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Lamorinda Weekly Feature by Dr. Parish – Preventative Health Measures

This post highlights the Lamorinda Weekly feature by Dr. Parish – Preventative Health Measures. The original can be found here.

By Dr. Rebecca Parish

As a practicing internal medicine specialist for (ahem) well more than a decade, I have loved getting to know my patients over time. Seeing them though some of life’s tougher transitions and helping them create and execute a longterm plan to meet their health goals is both rewarding and challenging in an ever-changing landscape of wellness options.

I am frequently asked by my patients about preventative strategies to
maintain health as they age. The dizzying array of offerings seems to keep
growing; it is no wonder that many are looking for guidance. I am repeatedly struck by the “circle of life” when it comes to recommendations for health and wellness. Just like crop tops and mom jeans, even those fads that weren’t so great (on anyone!) the first time seem to come back around with time and turn the heads of a new generation.

Humans are prone to vanity, to be sure. However, a bigger driver of health consumerism for many seems to be focused on longevity, independence and living well.

This is evident in many ways, easily seen in what we buy: the fortune that we spend on gym memberships and home exercise equipment, supplements that promise an effect of one kind or another, and devices that track our every movement, sleep quality and heart rates (full disclosure: I am wearing one such device right now as I type) are just some examples. Because our desire to maintain a good quality of life while we are living is often on the forefront of our minds, it is hard to avoid being swayed by an article or advertisement touting the latest key
breakthrough for youth and vigor.

However, medical research has shown us repeatedly that we can’t “put
one over” on Mother Nature. Taking supplements and vitamins has never
been shown (in any well designed, large scale medical trials) to reproduce the health benefits demonstrated by eating the whole foods containing the same given ingredients. Exercising inside is fine, and better than sitting on one’s couch. However, when we do those same gym movements outside,
weighted MRis have demonstrated that additional parts of our brains actually light up. I have yet to find any well done medical studies showing that a manufactured substitute can hold a candle to benefits of those that are naturally occurring.

While I’ve had many amazing and brilliant teachers over the years, my
patients have taught me much more than those professors ever could. By
keeping my eyes and ears open while caring for thousands of people, I’ve observed a few simple things that seem to transcend cultural, racial, gender and age differences. There is certainly no “one size fits all” approach that would make sense for people at large, but the common theme that I (and many others) have observed can be boiled down to this simple idea: move as much as you can outside, eat whole foods that contain a variety of naturally occurring hues, maintain your connectedness with your community, and never lose your sense of purpose. These simple, preventative health measures transcend all cultures and stand the test of
time, surviving trend after trend …even perms.

To view the Lamorinda Weekly feature by Dr. Parish – Preventative Health Measures click here.