The average person is living in a state of altered reality about their health which only seems to be penetrated on the day they hear those terrible words “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” (or heart disease, diabetes or any number of chronic or acute illnesses). A doctor friend of mine put it very well when he said his patients all seem to have been cursed with the double dominant “it won’t happen to me” gene.
Where does this disallusional state of denial come from?
· Do we have that much confidence that the medical profession can fix anything?
· Do we really think we are invincible and that ill health only happens to others?
· Or do people really think they’re healthy because they eat an occasional salad and take the dog for a walk?
These questions may sound silly but how else can you explain the incredible increase in obesity in the last ten years, the epidemic of diabetes sweeping the country or the still excessively large number of people who die unnecessarily of heart disease and cancer? Yes, unnecessarily is a very true term because over 70% of all illnesses are preventable. The problem clearly seems to be the unwillingness of the average person to do a true assessment of their current health and an accurate projection of their probability for becoming ill. It’s as if an entire nation was saying “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”.
Well, here’s a little surprise for all of you perfectly average “it won’t happen to me” champions. What you don’t know can hurt you and probably will. And the most powerful part of this lack of public awareness and honesty is that we live at a time when more information on how to protect our health is available than at any other time in human history. The internet has opened up the floodgates of information on every possible way to avoid and treat every disease known to mankind. And when does the average person take advantage of this wealth of information? Why, of course, it’s the day after they have heard those previously mentioned major words, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” (or whatever).
When you interview these suddenly sick people and ask why didn’t you pay more attention to your health the responses are quite remarkable.
· I’m so young. I never thought it would happen to me.
· I was so busy with my job and my family. There never seemed to be enough time to get a physical or read up on health.
· I watched my diet and didn’t smoke or drink much so why would I be concerned about my health?
· There’s no history of this in my family. Who knew?
The amazement and niativity go on and on until you almost become sympathetic. After all, there are a number of very good reasons why the average person knows very little about how to be really healthy.
· Doctors don’t learn much about nutrition or prevention so they don’t promote it very much. They’re into treatment because that’s what they’re trained for and what they’re paid for.
· Commercials promote fast food, donuts, soft drinks and prescription drugs because they have the money and they know what appeals to the average person’s taste buds or our desire for quick fixes.
· The government promotes a food pyramid that causes cancer and heart disease due to pressure form the meat and dairy industry. The Asian and Mediterranean food pyramids do not look like ours which is why they have so much less cancer and heart disease.
· Schools get our kids started on sugar and fat with financial bribes from the soda industry and free school lunch food loaded with fat (our meat and dairy friends again).
· And the media flirts with meaningful stories on healthy lifestyles but only a few, like Oprah Winfrey, seem to get it right because the rest are too spineless to do proper research.
· Some employers seem to have caught on and started wellness programs, but too many of them only go half way and avoid the real cutting edge prevention strategies that people really need.
· The government also tries to improve health care with things like a patient’s bill of rights, but this just addresses the symptoms and not the root cause of our health problem.
Our problem is that people, average people, have not taken personal responsibility for their health. As a result, we are on our way to a healthcare nightmare from which we may never awaken.
· The Center for Disease Control says 30 years ago only 10% of our population was chronically ill and now that figure is 40%.
· Over 50% of all personal bankruptcies are due in part to medical bills.
· Health care used to consume 7% of the GNP 30 years ago and now it consumes over 20%. Simon Frasier University in Canada says that in 40 years health care could consume 50% of the GNP.
There is a health care crisis and it lives and thrives in nearly every home in America. There is not one person I know who could not make major strides to improve the health of themselves and their family. There are many things they could and should do but here are the top 10 things everyone and anyone should do.
1. Do proper health assessment including family history (go online, there are dozens to choose from).
2. Read and research natural health trends, at least an hour or two each week. Go to a health food store.
3. Drink 8 glasses of water every day.
4. Take vitamins, minerals and enzymes as recommended in one of the articles you read. They really work.
5. Exercise every day, walking as a minimum but hopefully aerobic and some weight bearing exercise.
6. Stop poisoning your body with alcohol, caffeine or nicotine.
7. Cut back on fats and sweets while seriously increasing whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
8. Practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing because they reduce stress and chemically reduce heart attacks.
9. Eat 5 small meals a day because your body was designed for this approach to eating.
10. Develop healthy relationships and avoid people who make you tense.
If you have taken the time to read this article, then there is hope for you. In fact, you’re probably doing many of the things on the preceding list and are just looking for the next good thing to do to improve your health. If that’s true, this article was probably too basic for you, but what you could do is give it to someone you care about. Let me be the bad guy who tells people they’re not paying enough attention to their health. You can simply be the messenger and everyone knows you never shoot the messenger, at least average people don’t.