With the availability of information constant and instant, many people are taking their health into their own hands, doing research and self-medicating.
There is no question that the information age has brought new ways of doing things; you might say it’s both a blessing and a curse.
Sometimes we have a tendency to go overboard and may over-think or second guess.
Sometimes our self-diagnoses exasperate our physicians.
1. “All Carbs are Bad Carbs”
Just like not all fats are bad, not all carbs are bad. You need fruits and vegetables for a variety of reasons. If you’re concerned about what to eat, learn about the carbohydrates and daily values that are appropriate for you. Processed foods are less desirable than fresh foods. There is a place for whole grains (like quinoa) in most people’s diets. You shouldn’t categorically define any nutrient type; rather, learn the differences and make healthy choices.
2. “I Googled It”
“…information is not knowledge or understanding, both of which require objectivity, balance, the view from altitude and interpretation. Our culture routinely equates information access with understanding, and that is a very costly mistake in health care. A lot of time and energy is devoted these days into talking patients ‘out of love’ with misinformation,” says Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center David L. Katz, MD, MPH. Information is a good thing but reading one book doesn’t make one an expert. Your physician is still better educated about the human body (biology) than the average lay person. Give her/him the benefit of the doubt. Discuss and learn.
3. “I Need Antibiotics”
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Four out of five Americans will take at least one antibiotic each year. Most of those antibiotics aren’t necessary. Don’t go to your doctor’s office and demand a prescription for an antibiotic; it is not indicated for every illness or condition. When medications are over-used, they lose their effectiveness. Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics and most people in good health can fight everyday illness without pharmaceuticals (which, in turn, develops natural resistance).
The world now finds itself in a state in which bacteria are adapting to the drugs we concoct to kill them. We want to use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, for the individual and the world population. Keeping normal, regular vitamin C intake, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle will keep you prepared to fight off any illness. There are natural remedies that have been found as effective as antibiotics for many “superbugs”.
4. “I’m Eating Less and Exercising More, But I’m Not Losing Weight”
Don’t drive yourself crazy as well as your doctor. There’s more to losing weight than the amount you eat and increasing activity level. Healthy weight loss takes time and lifestyle and most importantly metabolic changes. Monitoring and feedback are good, neurosis is not.
5. “I Need a Quick Fix”
Enter Ralph Kramden. It never worked for him and it probably won’t work for you. A pill to fix whatever ails you is not only a fallacy, it’s dangerous. Self-medication—even with natural supplements or herbs—can be counter-productive or even hazardous. Tread carefully, use common sense, ask for advice, do your research, and check with your healthcare provider before taking anything new or changing dosage. If it sounds too good to be true…
6. “I Only Eat Low-Fat”
This is so wrong in so many ways. Fat is not your enemy. Artificial “trans” fat in excess will cause you cholesterol and heart problems. Naturally-occurring monounsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and avocados are good and necessary for you; they are used by every cell in your body. Be wary of products that advertise “low fat”; often what is put in to compensate for the lack of fat is worse for you than the fat itself—gums, artificial flavors, fillers, and things you can’t pronounce. David Perlmutter, MD discusses in his book Grain Brain the shift in North America to a carbohydrate-rich diet:
“In 1992, we were told [by the U.S. Department of Agriculture], ‘You’ve got to go low-fat, no-fat—that’s what’s best for your heart’. Within 10 years, the rate of diabetes in America went up threefold, and diabetes doubles your Alzheimer’s risk…The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today.”
7. “I Don’t Have Time To Come In”
If you are sick and you want your doctor’s attention, understand that you are not the only one. Physicians’ offices are run with the expectation that last-minute, unplanned sickness will require immediate attention. Unless yours is one of those, you cannot reasonably expect a doctor to be able to drop everything and re-arrange an entire schedule to see you because you didn’t plan properly.
Your doctor wants to help you—help her/him help you and be as flexible as you would like your doctor to be. An examination and any required tests take time; you wouldn’t want your doctor to rush through treatment but be thorough and thoughtful. Set aside whatever time is required to make yourself well without undue pressure on your doctor or yourself.
8. “I Can Keep Smoking If I Exercise”
Sure, if you want to have a heart attack or stroke a little later (or sooner!) than if you didn’t exercise. Smoking cigarettes is one of the very worst things you can do for your body, period. You can’t haggle with health. No other change in lifestyle can offset the terrible things that smoking does to your body—and it doesn’t take much to cause serious damage.
Common sense, informed choices, and a joint effort with your healthcare provider will help you live better and longer.