We asked physicians:
What do you do for your own health specifically because of what you know or have seen in your practice as a physician?
Some interesting answers:
Intermittent fasting, low sugar and carbs, exercise daily. Learn moderation - no way to live life feeling restricted all the time
Exercise and avoid weight gain. Increase lean protein in diet (decrease of red meat), mammograms every year, A1c every 3 years, the list goes on and on
No vit C. If I feel I need some vitamin C, I get it from imes instead. Limes increase urine citrate and prevent stone formation.
Decrease red meat and increase dietary fiber. I never want an LAR, for cancer or diverticulitis.
Ankle weights! I haven't been able to exercise as much as I want to lately so just picked these up. Also high protein, low carb diet.
Gen Surg: avoid and prevent constipation. Use fiber supplements like Metamucil and osmotic laxatives like miralax if you need to. Don’t sit on the toilet for more than 2 minutes whether playing on your phone or trying to poop. If it hurts to poop it’s (almost) never a hemorrhoid. Don’t delay your colonoscopy. Don’t delay your mammogram. Don’t ignore right lower quadrant pain.
Yearly full body skin check by a dermatologist
I wear 20 to 30 mmHg knee high compression stockings every day even when not at work. It’s a great way to prevent or at least delay the progression of chronic venous disease which up to 90% of the population will get in their lifetime. If you sit or stand in your job than this is a must in my opinion.
There is no one particular brand that is better although there are many very cheaply made brands. Jobst & Sigvaris are well known but more expensive. I buy mine at discountsurgical.com. Below are the ones I buy. They are like tube socks and are very comfortable. All compression stockings need to be changed every 3-4 months if you are wearing them daily as they lose their compression over time. It take a good 3 weeks to get used to them and once you do, you will love them. I tell patients to go to a medical supply store and get measured for their first pair to make sure it fits properly and then if they are happy, order them online.
I started making sure to put sunscreen all over my ears, especially on the top and back and in the conchal bowl- after removing several skin cancers all over the ear including a few basal cell carcinomas from the bowl part of the ears!
Zero carb carnivore diet of mostly red meat.
Wear sunglasses ....year round.UV filtration prevents against cataracts, macular degeneration
Mammo with US for all with dense breasts...too many missed breast cancers and colonoscopy with ANY GI changes or worsening pelvic pain. Breast and colon cancer are everywhere!!!!!
I lay on a yoga bolster like so for about 5 minutes before bed to reverse the hunched over/charting/phone gazing posture of the day. I swear most of my patients complain of neck and shoulder pain or tension headaches and it seems to help my symptoms more than even NSAIDS.
Anesthesia: I brush and floss at least twice daily! I see some very crappy teeth. Also, we do a lot of peds dental, and I refuse to have my kid under general anesthesia for a full mouth restoration. They brush and floss twice daily, too, whether they like it or not.
Compression socks. I love the Vim & Vigr brand. You can order on Amazon.
If you really feel sick, lasting many weeks, see your doctor! I did not follow this advice, when last year during early pandemic I developed trouble breathing, cough, bruising and mouth sores, attributed it to " stress" and ignored symptoms. 6-8 weeks later I was hospitalized on an emergent basis for AML, Hct 19,000, plts, 20,000, febrile, unstable hemodynamically.. Ill never try to " tough it out" misattribute my symptoms again!
Enjoy food, but exercise to burn it off.. no need to be a prude and go super healthy because end of the day it’s the luck of the draw. See too many healthy athletes come down with nasty diagnoses and seeing unhealthy people living till they are in their 90s.
Be healthy, but enjoy the journey. Food, money, relationships.
Live every day as your last one. Make plans and do them. Don’t put off things for special occasions. Weekend off? Great! Special occasion enough.
Cut out Diet Coke
Exercise bc it makes me happy
Drink coffee bc it makes me happy
Life is very limited.
Blink of an eye and it’s gone
-I always wear my seatbelt. Brains oozing out of a skull made me respect windshields.
-I took “get a motorcycle” off my bucket list. Nope.
-I wear a helmet when I bike. Stylin’.
-I will not get on an electric scooter if I have had any amount of alcohol.
-I got vaccinated, even though I had COVID. I don’t want it again.
-No drugs, ever, ever. I will not be THAT person ramped up on meth in the ED. I will not be that person who got in a wreck Bc of marijuana. Life is too precious.
-no smoking. COPD limits QOL.
-If I ever have rectal bleeding I’m getting a colonoscopy ASAP (and I won’t let a midlevel tell me it’s hemorrhoids). Mom’s cancer.
-I don’t see midlevels for my own care if I can help it at all. They may “not know what they don’t know”, but I am aware of what they don’t know.
-sunscreen. Bc I lived my teen years burned and regret it.
-I travel everywhere while I can. You never know when you are gonna end up on dialysis or disabled and be trapped in your city.
-I am very cautious around anything with a rotating blade of any kind... Table saws, kitchen slicers, boat motors, push lawn mowers... the list goes on.
-I don’t hold fireworks in my hand. Even Roman candles.
-I cook. But this is for my mental health. And I learned how to properly use a knife for chopping.
- I pray. There are some things that are medically inexplicable.
Derm: if you want to look younger follow this advice (the younger you start, the less “fixing” you will need): no tanning from any UV source, including sun; UPF50 clothing and SPF 45+ on anything that’s not covered; hat UPF50; avoid midday sun.
Healthy respect for OTC meds (developed Acute Renal Failure with 1 week of prescription strength ibuprofen-full recovery but that was a scary time)
Eating disorders: eat all foods in a balanced and moderate way. Do not moralize food or place foods as “off limits” as this leads to restrictive eating and can set up a restrict/binge cycle for lots of people and weight cycling. Placing more emphasis on mindful movement and doing things for activity I enjoy. Being very careful how/if/when I talk about food and bodies/weight around my daughters, and trying to have them do activities that fit their natural abilities and body type. Also, practicing regular self-care and coping skills to properly handle my stressors.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
I have seen the randomness of genetics and environment too many time to think all my behaviors will guarantee me a long healthy life. So, I do my best to eat a healthy balanced diet, but I won’t deny myself an ice cream date with my wife, I work out 5-6 days/week for physical health and mental well being, and I save for retirement, but not at the expense of living for today. We also travel as much as possible now while we’re healthy, because we never know when that will change.
I drink lemon water with a tablespoon of honey every morning, try to eat 3 balanced meals a day (Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper) , Gargle every morning with H2O2 alternating every other day with Listerine, take Vit D3, Revesterol , and Glucosamine /Chondroitin 1500 mg q day plus 30 min of walking (3-4 miles)
Derm: I would never get a pedicure (fungus) or powder dip manicure (infections of multiple types)
What do I do bc I'm a Gyn for my own health-
I don't have sex with random people and only one relationship at a time.
I wear only cotton underwear or none and I don't micromanage my labia etc. the labia/vagina hyper aware are the worst.
Eat Metamucil cookies
I measured vitamin and mineral deficiencies in a bunch of patients. on proton pump inhibitors. Magnesium and B12 were very often low, so now, I just have them all supplement these two, including myself.
Don't jump in those inflatable bounce houses because they may fly away and take you with it! Or the kiddos at least and cause serious injuries.
Ophtho: no nerf guns for our kids, sunglasses even when driving, don’t even think of lifting a hammer etc without putting on safety glasses.
Focus on weights rather than cardio for bone density preservation (thin vegan woman in early 30s)
Avoid polypharmacy and risky medications unless really necessary. Most people dont realize that with every drug approval, there are many patients who dont have any response to the drug, just on population level there was improvement over placebo. In pediatrics, many drugs we use have failed to show significant improvment.
Don’t change clocks that sit high because of daylight savings, work in acute rehab and so many hip fractures because of this 🤦🏽♂️
Path: Don’t ever put your feet up on the dashboard or out the window when you’re in a car. No midlevels except for really basic stuff. Always always read your path report, don’t assume bc someone at the front desk says everything is fine that it really is.
Ophtho: Avoid Nerf guns! Or use them with safety glasses and very strict rules. Sadly, it’s often the parent who takes it in the eye by a stray pellet. I’ve seen dislodged lenses, retinal hemorrhages, vision loss.
My kids sit down to brush their teeth! Had a kid with an impaled toothbrush through the soft palate
I advise my family members to ask for a physician whenever possible.
Badger my parents about their BP. I'm in a palliative fellowship and it seems like 80+% of inpatient palliative care unit transfers are due to devastating strokes. Most are my parents’ age. It’s scary.
Process your emotions or they will turn into a disease or addiction
Daily whopping fiber supplement, daily Kefir probiotic. And, "no" isn't a 4-letter word--nor does it require an explanation (in most cases).
Take fiber supplement every day. We all did a GI rotation with a private practice GI doc as one of our general surgery residency rotations. I remember the more senior residents telling me this was one of their big take homes from that rotation. Sure enough: all the old colons we saw in that six week rotation who said they took regular fiber supplements looked like young colons!
Vit D daily. 75-80% of my patients are low. Given how much time we spend inside, we probably are too.
Have an advanced directive and a will, and discuss it with your loved ones.
Helmets, rear-facing seats as long as safely possible, no trampolines!
Talk therapy for everyone.
Sunscreen every day, hat when you're outdoors.
Never see a mid-level if you can avoid it. Tell everyone I know and love this advice as well.
Skin checks yearly.
Drink more water. No, more than that.
Floss every day, never skip seeing the dentist.
Cut up grapes and hot dogs... until they're 25.
Do your research and don't be afraid to ask for a second (or third!) opinion from reputable physicians. We all can't know everything all the time.
Seat belts. Don't do drugs. Minimize alcohol and caffeine.
Ophthy: Don’t ever try to pry anything off with a flathead screwdriver aiming towards your face. Saw 3 ruptured globes in a year from this exact mechanism! All young men working on cars and all it took was one slip.
Don’t play with fireworks - leave it to the pros. If you own a pool and do your own maintenance, be careful- just had a filter explosion take out the eye of a do-it-yourselfer and apparently it’s a thing!
Wear sunglasses/glasses/eye protection - too many freak accidents that we see.
Yoga classes and gym. Gyn. Women losing themselves and caring for everybody but themselves. Every single day.
Even as a physician, I learnt a lot from this thread, hope you did too! - Onyx Adegbola, MD PhD, Founder, Casa de Sante