Last Fall, Google predicted a flu outbreak three weeks before the Center of Disease Control. How could they possibly forecast this before the CDC, an institution dedicated to tracking viruses? Simple. Google tracked the number of search words for fever, chill and flu and quickly surmised an epidemic on the horizon. Yes, Google is smarter than us mere mortals and our computers will ultimately prevail in world domination, but there are many preventable measures we can take to help mitigate our own health risks without our smartphones. By assessing our personal health and making incremental but necessary changes, we can control outcomes and navigate our own path to optimal health.
Up until 1951, you could die with the official listing of old age as the cause on your death certificate. Our bodies would just finally conk out like an old Chevy with too many miles on it. But now our death certificates have to specifically name the reason, with all too many citing preventable noncommunicable diseases. My point is we all have the ability – with exceptions, of course – to positively impact our destiny and overall quality of life and not simply succumb to the lazy belief that we are genetically doomed to chronic diseases like diabetes. Through prevention and predictability, we can empower ourselves to profoundly affect our health.
The best step towards prevention is to think of food as medicine. As a nation, we eat way too many processed foods. If your diet largely consists of fast food joints, if Supersize and All-You-Can-Eat is a regular part of your vocabulary and the aisles of a 7-11 convenience store are a frequent dinner destination, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Head over to a supermarket and shop the perimeter to avoid all the processed foods, and when your shopping cart magically detours into the interior, try to avoid any item with more than five ingredients, of which many you cannot even pronounce (hello, sodium benzoate?). Talk to your produce manager to buy fresh & local and what’s currently in season. Lastly, take a bite out of the apple versus a sip of the juice – the fiber and skin of fruits are the optimal parts.
We are all bombarded about the benefits of exercise so no need for a lecture here. My only commentary is to be mindful of keeping your body in motion all day. Sitting is the new smoking. Even if you exercise strenuously for an hour a day but then are totally sedentary the remaining twenty-three hours, this inactivity will cause negative metabolic changes which can influence blood sugar, cholesterol and resting blood pressure. Skip the elevator, take mini-walk breaks and just get up and move more period.
And never underestimate the power of Stress, the ultimate silent killer. Browse this website and you’ll discover how stress can destroy all aspects of your health but we each are individually empowered to manage it.
As for predictability, our four-legged friends can teach us a lesson. Any dog owner knows how their pet loves routine, structure and order. Our bodies have a natural rhythm that needs a balanced state too. This gives us more energy, reduces stress and a greater sense of well being (fly across a few time zones and you know what I mean). As best as you can, be consistent by doing the following at the same time every day: bedtime and when you rise; mealtime and even snacks; exercising, walking; meditation; disconnecting from technology; taking meds.
These tips may sound mundane but good lifestyle habits can have a profound impact on your overall quality of life. We all need to be accountable for our own wellbeing and empower ourselves to make better choices rather than constantly search for the miracle drug and shortcuts. Even the geniuses behind Google know this as they have robust Wellness and work/life balance programs for their employees. Google it. And then put your technology away and take control into your own hands.