Preventative healthcare may not sound like the most exciting part of medicine or health but the reality is, it is one of the most important! Everyone needs preventative care throughout their entire lives because it reduces the risk for diseases, disabilities, and even death. And, preventative healthcare will save you money in the long run because it is likely to help prevent illnesses and diseases that are far more costly than an annual appointment. In naturopathy, prevention is one of the key principles of our practice and we can prevent disease by “assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.” (AANP)
Chronic diseases are incredibly common in the US and many of them are completely preventable. The CDC reports the alarming prevalence of chronic disease and why more needs to be done in preventative care, “Chronic diseases are a tremendous burden to both patients and the health care system. In 2014, 60% of adult Americans had at least one chronic disease or condition, and 42% had multiple diseases…Clinical preventive strategies are available for many chronic diseases…These interventions, combined with lifestyle changes, can substantially reduce the incidence of chronic disease and the disability and death associated with chronic disease.” Preventative care cannot prevent everything from happening, but it can prevent some things while also being able to delay the onset of other things. Naturopathic physicians are uniquely able to focus on preventative care because we can spend far more time with our patients and take a more holistic approach to wellness including lifestyle coaching, dietary and nutritional guidance, natural supplements, and much more. A deeper relationship between patient and physician is established so that your entire health can be assessed and recommendations for prevention and general wellness made.
Seeing your doctor when you are sick and treating symptoms of disease or illness is important. But, routine preventative care so that you can get to the root cause or prevent those symptoms from arising in the first place is far better in the long run because it will improve your quality of life. Preventative medicine can be as simple as health screenings and nutritional recommendations or can help you make adjustments to your health and wellness regimen to treat and prevent things like hormonal imbalances, chronic illness, digestion issues, food sensitivities or allergies, sleep disorders, mental health, and much more. Health is a lifelong journey and lifestyle changes may feel difficult in the short term but will ultimately greatly enhance your quality of life and may help prevent serious illness and disease.