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Guest contributor, Dr David Katz, gets to ask and answer the first Q&A for 2014. 

Dr David Katz
Dr. David Katz

‘When I ask my patients why they’ve come to see me, the answer is always to get better if something is wrong, or to get advice about staying healthy if nothing is currently bothering them. My second question is “Why do you care about being healthy? What is health for?”
Usually these questions are met with silence. No one really thinks about the fact that health is for something, but it is. It’s for living the life you want, for feeling good and functioning at your best. It’s a reward and a return on your investment in yourself. That’s true of the money we put aside to secure our futures or pay for our kids’ educations, and it’s certainly true of the effort we devote to improving our health. After all, your life will be better if you have good health. And if you pay it forward by sharing your health-promoting, disease-fighting strategies with your loved ones, your life will be better still because the people you love will share good health with you.

It requires effort and practice to make these skills automatic, especially given the world we live in. We didn’t choose to be born into an environment that promotes obesity, but here we are, nevertheless. We did not choose to find ourselves in a world awash with highly palatable, energy-dense convenient foods. And while we did not choose to be among the first generation of Homo sapiens that could count on technology to do everything for us, in areas ranging from work to recreational pursuits, once again, here we are. You don’t need to be gluttonous to overeat or lazy to underexercise and gain weight in the modern world; you simply need to live in the modern world, which is why obesity and chronic disease are not exceptions – they are now the norm.

There’s a place for both personal policy and public policy in fixing what ails our collective health. Remember, while you’re waiting for the world to change, it is possible to steer a course of your own and your family’s to better health. It’s called lifestyle. And it is the best medicine there is, ever was, and likely ever will be. At a fork in the road for health care, our economy, our culture, and what the future holds for our children and grandchildren, each of us holds a spoon that could get this medicine to go down. When you prescribe yourself lifestyle as medicine you will discover that you can:

  • Build skills to improve your eating habits at home and on the road, your food shopping and cooking habits, and your level of physical activity. 
  • Retrain your taste buds to prefer healthier foods, discover physical activities you enjoy and fit them into your life, and embrace the gift of physical activity. 
  • Improve other aspects of your lifestyle including your sleep, stress, pain and social connections so they can enhance your eating and exercise habits. 

When you prescribe yourself lifestyle as medicine, you are the doctor for yourself and those you love. But as with all doctoring, it requires a skill set. If you don’t have it, you can get it. No other medicine can do what lifestyle can do, and no one else can practice lifestyle for you. It’s your life, and only you can live it. If you empower yourself, if you acquire the requisite skill-power to take lifestyle as your medicine, it will almost certainly be a better life. Healthy people have more fun.’

This is an edited extract from Dr Katz’s new book (with Stacey Colino), DISEASE PROOF, where shares the very skill set on which he and his family rely to enjoy lifestyle as medicine.

Disease-Proof. DNA is not destiny.

GI testing by an accredited laboratory
North America
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
20 Victoria Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5C 298 Canada
Phone +1 416 861 0506
Email info@gilabs.com
Web www.gilabs.com

Fiona Atkinson
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences
Sydney University
NSW 2006 Australia
Phone + 61 2 9351 6018
Fax: + 61 2 9351 6022
Email sugirs@mmb.usyd.edu.au
Web www.glycemicindex.com