health issues

  1. The dirt on colon cleansing

    Never take medical advice from Hollywood stars.

    From the old "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV" commercials to the "celebrity diet tips" you find in magazines at the supermarket checkout aisle, stars are just full of bad advice when it comes to your health.

    One of the more recent trends in Hollywood's boutique medicine industry involves colon cleansings -- the idea that a very elaborate (and often expensive) chemically enhanced enema can somehow cure all sorts of health issues.

    There's just one problem with it: There's no real research to back up colon cleansings -- and there's plenty of evidence that they could be dangerous and even deadly.

    Researchers recently took on Hollywood by examining 20 studies on colon cleansing published over the last decade. They found no real evidence to back the common health claims, which range from the removal of "toxins" to improved skin, and even weight loss.

    Let's face it: If losing weight was that simple, enemas would be sold by the dozen on supermarket endcaps -- and we'd all be Hollywood thin by now.

    But a colon cleanse isn't just a harmless gimmick to help us normal folk feel like the stars. There are real risks involved.

    The procedures can cause an electrolyte imbalance so severe it can lead to hospitalization -- not to mention severe life-altering side effects such as kidney failure.

    In some rare cases, colon "detox" has even led to the worse side effect of all: death.

    The patients who survive it still battle plenty of unpleasant, but less-threatening, side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and issues with bowel movements.

    The risks are hardly a surprise when you consider that many of these procedures aren't performed by doctors or even nurses. Despite the fact that colon detox centers look and feel like medical offices -- right down to the white coats -- the highest degree your "colon technician" may have is a high school diploma.

    The truth you won't hear from the Hollywood stars is that there's no secret to colon cleansing. Your body does a pretty good job of it on its own, and I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain how.

    There are times when you may need a real colon cleanse -- like before a procedure such as a colonoscopy -- but let an experienced naturopathic doctor help you with those decisions.

    Not a Hollywood celebrity or a poorly trained "technician."

  2. Americans skimping on health care to make ends meet

    by Dr. Alan Inglis

    There’s an old line of thinking that the health care industry is recession-proof. Well, tell that to the millions of Americans who are skipping doctor’s appointments to make ends meet.

    According to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans said they or someone living with them had cut back on health care in the past year to save money. About 27 percent said they or someone in their household postponed needed medical care – and 16 percent of households had someone who postponed surgery or a doctor’s visit for a chronic illness.

    Of course, there were also respondents who weren’t filling prescriptions or were cutting pills in half because of cost.

    The cost of health care can be heartbreaking, and here’s the thing… I can’t promise you it’s going to get any more affordable. I also can’t promise you that the economy is going to improve and you’ll feel better about plunking down the money for a doctor’s visit or screening.

    But what I can tell you is that, in some ways, you’re very much in control of how often you’re going to need the care of a doctor. If you’re eating lots of sugar-laden, processed junk food and aren’t doing much exercise beyond the walk from the couch to the fridge, you’re creating some expensive… and life-threatening… health problems.

    You also might want to consider adding supplements or foods that have been shown to prevent nasty health issues. I talk all the time about the benefits of fish oil for battling heart disease. And simply drinking green tea instead of bottle after bottle of Coca-Cola will help you avoid diabetes and protect your brain at the same time.

    You can also control your medical expenses by taking a hard look at the prescription drugs you’re currently taking. Have a frank discussion with your doctor about whether you really need them, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Maybe you started taking the drugs instead of making some lifestyle changes… and maybe, in this economy, you’d like to shed the monthly cost for these drugs and give lifestyle modification another shot.

    At any rate, health care is expensive and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Instead of skipping doctor’s appointments, improve your health so you need to see your doctor less.

    That’ll add money to your bank account – and years to your life.

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