Make the healthy choice the easy choice

dr daveMost of you began reading this newspaper feeling healthy and happy. My job today is to make you feel otherwise. Twenty five percent of you will close the paper sicker than before you opened it, diagnosed with a new medical condition you were unaware you had.  So it might be prudent of you to stop reading now and fast forward to some of the more pleasant aspects of this paper, like the obituaries, and then make an origami sailboat of this newspaper and send it far off into the sunset.

In 1900 the average life expectancy in North America was 47. Thanks primarily to the likes of vaccination and antibiotics our life expectancy has now increased to 74 (being a pedestrian in the vicinity of my newly-licensed sons excluded). But, now for the first time ever, there has been a projected decrease in life expectancy for those born today compared to those born a generation ago. The reason is that many of us, unknowingly, have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic sin-drome, as in the sin of gluttony, increases morbidity and mortality:  Thou shalt not increase thy girth innumerable cubits by gorging thyself at the manna buffet.
Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to diabetes, which in turn is a precursor to heart attacks and strokes, which are precursors to death, which is a precursor to being reincarnated possibly as an armadillo and who the heck wants to be that.

There are five vital facts about your health that you should be able to recite cold. You need to know your fasting blood sugar, your HDL, your triglycerides, your blood pressure and your belt size. Should I approach you on the beach and say, “Quick tell me your HDL.” you should be able to respond immediately with something other than “Officer! ” that I get so tired of hearing.

If you have any THREE of the following five problems then you have metabolic sin-drome, a nasty diagnosis that does not bode well for the quality or quantity of your future.
Fasting blood sugar above 6.1mmol/L. While 6.1 is not quite sweet enough to be considered diabetic it is knocking on the door.

Triglycerides greater than 1.7 mmol/L. These are your serum fat levels, also known as your Krispy Kreme count.

HDL cholesterol less than 1 mmol/L in men and 1.3 mmol/L in women. HDL is the good (happy) cholesterol that can be increased through regular exercise.

Hypertension; specifically a blood pressure consistently greater than130/85.

Belt size greater than 102 cm in men, 88 cm in women. Increasing the length of your belt means decreasing the length of your life. Eighty five percent of pre-diabetics are overweight or obese, the so-called “diabesity” iceberg so prevalent in North America.

These are vital stats that you should be able to quote as readily as if they were the phone number of the local pizza delivery. The first four require a visit to a good doctor and the last a visit to an honest tailor.

Simply by having three of five you are suddenly at four times risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You may feel perfectly fine, with perhaps the only symptom being a touch of fatigue, but under the surface is an iceberg about to bring down HMS YOU.

So please don’t get diabetes and try to avoid its precursor, metabolic syndrome. It is primarily your decision whether or not you are going to be diabetic. If you do have metabolic syndrome then you need treatment, in the form of medication and lifestyle change. Learning to “make the healthy choice the easy choice” is the key to lifestyle change. For example, having healthy food like vegetables, fruits and Snickers in the house rather than cookies, chips and kale means that it is easy to make the right choice when the midnight snacker invades your pang center. Current gas prices may be a blessing in disguise if it makes us get out of our Explorers and Pathfinders and start exploring and finding paths for our Super Flyer two-wheeler. Making 150 minutes of exercise a week needs to be a priority. Now go and sin- drome no more.

Learn more and meet Dr. Dave or contact him at