With the New Year among us, it is time to start asking: "What can I do to live better and healthier." No drug or pill can replace a good diet and exercise. Here are the top 5 things America takes medication for that could ultimately be eliminated by lifestyle changes in most cases:
Blood Pressure: Research tells us exercise will reduce blood pressure even in patients with the toughest blood pressures to control. One of the biggest causes of high blood pressure is pre-diabetes. Lots of pre-diabetic patients present with hypertension and are on several blood pressure medications. Once they start moving away from diabetes, their blood pressure will start to decrease and blood pressure medications can be reduced or stopped.
Heartburn & Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Why take a drug when you can change your diet? In the case of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), many sufferers choose to pop a pill and risk side effects, such as heart disease, vitamin deficiency and bone fractures. But medical experts have found that by eliminating certain foods from the diet, adding others and watching portion size, GERD can be prevented and treated almost entirely by these lifestyle changes.
Cholesterol By following a heart-healthy lifestyle many people will not need cholesterol drugs. Research from the CDC shows that if lifestyle were used as medicine, 80 percent of all heart disease could be eliminated, no prescription required. Using medication is not nearly as good as diet, yet our nation tends to neglect the power of lifestyle as medicine and rely on meds.
Pain: The the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) finds that the effectiveness of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain is “modest” and the effect on function “small.” The Academy acknowledges that in some cases the need for immediate pain relief is clear. However, the few studies on long-term pain management that the Academy found conclude that alternatives to drug therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and activity coaching are as effective at managing pain as meds and probably better at improving functionality without the side effects and risks of medications.
Diabetes Even though it may seem easier to rely on prescription medicines, most doctors would urge their patients to use drugs as a last resort. That’s because there’s a clear-cut link between being overweight and having an increased risk of developing diabetes. Obesity is a driving force behind type 2 diabetes. By losing excess weight, you automatically lower your risk for diabetes and its severe complications — loss of vision, foot amputations, kidney disease and, in some cases, an early death.