An interesting editorial in the Los Angeles Times Sunday edition today (February 2, 2014) by Richard Diana, MD provides more evidence for the benefits of healthy lifestyle practices in an arena many of us don’t think about. Dr. Diana left professional football as a player to become a physician and then an orthopedic surgeon. When attending a reunion of his comrades, he discusses his distress at seeing how many were suffering from terrible joint disease, arthritis, and were plagued by pain. Others “struggled with diabetes, and some even had heart disease.” Most of these men were under the age of 55 which is young to have such major complaints.
Dr. Diana attributes the major illnesses these men were experiencing from their time playing the demanding professional football. He points out that there is a new approach to treating osteoarthritis: “Combating osteoarthritis requires…lifestyle changes in physical activity and diet.” The difficulty for his comrades was not that they weren’t tough enough. Rather they were not “used to preventing pain through lifestyle changes.” Besides changing their physical activities to ones that support healthy joints, he notes that eating habits that put on weight undermine the treatment of arthritis. “Not only does added weight exacerbate joint problems, it often comes from eating habits that cause inflammation.”
Thank you Dr. Diana. This is exactly what we in holistic, natural, and alternative medicine have been promoting for decades. Lifestyle is the most important influence on a person’s health. Poor dietary choices, lack of sleep, lack of positive life experiences play a toll on a person’s health. And, this is one of the most important points in the article, it is never too late to change. Improving one’s diet, regular appropriate exercise, good sleep repeatedly beat out prescription drugs for improving chronic illness. Yes, there is a place for those medications. Nevertheless, addressing the causes of the illness with lifestyle changes, I recommend, is the place to start. We have the choices.
To our good health…!