What is Preventative Medicine?

Preventative medicine

If you want to set yourself up for a healthy future, Preventative Medicine is the place to start. Preventative Medicine encompasses the myriad of effective measures that we can put in place throughout our lives to help to prevent disease, disability and premature death. Thus, greatly improving our quality of life.

Ever heard a doctor say, ‘prevention is better than cure’? We know that it’s always easier to stop an illness from developing than to resolve it after it has started. Preventative Medicine also gives numerous other benefits – boosting your immune system to prevent infection, weight management, increased energy levels, reduced pain, improved sleep and many more. Read on below.

Health risks in Australia

While a global pandemic has dominated public health focus in recent years, the unfortunate reality is that the health of Australians has been concerning for a long time. Risk factors for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer are higher than ever. According to the Australian Government Department of Health,

These scary statistics have highlighted the urgent need to provide help for all Australians to live a healthier lifestyle. What measures can you take to implement preventative medicine in your own life?

Preventative health tips

There are many easy steps that we can implement (in saying this, we highly recommend that you speak with a medical professional before making any major changes to your health and lifestyle). Consider these simple tips:


1. Move your body every day

Working at office desks, using computers for long hours, watching TV in the evenings – it’s easy to see how Australians fall short of the physical activity guidelines. Moving your body for just 30 minutes every day can make a world of difference for your mental and physical health. Appropriate movement can be different for each individual. For some, it might be vigorous exercise such as swimming, cycling or tennis. For others, it might be walking, yoga or even chair-yoga! But it should be something you enjoy and look forward to, not a chore.

Get the whole family involved in your daily movement activities.


2. Wash your hands

By now, we all know about hand washing. When done properly, good hand washing and hygiene greatly reduce the risks of infections. But often it’s still not done correctly.

Health Direct recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and drying your hands thoroughly with a paper towel.

Another effective way to clean your hands is with a waterless hand rub (hand sanitiser). This is a good option for when you are out and about or travelling. Carry a pocket-sized hand sanitiser with you for convenience.


3. Get routine health checks and screening tests

For most healthy people, it’s recommended to see your health professional at least twice a year for routine health check-ups. Of course, you may require more visits if you have particular risk factors or previous medical problems, or even a strong family history of a particular issue.

Your GP can quickly and efficiently check for any signs of developing medical problems and organise further checks. Having a clear set of negative results is greatly reassuring.

Here are some further tests that we might be doing as part of a health check or assessment:

Blood Tests

  • Full blood count – looking for anaemia, infections, and other issues.
  • Iron levels
  • Kidney and liver function
  • Thyroid function
  • Glucose levels
  • Cholesterol and Trigyliceride levels
  • In older men, PSA – Prostate Specific Antigen to detect prostate cancer.
  • In women, possibly ovarian function.

Heart Health Assessment

  • CT Coronary Calcium score – This is a useful screening test that can more accurately determine your risk of heart disease, which may not be causing any symptoms.
  • Exercise Stress Test, Stress Echocardiogram, CT coronary angiogram – These are more complex tests that are typically used to investigate patients who are displaying possible symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain on exercise or excessive shortness of breath.

DEXA Body Composition Scan

A useful health screening exam, which is unique to Azure Medical, is the DEXA Body Composition scan. This determines the exact makeup of your body including fat, muscle and bone percentages and distribution. This information is invaluable when used by your dietitian to refine diet and exercise programs for weight loss, improvement in fitness, and reducing risks of osteoporosis.


4. Manage your diet

Diet plays a crucial role in our overall health and in preventative medicine. The Australian Government Department of Health says, “Good food and nutrition is important to good health and wellbeing, and reduces the risk of disease. Healthy eating means choosing the right foods and knowing how much to have.”

But what exactly is good food and nutrition? Azure Medical’s dietitian, Michael Furfaro, says, “Eating a variety of foods in moderation is associated with positive health outcomes. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and dairy can help support the body’s immune system.”

This strategy of eating well is also supported by the Department of Health, “To stay healthy, you should drink plenty of water and eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the 5 food groups every day. This includes:

Of course, it’s equally important to focus on limiting unhelpful foods and drinks, which we term as “discretionary”. These include:

  • Fast food – which is usually very high in sugar and bad fats, including fries, hamburgers and pizza
  • Baked sweet items like cakes and pastries
  • Savoury snacks, such as biscuits and chips
  • Drinks with added sugar, like soft drinks and energy drinks
  • Alcohol.

These types of food and drink have minimal nutritional value yet pack many calories. So – make them an occasional treat only!

If we take in more calories (energy) than we expend, it’s likely to gain weight. But weight loss is not about trying to starve yourself which can have detrimental effects, like leading to loss of muscle mass. We recommend you speak to your GP or dietitian for personalised advice about your diet and calorie intake.


5. Protect yourself from the sun

Nearly all Australians are familiar with the reminder “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek (shade) and Slide (on sunglasses)” – for good reason, as Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Each year almost 2000 Australians die from this almost entirely preventable disease. So, here’s a bit more detail about these sun protection measures:

  1. Slip – wear clothing which covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop – apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and repeat every 2 hours Slap – wear a hat to protect your face, neck and ears
  3. Seek – stay under shade
  4. Slide – wear sunglasses, which meet the Australian Standards.
A helpful tip is to download the SunSmart app on iOS or Android for daily forecasts of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation.


6. Manage your stress levels

Stress plays a vital role in your health and new research is shining light on why this is the case. Experiencing stress from time to time is not always a bad thing – for example, the “fight or flight” response when confronted by danger. But long term stress can have all sorts of harmful effects including:

  • Immune system weakness and increased susceptibility to infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain includes headaches and facial pain.

The first step to managing stress is to recognise the tell-tale, common symptoms:

  • Body symptoms – Headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in libido, stomach problems, mouth ulcers, sleep problems
  • Mind symptoms – Anxiety, restlessness, lack of focus, irritability or anger, feeling overwhelmed, sadness or depression
  • Behaviour symptoms – Overeating or undereating, emotional episodes, drug or alcohol overuse, social withdrawal, reduction in exercise.

If you have identified these symptoms, you can begin to take steps to manage your stress levels. Tips for stress management include:

  • Moving your body, with exercise
  • Recognising, controlling and reducing stressful triggers
  • Regularly practising relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises, meditation, massage or yoga
  • Sharing your feelings and receiving support from loved ones
  • Booking in your calendar ‘me’ time to do something you enjoy, such as hobbies, craft, gardening, art, reading (or even gaming!)
  • Eating a sustainable and healthy diet, for example, a “Mediterranean” diet.

If you are struggling to manage, we highly recommended seeking professional help. Your GP or another healthcare provider will be able to support and help you or will be able to refer you when needed.

Now that you’ve seen some of the common preventative health strategies that could be useful for you, start working toward a healthier lifestyle today! Book in with one of the friendly doctors or dietitians at Azure Medical to learn more about how we can help you implement preventative health into your daily life.

Book an appointment or
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Azure Medical

Anyone can make you feel good, but is that feeling fleeting? Does it wear off as soon as you merge back onto life’s freeway after your visit? At Azure Medical, we want you to find your feelgood, for good. You can take comfort in knowing we are an evidence-based health hub that listens and learns, drawing on our vast clinical knowledge to get to the root of the problems holding you back.

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