Maintenance of Physical Health and Living Disease Free.

We are still building a foundation before we get to the topic of  real happiness and health, so today I am going to focus on physical health. It is hard to separate physical health from the emotional health because one effects the other , but I will mainly talk about what we can do to keep ourselves free of disease.  I will emphasize the  general principles and give examples of specifics so you can adopt the principles to your own lifestyle. As the old saying goes “ounce of prevention is worth a pound”, this is true for staying free of disease too.

 

Annual Medical: We are often rushing around just to keep up with doing the essential tasks in our daily lives,  it is important that one of these essential tasks be to have a yearly medical. The annual medical may pick up chronic conditions that are just starting, conditions that may give you no symptoms or  symptoms you may have just got used to, such as mild tendency to be tired or to have mildly low mood ; these symptoms can be caused by low thyroid hormone , diabetes , anemia, Addison’s disease or low testosterone. Blood work done annually may pick up or give clue to these conditions being present. Bowel polyps, which can turn into a cancer should be screened with occult blood test at age 50, those with a family history or with ancestry  of african decent should start prostate cancer  screening around age 45 and the breast cancer screening should start around age 40. If there is a family history of cancer , heart diseases, diabetes  or other condition that runs in the family then the screening and prevention becomes even more crucial and may have to start earlier then the general population. The earlier the chronic conditions are detected the better the long term out come. If you haven’t had a medical for few years, then phone your doctors office and book one today.

Annual Physical Examination

Diet: In recent years there is increasing evidence that the processed or manufactured food maybe associated with a  low grade inflammation mediated by cytokine. This is very harmful. Let me explain. The cytokine mediate an important healing process in our bodies when some part of our body is invaded by foreign agent or is injured , but only if the process stays localized and get turned off after the threat has been dealt with appropriately. If it becomes generalized and chronic as in autoimmune disorders (for example rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma,SLE , ulcerative colitis , crohn’s disease,ankylosing spondylitis, wegener’s disease, polyarteritis nodosa, sarcoidosis and many more) then it starts to damage normal tissues in the body and causes great harm. The autoimmune diseases have have high levels of cytokine ( which means high level of inflammation in the body) and therefore are  associated with higher incident of heart disease, depression, diabetes etc. It is therefore important to keep the  generalized inflammation  in the body low as possible to prevent chronic diseases and maybe even cancer. Our diet can help us reduce the inflammation, this diet is becoming to be known as the ” anti-inflammatory diet”. Dr Andrew Weil is a big advocate for this diet and has some convincing arguments to back up his claim. He goes into details in he is books which I have listed below. Basically recommends avoiding processed food because fat and carbohydrates in them promote inflammation and in addition fail to provide protective nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and phytonuritents ; which comes from fruits and vegetables. He also recommends foods with antioxidants such as olive oil, tea and chocolate ; novel compounds in ginger, turmeric and other spices and herbs; oily fish for special fats. These all goes towards protecting our body tissues  and organs from inappropriate inflammation. If you want more details check his website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other triggers for inflammation are tobacco smoke, chemicals in the house hold products,pollutants in the air , water, and food. These should be avoided as much as possible.

The other  factors that will reduce inflammation are appropriate use of dietary supplements, exercise, stress reduction,  adequate quantity and quality of sleep. You can assess if you are getting enough restful sleep at :- http://psychologytoday.test.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1329.

Dietary supplement: Dietary supplements should be discussed with your doctor before taking them if you are on medication because there may be interaction with your medication and the supplements.It is generally held opinion by the purists  that if you eat balanced diet, with different coloured fruits and vegetable then one doesn’t need vitamins. However, since the stores are full of manufactured foods and good quality foods are harder to come by especially in winter months; as well  the fruits and vegetables are not properly ripened. So argument can be made for taking multivitamin with minerals tablet, Vitamin D 2000 IU , omega-3 fatty acids in form of fish oil and B- complex vitamins.

Other measure: Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, recreational drugs, and anti-anxiety drugs if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These recommendation will at least point you in the right direction for staying free of disease. I will try to deal with these topic in greater details in the future post. Until then stay healthy and happy.

Resources: Spontaneous Happiness – by Andrew Weil, MD

Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. Susan

     /  November 18, 2011

    Thanks for taking the time to start this very important discussion. It is just the push I need to get healthy. I am paying close attention because as you know I am always striving to make a healthier and happier me!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your feedback, I am pleased it give you at little push to start the journey towards real health and happiness. Keep tuned, more to come soon.

      Reply
  2. Hector Marois

     /  November 20, 2011

    I was under the impression that 1000 IU of Vitamin D was plenty adequate but I’ve noticed that you recommeneded 2000 IU. Would our bodies effectively absorb the 2000 IU?

    Reply
    • Hi Hector, great question. As we get older it is more difficult to absorb Vit. D and some experts are now recommending 2000 IU ; but it is a fat soluble vitamin so potentially it can lead to toxicity. Having said that I find in my practice more the 50% are deficient.In some older people after taking 1000IU the levels were still suboptimal. The best thing to do is to have your doctor measure it once in a while.

      Reply
  3. Hi Dr. Chana,

    What do think of this 56 minute video: http://video.pbs.org/video/2363162206, shown on PBS regarding discussing IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor)?

    Reply

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