Benjamin Franklin once said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to good health and a long life, the old adage still rings true. Sadly, there is no fountain of youth, but the good news is there are easy, common-sense things you can do now that will help you to prevent or delay disease and enjoy a happier, healthier life.
From head to toe, preventing problems is always easier than fixing them. When it comes to your health and well-being, just knowing your own body and being aware of what is normal is the first step in preventing health problems. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a health problem and being proactive gives you the advantage. When discovered early many issues can be corrected or even prevented from becoming a problem.
During National Kidney Month, we should also take the time to learn a bit about our kidneys. These two important organs are found in your lower back, efficiently filtering waste from 200 liters of blood every day. They also balance our fluid levels, help to produce red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and create vitamin D for our bones. So when kidney problems arise, the results can be very serious. It is estimated that more than 26 million people in this country have kidney disease, and most don’t know it because symptoms often don’t appear until the disease has progressed. By far, the most common cause of kidney failure is diabetes, but people with high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure are also at risk.
March is also Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. People of all racial and ethnic groups are affected by colorectal cancer, but especially those over age fifty. It is the second most deadly cancer in our country affecting 140,000 people and killing more than 50,000. But if everyone aged 50 and over were to have a screening, six out of every ten of those deaths could be prevented.
The most common screening method, colonoscopy, allows the doctor to see any precancerous polyps and remove them, usually before you are even aware of them. A lot of people are timid about colonoscopy, but most discover that the preparation, while decidedly unpleasant at times, is the most difficult part of the procedure. And it’s a small inconvenience when compared to treatment, surgery and potential death from colorectal cancer. Other preventive measures include staying active, not smoking, going light on the alcohol, and maintaining your healthy weight.
One of the single most effective things you can do to prevent a wide variety of health problems and maintain your weight is to eat a healthy diet. Just like your car needs the right kind of gasoline to run efficiently, your body needs the right kind of fuel to keep running right. So many problems, diseases and conditions can be avoided or managed when you maintain a healthy eating program for life. Celebrate National Nutrition Month by starting or maintaining your healthy diet.
Whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, legumes and other beans, low fat dairy, unsaturated oils like olive or canola, and lean meats or fish are the basis of a healthy, delicious diet. Avoid salty, sugary and processed foods. And be mindful of the fresh, tasty food you eat by savoring the flavors, chewing slowly and thoroughly, and enjoying every bite. The rewards go way beyond just eating a delicious meal.