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What Does Health Mean To You?

Everyone has their own definition. Being healthy does not mean you have to eat salad everyday for lunch of have a BMI of 19 kg/m2. According to Merriam-Webster health means "the condition of being well or free from disease." The World Health Organization defines it as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity," which has not been amended since 1948. In both definitions health is defined as being disease free and I would agree with that.

However, when looking at the the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) many Americans are not disease-free. The leading causes of death are caused by disease and some of these are preventable. According to the CDC, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Heart disease is often caused by the hardening of plaque in the blood vessels or atherosclerosis. As this plaque builds up it begins to restrict the blood flow in the body and eventually a blood clot can form, leading to a heart attack or stroke. This. Sounds. Terrifying. Thankfully, there are changes that we can make to our lifestyle that will help to reduce the likelihood of this happening to us.

As scary as heart disease sounds I do not recommend waking up tomorrow and completely changing your lifestyle, most likely you will not stick with these changes. When counseling patients, I always recommend looking over all of the recommendations I make and choosing 2 or 3 things they think they will be able to change and stick with. After a month when these changes become their everyday lifestyle they make another change and before they realize they have completely changed their lifestyle, to a healthier one, and they are sticking to it! Some of these new lifestyle changes may be: reducing the fat content of their milk; adding a vegetable to their dinner plate; or mixing ground turkey with their ground beef.

Preventative health care is so important. There is no need to wait until you have developed the disease to make healthier lifestyle changes because some of the damage has already been done. It is time to take control of your health today and make the changes for a healthier future.

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