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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Learning to be Healthy

This article titled What Makes Canadians Healthy or Unhealthy contains an interesting discussion of why just spending more money on health care will not improve health in the general population. Many of our health problems are influenced by factors we can influence either alone or collectively as a society. 

There was an online article in the news lately talking about the Nurses Study. It stated that if you eat a good diet in your middle years you are more likely to "live long and prosper".  Here prosper means having no diseases that interfere with your work and enjoyment of life.

We have never been in a better position to find out what we need to know to stay healthy. My dad had a book of advice called "Dr. Chase's Recipes" which gave him advice on common illness. More than 100 years ago it was second only to the Bible in popularity, and sold over 4 million copies. We've come a long way since then, and we still have the same desire to know how to take care of ourselves. 
Doctor Chase from my Dad's own copy

You can find so much more accurate information now through online resources than you ever could from Dr Chase.  The internet is like a giant all-you-can-eat buffet. 

The hardest part is discovering which resources will do you the most good. In one sense it's like a first trip to Disney World where every attraction looks equally good. The truth is that they're not equal and planning the trip with a guidebook can help you hit the high points and maximize your time.

So who can you trust for your online research? Everyone says their own site is excellent.  Dr. Google gets more visits than anyone but beware - the loudest voices and top-ranked sites that come up are not always the most accurate.  On the plus side Google has changed the way it ranks sites so that credibility is more likely to be near the top of the ranking.

Knowing who and what to trust is a skill that can be  acquired, but it takes work and judgement to learn to do this. Lectures, webinars and other resources made available by credible and mainstream organizations and advocacy groups are often a good place to start you out on your search. 

Social Support is a plus 

It's when you begin to educate yourself that you need the most help to get on the right path. Here are some ideas:

Sign up for the Reaching Out with Arthritis Research (R.O.A.R.) webinar/seminar which is held in the fall every year in Vancouver Click here for past events and to hear patients, doctors, researchers and ethicists talk about the benefits and harms of using online technologies in health and healthcare.

If you have Sjogren's Syndrome you could attend the Annual Patient Conference. This year - the 10th Annual Conference - the line up of speakers was amazing. I have wanted to hear Dr Robert Fox speak for years. 

If you're starting to learn you'll find get reliable information. If you are already experienced you'll hear about the latest research. Involved patients have better outcomes!

Many pathways to knowledge

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