As a nurse in the critical care field, a lot of my job is taking care of people after it is too late. My sole job is to make sure they stay alive and by alive I mean breathing and with a pulse. Many times, they are not truly ALIVE. Not like their loved ones would want them to be. And with that, many times I look at their history and see a list with 10 things on it and wonder, “How did we get here? What could we have done to prevent something like this from happening?” As a result, I have spent a lot of time furthering my education on how we could have prevented this from happening. Unfortunately, some things can’t be prevented, but fortunately many things CAN and that is what preventative health is all about.
Preventative health is essentially doing things for yourself that help to prevent or delay disease. According to the CDC, Americans use only about half of the recommended rate of preventative services, and with things like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer accounting for 7 out of 10 deaths of Americans and 75% of the nation’s health spending, it is time that we took this issue a little more seriously.
You see, most of these health problems can be prevented. If they can’t be prevented, they can absolutely be delayed. In fact, Type II diabetes is a 100% PREVENTABLE disease yet 1 out of every 3 Americans is at risk for developing it.
I know, I know. It’s all a little heavy and all a little depressing, but I have compiled some personal recommendations on how to utilize preventative medicine and food to avoid lying privy to these scary and expensive chronic diseases.
Let’s begin. Basic preventative medicine.
- Primary Care doctor: This depends on your current health status. If you have had a clean bill of health and aren’t currently having any problems, it is recommended once a year. When going, make sure to have labs drawn. A lot of people forget this step, but your laboratory values can determine a lot about your current health, whether or not you are feeling good.
- Dentist: Twice a year. People often assume that if their teeth aren’t hurting them, they don’t need to see the dentist. But, what people often forget is that dental hygiene can have a huge impact on overall health. Personally, I am more prone to dental caries due to my genetics, so I definitely go twice a year. However, if you don’t normally have problems when going to the dentist, once a year MAY be okay. Be sure to talk to your dentist before you make this decision though and if you don’t go twice a year, it is imperative to be flossing once a day and brushing at least twice a day.
- Dermatologist: recommended once a year to get a full skin check. Also, recommended is wearing sunscreen everyday of at least an SPF of 30 or above. After your first visit, if anyone in your family has a history of skin cancer, I would suggest chatting to your dermatologist about how often to go after that.
- Gynecologist: New recommendations have come out suggesting that women now only need a pap-smear every three years, HOWEVER, you should be getting a general woman exam once a year. If you are considering pregnancy, I would go and check with your OB/GYN on how often they recommend coming in.
- Optometrist: Once a year. Your vision can change so quickly and not taking care of your eyes can have some serious side effects.
- Exercise: There are a lot of recommendations on this and to be honest I truly believe that what works for one person, may not work for another. My suggestion is to find what type of exercise you enjoy and do that. If it’s walking, then walk 3-4 times a week, if its yoga, then do yoga 3-4 times a week. The key is to stay active and listen to your body.
- Esthetician: This one isn’t a hard stick, but I think taking care of your skin is just as important as diet and exercise, so I have it on here. Facials are recommended per season change, so tell the hubs or bf that it is recommended, so you gotta do it! haha
- Diet: EAT REAL FOOD. There is a TON of research on diet right now and personally I am just trying to keep it simple. Eat real food. Stop the processed bulls*** and I think you will be able to prevent a lot. Now, I am not saying you can’t eat processed food (have you seen my stories??) I am just saying that by trying to focus on eating mostly real food, you will be able to prevent many of these diseases, especially hypothyroidism, anxiety, cardiac disease, diabetes, and cancer. Don’t believe me? that’s fine. Just read Food: What the Heck Should I Eat by Mark Hyman and I am pretty sure you believe me after that.
- Mental Health: take care of yourself. Figure out what you need to feel well. Decrease the stress levels and the anxiety and make time for that every single day! Mental health is just as imperative as physical health and so many people just leave it at the waste-side resulting in chronic anxiety, stress, and depression. For me, I like to meditate, perform my morning pages, and take alone time. All of these things really help me to recenter and recharge.
Alright, there you have it. Some of my best recommendations for preventative health. Integrate these into your life and I truly think we are all on to living a long, full life. Chronic disease is expensive and so much of health care these days is prolonging life after disease has already taken its toll, yet what we need to be doing is focusing on preventing the chronic disease in the first place.
When reading these, here are some important considerations: One, these are my personal and professional opinions, please talk to your healthcare providers on what they recommend for you because as I’ve said above, everyone is different! Second, if you are already experiencing illness, have a familial history, or have increased concerns, then I would recommend talking with your healthcare professionals as well. These are GENERAL recommendations and we must all take our own personal lives, concerns, and health into consideration.
I hope you enjoyed this post and comment below if you would like to see more!