We're redefining health on The Takeaway with our DIY Check Up series. We'll ask what "healthy" means in America these days. Is it about your quality of life, managing chronic conditions, maintaining a certain weight or diet and exercise? We'll set priorities and pull apart the health myths that may be turning you off to the very notion of being healthy.
We're nearing the end of our DIY Check-up series. We've talked about everything from how to live a healthy life to how to find the perfect doctor. And now we want your suggestions: What do you need to know to take charge of your own health? How much TV you should watch? How many hours a week you should work? Let us know and we'll put the questions to Newsweek health reporter Kate Dailey.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of medicine deemed "alternative" or "complimentary" to established medicine. We discuss four popular forms: acupuncture, chiropractics, osteopathy and homeopathy.
We have long been aware that there is some connection between having strong friendships and being in good health. But a new study shows that social connections are fundamentally important to our well-being. In fact, not having many strong relationships can be as bad for your health as smoking… and even worse than not exercising. What is a "healthy" social life for you? How many friends and relationships are enough for you?
For most Americans, getting eight hours of sleep a night tends to fall into the same category as flossing and wearing sunscreen: We know it's a good idea, and we feel vaguely guilty when called on it ... but we still don't tend to do it. (A recent study found nearly one in five adults feels moderately to excessively sleepy during daylight hours, which is one sign we're not getting enough sleep at night.)
Our sleep and our health are closely related. Do you get enough sleep, most nights? How do you cope when you don't? How important do you find a good night's sleep?
50 million Americans will suffer from a mental health issue this year. But only a quarter of them will seek treatment from a mental health professional. And one in three mental health consumers in the United States report being turned down for a job once their psychiatric status became known.
Share your story: How do you maintain your peace of mind? Have you been able to find good therapy for mental health issues?
There's no shortage of trendy health fads like the "master cleanse," Acai remedies, vitamins and spring waters, but are any of these actually good for you? Newsweek health reporter Kate Dailey sheds light on what works and what trends you should avoid.
Do you have questions about a health fad? Let us know and Kate will answer your questions later this week.
Some 80,000 chemicals are on the market and immediately available to Americans; many of these chemicals are manufactured for use in our daily lives, including as food additives. According to a recent report released by President Obama's Cancer Panel, we should at least be "concerned" about the issue of carcinogens in the environment we live in. But what exactly should we worry about, and how can we reduce our exposure?
This week, we're looking at how worried people should be about exposure to toxic chemicals. Here’s the reality: there are chemicals everywhere, so trying to avoid them completely may be futile. For instance: A recent study found questionable levels of pesticides in frozen foods, while another noted that canned goods were at high risk for BPA exposure. An all-organic diet has been shown to reduce exposure to pesticides; eating only organic vegetables will also minimize the risk of BPA and other chemical exposure (unless you cook or store them in damaged Teflon, or certain plastic containers). Even if you could go all organic all the time, using only environmentally sound storage and cooking devices, doing so can be expensive — not to mention impractical ... and paying a premium for food that doesn't kill you seems unjust. In some cases the risks associated with chemical exposure are not as great as the alternative.
In our DIY Checkup series we've been talking about simple strategies to help take control of our health. Last week we spoke about setting long term health priorities with Dr. Andrea Price, who said that it is important to get to the doctor for your regular checkups. But for many, just making an appointment can be challenging.
Takeaway listener Hugh Appet responded on our website:
"One of the doctors mentioned as an example, someone who has not been to a doctor in five years. How about 20? Why don't insurance companies make it mandatory? The big thing, for me, is phobia. I tried making an appointment with my forcibly chosen primary care doctor under my health plan. The phone receptionist was so brusk that I couldn't get out what I needed to. So no appointment.
This week, we talk with Newsweek health reporter Kate Dailey and Dr. Pauline Chen about how to navigate the chaotic health system to find the right doctor and how to build a trusting relationship with your doctor once you make it to the office.
How do we plan for a longer, healthier life? According to an Annals of Internal Medicine study, there are four simple priorities people need to have in order to get healthy: quit smoking; eat five servings of fruits or vegetables each day; get to a "healthy" weight; and exercise vigorously for 100 minutes each week.
Our DIY Checkup series continues all throughout the summer and we've been asking you to weigh in on your health. What is healthy? How do you stay healthy? Listeners responded.
Ed from Ft. Lauderdale called in to say:
"For me, health care is pretty simple. Just ask your doctor for a copy of your lab results and review the results with your physician. Get in touch and co-manage your healthcare."
And Takeaway listener, Shayna from New Jersey responded to the notion that weight and health are linked, writing:
"Just because someone is thin does not mean they are healthy, and just because someone is heavier does not mean they are 'out of control.' As one who works with clients who suffer from eating disorders on a continual basis, the professionals are correct to focus on what a person can do to be healthier, and not having weight loss or gain be the ultimate measure of success."
Let us know what you think and keep the conversation going.
Whether you’re worried about high blood pressure or diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease, there are just four steps you need to significantly cut your risk and improve your health. (For reasons I explain below, I like to think of them as just three and half steps.)
What does "healthy" mean in America today? From trendy diets to calorie-burning shoes, we get so many confusing messages about what we need to do to be healthy that we lose sight of the goal. Maybe it's time to reconsider how we define health.
What does healthy mean to you? When it comes to maintaining your health, what works for you?