Tag Archives: prevention

HEALTH in red capital letters

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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multiple American flags waving

for our “Safety and Happiness”-USA healthcare

“to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. ” the Declaration of Independence

The  United States may not have “socialized medicine”, but several federal agencies and many laws regulate health care for us. Let’s look at some of them.

 

The National Institutes of Health posted this infographic about the challenges of communicating health risk .

 

Health risks are often misunderstood, underestimated, or overestimated. This chart explains how to know what to ignore and what to explore.

Remember that risk does not equal disease-there are few health risks that inevitably lead to illness, disability, or death.

 

 

The Smithsonian offers us this article about

8 diseases to watch out for at the beach

young women walking on a beach

 

“Despite its idyllic facade, the beach can be a dangerous place—and swimmer’s ear, sunburn and jellyfish stings may be the least of your worries. Beaches can get pretty dirty, and this pollution can come with some nasty pathogens.”

 

 

Public Health Service 

Michelle Holshue is a nurse, an NIH researcher, and a global public health responder. She is one of more than 79,000 people who make HHS run every day.”

The Food and Drug Administration reminds us how to avoid getting allergic reactions from these plants -poison ivy, poison sumac,  and poison oak.

 

4 Tips to Outsmarting Poisonous Plants

 

 

Meet Dr. Nadja West- United States Army

 

She’s a wife, mother, physician; oh, and by the way, a 3-star general in the U.S. Army, highest ranking woman ever to graduate from West Point.

 

 

 

 

Here’s another post about the United States healthcare system.

Let’s celebrate Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

 

ribbon with words "made in the USA"

graphic from photo website Lightstock.com (affiliate link)

How has USA government healthcare impacted your life? Please share your experience or insights.

And please share this post. Thank you.

Dr. Aletha 

How to stay safe and well this summer

(This post includes affiliate links, from which a purchase might pay a commission to this blog, but cost you nothing extra. thank you. )

Since this week is the official start of summer, at least in the northern hemisphere, I’ll share some resources on staying safe and healthy this summer.

Summer often means travel, and no one wants their vacation spoiled by getting sick. So here is some helpful advice from the New York Times health blog on how to avoid illness, especially if travelling abroad.

Staying Healthy While Travelling The Globe 

 

couple with llamas

up close with llamas at Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

 

 

 

 

Two pediatricians  at Two Peds in a Pod explain how to use sunscreen to prevent sunburn

The best sunscreen:questions answered

 

Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen

Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen

 

 

The  New York Times also explained how much water we need to drink to stay hydrated; it may not be what you think.

Dehydration: Risks and Myths 

 

 

 

Recently I discussed mosquito born diseases like malaria and Zika virus infection and preventing foot blisters at-

Exploring health from head to toe

 

a mosquito on a leaf

Mosquitoes are tiny but the diseases they carry can be deadly.

 

 

 

Why not commit to giving up tobacco use this summer? Here are

7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

 

2015-09-14 13.33.50

AT 7 FALLS IN COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

 

 

 

And summer is a great time to catch up on some useful reading.

What are you reading? book suggestions for health and fitness

 

statue of boy reading a book

Children and adults can develop a reading habit.

 

 

recommended vaccines for children

Vaccination prevents disease- part 1

 

Prevention is a focus in healthcare now  and immunization has  been one of the most effective ways to prevent disease ever developed.

The list of diseases that are “vaccine preventable” is long and continues to grow.

Vaccine recommendations may be based on a person’s

  •  age,
  • gender,
  • ethnicity and
  • concurrent conditions, especially diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases, heart disease and  immune suppressing disorders.

Vaccine administration may vary by

  • the number of doses recommended,
  • how far apart the doses should be given, and
  • which vaccines can be administered at the same time.

 

Immunization protocols have  become so complex that even physicians have difficulty keeping it straight without the use of paper or digital checklists. This is one area where the Internet and EMRs (electronic medical records) can be useful.

Create an immunization schedule for your child from birth to 6 years of age

2016 recommended immunizations for children

2016 recommended immunizations for children (the 2017 schedule is available on the CDC website)

 

Vaccines for infections caused by bacteria

I use the name of the disease and/or the bacteria, rather than the vaccine name, since there are different brand names for the vaccines depending on the manufacturer.

So successful have these vaccines been that most young doctors have never seen a patient with these diseases (unless perhaps they specialize in infectious disease, immunology, emergency medicine or critical care). And even I, who graduated medical school in 1978, have only seen a few, and none in recent years.

Diphtheria-primarily a respiratory tract illness in young persons

Pertussis, better know as whooping cough, also a respiratory illness, which has made a comeback in recent years, apparently due to a waning of immunity

Tetanus, also called “lockjaw”– due to a toxin which may contaminate a dirty wound

Menigococcal disease, which is one of many causes of meningitis (inflammation of the brain lining), but one of the most deadly, even with treatment

Streptococcal pneumoniae disease; the vaccine is often referred to as the “pneumonia vaccine”, but the bacteria can also cause ear infections, sinusitis, meningitis and sepsis (bloodstream infection)

Haemophilus disease is similar to pneumococcal, but more of a concern in infants and children

 

Six Things YOU Need to Know about Vaccines

 

 

 Pneumococcal Vaccination from JAMA

infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae

 

 

 Pandemic- a book review

Infection is still a major health issue worldwide

and epidemics are still a threat. This book explains why.                 Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Vaccination prevents disease, part 2