— Medical expert Dr. Ken Taylor explains the health priorities that should be on everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions list this year. —
Atlanta, GA (BlackNews.com) — While many Americans are focusing on the most popular health resolutions – to lose weight, eat better, exercise more or quit smoking – far too many will overlook three commonly ignored but critically important health priorities. OBGYN and women’s health expert Dr. Ken Taylor says explains why three commonly ignored health issues deserve top billing for health resolutions in 2012.
1) Focus on your digestive health. Millions of Americans suffer daily from common digestive problems such as heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, reflux and other gut conditions that would make Clint Eastwood blush. What’s worse: many people don’t even know their digestive health is suffering or don’t understand how it affects their overall health – from allergies, acne and chronic fatigue to arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer and more.
“The intestines make up the inner tube of life and play an essential role in maintaining a healthy immune system,” explains Dr. Taylor. Seventy percent of the body’s immune system resides in the digestive tract. More than 100 million Americans have digestive problems. In addition, digestive problems are very costly – many of the top-selling drugs are for digestive problems, there are more than 200 over-the-counter remedies for digestive disorders and intestinal-related conditions are among the top reasons for visits to primary care physicians. Dr. Taylor says the resolution to improve digestive health in 2012 can begin with such steps as:
* Pay attention when you go. That’s right: you can learn a lot from your elimination. Observe everything from how often you go and how regularly you go to what it looks like when you go. For example, does your poop float? That’s a no-no and a sign of potentially serious health problems.
* Get more fiber. Depending on your age and gender, you should get from 26-38 grams of fiber per day. Taylor explains that, with today’s fast-paced lifestyle and diet habits, it’s very difficult for most people to get the required daily fiber from natural food sources. He recommends fiber supplements like Metamucil and Metafiber.
* Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks and too many caffeinated drinks. Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than two per day.
2) Start planning early to guarantee healthy bones. Bone health is another health priority that many people think about when it’s too late. Bone fractures can be extremely painful and take months (an average of 12 weeks) to heal. Osteoporosis and osteopenia bone disorders affect forty-four million Americans, and plague one in two American women. “It’s never too early to start thinking about and fortifying your bone health. Young people, as early as teenage years, have calcium needs that can’t be rectified later in life,” says Dr. Taylor.
So, what 2012 resolutions can help improve bone health?
* Start moving. Like muscle, bone is a living tissue and is strengthened through exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, that force you to work against gravity, are the best kind for your bones. Good examples include weight training, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.
* Get your calcium…dairy-free that is. Your body continually removes and replenishes calcium from your bones. If you don’t replenish enough calcium, your bones will become weaker, more brittle and dense. Dr. Taylor says dairy-free sources of calcium are best for several reasons: calcium contains animal proteins that can actually contribute to bone loss; causes digestive problems and aggravates irritable bowels; is full of saturated fat; and is often enhanced with dangerous, cancer-feeding hormones. Better sources of calcium include: dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli and bok choy; almonds; soybeans and soymilk; and figs, to name a few.
* Boost your Vitamin D intake. Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Some studies actually show Vitamin D is more important than calcium in preventing fractures. The best ways to get vitamin D are: sunlight, food, and supplements. Foods like fatty fishes, orange juice and soymilk are excellent sources of vitamin D. And, natural supplements are helpful for filling in the gap.
3) Guard your oral health: the gateway to your body. The mouth is the first point on your digestive path, but it’s also the point that many people skip. Dr. Taylor says oral health is a mirror of your overall health. Your mouth is a hotbed of bacteria, which are normally contained and managed by good oral health. Oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease can weaken your body’s defenses and allow harmful bacteria to grow out of control. Oral health is also connected to heart health. Research shows chronic gum disease is directly associated with heart disease. In addition, poor oral health can affect your saliva flow, which is necessary to protect your teeth and aid in food digestion. The good news is you can guard your oral health in 2012 with some simple steps:
* Start with proactive prevention. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing between your teeth daily and replacing your toothbrush every three or four month. It seems simple enough, but it’s easy to get into a routine of brushing only once a day or using the same toothbrush a month or two too long.
* Get to know your dentist. Schedule regular dental appointments for cleanings, fluoride treatments and other preventive measures. If you are one of the thousands who suffer from dental phobia or dental anxiety (really on laughing matter), there are many online resources to help you overcome this fear and get better acquainted with a local dentist you can trust.
“There are understandable reasons why these health priorities are often ignored and don’t usually make the resolutions list,” said Dr. Taylor. “However, they are high on the list of health problems that have significant quality and length of life impact, and can be easily addressed and prevented. My hope is that more people will move them to toward the top of their lists for 2012 – right up there with getting married, traveling more and getting out of debt.”
Dr. Taylor has been recognized by Who’s Who of Atlanta and the Top 25 Atlanta Doctor ranking and is a member of the Atlanta Medical Association, Georgia Medical Association and the National Medical Association. For more information about Dr. Taylor, visit www.kentaylormd.com.