Is prevention simply the absence of disease, or living healthy?
Dear Readers :
The first thought that comes to most people's minds when they think of prevention is that disease can strike them anytime. The mental and physical stress that illness, chronic diseases put on a household cannot be quantified. The financial stress that develops on the family during this is also huge.
Some of us rely on self-purchased or employer-provided medical insurance to cover for such unforeseen risks.
As of two years ago, only 3.9% of India's population was insured.
Add to this the rising costs of healthcare worldwide, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Once a year, we trudge to the nearest clinic and sign up for one of the preventive health checkup plans, which promises a battery of tests and scans, never being fully aware of what those tests mean and how to use it to become healthier. Indeed, if such health check-ups could be a preventive measure (as they're expected to be),
why do we still have 50 million people in India with type-2 diabetes and 30 million people suffering from a cardiac disease?
The reason lies in the fact that master health check-ups can only identify underlying disease. They are not tuned to the dysfunctions in the body, which when left uncorrected develop into a disease.
You might have read in your reports, or your doctor would have told you that your blood test results are completely normal, but instead of feeling relieved, you have an uncomfortable feeling knowing that something is wrong. That frequent indigestion, acidity, fluctuating weight, fatigue, joint stiffness, mood swings, and insomnia are all not normal!
Let us take a simple example here of why standard tests fail.
Vegetarians in India are often plagued by anemia. Microcytic anemia, a condition in which blood cells are smaller than usual, is the most common manifestation. It is important to note that anemia doesn't always show up as a falling level of hemoglobin alone, and is often studied in tandem with parameters such as cell volume (MCV), hemoglobin density in blood cells (MCHC), etc. However, most people who report clinically acceptable ranges of hemoglobin are never identified as being anemic. Over time, as the iron reserves in their bodies deplete, severe and long term side effects such as fatigue, hair loss, and insomnia are observed. Then, the healthcare system churns into action, loading the person up with iron supplements, but only until the time when their hemoglobin levels are up again. The real problem, which is nutritional iron deficiency, remains unattended to.
If you had the choice between avoiding poverty and being rich, which option would you choose? Choosing wellness over a 'lack of disease' is a similar situation.
If you (we) aspire to improve your (our) health and wellbeing, you (we) need to shift away from thinking about "Preventing diseases" and to "Being Healthy." And for that to happen, we need to put in some work.
When you commit to being healthy, you choose goals for where you want to be.
'I want to do more on my weekends than just sleep and eat.'
'I am having trouble sleeping, and I want to be able to sleep and wake up refreshed.'
'I've been trying to lose weight for very long now, but my weight never stays off! I want to lose weight permanently.'
These are all real requests from real people.
In the first step, we ask that you detect the dysfunction with tests and diagnostics that assess your foundational health.
The second step is to identify health improvement areas and basic nutrient needs.
Doctors can treat patients, but what if you're just on the brink of illness? Should you wait until you're tagged a patient, or should you act immediately to move up the wellness scale and avoid falling ill altogether? Think of prevention as a state of continued wellness, and not as a parameter that can be measured once in a while.