Key Preventive Health Measures – Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

woman weight trains on beach
Today most health insurance policies provide yearly health examines and very limited preventive medicine coverage. It’s imperative though that people be proactive in their approach to healthcare to avoid illness and get treatment for on-going conditions before they become serious. People must become their own healthcare advocates.

Here are some basic recommendations:

  • Get a check-up. How often you have a check-up can be determined by your age, sex and overall health.  Have your blood pressure checked and get screened for hypertension.
  • Stay physically active and exercise regularly. Something as simple as a daily 30-minute walk will do wonders for your overall health.
  • Weight can be a killer. Address any overweight and obesity issues you may have.
  • Eat a healthful diet that features daily servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables and at least one serving of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout) per week. Consider a high quality fish oil pill that has been concentrated and purified to give you 1,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA in a single soft gel.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Avoid unhealthful snacks. Stay away from processed foods to the best of your ability. Avoid simple carbohydrates. Sugar is your enemy.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether or not taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks and stroke is right for you.
  •  Get immunized: Annual flu shots are recommended for adults 50 and older, as well as immunization of adults 65 and older against bacteria that causes pneumonia and related diseases. Children should get immunized for measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, etc.
  • Cholesterol screening is imperative. Request an assessment of not only your LDL but your LDL particle number as well. Liposcience does this in their NMR LipoProfile.
  • Never smoke; quit smoking if you’ve already started; and avoid second hand smoke.
  • Adults 50 and older should have a routine colorectal-cancer screening.
  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women and women over 21 years of age.
  • Routine breast-cancer screening for women 50 and older and discussion with women ages 40 to 49 to set an age to begin screening. Other special recommendations may apply to high risk women. Speak to your doctor.
  • Calcium-supplement counseling for adolescent girls and women.
  • Get an eye exam, particularly adults 65 and older.

Please remember that central to overall health is daily exercise, a healthful diet, and maintenance of an optimal weight. We call this TLC, or Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. TLC is paramount for health!

 

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Multi-Vitamins/Multi-Minerals To Take or Not to Take… And if You do Take, Then Which One?

vitamins and pills

The question of whether or not multi-vitamins/multi-minerals can help us has remained hotly debated over the past few decades. Those in favor will point to studies showing benefits, while those opposed will of course cite studies that have failed to demonstrate advantages. So what should we, physicians, and you, the lay public do? How do we all sort out the copious and oftentimes conflicting data?

First, let’s briefly examine the way clinical trials are performed. Some simply look at populations retrospectively (back in time), and through questionnaires asking “Do you take a multivitamin?” compare the outcomes of those who do and those who do not answer yes to this simple query. No knowledge of the supplement’s contents is gleaned; no comparison is made among the plethora of diametrically constructed supplements. We simply learn whether or not people are taking “multiples”, as if they were all the same. Other studies pre-select supplements, such as those that have looked at high dose beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Typically these trials have actually utilized synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherols), known to be inferior to its natural counterpart. Usually these latter trials have failed to demonstrate benefit, and their results have been extrapolated to mean that “all supplements fail to provide benefit”, an erroneous and misleading conclusion indeed. In the ‘90s the Cochrane Group demonstrated the benefits of daily multivitamin use, and their findings were published in JAMA. Recently the famed Physicians Health Study published two JAMA articles, one demonstrating risk reduction in cancer while the other failing to show risk reduction in cardiovascular disease. About 12 years ago I conducted a trial looking at blood test responses to a high dose multivitamin supplement. I found that some people improved; others worsened. It appeared that those patients with good levels of antioxidants at baseline certainly didn’t need high doses of additional antioxidants. That trial actually set me on the path to create my own nutritional supplement company, one with very conservative and scientific roots. To ensure the quality and scientific foundations of each supplement, I personally formulate each one. The company, VitalRemedyMD has two multiples, both low-dose. The principle is that a DailyMultiple should simply level the playing field. It should ensure that on a daily basis we are all getting the minimal daily requirements of all the essential vitamins and minerals. Although this is a simplistic concept, to my surprise, there is no other daily like it. Typically daily multiples either try to include an array of ingredients (often at high doses) to attract consumers to potential panaceas or they sacrifice essential minerals to remain one pill a day. (Sadly, much of what is done in the supplement world is for marketing, not scientific reasons.) At this point I am quite convinced that panaceas do not exist. Furthermore, we must use extreme caution when we ingest anything, especially supplements touted to convey impossibly positive benefits.

The bottom line:
1. Be careful when you read studies; there are invariably multiple sides to any trial’s “story”.
2. A daily multiple is probably a very good thing for people to take, as long as it does not exceed the RDVs nor contain extraneous and marketing-driven components. By taking a proper multiple you will assure yourself that every day you are ingesting at least the minimal amounts of vitamins and minerals your body needs to carry on its daily functions in a healthy fashion.

related: more info on multi-vitamins and multi-supplements

Photo credit: erix! / Foter / CC BY

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Preventive Health News

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AHA Clinical Science Sessions 2012 News

AHA logoThe American Heart Association is conducting its accredited scientific meetings this week in Los Angeles. The meeting is an opportunity for cardiovascular science experts to share emerging scientific research and clinical applications. Here’s an update of some of the important news releases coming out of the event.

 

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