Archives for May 2012

The Healthy Citizen

A quote from the recent HBO special The Weight of the Nation states that, “Obesity is the biggest threat to the health, welfare and future of this country”, and that regaining your own individual health is not only beneficial to you but is key to “the survival and well being of the US as a nation”…

…And listen to this comment that should send a chill through your bones, “This (our children) is probably going to be the first generation that’s going to have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents…”

The healthy citizen is a native or naturalized member of a state or nation [or community] who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection [and benefits]. As citizens of our respective countries we have the right and responsibility to vote, serve on a jury, pay taxes, drive a car and obey the traffic laws, keep the yard mowed and the house painted to remain in good standing in the community. Yet there is no building code as to how we maintain our bodies. Or is there?

If you are open minded, think about these quotes:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 KJV

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Jiddu Krishnamurti

Speaking of a sick society, it’s important to note that certain corporate interests benefit by our maladies and profit from the current public perception of health and life-style that ultimately leads down the road to dependence, disease and death. As an example, running an ad campaign teaching people how to lower blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol through exercise and diet might present a conflict of interest share holders and management of pharmaceutical companies. This is not suggesting that there is a conspiracy, just capitalism at work.

Speaking of a sick society it may work in the best interest of the giant food companies that people are generally ignorant when in comes to reading food labels and understanding the correlation to nutrition and good health. Same with restaurant franchises (fast and slow), they are obligated to shareholders to produce a product that sells (is appealing) and is profitable rather than what may be nutritious and beneficial to the public health.

Speaking of a sick society, more and more advertising and television programming is lowering the bar by presenting obese characters in the sitcoms and ads that appear to be happy healthy and accepted citizens when in reality you know that their extra pounds lessen the quality of life in terms of sleep, comfort, self-image and confidence, sex, physical activities, fun and longevity.

In spite of the available knowledge and corresponding benefits of being proactive regarding one’s health, a colleague of mine who heads the Department of Internal Medicine at a local hospital says he sees patients daily that could improve their health through life-style and diet, yet these citizens choose the prescription pad as their means of fending off death.

A parallel might be drawn between the gradual rise of obesity (and corresponding illnesses) over the past 35 years and the anecdote of the frog in the pot on the stove. People keep adjusting to the heat unaware of the danger until it’s too late.

So does the fault lie with the institution of medicine and global agricultural food concerns or the individual citizen? The answer is yes. But it’s only until many individuals take responsibility for their own destiny that large institutions and governments will bend to comply with their interests and needs.

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson co-opted to write this phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Wouldn’t it be shame if “pursuit of happiness” came to be defined in our generation as killing ourselves by complacency and ignorance?

So if you are ready to declare independence from sickness and drugs to the extant that a change in your philosophy, life-style and diet can safely effect, I invite you to join myself and thousands of others who are working to make America (or your home country) healthy through educating people regarding the habits of health.

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The Weight of the Nation

Just weighing in on the weight of the nation. Watch this HBO special May 14, 2012. (The trailer is 90 seconds long.)
 

Next Step

Longevity – Die Young at a Very Old Age

Chinese Symbol of Longevity

This is a follow up to last month’s article, The Key Personality Predictor of Longevity. It could have been titled “Part 2” which sounded rather boring so I choose Die Young At Very Old Age for it’s appeal and intrigue.

For many Americans the concept and experience of death includes several years of chronic degeneration and illness having their physical being braced up by medical science and pharmacology until they finally expire. But the question that needs to be asked and answered is,

“Does fate determine our fate, or is it within our power as individuals to influence the outcome?”

The inspiration for this article or book review comes from The Longevity Project:
by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. They concluded that the key personality predictor of longevity was “conscientiousness”. Dictionary.com states that conscientiousness is an adjective and offers two definitions. 1. controlled by or done according to conscience;  scrupulous: a conscientious judge. 2. meticulous; careful; painstaking; particular: conscientious application to the work at hand.

It’s probably safe to say that conscientious is not an entirely a genetic trait but also is the product of environment and thought. Thus conscientiousness may increase or decrease depending on circumstances and a person’s will.

But what is the second most influential factor determining the likelihood of longevity?

To quote the authors on page 214 the short answer is “The Persistent, Consequential and Social Life”.

But let’s digress for a moment to consider those things that were detrimental to longevity.

The authors noted that overemphasis on medical diagnosis and treatment was financially beneficial to certain interest groups but did not contribute to longevity in their study subjects.

Many conditions (not all) like blood pressure and sugar, cholesterol, excessive weight can be addressed with life-style changes without harmful side effects. Medicine has its place and served us well in terms of saving lives but it could be a huge mistake to delegate full responsibility for your health to your doctor.

Your risk of illness escalates dramatically as a result of stressful events such as being fired from a job, being arrested, losing a spouse or close friend, not to mention divorce which disrupts everything – social life, family life and finances.

A challenging (stressful) job or career is not detrimental to longevity. In fact a satisfying career contributes to long life. However conflict with coworkers or a supervisor produced the opposite effect along with disappointment or falling short of one’s personal expectations or abilities.

People who are depressed or angry are disease prone and are at higher risk for both cardiovascular and a host of other illnesses. One way to take control of the stress in your life is through physical activity. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries (from the Mayo Clinic website).

In contrast, the conscientiousness person is not afraid of challenges but deliberately plans to avoid stressful situations, is proactive when it comes to health, has created stability and balance in their family and social life and enjoys a healthy emotional balance.

A new year’s resolution to get in shape or begin a running program did little to promote longevity, but those people who ran because it was their passion it or were active because their social circles engaged in healthy activities lived the longest. These activities might include dancing, hiking, skiing, volleyball, soccer, equestrian sports, biking and golf to name a few.

Avoiding challenges, playing it safe and taking it easy were not predictors of longevity.

Wrapping it up and quoting the authors from page 214, “But having a large social network, engaging in physical activities that naturally draw you in, giving back to your community, enjoying and thriving in your career, and nurturing a healthy marriage [including a satisfying sexual relationship] or close friendships can do more than add many years to your life. Together, they represent the living with purpose that comes from working hard, reaching out to others, and bouncing back from difficult times [which inevitably come].”

The answer to the question “Does fate determine our fate, or is it within our power as individuals to influence the outcome?” is yes. We as individuals have a great deal of influence over our destiny – if we choose to exercise it. The healthy citizen chooses to become educated and proactive regarding their health. The conscientious citizen directs their life and business with meticulous care. And the social citizen selects a sphere of friends and contacts that create a positive healthy and supportive environment.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to die young at a very old age.