Our Health and How to Protect It

November 25, 2014

Our Health and How to Protect It

Sources: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC); The World Health Organization (WHO); Merck Manuals.

During this time of the year, we all reflect and give thanks for our bountiful blessings.  One intangible in particular that we give thanks for is our health.  We all have health issues surrounding us daily; a grandparent with a lung disease, a co-worker with cancer, a small child with an infectious disease, any of these incidents would cause us to pause and show concern for the individual.  The recent media attention given to the infectious disease Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever causes fear of the unknown and a heightened awareness of our own health.  Even though Ebola has infected a relatively small number of people, there are three diseases which can attribute to approximately half of all deaths caused by infectious diseases each year.  Together, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS cause over 300 million illnesses and more than 5 million deaths each year.  Even the more common Influenza, though less of a public threat since 1918 when the Spanish Influenza killed more than 500,000, still contributes to approximately 20,000 deaths in the United States every year.

People think healthy living involves rare treasures and dark secrets-or years of intense study and practice.  Actually, the truth is hidden in plain sight, and it’s pretty simple (though seldom easy).   Below is an excerpt from The Merck Manual of Health, of some basic and simple guidelines for us to follow.

Diet and Nutrition

  • Eat less, particularly less sugars, simple carbohydrates, trans fats, and saturated fats.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Vary your diet.
  • If your medical condition requires a special diet, follow it.

Vitamins and Supplements

  • If you’re a breastfed baby, take vitamin D; if you’re a bottle-fed baby, use formula with iron.
  • If you’re over 50 years old, take calcium and vitamin D.
  • If you’re pregnant (or thinking of becoming pregnant), take prenatal vitamins.

Substance Use

  • Don’t smoke (and if you do, don’t smoke in bed).
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation (if that’s hard for you, don’t drink at all).
  • Don’t take any drugs that aren’t intended to treat a medical problem.

Exercise and Sleep

  • Do 30 to 60 minutes of structured exercise (aerobic and resistance) that is appropriate for your age and medical condition (fun is good) at least 3 times per week.
  • Walk more—and take the stairs.
  • Keep as regular a sleep schedule as possible.


  • Wash your hands before eating and cooking.
  • Store, prepare, and cook foods (particularly meats) appropriately.
  • Drink only clean or treated water.
  • Wash minor wounds with soap and water and keep covered.
  • Use appropriate clothing and insect repellent when mosquito or tick exposure is likely.
  • Don’t do intravenous drugs, and if you do, don’t share needles.

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