Self-care is a frequently-heard buzzword these days, often associated with mindfulness, taking time for yourself and prioritizing your overall well-being.

Practicing self-care when it comes to your healthcare is an often overlooked, and yet critical, component of your daily routine.

Chronic conditions and diseases produce symptoms that can be managed and improved by positive healthcare choices. When we look at many diseases, from diabetes to heart disease and everything in between, scientific research has taught us the fundamentals of healthy living will improve outcomes.

We need to sleep well, consistently. We need to exercise, stay hydrated, and find outlets that support our emotional well-being. We need to eat whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy to provide vitamins and nutrients that support our body’s functions.

Yet many Americans still continue to suffer from chronic diseases that can be prevented and improved by the personal healthcare decisions of daily living. The old adage, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result,” holds true for our health, both positively and negatively.

Our medical system is not conducive to treating chronic conditions. Many MDs admit that they are not well-prepared to instruct patients with chronic disease about their optimal lifestyle choices.

Each patient has a different set of symptoms and aggravating factors, requiring individualized care.

Many medications are tested on large groups of patients, which then produce a percentage of positive results. While this is great for the percentage of patients that benefit from that particular drug, what about the percentage of the population that doesn’t experience the benefit of the medication?

Good health is the result of good healthcare choices. This seems pretty obvious, but for many people, it is not so easy to carry through. This fact also does not necessarily correlate to our healthcare system.

Healthcare as a system is a misnomer; people do not go to the healthcare system when they are healthy. In that sense, it is actually a disease care system. This subtle shift in perception can help us to understand the role that self-care plays in taking control of our health and our decisions.

Healthcare is what people do to maintain good health. Everything else is disease care. Taking pharmaceuticals to maintain good cholesterol levels, glucose levels and blood pressure levels is treating the symptoms of poor health or disease.

Taking medications to avoid making lifestyle changes may seem like the path of least resistance. But what is the price? Swallow pills instead of getting some exercise? More pills? More pain? The cycle continues, as more symptoms require more treatment. Medications do not correct poor healthcare choices.

Chronic healthcare conditions require chronic healthcare choices that either maintain the condition or correct it. You can take pharmaceuticals daily and the numbers on your labs will look better, but it doesn’t change your health risks.

People can take a statin for their cholesterol and have their numbers look good. The danger is the assumption, “I’m taking a statin to control my cholesterol so I can eat whatever I want,” and you could be in for a big surprise one day.

There is a lot of debate over the effectiveness of statins for prevention. However, there is no debate that creating a better lifestyle is necessary for the prevention of all causes of chronic conditions.

Call ProNatural Physicians Group, 120 Webster Square Road, Berlin, to schedule an appointment at (860) 829-0707.

Dr. Ann Aresco is the founder of ProNatural Physicians Group.

See this article as it appeared in The Berlin Citizen.

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