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True health care

In my April 2 column, I shared some personal opinions about doctors and health care. My point is we have to take more personal responsibility and play a more active role when it comes to our health care.

The term health care, as used in our everyday life, is really a misnomer. When we talk about health care, what we really mean is disease care.

The time we need health care, to see a doctor or visit a hospital, is usually when we are sick. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are really in the business of disease care, not health care.

True health care means something different for me. I need health care while I am still healthy, not when I am sick. Health care is to help me stay healthy and prevent me from getting diseases.

I believe true health care is the responsibility of each individual. Don't give away your responsibility to the doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies or the government.

Here are a few things I know I need or should do to care for my health.

• An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Health care doesn't begin when I experience health problems. Health care really begins when I am still feeling well. Health care is doing maintenance work to keep myself healthy. I should do everything I can to prevent diseases from happening in the first place.

• A healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle includes a healthy diet and a variety of food in moderation. I eat lots of vegetables and fruit.

I also exercise to keep myself physically fit. I do things that I really enjoy to make me feel energized and happy. I read and use my brain to keep myself mentally sharp.

• The fresh and real food

I make my meal from scratch and eat the real food almost every day. I usually don't eat fast food, convenient food, preserved food, canned food, or junk food.

A fresh apple is real food, but not sugary apple juice. A fresh tomato is real food, but not canned tomatoes. Once the fresh fruit and vegetables are processed, they lose most of their nutrients and values.

We cannot totally avoid processed food, but we should eat as much natural food as possible. We need to go back to nature and eat what our earth provides and not what our manufactures artificially make.

• A holistic approach

A healthy life is a balanced life in the sense that I should take a holistic approach to living. I should live my life in "wholeness" by taking care of my body, mind and spirit.

I should keep physical body, mental and emotional health, and spiritual well-being in balance. Neglect any aspect of my life can cause disease and is therefore a cause for disease.

• A stress-less life

Stress is a major cause of diseases. In our modern society, it is very unlikely to live a stress-free life. But there are a lot of things we can do to reduce stress in our life.

I try not to over schedule my life. I stay away from television, from materialism, from big ego and pride. Living a simple life is my desire. Doing yoga and reading are helpful activities for stress reduction.

• A closer look

I have learned to take a close look at the food labels when I do grocery shopping. I try to avoid ingredients that are harmful.

Another thing that needs a closer look is our medicine cabinet. When you look at it, you can conclude that Americans are overdosed and over-drugged.

All medications have side- effects. They are not wonder pills. Be aware of the side effects of medications and the interaction of different medications. Some health problems people have are simply the result and reaction of medications.

Drug overdoses and doctor errors are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

• A natural way

I don't go to the doctor or take medication at the first sign of any physical discomfort. I believe in the innate healing power of our body. In many cases our body can heal itself naturally if we give it proper nutrients and time.

• An alternative route

If there are options and choices between conventional medicine and alternative medicine for treatment, I should choose the alternative route first. The alternative route could take longer, but it's healthier and less harmful.

• A healthy dose of skepticism

Have a healthy dose of skepticism is necessary when dealing with doctors. They are only humans and make mistakes. They might not know all or know the best when they give advices.

Sometimes we idolize certain groups of people or professions. We overestimate their abilities and underestimate our own abilities. If I don't know what the experts tell me, then I should learn about it so I know what's best for me.

• An inquisitive mind

Learn all I can about diet, healthy lifestyle, medicine, health care, pharmaceutical industry, etc. The more I learn, the more my eyes and mind will be opened. The more I know, the more responsibility I can take for myself, the better choices I can make for my health and disease care.

By implementing these health care practices, I hope I will not need much disease care in my old age, like my late grandparents did.

[Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Woodbury Bulletin, its staff or parent company, Forum Communications.]