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Prevention is better than cure. . . Carole Baker, of the Self Centre in Bury St Edmunds takes a look at preventative health care and suggests ways in which we can can help ourselves to a healthier life



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I was delighted to read Matt Hancock’s column last week promising us that the Government’s new ‘Prevention is better than cure’ vision is paving the way for a green paper. (Albeit it was supposed to be here in 2019?)

“In the UK, we are spending £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it!

“A focus on prevention and predictive medicine isn’t just the difference between life and death, it’s the difference between spending the last 20 years of your life fit and active, or in constant pain from a chronic condition.

Compass with needle pointing the word well-being. 3D illustration with blur effect. Concept of wellbeing or wellness (21112000)
Compass with needle pointing the word well-being. 3D illustration with blur effect. Concept of wellbeing or wellness (21112000)

The Chief Executive of Public Health England also states: “Investing in prevention is the smartest thing we can do. We need to move from a system that detects and treats illnesses to one that also predicts and prevents poor health through promoting health in all policies and puts people back in charge of their own health.”

I would like to propose that we are really serious about “putting people back in charge of their own health”. So, if I could wave a magic wand, what would I feel would be the most important elements to focus on?

EDUCATION

Teaching the next generation about how their bodies and minds work and how to prevent everything from catching colds to ending up with diabetes or heart disease when older. Having taught yoga and wellbeing workshops in many schools to both pupils and staff, I have seen how there is a desperate need for well-researched evidence-based advice. I am heartened to see that Education Secretary Damian Hinds confirmed in February that, from September 2020, pupils of all ages will be taught a health education subject – with a focus on promoting the positive link between physical and mental health, even encompassing some nutritional advice. There is much more to be done!

COMMUNITY

We know from studies like The Blue Zone (National Geographic project looking at the zones in the world with the highest level of octogenarians/centenarians) that people need to have a purpose and feel supported and as if they belong in a community. Let’s do what many other cultures do and offer wellbeing classes like Tai Chi, yoga, meditation and traditional crafts, cookery and other courses, free in local community centres for the over 60s.

THE WORKPLACE

The CIPD Health and Wellbeing at work survey 2019 concludes that only two-fifths of companies have a stand-alone wellbeing strategy and similar levels are unfortunately reactive rather than proactive. Let’s see employers legislated/rewarded financially through tax incentives to have a wellbeing strategy that gives staff the opportunity to develop their knowledge on prevention of mental and physical health issues, whether that be through online education, workplace workshops or discounted before, lunchtime and after work wellbeing activities.

Here are my TOP ‘prevention better than cure’ tips for you lovely readers:

BREATHE: We know that stress affects the physiology of our body and we also know that if we learn to practice deep slow breathing (five to six breaths per minute) we lower our blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels and we boost our immune system (The Relaxation Response: Herbert

Benson Harvard).

MOVE: Get up and move every 20 minutes. We know that sitting for long periods is bad for us (compresses lower back, poor posture affects our breathing etc).

EXERCISE: Learn a mind body form of exercise that suits you (yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong).

FOOD: Eat natural unrefined, unprocessed foods – understand how your food affects your health/mood. Learn about your gut microbiome (Gut, Jan ’19).

MINDFUL: Learn to practice mindfulness or meditation 10 minutes a day.

DISCONNECT: From technology at least one hour before bed and for one day a week (Insomnia, Mar ’19).

WATER: Drink at least two litres of fresh filtered water a day (Water, July ’19).

NATURE: Get outside in fresh air at least once a day.

COMMUNITY: Do something to be involved or help in your community.

IMMUNITY: Boost your immune system – use foods, herbs and essential oils to boost your immunity to bacterial and viral infections (Natural Antibiotics, Dec ’18).

(All my previous articles, as referenced above in brackets, are available to read on my website carolebaker.co.uk – Holistic health Info – Monthly Health Blog)

I truly hope that we as a culture in the future can focus much more on how we look after ourselves physically and mentally and reverse the negative state of our health and wellbeing.

Next month, we will look at the immune system in more detail and what we can do ourselves to help prevent succumbing to the common bacterial and viral infections of the winter months.

The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.

Carole Baker is founder of The Self Centre, Bury St Edmunds

carolebaker.co.uk