REAL PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: Five Keys to Staying Healthy

REAL PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: Five Keys to Staying Healthy

What we call "Preventive Medicine" in America in this late 20th century is really more appropriately termed "early intervention" and "early diagnosis."

Having immunization injections or taking tests such as x-rays and mammograms, prostate exams, and blood tests are not really preventive in nature. Rather, they are an attempt to detect diseases in an early state. What is promoted as cancer prevention, with the use of mammograms or prostate exams, sigmoidoscopes or colonoscopes, is really early cancer diagnosis. This is done in hopes that cancer can be aggressively attacked before it spreads and destroys the entire body and life.

Cancer represents a state of toxicity and its reaction on cellular mechanisms in the body; it is a disease of our body and not separate from it, and represents some breakdown or misguidance of our intricate immune system. Preventing cancer (and cardiovascular diseases, as well) is indeed a most important goal in preventive medicine.

Real Preventive Medicine, preventing acute and chronic diseases (in other words, Staying Healthy), results from the way we live. We are a culmination of our life experiences. Our health is a by-product of our life -- our genes and constitutional state, our upbringing and the habits we develop, our diets, our stresses and how we deal with them, our illnesses and how we treat them (whether we attempt to discover the underlying cause and change our lifestyle so that we no longer manifest disease patterns), all of this and more affects the level of health and vitality we experience.

How we live -- our lifestyle choices -- is the key to long-term health, quality of life, and vitality in our later years.

The five keys to good health and disease prevention are:

Diet - what we eat and how (i.e. our intake habits).
Exercise - stretching and working our body regularly to keep it flexible and strong.
Sleep - adequate rest and sleep (and dream time) for each of us is crucial to "recharging our batteries," healing many problems, keeping our moods balanced and staying healthy.
Stress Management - learning to deal with life's ups and downs.
Attitude - keeping a positive outlook so that we treat ourselves and others with the life-supporting respect and care we deserve.
The first level of dietary reform involves assessing potentially toxic daily habits, such as the regular use of sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals (what I call our SNACCs), and cleaning these up or taking breaks from them to re-assess our health potential and how we feel. I believe that all of these substance abuses so common in modem day cultures act as insidious poisons when used consistently over the years. The incidence of chronic, debilitating disease is steadily growing in our culture and these long-term habits are also prime contributors to this poor health in our aging years.

My nutritional message in my personal life, practice and my books has been to turn back to a Nature-based diet for greater vitality and health, to eat closer to the Earth's food source, away from the boxed and canned foods and the refined and chemicallized cuisine. Focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. nuts and seeds, and much less animal-based foods and refined/processed foods will greatly improve health, both in our immediate future and over the years.

Our exercise program must be frequent (at least 3-4 times per week), consistent over the years, and balanced, which is very important. A balanced exercise program should include regular stretching for flexibility, weight work for building tone and strength, and aerobics for endurance and stamina. Exercising regularly commonly improves body function and health as well as attitude. It is one of our best stress managers, relaxers and mood elevators.

Sleep offers life's balance for all of our activity -- and that's physical, mental and emotional activity too. Like breathing fresh air, drinking good quality water, and eating a nourishing diet, our nightly quality sleep is crucial to our well-being. There are many stages of sleep important to our body's recharging itself, and although we all do not regularly recollect our dreams, we need to sleep deeply enough to go in to REM (rapid eye movement) dream sleep. If we are not sleeping well, applying the other principles of Preventive Medicine (such as eating well, avoiding stimulants and exercising), may help. And we don't have to rum to medications for sleep because there are many natural remedies that work such as calcium and magnesium, l- tryptophan (back again) and many herbal relaxers.

Managing stress is a key element in minimizing health risk and enjoying life. Stresses are our body/mind response to our personal experiences. There are so many illnesses and diseases that are generated or worsened by stress that it is imperative that each of us develop skills to deal with mental and physical demands and emotional challenges. Simple relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, sports, outdoor activities, especially internal disciplines like yoga or Tai Chi are extremely valuable in dealing with daily and long-term stress.

I believe that one of the greatest problems of modem day life is the INDIGESTION of Life. Most of us do not have enough personal time to digest and assimilate our daily experiences -- work, relationships, and food that we experience rapid-fire through our daily existence. This leads to the implosion of energy and the potential explosion of emotions or bodily symptoms. These are our body's attempt to convey messages that we do not have time to receive and incorporate. Here again, it would be helpful if we were to take time to quiet ourselves, to breathe and listen, to digest and assimilate, to experience and enjoy. Taking time to clear ourselves, to become current and ready for new creativity and life is a concept that can lead us to more optimum health.

Likewise, staying positive and motivated to experience life, unafraid to handle challenges or deal with uncomfortable emotions is also crucial to health. Lifestyle medicine is the highest art of healing for each of us. As a doctor, I believe that the most important thing I can do is to encourage my patients and readers to make personal changes in their lifestyle: diet, exercise, proper sleep, stress management and attitude. If our lifestyle supports health, then we can influence our own health over the course of our entire lives. Our personal health and well-being is up to each of us. We can begin by first assessing our health and lifestyle. What changes will provide us with more energy, greater clarity and vitality, and better overall health and longevity? We can create a plan to implement and experience a better quality of health with fewer sick days, fewer doctor's visits, and a more enjoyable and livable life.

The Share Guide.


By Elson M. Haas

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