We Need to Change This One Thing to Survive

scrabble tiles spelling be the change

We need to change. We will live in a world that promotes the treatment of disease rather than creation of good health. Even Advil says that we are not allowed to slow down because if we are sick we should just ‘Advil and Go’. 

We live in a reactive society. We do not promote good health, we treat poor health. As long as we continue treating poor health over promoting good health we will always fall behind. The situation we find ourselves currently in was the tipping point in our world that created a series of events that finds us having gone through three lockdowns, almost a year and a half of struggles and life changes, and soon a return to normalcy. But make no mistake, unless we change our lifestyles, this will be the NEW NORMAL (I really hate that term too). Rolling lockdowns. Restrictions on travel. Back and forth online learning. Masking. This is what we can expect in our future.

Here is some data to support this.

As many as 50% of patients were reported having at least one comorbiditiy with this virus upon hospital admission. Hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obesity, and diabetes are among the most commonly reported. Comorbidities are contributing to acute disease prognosis and increased risk of severe symptoms. Around 70% of patients who require ICU care have been observed to have comorbidities. This comes from data in an article published in March 2021.

ALL of these comorbidities (for the most part) are preventable. Proper diet AND exercise can prevent these comorbidities from occurring in most cases. Do you know what the #1 cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is? SMOKING. The research for this can be found here and here. Again, preventable.

Statistics show that in Alberta, in 2020, 1 in 5 people (20% of the population) had hypertension . This is a staggering number and, in many cases, preventable.

I do not downplay this virus. It is opportunistic and it especially preys on the elderly and the immunocompromised and those who have these comorbidities. Yes there are seemingly perfectly healthy people who land up in the hospital and in the ICU. There are also those marathon runners who cross the finish line and die of a heart attack. This is a reality. However, in the majority of cases to date, based on the data that has been compiled, comorbidities are the largest factors which dictate whether or not you land up hospitalized. Remember, the reason why we were told we went through what we went through was so that the health care system was not overloaded. Comorbidities contribute heavily to hospitalizations.

How do you avoid hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes? There are numerous ways to go about it but this link from the Mayo clinic can help.

The power for us to win not only this battle but future health battles with other infections to come (and they will come) is for each and every one of us to become more healthy. There is no magic to it. However it takes some work.

If you have not read my blog post on How to Be a Bad Virus Host then you should! This post focuses on how exercise enhances your immune system. Don’t know where to start? Read on. The three main ways we’re all going to reduce our comorbidities (in particular hypertension and obesity) are through exercise, diet, and supplements.

Exercise

Yes, exercise, let’s do it! But how much exercise do I need to make a difference in my health? I already take my dog for a walk everyday and I always run after my kids at the park, surely that must be enough? Unfortunately it is not. Remember, we need to condition our body to fight health stresses and thus you need to put your body through some stress to achieve this.

There are many recommendations but in this case we will use the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations. The average person needs at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combination of both) per week to see a reduction in hypertension. 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week is both a small amount and a large amount of time required out of each person. It’s a small amount because it’s just a fraction of our time in a week but it’s also a large amount because we need to find that time between work and family obligations. This is just over 20 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per day. While it will cost you time in both planning and dedication, it will benefit you in lowering your comorbidities that ultimately are most likely to land you in the hospital. Knowing this, is that a sacrifice you are willing to make?

Diet and Nutrition

How hard is it to make healthy choices? For the average person I think it’s very hard. We’re busy. We have work. We have kids. We have activities. And it will be harder when we return to normal because we’ll be more short on time. What will cloud our judgement? This was what I found in our mailbox over just two days. It makes eating your vegetable a little bit harder!

There are so many dietary recommendations out there that I could write pages and pages and pages about this. For simplicity I will focus on one of the biggest factors involved in high blood pressure: SODIUM. Sodium has a direct correlation to high blood pressure and unfortunately it is found in EVERYTHING. In this particular instance our friends at the Mayo Clinic (once again) give some great recommendations through their ‘DASH diet‘ which emphasizes vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods, and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.

While there are some fantastic tips and recommendations in the link above you may find this overwhelming and may wonder ‘is there simply one thing I can start with before I turn my diet upside down?’ Yes. STOP EATING PACKAGED AND PREPARED FOODS. Sauces, soups, cold cuts, frozen chicken breast (yes, pre-packaged individually portioned chicken breasts are extremely high in sodium) and crackers are just some common foods very high in sodium. And the crazy thing is that sauces and soups are so simple to make on your own. You DO NOT need to have culinary skills. You DO NOT have to be talented. You simply need to know how to use a knife and to follow instructions in a recipe. It is much easier than you think and it is much healthier than buying anything pre-made. Still not sold on it? It’s CHEAPER! SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper.

Prepared pasta sauce is an example of food high in sodium. How hard is to make pasta sauce? Combine 1 can of reduced salt diced tomatoes, 1 small onion, 1 carrot, 2 sticks of celery, ⅛ cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of wine, and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and let it simmer for a half hour (but longer is always better). Blend with a hand blender. That’s it. Healthy. Easy. Inexpensive. Delicious.

Would you like a super awesome easy squash soup (use bag of frozen squash cubes)? Check out the recipe in our newsletter link here.

Super easy instant pot hamburger soup? Check out our newsletter link here.

BBQ time? How about an easy BBQ Greek marinade for any type of meat? Check it out!

Remember: cooking can be fun and you’re keeping yourself healthy at the same time!

Supplements

Supplements can be tricky because everybody is different. I recommend everybody should be taking a multi-vitamin and, MOST importantly, Vitamin D. When it comes down to vitamins, I do stick by the rule of ‘you get what you pay for.’ You will not get the quality of vitamin you need from Costco. Absorption is the most important part of vitamins and for that you need to get it from a proper nutraceutical company. We sell all of our vitamins from AOR which has its manufacturing plant right in Calgary. They source high quality product that has been put together for maximum absorption.

Vitamin D has been in the limelight in the last year because of case studies associated with reduction in symptoms of patients during this pandemic. Vitamin D has been shown to improve immune function in many different facets. I always include links for research studies for anything that I recommend, however the problem with supplements is that there are limited large scale studies because, unless you are a drug company, nobody has any money to do large scale studies.

However, where we live here in Alberta, we are not exposed to enough sun (except for barely a few months in the summer) to produce the required amounts of vitamin D. The proper recommendation for vitamin D supplementation is 35 IU (international units) of Vitamin D per pound of body weight. The current most common recommendation of 1000 IU per day is outdated and too low, especially where we live here in Alberta.

I was taking 1000 IU per day and I experienced a vitamin D deficiency with a variety of symptoms and it took me almost a year to recover. You can see my story here.

HELP!

We need help. We need the government’s help. We need Alberta Health’s help. How? This message needs to come from the source that we have been listening to for the last year. We need a uniform message that creates sustainable good health. We’ve seen the hashtags #flattenthecurve and #stopthespike and #bendthecurve and many others. Now is the time to see:

podium with sign that says eat healthy

and

podium speaker with sign that says exercise daily

Imagine if this was the message we saw everyday. Would it help? I cannot say for sure but I would bet my kids house on it! We have heard ‘social distance’ and ‘mask’ and ‘stay at home’ repeatedly for the last year and have been following these orders. It’s time we hear a message that will set us up for a brighter and healthier future.

Don’t let this happen to us again. Be the change you want to see. It all starts with you. If we can pull together and get to where we are now then we can all pull together and make ourselves more healthy and avoid landing up sick and in the hospital!

Please feel free to visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/accesswellness! Drs. Jacqueline Boyd and Paul Bajor are the only husband and wife chiropractic team in Airdrie, Alberta. Their practice, Access Chiropractic and Wellness, is located at #120, 52 Gateway Drive NE in the north of Airdrie. They have been in practice in Airdrie since 2004 and in practice since 2001. They have two kids named Liam and Julia and have one of the largest family practices in Airdrie. They have a vested interest in keeping Airdrie and surrounding communities healthy because Airdrie is also their home.

Drs. Jacqueline Boyd and Paul Bajor are also both registered and active members of the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association).

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