Many American adults will receive unwelcome news from their doctors as they get older – that they will have to take drugs. Why? There are three health problems that tend to become more common with age: high LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol that increases your risk of cardiovascular problems, high blood sugar that increases the risk of diabetes, and low bone density that increases the risk of fractures.
No medicines for me!
But what if your first reaction is “No drugs for me!”? We get it, so we asked experts for Plan B – whether intensive lifestyle changes can fix these problems, without the need for medication.
Their answer? SometimesIt takes effort. Usually, doctors give you three months to “clear up”
‘You need a statin. Your bad cholesterol is very bad. “
LDL: “The most effective strategy for lowering bad cholesterol is a consistent exercise routine,” said Benjamin J. Hirsch, MD, a cardiologist at Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY, and director of preventive cardiology and assistant professor of medicine (cardiology) at Hofstra University. The plan: 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day, 5 days a week, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise 3 or 4 days. He has seen patients avoid (and even stop) statins after adopting this routine. He also recommends following the Mediterranean, DASH, or vegetarian diet to improve cholesterol levels.
And what about patients who tell them they barely eat? He refers them to a nutritionist to find out the truth. “People are not aware of their own patterns,” he says. Focus on eating a diet that includes less red meat and more fruits and vegetables, plus reducing butter intake, adds Connie Diekman, RD, a St. Louis dietitian and former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who explains The Everything Mediterranean Diet Book wrote.
“You need a drug to lower your blood sugar.”
Blood sugar: Diet changes can help, says Hirsch. Cut back on bread, chips and especially processed foods, the latter linked to significant health damage. “It’s okay to eat small amounts of bread – usually 2 pieces a day.” Focus on fruits and vegetables and drink more water, says Hirsch. Emphasize carbs from whole grains, such as bread, cereals, whole-grain pasta and brown rice, Diekman says, rather than simple sugars like jelly, jam, candy, or other sweets. Keep meals fairly even in terms of the carbohydrates and proteins you eat. Examples: cereal with milk, peanut butter on bread. Exercise can help prevent overeating. Regular cardio training also helps control blood sugar, Diekman says.
“You need a bone-building drug.”
Bone densityStrength training can play a role in slowing down your bone loss and maybe even building bone.
Traditionally, health care professionals have been reluctant to prescribe anything other than low-impact strength and weight training for older adults, but a study known as LIFTMOR found that a routine known as HiRIT (high-intensity resistance and impact training) was better than low impact training. training in improving bone mineral density in the spine and hip in older women. HiRIT involves short bursts of intense activity. The study evaluated 101 women, averaging 65 years old, dividing them into low or high intensity groups. Caveat: Provide supervision, don’t try it at home.
But can you really avoid drugs with lifestyle changes?
Diekman reminds people that even if they make significant changes to their diet and exercise to improve their health, and make some improvement, it may not get them the goal they need to avoid medication. However, she says, “the need for medication will be lower than if they hadn’t changed their diet.” And that is still one reason to consider the efforts a success.
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This article provided by Senor Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 right away.