Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Smart-alecky Health Quiz Answers

There's a silly newsletter full of conventional wisdom that arrives at my office. Since I'm not here to bust anyone's chops, I'll call it Personal Dreck Healthlines. The latest issue has a quiz called "How's Your Health?"
"Following is a list of some of the most important self-care measures for improving your health and well-being. Check the statements that apply to you--7 or 8 is good and 9 or 10 is excellent. [There are actually 14 statements to check off. Was 11-14 too much to hope for, or was the editor sleepy from missing her afternoon bagel?] Use the results to identify new health habits you hope to achieve in the coming months."
  • I stay within 10 to 15 pounds of my healthiest weight. Do I get extra credit for staying within one or two pounds?
  • I follow a schedule for preventive screening with my health care provider. Sorry, I just go when I actually need medical care, my health care provider's condo payments notwithstanding.
  • I accumulate 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. I was on that plan a few years ago. It made me fit, but not healthy.
  • I do 8 to 10 strength-building exercises 2 to 3 times a week. See above; I do one a week. I'm just as fit and I have more of a life now, too.
  • I eat a wide variety of fruits (at least 2 cups) and vegetables (at least 2-1/2 cups) daily. Gotta get those 300 grams of carbohydrate in every day--make some of those grams sugar in the form of fruit. Kidding aside, I do like vegetables, but 2-1/2 cups would, like fruit, would give me GI problems.
  • I limit red meat and other foods high in saturated fat to 2 servings a week. Yes, I usually have two servings of red meat per day. Er, wait--it says "per week." Haven't they seen cave paintings of aurochs or the stone tools our ancestors used to butcher meat? What do they think we lived on for two million years, skim milk and year-round fruit? Four ounces of the toughest, driest part of the animal we could whack off (but only on special occasions)?
  • I have at least one dental check per year. Yes.
  • I avoid alcohol or limit intake to 2 drinks a day (men) or 1 a day (women). Yes.
  • I (a) don't smoke or (b) have asked my provider for help quitting. Yes.
  • I manage work stress in healthy ways, such as regular exercise. Exercise is the answer for just about everything, isn't it. The best exercise for avoiding work stress is to put aside all the distractions you can and fly into your work. Piddling around only seems less stressful.
  • I have a generally positive attitude about life. Yes.
  • I relax and find solitude nearly every day. Yes.
  • I have a network of friends for mutual support and fun. Yes.
  • I get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Mostly.
That's nine out of fourteen for me, which is supposedly excellent, but they probably meant 13 or 14 is excellent and 11 or 12 is good. Nine is only 64%. It looks like I'm too lazy to run around a track, get up and go to the salad bar (or the regular bar) or lift a dumbbell very often. (Must be all that red meat.) But I'm not very stressed out about it and it hasn't caused any weight gain.
How different would a quiz look from an evolutionary or ancestral health point of view?
  1. I don't smoke.
  2. I avoid wheat.
  3. My diet is mostly meat/eggs and vegetables.
  4. I take vitamin D3 and other supplements as needed.
  5. I avoid overconsuming foods (e.g., dairy, sugar, starch, alcohol, etc.) that cause problems for me, even if the problems aren't immediate or acute.
  6. I get enough sleep to feel rested.
  7. My teeth and gums are healthy and feel good, and I clean them every day.
  8. I do strength training once or twice a week.
  9. I do my best to live in harmony with people around me.
  10. I have hobbies and friends I enjoy.
  11. I see a doctor for a persistent illness or serious injury.
  12. I get some sunshine, but avoid getting sunburned.
  13. I live a life in accordance with my personality and abilities.
  14. I use prescription drugs only if diet and lifestyle changes don't restore my health.

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