Healthwise: Are you treating the symptoms or the cause?

I once knew a man who complained of chronic headaches. He managed his ailment with multiple daily doses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  After months of suffering, he lamented the state of his health over lunch.  We questioned the fellow and came to identify the fact that he never drank water. His beverage consumption was limited to caffeinated soft drinks and coffee. Within 24 hours of committing to drinking a minimum of eight glasses of water per day, his headaches disappeared!

Turns out all his grief had been caused by dehydration. The medication he had been ingesting was simply masking the pain temporarily, whereas the water treated the direct source of the problem.

Our tendency to treat the symptoms rather than the cause is quite rampant in Western culture. We focus on masking the aches and pains, seeking temporary relief over long-term betterment. That is not to say you should never rely on short-term remedies, only that it is important to recognize them as such and seek long-term solutions to your health problems instead.

An ounce of prevention

Cold season is nearly upon us.  Instead of waiting to treat your symptoms, try to focus on preventing them altogether. Simple ways of doing so include: washing your hands frequently; getting plenty of rest and sleep; clearing your nasal passages with a saline solution; committing to a regular exercise routine; and boosting your immune system by consuming certain superfoods and vitamins.

You are what you eat

Proper nutrition plays a huge role in a person’s overall health and well-being. On the one hand, a diet based on vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and good fats can optimize health and increase energy levels. On the other hand, poor diet can induce high-cholesterol, insulin resistance and heavy metal toxicity, which are all factors in the development of heart disease. Certainly not every health concern can be solved by diet alone; however, you may be surprised how much diet can impact the way you feel. Food is what fuels our bodies and allows our organs to function properly.

So next time you reach for medication, ask yourself whether you are treating the symptoms or the cause.