Five things patients need to hear from a medical professional (whether or not they want to hear it)

by Tera Tuten on December 16, 2014

patient-doctor-advice-health-eat-your-greensIt’s tough enough being a nurse or doctor – Just seeing, diagnosing and treating patients seems like it takes up 120% of your available time.

Even though it might save time and money down the road, it seems like the chance to take a few seconds to talk preventative measures with patients just doesn’t exist.

Ever wish you had more time to turn to a patient and say…

“Eat your greens”

Your mom was right: vegetables are essential to balanced nutrition – so much so that eating more of them than patients probably do would help keep some of the conditions below at-bay. Leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, are natural antioxidants, and can lower cholesterol and improve heart health.

If you had time to elaborate to your patient:

“Include a 1 to 1.5 cup serving of vegetables with as many meals as possible in a day and your body will thank you.”

“Get the weight off NOW”

America is in the throes of an obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese.

That translates into 78 million adults and 13 million children fighting the leading causes of preventable death – high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke – at a cost of $190 billion in health-related medical bills each year.

If you had time to elaborate to your patient:

Diet and portion-control are the keys to getting rid of unwanted weight. Start with sweeping change: get rid of the tempting but dangerously empty carbs in your house and eat higher fiber foods that fill you up.”

“Exercise or you will die early”

No matter what you weigh, physical activity can provide a laundry-list of health benefits at any age. It helps control hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. It contributes to new brain cell growth and stimulates the chemicals that take care of the hippocampus, an important memory and learning center of the brain.

If you had time to elaborate to your patient:

“Exercise gets your blood pumping smoothly, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It can relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and may reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. Inactive people can lose up to 30% of their muscle fibre by the age of 60, which means exercise also prevents muscle decay.

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your cells that help your heart and lungs work more efficiently and releases endorphins, which make you feel happy and relaxed. Get 30 minutes a day, minimum.”

“Smoking will kill you”

This goes without saying but a lot of doctors seem to be afraid to say it out loud (at least directly). You would think that every person on the planet would know the negative effects of smoking by now and that it would be a long-extinct behavior, but smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the US, with a kill-rate of 480,000 people per year.

Beyond the havoc it wreaks in the lungs and the variety of cancers smoking can cause, smoking can also contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration, impact pregnancy, decrease bone density, damage heart function, increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes and autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s or rheumatoid arthritis…

…Nevermind that 2.5 million non-smokers have died from second-hand smoke inhalation in the last 50 years. (stat found at

If you had time to elaborate to your patient:

“Here’s the good news: quitting smoking can drastically improve your health and add years to your life. Within a few years of butting out, quitting significantly drops your risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as your risk of developing mouth, throat, and lung cancers.

“Put down that coffee, pick up a water bottle”

Hands down, caffeine is fast becoming the most accessible, legal, socially acceptable addictive drug in the world. Jump-starting the day of millions of people, Starbucks alone goes through 2.3 billion paper cups a year (found at http://www.businessinsider.com/15-facts-about-starbucks-that-will-blow-your-mind-2011-3?op=1).

If you had time to elaborate to your patient:

While coffee has been acknowledged to have some health benefits, too much java (or energy drinks, caffeine mints or pills or powders) can cause insomnia, irritability and nervousness, muscle tremors, stomach problems, and an accelerated heartbeat. The DSM-5 physicians’ manual even includes a diagnosis for caffeine intoxication (found at http://www.caffeineinformer.com/caffeine-overdose-facts-and-fiction)

Oh yeah, and withdrawal is a @#^@(*&$^! too. To help, put down the paper cup and pick up a bottle of water. It flushes the toxins from your system, transports nutrients to your cells, and keeps you well hydrated.

 

What do you think? Do you have enough time to talk straight with patients? Does your medical job leave enough time for you to effectively educate about preventing illness? Add your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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