If you look at the landscape of American advertising, it’s easy to see what ails us. Commercials paint an unflattering picture of our collective health.

According to the pharmaceutical industry, we are a nation of people in pain, constipated from opioid addiction. We are anxious and suffer from acid reflux. We cannot sleep. We have heartburn. The cholesterol levels and other markers from our most recent blood test show that our hearts are not healthy.

And for all of this, there are pills, hundreds and thousands of them that we are told will improve our quality of life.

How to Create a Balanced and Lifestyle and Experience Healthy Aging

There is a time and a place of medication. It would be crazy to think otherwise, but have we come to rely too much on medication and too little on a proactively healthy lifestyle?

There’s a lot of talk these days about “health care.” But I challenge that term. Are our medical expenses so high because we are caring for our health, or are they so high because those in the medical profession are only trained to address our symptoms, but not their source?

If you have strep throat, chances are your only option to get rid of it is antibiotics. This is medicine at its finest. You have a broken arm? An emergency room is the place you want to be. Again, medicine at its finest. Unfortunately medicine still defines health as the absence of disease, rather than the vitality of life.

Look how pharmaceutical advertising targets us and you will see that your doctor is missing the key question in your real “health care.” Here it is. It’s so simple, yet so profound: “What are you eating?”

What Are You Eating?

Why is this such an important question? First, the biggest chemical reaction that happens in the human body in the course of day is the food that we put into our mouth. Food is fuel and that fuel is either going to create inflammatory chemicals or anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body. Inflammatory chemicals equal pain.

What You Eat Affects Your Health

A good diet will most likely not cure all your ailments, but it can and does make you feel better in your body. Since most doctors will not ask you that all-important question, you as a consumer must become more of your own advocate for health.

Not all diets work for all people, so you need to find what feels energizing and good to you. For some that may be a Paleo diet and for others it may be a vegetarian diet. A few basics that are crucial to remember are consistent through all types of diets. Here’s the list:

Vegetables are your friend. They are nutrition dense and low in calories and we don’t eat nearly enough of them.

Sugar is not your friend. It’s a non-nutritional, high calorie food. When you eat sugar, the sugar turns into fat instead of muscle.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I will anyway: fast foods, though convenient are not healthy foods – ever! They are loaded with bad fats, sugar, too much salt and have little nutritional value.

So, while your doctor probably isn’t asking you what you eat, you can become proactive by eating simply and cleanly. The idea isn’t that we never need medication. The idea is that we feed ourselves in ways that nurture and sustain us.

What does your healthy diet look like? How are you investing in your body to experience healthy aging? How do you include a variety of vegetables and other nutritious foods in your diet? What else are you doing to experience healthy aging? Please join the conversation.

Stephanie RaffelockStephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. In her Sixty and Me column, she explores writing, living fully and loving well. She enjoys literary representation by Dystel, Goderich and Bouret in New York. You can find Stephanie at StephanieRaffelock.com or Tweet her @Sraffelock.

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