As I was getting ready to write a pretty little post on how being grateful can improve your health (via reduced insomnia, improved immune function and even increased exercise), I came across some information that stopped me in my tracks. I am shocked, concerned and truthfully, angry.
We all know that the current health trends aren’t headed in the right direction. But hear this out:
These are the words of Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. He then added that the associated costs would be unbearable, both in human and economic terms. The worst – or maybe the best news, depending on what we do about it – is that 90% of all these cases and costs are entirely preventable through proper lifestyle management.
My Dad has diabetes. In his case it’s Type 1, which isn’t associated with lifestyle and isn’t preventable. But let me tell you something: it’s not fun. Poor Papa has to inject himself with insulin 4 times a day, and before each injection comes a glucose reading. That means handling needles and picking himself 8 times per day. That means never leaving the house without his glucose reader and medicine (no, his man purse isn’t a fashion statement). He’s had to change his food habits. Handles very large prescription, medical and health insurance bills. Has a hard time identifying how much insulin he needs before a meal at a restaurant. Deals with additional hassles at the airport due to the equipment he caries with him.
And all this is nothing in comparison to the consequences of taking the wrong dosage of insulin. If he takes too little, his sugar level rises too high, making him feel irrationally irritable while damaging his internal plumbing. If he takes too much, his sugar level plunges, leaving him in a semi unconscious state during which he shakes like a leaf, doesn’t understand what is going on and feels very, very vulnerable.
Thank Goodness Papa is generally well-controlled, and these occurrences are rare for him. But even for people with his discipline, diabetes management isn’t a perfect science, and so spiking and plunging sugar levels are always a threat. Because it often goes uncontrolled, diabetes is one of the leading causes of vision loss, kidney failure, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, skin ulcers and even amputation.
So tell me, isn’t it time we make it socially unacceptable to provide everyone with enough food to choke a horse at every Holiday party? Shouldn’t an evening spent watching TV solidly implanted in a recliner while munching on anything out of a bag become subpar compared to more active forms of leisure? Why is working 12-hour days still encouraged and applauded in an era when we realize it leads directly to serious illness because it leaves no time for a single wellness minute in the day?
Let’s take the first step towards a cultural shift right now, together. Whether you are celebrating the American Thanksgiving this week or not, take a few formal minutes to feel grateful for your body. Your hands, your arms, your legs, your heart – what would you do without them?!
And most importantly, let this feeling of gratitude inspire you to give back to this incredible machine through which you live every moment of every day.