A healthier you in 2018, inside and out

So you’ve made the brave decision to embark on a journey to better health in 2018 – good on you! But what exactly is a healthier you, and how do you go about measuring better health? We investigate…

How does one measure a healthy you, is it in the amount of weight lost, pant size dropped, increased fitness level or even better blood cholesterol? While the scale may give you an indication of your dropping numbers after a week of healthy eating, and you can now go an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill, are you truly healthier because of your efforts at the gym and on the plate? Your body’s health has a significant effect on your life, wellness and even your family’s future. Leading a healthier life by being more physically active and following a healthy, balanced diet has an even greater impact on your overall health – not just on the outside. Key health indicators such as Blood Sugar (glucose), Blood Pressure and Blood Cholesterol are important checks to get done on a regular basis, and numbers to monitor for better indication into your overall health.

Why should I get my numbers checked?
Health screening helps you find out if you have a particular disease or condition even if you do not exhibit any symptoms or signs of disease. Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol are known as the silent killers, often going unnoticed until too late. In Denmark, disease prevention is an important part of the health-care system. The Danish Health Authority for example is responsible for national action plans in particular, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic disease prevention. Early detection, followed by treatment and good control of the condition, can result in better outcomes and lowers the risk of serious complications. It’s therefore important to get yourself screened by your local general practitioner (GP) even if you feel perfectly healthy.
It’s recommended that you screen blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure levels as early as the age of 20. This is particularly relevant for people at risk of lifestyle diseases and who are overweight, have a family history of disease, have had previous abnormal cholesterol/ blood sugar/ blood pressure readings and those who are smokers. People within the normal range should be re-screened every five years, until the age of 35. Screening should then be done more routinely (every one to two years).

Are you at risk? And how do you know?
Thankfully, there is a system of “numbers” we can use to tell us how we compare to a healthy state. By knowing your numbers, you can take action in making positive lifestyle changes that will help prevent and manage chronic health conditions that contribute to heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

Your health indicators
Determine whether the results of your tests fall within the ideal range, moderate risk or high risk categories.

What can I do to improve my numbers?
Although you do inherit some risk of these diseases from your family, the lifestyle you lead particularly increases your risk of chronic diseases – specifically linked to smoking, following a poor diet, being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, these are all things you can change and manage.

How can my numbers be monitored?
In Denmark your GP would normally perform these tests – in fact, they should be part of most routine check-ups.
If you are new to the Danish health-care system, choosing a GP only requires that you are registered in the Civil Registration System. Once you are, you are entitled to choose a GP you can contact if you fall ill or require prescriptions, vaccinations, and certain types of contraception etc. Your GP will also assist you with regard to disease prevention and of course getting these all-important health indicators checked. The citizen services of your municipality will give you a list of doctors you can choose between. You can register with a new GP whenever you want to. It only costs a small fee.

How often do I need to check my numbers?
Anyone whose numbers are above the recommended range should monitor change every six months. Even if your numbers are in the recommended range, it is still important to monitor them every six months as an increased age is a very high risk factor. Based on your individual risk profiles, your GP will advise you on how often and when these tests should take place. It is also important to monitor change when following a healthy diet as even modest weight loss (5-10 percent) can have a significant effect on your numbers. Seeing these health improvements can become a crucial reminder as to why it is essential to follow a long-term healthy lifestyle. Your individual circumstances and your numbers will dictate how often you should get tested, so speak to your GP.

Are your numbers high?
If your numbers are out of the recommended zones in the table, it may be a good idea to consider some of these remedies before your health takes a nose-dive:

#1 Exercise
Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy body. The Danish Health Authority advocates a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day for adults aged 18-65. Regular exercise will assist in lowering your numbers, and risk profile. Find an exercise that you enjoy, this will ensure you do not get bored or despondent and give up.

#2 Stick to a healthy, balanced diet
Obesity may increase your risk of higher numbers in all the mentioned areas, which may result in disease such as Diabetes.

#3 Monitor
Pay close attention to your numbers and comply with the frequent testing set out by your medical practitioner. This ensures that you remain aware of any negative trends that may develop so you can take quick action.

Know your numbers and make 2018 your healthiest year yet.

Writer: Weigh-Less Magazine – www.weighless.co.za