How often have you seen an advertisement—weight loss, growing hair on a bald head, miracle cure—where the final statement is: Individual results may vary. Yep, that is the catchall phrase to get the advertiser off the hook when the product miserably fails to deliver.
It is not just advertisers who promote the cautionary tale about individual results. When you develop a disease, you may often hear the same comment from your doctor. Along the way, they’ve tried to steer you toward the healthy path, but they know that some people defy all the odds, which they refer to as statistics.
I participated in a video conference recently, and the speaker talked about lifestyle as a way to increase your chances of attaining overall health for your body and brain. Of course, the ideal situation would be a strictly healthy diet, an exercise plan, and mentally stimulating activities.
The downside is that as humans we can’t always resist the donut, we’re too time crunched or physically drained for exercise, and rather than read a book, it’s much easier to zone out in front of our favorite TV program.
Although population in general would benefit, we all know individual results may vary. We all know the person who smoked, ate junk food, and never left the couch for anything more important than getting a beer out of the fridge. We may write off these individuals as having a death wish, but sometimes they just go on and on until they reach a ripe old age. On the flipside, we all know people who eat right and exercise but develop cancer or die from cardiac arrest. Individual results vary.
Yes, there are exceptions to known statistical risk factors, but as the researcher pointed out: Most of us fall within the middle and how we monitor our health can make a life changing difference. Lifestyle may be our best defense against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Genetics and environment play a major part in our overall health. If we are born with genes that increase our chances of developing Alzheimer’s, we can’t change that. In some cases, we can improve our environment. Where we are born and raised can affect our health throughout life. If we live in an area with air pollution, contaminated drinking water, or unhealthy living conditions, it increases our chances of developing life-changing diseases.
The bottom line is that no pill or treatment is a cure all for any disease. Hopefully, we are on track to find an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, but even when that happens, how we take care of our bodies and minds can make a huge difference.
When individual results vary, we should strive to make sure our individual results vary toward a positive outcome.
Copyright © October 2017 by L.S. Fisher