could you change to make that happen?
  6. How do you use food?
  7. What factors make up your E and your M? Do they add up to the Health that you want to create?

If none of these questions fit your answer, that’s ok, I want to hear your thoughts on health. Share your answers in the comments, or in a message if you prefer to remain anonymous, I will share and discuss them in a future post. Thank you.

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Health blogs you should read- blogs by docs (part 1)

Why read Health, Fitness, and Medical blogs

Since I started blogging I have reviewed many health, fitness and wellness blogs. I find most of them interesting and/or entertaining. I find a few of them informative, stimulating ,and valuable.

  • health bloggers who write about their personal experience dealing with a particular medical condition, which I think can be powerful and helpful.
  • bloggers who discuss and promote a particular lifestyle or product that they believe has value to health and/or fitness.
  • blogs written by people with training and experience in some aspect of medical care, wellness, fitness and/or nutrition (all of which I define broadly)

I think all of these blogs have a place and all seem to have their audience. One of the first things I check when I read a blog is the “about” section, or its equivalent. I want to know who writes the blog and what their credentials are. Anyone who writes a blog about a particular topic should clearly and accurately state their credentials for that topic, or lack of, if that’s the case. (I state my credentials on the page “Meet Dr. Aletha”)

Health blogs worth reading

In this blog series, I tell you about health blogs that I think are worth reading. Most of them are written by physicians, medical scientists, other health professionals and affiliated professionals. Persons who spend the majority, if not all, of their adult life studying and pursuing a discipline, likely know that subject well.

I recommend these health blogs because they

  • offer valid medical information on a variety of topics.
  • offer sound advice without quick fixes.
  • discuss common everyday health concerns
  • discuss the healthcare system, how it works well and how it doesn’t.
  • offer insights on healthy living, both as individuals, families and a society.
  • show you how physicians think , feel and act , both as persons and professionals
  • will educate and challenge you.

These blogs open a window into the medical community.  You may be surprised that physicians have the same concerns about health and medical care as you , and some that you are unaware of. Most importantly, you will find they are on your side; they care about you,their patients,  probably a lot more than you care about them.

These bloggers’ viewpoints often surprise and challenge me; I don’t always agree with them and you may not either.  By recommending them, I don’t endorse their opinions, nor do I benefit financially.  

“Alert and Oriented”

the progress notes of Michel Accad, M.D.

(Doctors write progress notes  in the charts of hospitalized patients to document medical treatment and response each day)

Dr. Accad is a cardiologist and internist in solo private practice and teaches at the University of California San Francisco.

” ‘Alert and Oriented’ is a medical phrase that describes the mental status of a patient who, despite being in serious shock from trauma or disease, maintains clarity of mind and focus of thought.

EKG tracing of heart activity on a cardiac monitor.
Based on the heart rhythm, this patient is likely alert and oriented.

Sadly, the medical community enmeshed in today’s health care system is like a patient in acute shock. The only chance to survive is to remain alert and oriented.” (quote from the blog introduction)

Dr. Accad blogs about the healthcare system, the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics, medical economics, and health care policy.

In this post he explains the

evolution of the food pyramid to the healthy plate nutrition recommendation.

healthy plate of vegetables , pita bread and hummus

In another interesting post, he explains

why mammograms may be over diagnosing breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening and treatment: One size doesn't fit all. bras hanging on a clothes line

The Accad and Koka Report podcast

Dr. Accad has joined Anish Koka, M.D. in a weekly medical podcast, The Accad & Koka Report. In their own words,

We discuss current topics in medical science, policy, economics, and ethics, always with an eye toward safeguarding the doctor-patient relationship .

Their conversations are aimed more at physicians than patients, but if you want to know what some physicians really think about the U.S. healthcare system, you might find out here. Here is an episode anyone might find interesting-what happened when a 90 year old patient of Dr. Koka was told

“You’ll be dead in a year”- A Patient’s Journey though the Healthcare System

exploring the HEART of health

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.

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, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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