It’s been a year since the world first learned of COVID and life as we knew it in 2019 completely changed.
For many of us, the things we took for granted have now become treasured – including time with family, eating out with friends and travel.
We’ve also learned that our health isn’t something that we can ignore or neglect because the consequences for those who have had pre-existing conditions this year has been devastating at times.
And also with the randomness of those who have been stricken with COVID and become long-haulers (the people with lingering symptoms months and months after they’ve tested negative), this idea of health and prevention has been thrust in the spotlight.
As someone who has long focused on the importance of prevention and overall nutritional, physical and emotional wellbeing, this shift in our collective psyche is a good thing. No one wants it to come at the cost of this past year, but it certainly has allowed us all to see just how very important our health can be in our everyday lives.
One of the things I’ve also noticed is that prior to 2020, people had a higher tolerance for some of the health issues they’ve dealt with – whether that’s diabetes, chronic pain, gastrointestinal issues or even hormonal and metabolic issues – people seemed to be more resigned to their health destiny.
Before COVID, people with chronic illnesses seemed more likely to accept their diagnosis.
They followed a restricted protocol and daily regimen of medicines and simply did what they were told. COVID seems to have woken people up to see that perhaps there is a better way.
That perhaps it’s better to get to the root cause instead of solely treat the symptoms.
And that’s the hard truth we’ve all had to learn.
Prevention takes effort, but it takes less effort than recovering from a chronic illness or disease.
For most the long term rewards are hard to be seen. So when it comes to your health, it can be hard to follow a protocol or take the effort to learn how your body fuels itself because the outcomes aren’t immediate – and sometimes not even guaranteed.
For many years the media (and society) has promoted quick-fixes and trending fads, yet they’ve never really talked about what it takes to actually prevent illness and think long term. You’ve also likely heard me say that traditional medicine supports those trends because it focuses simply on fixing problems instead of preventing them.
Think about it for a moment. . . most of the time when you describe your pains and symptoms they’re seeking the cause of it only to prescribe medicine to lessen the symptoms. There are dozens of medicines on the market for relieving acid reflux, headaches, pains, nausea, high blood sugar, congestion and more.
It’s about managing the symptoms instead of digging further and stopping the symptoms in the first place.
Prevention, on the other hand, focuses on seeing how we can prevent disease and symptoms from coming up in the first place.
I mentioned earlier that prevention takes effort. That’s true.
Prevention does take effort.
And it requires you to give up excuses why you can’t change. It requires you to take a deeper look at your habits and give up the things that you know may harm you for what you know can help you put your body in the best environment for overall health and wellness.
If nothing else, COVID brought forward all of your excuses and stories so you could see them in full light.
Now instead of blaming our commute or the office birthday parties for our poor exercise and nutrition habits, you can see that perhaps prevention was simply not a priority.
Being away from our normal routines has likely shown you that if you want to live better and feel better, that you’re the ones who’s in charge.
So what does that really mean? Especially in the light of diseases like COVID where we aren’t sure what long-term adverse effects really look like.
Prevention is really about understanding your body and putting it in the best environment to do what it does naturally – prevent disease.
In our office we teach that there are three pillars of prevention.
The first one is always nutrition. Ultimately there is no one-size fits all approach to nutrition. As I’ve always said, just because the media has demonized gluten doesn’t mean that it’s automatically bad for you.
When it comes to preventative health and nutrition, the one thing that I always tell clients is that if you can know what your body needs, it’s easier to fuel it to perform at its best.
That may include looking at your genomic blueprint to see what your genes tell us about the environment in which they thrive best. It may also involve looking at what’s happening in your body now, so we can see deficiencies and correct them through nutrition and supplements.
Second, we may also want to consider how you move. Many people live far more sedentary lifestyles than they did 20 years ago and making simple changes to your activities can reap far greater benefits than you might think.
And lastly, we look at how much stress is a factor in your life.
Stress is one of those things that we can’t see, but it has a big impact on your body and your overall health. And over the last year, we have seen a tremendous amount of stress increase for Americans and others around the globe.
In a recent article published by the American Psychological Association, the increase in stress we’ve experienced as a result of COVID has caused the American Psychological Association to declare that we’ve reached a national crisis when it comes to stress.1
Stress has led to an increase in anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal issues, acute and chronic fatigue, tension and so much more.
If we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that mindfulness and meditation and other forms of stress management are critical if we want to keep our bodies feeling and being their best.
Ultimately, prevention is really about looking at all of these aspects. It’s not about one thing alone, but rather the ability to bring our genes, our bodies and our mental wellbeing together so we can better deal with the unknown.
And while we can’t always know or predict things like COVID, what we can do is prepare our bodies to deal with what comes next in the best possible way.