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August 13, 2008 > How Much Power Do You Have Over Your Health?

How Much Power Do You Have Over Your Health?

Local family practice physician to 'clear the air' on the question of diet and exercise as effective weapons against chronic disease

"In my practice, I see many people with chronic illness who believe they are victims and, beyond taking medication, there's nothing they can do," observes Steven Curran, M.D., local family practice physician and member of the Washington Township Medical Group. "This is not necessarily true, and I want to clear the air on this question."
Dr. Curran will do just that at an upcoming free community seminar, "Healthy Weight Management and a Healthy Heart," on Tuesday, Aug. 26 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Conrad E Anderson, M.D. Auditorium (Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue) in Fremont. At the seminar, Dr. Curran will explain how a healthy diet and regular exercise can be the basic ingredients of good health. He'll answer your questions about what lifestyle changes are good for your health and for the health of your family.
Diet and exercise habits can have a positive impact on health problems like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, Dr. Curran asserts. For example, he knows of people who have been able to drop their cholesterol by more than 100 points or return their high blood pressure to the healthy range or lower their blood sugar - all through lifestyle changes.
"Too many people are convinced there's not much they can do," adds Dr. Curran. "They'll try 'yo-yo' diets or simply throw up their hands and give up. In many cases, I think they don't know what to do specifically or they're confused by all the conflicting information out there."
In planning a healthier diet and regular exercise, people should start with the basics, Dr. Curran recommends. For example, remember that the basic rule for weight loss or weight control is "calories in, calories out." In other words, the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and burn more. This can be achieved by cutting back on calorie-laden foods and increasing your exercise routine.
It's also important to understand that each person is different, so the diet and exercise regimen should be tailored to the individual. What works for one person may not be successful for someone else.
"Some people make the mistake of trying one of the more extreme weight loss diets," states Dr. Curran. "We won't address specific plans at the seminar, but I will say any diet that takes an extreme approach to cutting out or including certain foods is likely to be unsuccessful."
There are also tools available on the internet to teach you about nutrition and help with sensible meal planning. According to Dr. Curran, people need to increase their awareness of the specifics about carbohydrates and fats, both good and bad. An understanding about the role of micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients will also be helpful.
One useful web site is www.whfoods.org (World's Healthiest Foods) which begins, "Food is the source of nutrition and energy to support the health of our body." This site includes a section on how incorporating the World's Healthiest Foods as a regular part of your diet can help prevent or reduce the severity of certain illnesses.
Another web site to check is www.calorie-counter.com, a free weight loss tool that also connects visitors to a community of others so they can get support in losing or maintaining weight safely and effectively.
"When it comes to exercise, one of the basic principles is to include a combination of both aerobic activity and resistance training," explains Dr. Curran.
Besides the information you'll gain at the upcoming seminar, you can learn more about exercise and fitness by visiting the web site of the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org.
For more information on the free public seminar on healthy diet and exercise or to reserve your space, call Washington Hospital's Health Connection line at (800) 963-7070.

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