Health and Wellness Week at LakesideAll the programs I attended (5) were excellent with qualified speakers, good graphics, and prepared hand-outs. The problem, as I see it, is in the audience. In most cases, they were preaching to the choir. Also, as I look around and observe people within 10-20 years, up or down, of my age, I see two really common problems that could have been successfully addressed if we'd started 20 years ago. Bones and Obesity. When I see an 82 year old woman who is still 5'10" and walking briskly, with attention to fashion, tall and proud, I want to take a photo and interview her. Is it genes? Nutrition? Exercise?
Dr. Kitty Consolo who spoke on "Exercise is Medicine" had a graphic on stroke which divided the pie into 50% lifestyle, 21% heredity, 7% health care, and 22% environment. I'm a huge believer in the importance of heredity which includes your ethnic make-up, and I think on any scale for any disease it needs to be at least 50%. After the little one pops out of the womb, the parents can only contribute a smidgen of values, and possibly access to a better life than the family next door, but even then, junior or sissy can turn their noses up at that too. After all, you inherit your personality, your intelligence, your talents, your skin and eye color, your athleticism, your body stature, and with two parents and four grandparents, you can inherit just a host of problems that no matter what your environment or health insurance says, are going to be a problem. And all that influences who you will marry, so that adds another piece to the puzzle. We have friends, neither of whom have cystic fibrosis, whose two daughters were diagnosed as adults, after very healthy, high income, athletic childhoods. Both parents were carriers.
And look at all the children born these days with a wide array of life threatening allergies--things almost no one had when I was growing up. Is it later life pregnancy (older eggs and sperm)? Good health care that has allowed carriers to survive that might have died 50 years ago? Something in the food or water? Women exposed to more hazards who work right up to delivery? Who knows? But each generation seems intent on creating a threat-free life, and I don't think it is going to happen.
Yesterday's speaker, Dr. Wendy L. Stuhldreher of Slippery Rock University spoke on supplements, and the take away was, most of them we don't need because extensive testing has shown no benefit. The speciific substance is always better ingested as food. She recommends fish twice a week, more calcium (I just may have to start drinking milk again), eating a lot of variety and color, and always, always tell your MD if you are taking an herbal supplement. She offered some good web sites: www.nof.org, www.eatright.org.
The things we can do something about--like food, alcohol, cigarettes, exercise and the marriage bed--we try to work around by buying pills, supplements or club memberships, or joining a "rights" group which can cover the guilt. Or we expect the government to do it, so we don't have to.