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The other day I was in the elevator at a major Boston hospital heading to the 16th floor.  The elevator was full of people; visitors carryi...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't listen to so called "experts" so much. Embrace your Common Sense Instead.



Take a vitamin every day.

Vitamins don't really help. Don't waste your money.

New study proves vitamins decrease cancer risk.


These have all been recent headlines in the past couple of years.

It is hard to keep up with all of the new "studies" and all of the new "experts".

They are everywhere.

Lately, I have heard that women who drink wine stay thinner, but only if they were already thin. That red wine helps fight heart disease, but it can also increase your risk for breast cancer. That eating fat causes heart disease. That too many carbs cause heart disease. That we need more protein in our diets. That our intake of protein is too high. That 30 minutes of exercise 4 times a week is all we need to stay healthy. That what we really need is 60 minutes of exercise a day, plus strength training, to have any "significant" impact on our health.

All of this makes me feel like the world has gone mad.

Where has all the common sense gone?

Do we really need all of these purported experts reporting on
conflicting "scientific" studies constantly? Does it really make us healthier? Or just more worried than we need to be.

And how about all the new books? And Oprah? And Dr. Oz? Are they really trying to be helpful or are they just trying to make a lot more money?

Hmmm. I would bet the later, unfortunately. (Although, I really do like Dr. Oz, just not so much of him)

Anyway, I think we are really all acting like Dorothy looking for answers from a powerful Wizard, when really, we had the power all along. We just needed to believe in our own power of common sense.

We know what we need to do to be healthier. We know what we need to do to lose weight. We know how to keep our heart in good shape. We know what foods are bad to eat. We know that drinking too much wine or beer is bad. Or too much coffee. Or too much ice cream. We just want some reason to convince ourselves that what we truly desire is really okay. And if we look hard enough, I am sure we will find some "expert" somewhere to conclude that what we want to believe is actually true.

Even though we know it is not. And that it defies common sense.

Look, we can all use a simple vitamin pill daily. We can all eat more fruit and less candy. We can drink more water, we can exercise more, we can get more sleep. We probably should not have that third glass of wine. Or too much bread. Or smoke or take drugs for recreation. We should probably go to the MD once a year for a physical, have the mammogram, get the prostate checked and go to the dentist every six months. We should wear our seatbelts all of the time and not text and drive. We should not drive after drinking. We would most likely do better with our weight if we weighed ourselves daily or at least weekly. I am sure we know that we do not need a supersized anything, a 20oz. sugary drink or a snack every time we go anywhere.

We know all of these things. We just don't want to do them.

Sure, there have been many great scientific discoveries that have saved countless lives. And many new drugs that are wonderful achievements and have kept many alive longer than ever possible in decades past.

But many of those new drugs are necessary because we keep doing all of the things that we aren't supposed to be doing. And that is not good, either.

We really are our own experts on ourselves. When we don't feel good, we often do seek out answers from specialists such as doctors and nurses and dentists and such. And that is a good thing. We just don't always do what they tell us.

But we can do ourselves a big favor and simply listen to ourselves more so we don't have to seek them out as often.

Look, I know what you are thinking. I see many patients who did everything "right" and they still got cancer. And I see their family member who is 30 lbs overweight out back smoking and drinking a supersized coke and noshing on a Big Mac. And they don't have cancer. I know. We all know a story like that.

But here is what you don't know. Many of the cancer patients that I see who have survived their cancer much longer than anyone, including the "experts", could have ever imagined, were the ones that took care of themselves.

Anyone can get cancer, but those that survive usually were healthier to begin with. And that is just a fact. Same is true for heart attack survivors, trauma survivors, etc. They were healthier to begin with. They lived their life, not in some perfect bubble, but with some modicum of common sense.

I am not a research scientist with a fancy Ph.D, but I can tell you that for the past 30 years, having worked as an RN, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of patients with every disease you can think of. And the ones that do well did the things that we know we need to do. And we all are going to get something. Either from the environment we live in, from chronic stress we cannot avoid, from faulty genes we inherited, or from our own stupidity. Something will most likely go wrong at some point. But we can do something to put the survival odds in our favor. And short of getting hit by a Mack Truck, it will help us live longer and better lives.

Quality is important.

So, take a multi-vitamin everyday. Drink more water. Touch your toes every morning in the shower. Limber up. Take a baby aspirin daily. Walk more. Deep breath several times a day. Eat less processed food, and more real food. Pass up McDonald's. Go to bed early one night a week. Cry when you are sad, get mad when you are truly mad, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. And eat ice cream. Just not every single day.

If you need to lose weight, eat 500 calories less a day and walk or do some type of exercise for 30 minutes. (Easier said than done, but the only way) Drink and have fun, but have some sense about it. Get medical attention promptly when needed. Brush your teeth twice a day. Avoid eating and drinking chemicals. 7 Diet Cokes a day is bad. I don't care what you say.

You know what to do. Of course you do. And you don't need to read about it or have me tell you or watch it on the news.

You just simply need to do it.

Your common sense is worth a room full of experts.

After all, you are the expert on you.

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