How two people with different health issues used diet and exercise to get well again.
We’re all guilty of having a headache and reaching for over-the-counter pain relievers, or catching a cold and going to the doctor for a prescription. We’re guilty of expecting medication to heal us.
But in some cases, it may not be the best treatment option.
Take Susan Veshosky. She’s a Longboat Key resident with a background as a nurse who, 35 years ago, was diagnosed with allergies and asthma, and was prescribed inhaled steroids.
It was good, she said, because it allowed her to get out, go to work and do the things she wanted. The downside was the side effects. Long term steroid use made her susceptible to infections. She got bronchitis twice a year, every year. Additionally, she experienced decreases in lung capacity and bone density.
She decided to meet with Loren Batsell at Healing Well Acupuncture and Integrative Therapies on Longboat Key.
“For the first time in 30 years I didn’t get sick twice a year,” Veshosky said. “I got well and stayed well.”
First, she started eating healthier, with less carbohydrates and more vegetables on her plate. She took probiotics to supplement her digestion, and took calcium, vitamin D and magnesium supplements. Her health began to return, and she was more active. Veshosky called these steps “life-changing.”
“For me, coming from a medical background, that was a tough choice,” she said. “That was a bit of a risk. But you get to the point where you can’t do it anymore.”
After five heart attacks and a diagnosis of heart failure, Larry Bierman was at that point. He was able to join the Ornish Reversal Program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital — a group of people who met twice a week for nine weeks to learn how four lifestyle changes could improve their lives and heart conditions.
Through diet, exercise, stress management and peer support, Bierman is now only taking “minimal” medication. Though he graduated from the program, the 74-year-old gets up each morning at 6 a.m. for an hour of yoga, goes to the gym three times a week and continues a healthy diet.
“You have these heart attacks and medical events, and you rely on your doctor and medications to get you out of it, and you think that’s the answer,” he said. “[You think] your doctor will provide you with the pills to keep you alive — and that’s not true.”
Diet and exercise helped Bierman and Veshosky solve their health problems, and similar steps could help others. Eating healthier food with less sodium can help people with high blood pressure, and diabetes can be better managed with a healthy diet and weight loss, medical experts say.
Other solutions, like acupuncture for pain relief or hypnosis for anxiety, could also help ease health issues without the use of medication, the experts contend.
What's the best way to find out if an alternate method is right for you? Consult your doctor. Veshosky and Bierman sought new treatment options under their doctor’s supervision, and they took things slow. It was a lengthy process before Veshosky came off pharmaceuticals completely, and Bierman still takes some medication.
Veshosky recommends doing your research, and finding someone to help you who has certifications and good references. Perhaps most importantly, though, keep an open mind.
“Anything you can do to get well and stay well, I’m all for it.”