Donald Henderson, M.D., M.P.H.
Knowledge is Power – Know Your Health Options
Let’s face the truth, given the status of the US and global economy, your chances of living longer will increasingly depend upon your ability to make healthy choices, to participate in preventive health measures and screenings, and to identify someone who cares enough about you to demand that you receive good care. The person whom you depend on to fight for you can be your health care provider, your family or a friend. Do not believe any system of health care or insurance will automatically do that for you. Do not believe that any one provider within a system will always look out for your best interest as well as you can.
The pressures placed on health care providers are increasing. In general, providers now have and will have less time to consider some of the elements of your care that provide you comfort and knowledge. My statements are not intended to be critical of any specific health system or program. My comments are based upon my years as a provider, a student of health care delivery and a patient. So buckle up for a rough and tumble over the next few years. Forecast your future health needs by evaluating you family history as well as your own past medical history.
You are what you eat. And what you eat is eating you. The best thing we can do to manage arthritis, back pain, hypertension and diabetes is to lose weight. For those who do not need to lose weight (only 10-15%), you still need to manage your overall health by continuing to seek aggressive treatment for any health concerns.
Let’s focus on a few common medical problems and the herbal supplements and vitamins which are known to help treat them.
· Resveratrol— A grape extract that’s a potent antioxidant. See warning on product label for pregnancy risks
· Vitamin E— Potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals
· Vitamin C— An antioxidant that helps protect the lens of the eye
· Mixed Carotenoids — Beta carotene also protects the lens
· Omega 3 — Essential fatty acids that help burn fat as food
· Chromium— Helps regulate blood sugar and sweet cravings
· Pyruvate— Assists fat burning when combined with a low fat diet
As with any new chemical you take, you must consider possible adverse interaction with your current medication. Always read the labels and seek advice.
Do we need vitamins and supplements? The answer is maybe. A well-balanced diet may provide all you need but supplements can give you an extra layer of prevention. Given the current and pending health crisis, we need to practice as much preventive care as possible.
Supplements will not give you the same prevention as will a mammogram, a pap smear or a colonoscopy. Supplements alone will not control your diabetes or your blood pressure.
We must prepare ourselves for our future health needs. I firmly believe that diet, nutrition and weight loss are the first steps toward that goal.
In addition to supplements, there are a number of other products which are marketed as health promotional or as cures. Usually these products are not backed by scientific studies. They, however, have a strong word of mouth following as well as many promotional angles. I am not a physician who is against the use of complementary therapies, herbal treatments, vitamins or supplements. Nor am I convinced that traditional health care, combined with our current knowledge of medical science, has all the answers to our health needs. So, there is a place for complimentary therapies. But all too often we believe claims of the medical benefits of a product without a shred of evidence to support the claim.
Your future health will depend upon you making sound decisions about how you spend your health care dollars. If you have limited resources, $100 spent on supplements rather than on a needed physician visit or screening test may not be a wise choice. Even if you have no health insurance, your limited resources can be used to obtain health care. You just have to be smart about how you spend your health care dollars.
Be prepared to take action:
1. Be aware of your health coverage and use the maximum benefit toward prevention. Most preventive care services are now covered 100% under your health plan.
2. Research potential benefits and side effects of any supplements you’re considering or taking
3. Follow health screening guidelines, especially when you’re more at risk, based on history
4. Closely manage chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease
5. Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, set a target date to do it!
Dr. Donald Henderson is Medical Director of Encore Wellness & Weight Loss and has a private practice specializing in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine in Los Angeles.
I’d like to hear from you and answer any questions you have regarding your personal health and wellness program. Please update me on your progress by forwarding your questions or comments to AskDrH@encoreweightloss.com or visit www.encoreweightloss.com for more information on our weight loss and nutrition programs.