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Plan Your Health

By Dr. Victor Gong, Medical Director of 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

Plan on being healthy for as long as you live. With life expectancy edging forward, we must give more value to the quality of our bonus years as well as realistic strategies to achieve maximum health span. The best way to protect your future is to create it. It starts with a plan.

Your personal health plan has an important stating point; it's where you are right now, and "right now" for many of us is in need of change. Some of the changes have to do with diet, others with how to think about ourselves. For example; the National Cancer Institute links approximately 35 percent of all cancers to the Standard AMerican Diet (SAD). Some researchers suggest this number may be as high as 70 percent.

What's on Your Plate?

To avoid being a cancer statistic, I recommend you seriously consider findings in The British Medical Journal that show vegetarians have 40 percent less chance of contracting cancer than people who eat meat. This comprehensive study included 11,000 people.

Skeletal strength appears to be further correlated to sources of protein. Look at these figures: Chinese population get 89 percent of their protein from plant sources, while Americans get an amazing 70 percent from animals! The rate of hip fractures in China is about one-fifth of what it is in the United States. Are you listening?

Cut the Fat?

Your plan for maximum health span should also include a substantial reduction in dietary fat, particularly saturated fat (as found in butter, etc). Sixty percent of all cancers in females, for example, are related to the level of dietary fat consumed. In one study, women who ate the most saturated fat exhibited more than 6 1/2 times the incidence of lung cancer as compared to women who ate the lowest amount, according to registered dietitian Meghan Flynn in Environmental Nutrition.

The good news is that research shows that a 50 percent reduction in dietary fat intake from present levels may lower the risk of breast cancer by two and a half times in postmenopausal women.

Diet for Life

Plan for a heart that will last a century. Implement your plan by maintaining your heart as if you really regard it as your partner for life. Regular exercise and a high-fiber, low-fat diet make good sense. Survival statistics favor individuals who consume only a plant-based diet. Every 34 seconds, someone in North America has a heart attack. Don't be one of them.

A Sweet Dilemma

Sugar is a major problem. Americans consume, on average, 134 pounds of refined sugar annually. Our bodies are not well equipped for the shock when this biological threat cascades into our system. Research shows that high sugar consumption predisposes us to diseases of an aged population, including arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease and other diseases. It's bad news for your body.

A Solid Nutritional Foundation

Good nutrient status is also a health span imperative. Research at leading universities (and even government research) validates that poor nutrition equals poor health. Nutritional supplementation, tailored to the seasons of your life, activity and environment, makes good sense. We can find comfort in the fact that the use of nutrition can sustain wellness and create a powerful & complementary pathway to healing. You know what to do. Now do it!

The Mind-Body Connection

How we think – especially about ourselves – can significantly impact our biological health status. The early work of Candace Pert, Ph.D., now with Rutgers University, reveals that we can trigger endorphine release from peptides and neuropeptides. This endorphin elixir controls our positive emotions and, in turn, the strength of our immune system. Some findings show that consistent, self-directed positive thought and social stimulation can actually "cure" cancer. Ridiculous? perhaps this may not work with all cancers, but these methods were successful enough to receive the attention of medical professionals, who see this as a complementary path to healing.

Perhaps, with proper training, we can someday "think" ourselves well. Our intent may determine our destiny.

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