Choosing to live well
Are you willing to make the effort to pursue true health?
PERHAPS, this is the final chorus of the song that has been playing on alternate Wednesdays. As the curtains come down, there will be no standing ovation. Very soon, much of the lyrics would have been forgotten, and for many, life goes on as before.
The few brave souls who stopped at that crucial intersection, and decided to make a right turn towards true health, will never regret making that choice ... provided they do not make a U-turn.
Along every journey, we do make many stops.
At each junction, one has to decide on which way to turn. We move along the well-trodden path of familiarity, but on one less travelled, the voice of doubt and resistance ushers us back on to the old route, precluding possibilities of change.
Such transformations need not be dramatically life-changing, but presents itself as little choices we make everyday.
In the refrigerator, chocolates beckons over the lettuce; after a hard day’s work, happy hours over exercise; in the mall, taking the escalator over the stairs; and so on.
“Hardcore” patient education materials serve as great medical literature, but spread beneath the veneers of preventive health meas- ures lie the omnipotent message of change.
Conventional wisdom dictates that no one can alter another’s behaviour as any modification comes from the individual’s own desire. However, only the key of discovery (of the whys and hows) can start the engine on the journey towards optimal health.
Which way to go?
Let us picture a few images – the wreckage of an air disaster, the destruction by an earthquake, the aftermath of a tsunami, a mangled body from a shark attack ... These scenarios make dramatic headlines.
For the guy on the street, in the city of Kuala Lumpur, the chances of such causes of mortality is probably close to zero. To be more realistic, the chances of sudden untimely demise due to road traffic accidents and infections of sorts is one in 20.
What about the other 19 out of 20? They succumb predictably to one or more chronic degenerative diseases, which are directly or indirectly linked to nutrition and lifestyle.
A WHO report in 2002 stated that the lifetime risk of dying of heart disease in the United States as one in two, with cancer, one in three.
Right here in our own backyard, the lifetime risk for getting cancer is one in five.
Twenty years ago, hypertension was considered a disease of the elderly. A young executive with raised blood pressure then would have triggered alarm bells, commencing a search for an underlying cause, but over the years, the alarm bell has rung once too often.
Today, the incidence of hypertension and diabetes have doubled and is encroaching upon our youth.