A Comprehensive Approach to Health and Wellness
By Mika Bradford, CN, CPhT, Denton LIVING WELL Magazine
We’ve always heard, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” However, living well, staying healthy and having an active lifestyle at any age requires much more than a simple piece of fresh fruit and a few servings of vegetables. “Intelligent Nutrition” takes a comprehensive look at nutrition and while eating balanced meals low in fat and sugars that provide optimal amounts of fiber and nutrients are important, it is just part of the foundation for good health. Many physicians are now readily suggesting and providing prescriptions for both medications and dietary supplements. In recent years we have seen large pharmaceutical companies join in and rally around dietary supplements with the introduction of products like Niaspan and Lovaza. The formulas for these medications consist of specific vitamins and dietary nutrients as their primary ingredient. This shift in thinking is challenging us to look at health and wellness in a new light, and we are no longer readily accepting that feeling bad or certain health conditions are static and unable to improve.
If you are one of the millions of adults who’s reached a threshold in your life where you feel a decline in energy and stamina or begin to experience changes that are routinely attributed to growing older, don’t be discouraged. Whether you’re in your late 40s or entering your early 70s there are many factors that must be taken into consideration that can account for changes in the way you feel and your overall health. There are many hidden culprits that you may not be aware of that can undermine your efforts in maintaining your health. These factors can include age, known health conditions, regularly taken prescription and over-the-counter medications, foods eaten on a daily basis, lifestyle choices and level of physical activity. Each of these factors can directly impact the level of nutrients your body requires in order to function properly. Nutrient depletions can ultimately be the outcome, creating or contributing to secondary health conditions. This means a one-size-fits-all recommendation for dietary nutrients like the RDA is no longer appropriate for most individuals.
Many changes can happen naturally within the body as we age including the decreased production of specific hormones and enzymes. The natural decrease in the body’s production of hormones like testosterone and estrogen can change your mood, level of energy and stamina, while promoting weight gain and diminishing the quality of sleep you receive. Another common example of age-related changes that often occur is the decreased production of lactase, a digestive enzyme that is needed to break down lactose, a sugar in milk. The decrease in this one specific enzyme can account for the drastic changes many people must make to the foods they eat in order to avoid bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Specific health conditions like short bowel syndrome that results in the malabsorption of nutrients due to a chronic health condition or surgery can dramatically increase your need for specific nutrients. Irritable bowel, celiac, Crohn’s, and autoimmune conditions all have inflammation as a common denominator. A constant increase in inflammation creates the need for larger amounts of antioxidants to be consumed in order for the body to respond appropriately. These antioxidants are derived from the foods you eat and dietary supplements you take. The use of cherry fruit extract in the treatment of arthritis is just one example of an antioxidant rich supplement being used to support a healthy inflammatory response.
Medications, while necessary for many health conditions, have also been shown to interfere with the absorption of specific vitamins and minerals. Blood pressure medications are just one class of drugs that have been scientifically shown to create the need for supplementation of nutrients like Coenzyme -10, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Due to the direct impact medications can have on your health it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of what medications are being taken and how they are suppose to support your health and if any known nutrient depletions have been identified. As you can see there are many factors that must be taken into consideration when making decisions about your health. The trust is you can make a difference in your life by taking a comprehensive approach to choices regarding your health that will allow you to live well, stay healthy and maintain an active lifestyle for years to come.
Author Mika Bradford is a certified nutritionist and certified pharmacy technician. Mika is very interested in health and wellness, especially as it relates to individuals with special needs or those with long-term health conditions. If you have a question for Mika, you may contact her at email@example.com or 817-705-7221.