Friday, September 28, 2007


The best investment you can make is in your own health

Most would agree that our healthcare system is in need of serious reform, that too few are able to afford healthcare insurance and that excellent, technologically advanced care is available only to a certain percentage of our population.

There is, however, another question that lies beneath the rights of all people to have equal healthcare opportunities. Why are we in such poor health as a nation and what are we going to do to change it?

Many people are interested in making financial investments for their future yet more important than any 401K or retirement pension is investing in our good health. As the credit card commercial would say……it’s priceless.

An essential question to ask ourselves is: What is the courageous conversation I am not having with myself about my health? Most often we know exactly what that conversation is. It may be related to stress, overwork, smoking, overeating, under exercising or sleep deprivation. Perhaps our bodies have given us some warning signs or at least a nagging knowing that we are ignoring something important.
The good news is that it may not be too late to begin a lifestyle change.

A friend with a strong family history was at very high risk for developing high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes and stroke. She was eating mostly processed foods, exercising very little, increasingly carrying weight in her midsection and developing high blood pressure. She was told by her physician if she didn’t make some significant changes, in two years it would be too late. “You are well on your way to developing metabolic disease,” she was told. It was her wake-up call.

The changes her doctor recommended included exercising for a half-hour six days a week, eating more whole foods lower in fat and carbohydrates, and beginning a program to lower her LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and raise her HDL cholesterol. She found that when she exercised she automatically wanted to eat healthier foods and began taking supplements of red rice yeast, fish oil, and garlic to help change her cholesterol ratios. In the past year she has radically changed her health. She has lost weight, has normal blood pressure readings, and improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels. She is intentionally and successfully breaking the link in the legacy of her family history.

A critical part of healthcare reform requires us to take an active part in improving our health and a movement both individually as well as in our collective healthcare system towards prevention and wellness.

We need not wait until we have a heart attack, lung disease, or any of the many preventable diseases that can be related to lifestyle, to begin to make a different investment in our health.

A sign that one physician keeps on his desk, “You must take care of your body because if you don’t where will you live?” reminds me of the precious gift we are given in having a body and the responsibility to treat it with care.

Amy Dunion, a registered nurse and licensed massage therapist, is Coordinator of The William W. Backus Hospital’s Center for Healthcare Integration. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Dunion and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

It is so true what you said. We all need to take control over our own health and try to be healthier. It is the "best investment" we can make.
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