Is preventive healthcare the future of wellness?
One thing that the pandemic has taught us? it’s not alright to live with lifestyle diseases and not pay heed
The current pandemic has woken so many of us to a rude shock. All of a sudden it has shone a light on the importance of immunity. We forgot the basics of what it takes to keep illnesses at bay, in this whole complexity of chasing our goals and dreams and adopting fancy and fad diet programmes and exercise routines.
All of a sudden, people realised how dangerous it can be to live with diabetes, COPD and hypertension during pandemic. Till then, they believed what society made them believe, “Take your pills and don’t worry. You can have a drink, diet doesn’t matter, there is no research stating sugar is bad, enjoy your life.” There was zero focus on lifestyle. It was all about offering one prescription after another, with no emphasis on addressing the root cause and advocating a change in lifestyle so people could have a chance at recovery and healing. The point is, why did it take a virus for us to realise this? We have taken our health for granted and taking good care of it has been the least of our priority till we get sick.
The future of health is preventive healthcare
The future is prevention. It always has been but was never given its due importance. The age-old proverb — “prevention is better than cure” — is something that we, our parents and grandparents were told in school, but unfortunately, complication and quick fixes took over and we moved from a preventive model to a model of symptomatic approach and quick fixes with no attention to side effects, a mentality of convenience and ease which found no place when a virus almost shut down the world. Today, people are forced to move back to looking for prevention, looking for a reversal of lifestyle diseases.
It’s never too late to start
No matter what your age and health status is, it’s never too late to start to understand that this amazing and intelligent human body needs a deeper yet simpler approach towards cellular health at a physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual level. You can be fit or already dealing with one illness or more, but you can still start focusing on preventive wellness. This approach is not just for the healthy, but for the ailing too. For example, if you have diabetes, preventive wellness would mean focusing on managing your blood sugar levels and all the possible damage high blood sugars might be causing to every cell of your body, controlling inflammation, making lifestyle changes and certain shifts in your eating habits, sleep, exercise, emotional health to manage your condition better, taking measures to manage the side effects of medications, etc.
If you are genetically predisposed to a certain disease and there is nothing that you can do about it, don’t give up. Focus on preventive wellness because there is so much that you can still do. Here, the focus would be on analysing the possible risk factors for you that would trigger the development of disease later on and slowly working towards removing those risk factors, regular check-ups to understand your vital parameters.
While there may be many cases where nothing much can be done, it still doesn’t stop us from trying and starting to support the human body and mind with new lifestyles that suit us and are aligned with nature.
Preventive wellness is not a replacement for your current treatment or therapists
Preventive wellness is not about replacing your current medical treatment or therapy. You still need your medicines, doctors, therapists, surgeons, super specialists, medicines, psychiatrist by your side, but also put a parallel focus on managing side effects of your medications, addressing the root cause of your disease, quality of your relationships, emotional health, improving your inner and outer environment, building your lifestyle and being coached into adopting certain lifestyle practices and habits that benefit you.
Every medicine depletes one or more vitamins, trace minerals, micronutrients that are required for the functioning of your vital organs at a cellular level. What is depleted has to be replenished to prevent the further onset of new ailments, conditions, diseases, and deficiencies. Certain medications weaken the bones, some cause more acids, some suppress it, some weaken the immune system, some stimulate it, some lead to muscle soreness, etc. Preventive and integrative medicine takes into account all of this and helps you build over and above your prescribed medicines to look at your overall health and life, prevent further damage and give a possibility of actual and complete recovery.
Preventive medicine is not alternative, it is integrative and what can you do to prevent the current health condition from getting worse. All facets of life and health are taken into consideration, analysed and introspected.
So, while the pandemic brought suffering, loss, and pain along with it, how many of us are seeing a silver lining? The silver lining of a realisation that health is everything that should matter and will matter to us in the future too.
Invest in prevention and recovery. Yes, “invest” because it is not a cost, but the best investment that you can make starting from this very moment. It is not okay to be okay living with lifestyle diseases. There is always something that can be done. Sit with experts, talk about it, prioritise, explore and do it the right way.
And yes, making lifestyle changes doesn’t ever have to be boring. You can be happy, social, full of fun and life, and still be disciplined with your lifestyle.
Luke Coutinho is Holistic Lifestyle Coach - Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine & Founder, YouCare- All about YOU