In early October of this year I found myself facing a health crisis.  My blood pressure rose to very scary numbers.  Not ever having high blood pressure issues, this, of course, was very concerning.  The doctors that began helping me to lower it informed me that I was lucky to not have suffered a stroke or even be put on kidney dialysis.  I am still recovering,   I presently have double vision in my right eye and taking it easy each day as I get fatigued if I do too much.  I am monitoring my blood pressure and taking a blood pressure medication, the first prescription drug I have had to take in my 73 years.  All my tests (MRI, CAT scans, EKG), all have come out normal; the doctors still do not know why this has happened and are amazed I survived at all.

We may never know why this occurred; however, one thing I do know…..because I have practiced prevention every day for the last 25 years which included a healthy diet, exercise (some), and an excellent source of supplements…..I survived.  I do believe, had I not been making these life changing choices each day, I might have had either no life or a much diminished one.  I am so grateful that someone shared with me this healthy path and want to share it with as many as I can.  I know I still have a ways to go before I feel my normal, energetic self, but will continue to rest, eat well and take my, what I believe to be, life saving supplements.

Former Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk (now UM President)  states: “Prevention may seem expensive, but in the long term it saves money,” said Frenk. “Consider that a scant 3 percent of current health care spending in the United States is now focused on prevention and public health, while a whopping 75 percent of health care costs are related to preventable conditions.”

Prevention Institute , in their report,  Towards a 21st Century Approach: Advancing a Vision for Prevention and Public Health, came to this conclusion:

… advancing the health, safety and equity of communities across the nation requires everyone’s involvement: from prevention and public health to healthcare to business to community leaders and institutions. At the same time, change won’t happen without deliberate leadership: The prevention and public health field bears large responsibilities for the health of the public and needs to step up to its role in new ways.

The Affordable Care Program by President Obama includes a Prevention and Public Health Fund which represents a critical investment in our nation’s health.  Funding prevention activities becomes a key step toward bending our unsustainable cost curve in health care.

My own involvement in prevention began 25 years ago when I was shown a chart called The Ladder of Health ~ it was literally a visual of a ladder with steps going up. ladder2 At the bottom rung is Death, next is Disease, next is Symptoms & Illness, next is the Neutral Zone, next is to Become Aware, next is a Nutrition Program, and the top rung is Optimum Health.  It was explained to me that the two bottom rungs, Death and Disease, we are often under a doctor’s care, and we need to climb the ladder or we may not recover.  We are often plagued with Symptoms and Illness or simply live in that Neutral Zone where we have those frequent headaches, digestive issues, etc., but just live with them.  The majority of people spend part of their lives here.  When I became aware of what can happen and what is possible I began to make healthier choices and saw myself within reach of that Optimal Health rung.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I have just been faced with my own  health challenge (Symptoms and Illness on that rung on the ladder) and feel very  fortunate to have been given the guidance all those past years on how to take care of my own health through proper diet, exercise, reducing toxins in my home, mindfulness and reducing stress and of course taking a nutritional program of supplements.  The strength my body has had to fight this health challenge  was there when I needed it.   I was not planning on using a prescription drug to lower my blood pressure, but at this time am grateful it is working.  Hopefully, some day I will be able to lower the dose or not need it anymore.   I am looking forward to again being on the way to that “top rung” of the ladder at Optimal Health.

Did you know that the word “prevention” comes from two Latin roots that mean “before” and “come.”   Andrew Weil, M.D. describes this concept as by anticipating what may come that can harm us (those symptoms and illness for example), we can take action to stop it (becoming aware) avert it, or minimize its effects (go on a nutrition program for optimum health).  He believes that the chronic diseases that are now epidemic in America are largely preventable, and further states that lifestyle factors figure prominently in the causation of chronic disease:  obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, unmanaged exposure to toxins, etc. and can be addressed by integrative medicine.  His statistics on the toll of preventable disease was shocking:

  • Chronic diseases cause 70% of deaths in America and are responsible for 3/4 of health care spending
  • Half of all American men and 1/3 of all American women will develop cancer.
  • 1/4 of all Americans will have heart disease
  • One in 12 Americans will have asthma
  • One in fourteen Americans will have diabetes.
  • One in 7 Americans will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

An exciting observation he made was that many recent discoveries show that environment and lifestyle factors can modify genetic expression and influence risk for age-related disease. Dr. Weil’s obstacles to prevention can be found in is book, Why Our Health Matters.  I highly recommend it.  He has written many opportunities for prevention as well as the benefits of dietary modification to reduce chronic disease and also included the benefits of dietary supplementation (which I found so helpful in my own journey).

We all want to be at that “top rung” of the ladder of health ~ at Optimum Health.  Taking charge of our own health is just the beginning.  How about you?  Are you being proactive in your own journey of health?  Where are you on “The Ladder of Health?”    A great resource for you would be to take your own free assessment about where you are with regards to your health status.  Just go here and learn what your own personal healthprint is.  It only takes about 5 minutes and is filled with great health tips and suggestions on how to live a healthy life.  I will keep you posted about my own pathway to the top rung of the ladder ~ optimal health!

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