Business of Well-being

It Takes More Than a Pill: Finding New Strategies for Disease Prevention in Relation to Work Performance and Longevity

There is no magic pill that can make us healthier, increase our effectiveness at work, and guarantee long and high quality lives until we reach our hundreds. So, what options do we have? First and foremost: prevention.

Understanding Prevention

Disease prevention is a complex process which benefits not only individuals but also society as a whole. Humans have been struggling with diseases for thousands of years, but not until the 1800s did people really begin to understand the process of diseases and start to take steps to prevent their spread. Disease prevention means not only to prevent the occurrence of a disease, such as risk factor reduction, but also to arrest or eliminate its progress. Prevention also means education.

The more we learn the better we understand how diseases spread and what is needed to avoid them. Likewise, disease prevention means not just looking at the length of life but quality of life as well. The better we feel and the higher our energy level, the more efficient we are and the more we can use our talents to produce outstanding results in our private and professional lives.

Different nations have reached different levels in their disease prevention strategies. Holistic and natural approaches to health and disease prevention, however, do not appear to be easily embraced by conventional medicine, as doctors hesitate to recommend natural therapies to their patients. The reasons for this are twofold: a lack of diligent training in complementary medicine and a lack of regulation and approval of alternative therapies by orthodox medicine.

Ancient Wisdom and Nutritional Advances

Interestingly, holistic medicine has been encouraged as far back as in 400 B.C. The physician Diocles recommended a holistic approach to health and emphasized nutrition, regular elimination, exercise and rest as essential elements for health. In 1753, Scottish surgeon James Lind focused on the preventive value of a simple, natural nutrient and published his 'Treatise on the Scurvy' in which he urged the consumption of citrus (containing vitamin C) to prevent scurvy. In 1919 researchers proved that scurvy and rickets can be prevented in infants through good nutrition.

In 1939, Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi distinguished between minimal dietary requirements and optimal doses of vitamins for better health. In 1956, Roger Williams, PhD, published his concept of biochemical and nutritional individuality. Based on anatomical, genetic and biochemical data he argued that people varied widely in their nutritional requirements. Sadly, this fact is still ignored by the biomedical establishment and the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamin C, for instance, remain identical for people ages 19 to 65 and over (National Research Council, 1980).

In 1982, new studies galvanized public attention on the relationship between vitamin intake and longevity, and the preventive role of antioxidants for healthy aging. Further studies revealed that it is even possible to become biologically younger while we become chronologically older and that the 'inevitable' deterioration of mental function is another aging myth and can be prevented by natural means. Despite scientific discoveries and early wisdom on the importance of micro and macro nutrients, phytochemicals and other natural components for health, the interrelated mind-body connection for well being and the significance of biochemical individuality, conventional medicine seems to overlook these scientific facts in the prevention of diseases and aging.

Most conventional doctors still believe that people can get all the nutrition they need in "a balanced diet," and natural nutrients and supplements, with the exception of the oft-recommended calcium and vitamin D, can do more harm than good. Tests for detecting vitamin C or CoQ 10 deficiency, for instance, are neither considered nor routinely performed at conventional medical laboratories.

Work Performance and a Future Path

Choosing better health through holistic preventive approaches as an adjunct to other commonly promoted modalities like diagnostic screening, the use of vaccination, etc., can help to achieve sound health. Healthy individuals with strong bodies and immune systems are less likely to contract diseases. They also perform better at work. "People who are convinced they aren't sick are more likely to be at work and to perform well while they're there," said Steve Erickson, associate professor of clinical sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy.

"Work performance is a concern as a part of overall quality of life", Erickson said.Interconnected physical and mental health must be strongly considered. For instance, depression commonly occurs in people who have cardiovascular disease, cancer, suffer from chronic infectious diseases or osteoporosis. People who are depressed are less likely to make necessary changes in their lifestyle habits, diet and are less likely to follow a vitamin or prescribed medication regime. Studies show that in some cases neither pharmaceutical antidepressants nor herbal remedies can completely alleviate all the symptoms and some other holistic approaches are required.

Depressed employees are not effective at work and it takes more than a pill to treat depression.Studies also show that employees appreciate the opportunity to learn about preserving health and wellness, preventing chronic diseases and how to cope with stress. They benefit greatly from stress management and fitness programs and the access to fitness facilities offered by some companies. Health and wellness programs encourage them to make healthier choices and help them to stay healthy and fit at work and in their private lives.

Taking responsibility for our health now is vital to staying healthy as we age. Responsible employers should recognize that to be competitive and successful they need to invest in the health of their employees and holistic approaches must be considered and implemented.

About the Author

Mira Gadzala holds a PhD in Holistic Nutrition, Master of Sciences in Cellular Biology, and a designation Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner/Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner. She is a former Director of Health Sciences and Education in a vitamin research and development company in California. She designed and managed several multi-center clinical trials with natural nutrients on the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases using innovative scientific methods.

She also authored many scientific and non-scientific papers, brochures, booklets, online seminars on health and the prevention of chronic diseases and well being. She is a passionate health advocate and public speaker at NNFA events, and numerous public seminars in the US and Europe (Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland). She was also a guest at health radio programs in NY, MI, CA, and OH. She can be contacted at:

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