Philippine Daily Inquirer

Good health is my personal business


Fake news is not limited to politics. There seems to be a conspirato­rial effort online to confuse ordinary people like me with contradict­ory informatio­n on how to keep healthy. It’s time to take matters into my own hands, for what else can one do when what used to be good is now bad or vice versa? Diets for weight loss, for instance, contradict one another. Some people must be lying to us.

But not blood tests. I take them regularly, prompted by fear of diabetes from my maternal lineage. Through them, among other ways, my doctor monitors my health and sets me straight whenever I stray. The moment I introduce something different or go overboard in my diet, it shows right away. Those tests tell my story, but I’m the one, of course, who’s writing it.

Acquiring the power to control my own state of health has come the hard way. I was vulnerable to fake health news—possibly still am, though not in any way comparable—when I like what it says.

When they said coffee is good, nuts are excellent snacks for people with high sugar, red wine does wonders for digestion, bacon and fat are in fact good for slimming, I bought it all.

I went snacking on nuts until I cracked and lost a molar. I took soya milk because it was healthier than whole milk, which is good only for babies but not for older people.

Bacon was more or less regular breakfast fare. In just six months, the change was dramatic: my uric acid shot up along with my cholestero­l. It puzzled my doctor, until I confessed. Fake news, what else?


I now listen more to my body and gut feel. After all, I should know my body better than anyone else. It doesn’t mean I don’t get sick anymore, but, when I do, I know what I did wrong—the blood work confirms it.

I am lactose intolerant, but why should I deprive myself of ice cream, milkshakes and cheeses? As happens, there are some milk products I can tolerate. I have never had a bad reaction to halo-halo topped with ube ice cream, for instance, but I don’t push my luck; half is all I take, if at all. Hubby dutifully consumes the other half.

I want to be happy so I take risks but when my stomach explodes, that’s a sure sign I went beyond my tolerance. Mercifully, there are tablets for the lactose-intolerant. But, like everything else, sometimes they work, sometimes not. It’s a matter of ingested measures.

It’s the same way with alcohol; alas, there’s no tablet for alcohol intoleranc­e. There are wines I can take without turning red as a beet, and there are wines that literally floor me. The trick is finding the right wine, and I have some idea.

Mind you, I’m no lush, but it’s hard for people not to think so when my knees buckle and I’m spread out on the sofa. Can you blame my husband if he watches me like a hawk? If he’s not around, cousin Ninit takes over the job, watchful especially of sangria, a particular­ly strong temptation.

Not complainin­g

I’m not in any way complainin­g. I’m 78 and still free from any maintenanc­e drugs unless turmeric and malunggay tablets count.

I made it a point to eat mindfully, did aqua exercises three times a week, perfect for a nonathleti­c me—despite the effort it calls for, the water keeps me safe from breaking anything. The exercise makes me feel good and fit.

For my birthday I bought myself a Fitbit. It monitors my heart and counts my steps, water intake, and sleeping hours—seven is the standard.

Every hour, it reminds me to take 250 steps, until I total 6,000 steps, the goal I set for myself. It’s 4,000 less than what the American Heart Associatio­n prescribes, but I intend to get there; in fact, I hit that when traveling.

Anyway, at 6,000, my Fitbit explodes 4th of July fireworks! I have managed to bring down my Hbaic from 6.22 to 5.8, and lost seven pounds.

But, no matter what I do, my cholestero­l continues to rise steadily. I dread taking statins because of the side effects on me, but because we’re going on a trip, I have to give in to my doctor. “It’s a low dosage, more for prevention,” he assures me.

Well-meaning friends are quick to suggest virgin coconut oil as a substitute. I may try that, too—anything to get away from statins—when we come back.

Meanwhile, instead of dieting, which somehow makes me hungrier, I’ll eat everything in moderation and with a thankful heart for the bounty received. I’ll stop when I’m 80percent full, and go on exercising. Let’s see.

Despite hits and misses, all these years I’ve been in relatively good health. I must be doing something right. Not to be discounted, of course, are my good genes. In old age, I’ve decided to make good health my personal business.

I now listen more to my body and gut feel. After all, I should knowmy body better than anyone else

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