Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE - The key for future happiness

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

By M. P. Ravindra Nathan,

A few weeks ago, a middle-aged woman came to our community free clinic for consultation. She was leaning heavily on her cane as she struggled to walk and was a bit short of breath. She had only one request, “Doc, I’ve had this severe pain in the knees for the past few months. Can you give me a pill and make it go away?”

“I wish it was that easy,” I said. “Anyway, let me examine you first, then will see how best we can take care of you.” She was quite obese, tipping the scales at 287 pounds, with a body mass index of 45. Indeed, both her knees were quite swollen and painful – tell-tale signs of severe osteoarthritis, no doubt contributed by her morbid obesity and lack of exercise. She also turned out to have uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, expected complications of her life style.

Unfortunately, this kind of profile fits a lot of patients we see in our practice. Many also suffer from the ravages of chronic cigarette smoking and some have alcoholism too, to reckon with. And all of them want a quick-fix remedy for their complex medical problems that have been developing slowly over many months or even years. Sadly, quite a few don’t have even basic resources to procure the needed medicines. They don’t go to the emergency room because of prohibitive expenses. And by the time they go, their diseases are often quite advanced, needing extensive testing and treatment, besides the risk for their personal health.

This brings me to the main points of this discussion. First, there is nothing called a single ‘cure-all’ pill, a panacea for all ailments. Second, let’s not use our healthcare system – hospitals, medical office or free clinics – only when sick. They are to be used as health and wellness resources for the prevention of illnesses as much as possible. Majority of the ailments that plague our society today such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease etc. are, to a significant extent, influenced by our lifestyle. So, if people can be a little more pro-active in regards to their health, they can lead a better life.

Do you know if we can put an end to cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco abuse in America, the incidence of cancer will drop by 50 percent? Imagine the impact of such a simple change in lifestyle on your health? Along with that, if we can encourage people to eat healthy, exercise regularly and control the obesity epidemic in America, we can cut down the incidence of many of the common diseases, or at the very least delay their onset.

Proper lifestyle is the key to a healthy future. You’ve heard the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.” Those who have the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle will reap rich benefits. Make a few simple changes such as taking a walk after meals instead of sitting down to watch the sitcoms, going meatless a couple of days a week (vegetarians have less body fat than meat eaters), cutting back on sugar and sweets (important to control diabetes) and going easy on salt (to improve hypertension). You’ll be surprised at your gains.

Since everybody is into technology these days, there are some popular health and wellness apps that can help you to identify the seriousness of your symptoms and suggest where to go for treatment. The New Year is here and every person should resolve to take an active interest in his or her own health and embrace the concept of prevention. Lifestyle is the key to a happy and healthy future while simultaneously reducing the ever-escalating healthcare expenditure of our nation.

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan is a Hernando County cardiologist and the author of “Stories from My Heart.”

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