Paul Block, MD: Valuing Health

It is amazing how strategic many intelligent people can be in their careers but then use default reasoning when it comes to their personal health. Many treat their health much like a rental car. Since most rental cars are essentially new and run well, we usually only check that the car is filled with gas, has air-conditioning and perhaps has GPS. If we travel to Atlanta once a month and on each trip we are given the same red Ford, after a few years we may begin to question whether the car has been serviced properly. After five, 10 or 20 years, how the Ford had been cared for would make a huge difference in whether it would continue to serve us well.
Our bodies are the “red Ford”. We cannot replace them or choose another vehicle. The replacement parts never are as good as the original equipment. Our goal should not be to become an old heap, but instead to create a vintage vehicle that will get old, but looks and runs “like new” to the end of life. We are all going to die. How long each of us lives is a “God thing”. How we live, and to some extent how we die, is a choice. If we focus on the choices we have, that is the best we can do.
As defined by the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. According to the Michael Milken Institute, the cost of treatment for the seven most common chronic diseases (combined with productivity loss) results in a trillion dollar annual expense in the US alone. Evidence-based medicine indicates that over 70% of chronic illnesses can be prevented or significantly ameliorated with significant strategic lifestyle changes that incorporate healthy nutrition and consistent balanced exercise combined with proper sleep patterns.  Prior to initiating significant lifestyle changes it is best to acknowledge the value we place on our health.
Future articles will discuss insights to enhance health.

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