Knowledge is powerThe more you know about the “hows” and “whys” of being healthy, the more empowered you can be to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Understanding both the risks of unhealthy living and the benefits of healthy living can help motivate you to live a more healthy lifestyle. Where do you turn to find reliable health information?
By: Marla Walter, The Jamestown Sun
The more you know about the “hows” and “whys” of being healthy, the more empowered you can be to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Understanding both the risks of unhealthy living and the benefits of healthy living can help motivate you to live a more healthy lifestyle. Where do you turn to find reliable health information?
Seems like we are constantly bombarded with information on how to exercise (get six-pack abs in 10 minutes a day), how to lose weight (just spray your fat away) or how to get more energy (just take this herbal supplement each day). So, how do you know what sources to trust and what is just an opportunity for someone else to get rich quick on your dollar?
Looking for reliable health information can be tricky. How do you know if a source is reliable or not? You can consult your health care provider, or a health care professional like an exercise physiologist, physical therapist or dietitian. If you are doing research yourself on line, here are a few tips:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no “Magic Bullet” that will melt your fat away without you first changing your diet and exercise routine. Use caution when taking any herbal remedies. Companies can make all sorts of claims, use a nationally recognized celebrity spokesperson or use personal endorsements that do not have to be supported by research studies. Before investing in a health care product, research the product to see if legitimate studies have been conducted to prove that the product does what it says it does. Many herbal products, health foods and weight loss products are not under Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction (with the exception of Homeopathic Remedies), so the company does not have to “prove” they actually work. In part, the FDA makes sure that when companies sell a health product it actually does what it claims to do. Plus, they try to make sure the medication or treatment is safe. Herbal products also have side effects or may be harmful if taken with other medications or herbs. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist before taking any herbal remedies or health care products that contain very high doses of vitamins.
Most health professions have a professional organization that has a website with health information for the general public. These sites are reliable sources of health information because it comes from the professionals in the industry. For example, log on to the American College of Sports Medicine website for a variety of fact sheets related to exercise at www.acsm.org/access-public-information/brochures-fact-sheets/fact-sheets. The American Dental Association has tips on how prevent dental caries at www.ada.org and the American Medical Association has health tips for patients at www.ama-assn.org — click on patients.
The U.S. government is also a reliable resource for health information. The Department of Health and Human Services has a plethora of health information — go to www.healthfinder.gov and click on Health Tools for online screenings, health prevention and wellness information and a variety of video casts. For weight loss tips, try The Center for Disease Control at this link www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html and for the most recent guidelines for Physical Activity log on to www.health.gov/paguidelines.
Other reliable resources for health information are non-profit agencies that provide patients’ with health information on specific diseases and conduct research on finding treatments or cures for those diseases. Examples include the American Heart Association (www.heart.org), the American Lung Association (www.lungusa.org), the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org). Log on to these websites for reliable information to lose weight, prevent heart disease or cancer, stop smoking, or prevent diabetes.
Start the New Year with a renewed commitment to make at least one healthy change in your life — every step you take in the right direction can add years to your life.