While the media frenzy surrounding the so called swine flu pandemic is causing many people to panic, we have much more serious problems to worry about such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Despite the fact that these diseases are killing people in much larger proportions than any pandemic we’ve had in modern times, many of us have grown numb to their frightening prevalence.
In a single day, more people die in the United States alone from any one of these diseases than the total number of people who’ve died worldwide from the recent outbreak of swine flu. What we should really be concerned about is not a pandemic of swine flu, but rather an epidemic of poor health!
The most recent death statistics from the CDC, which are from the year 2005, portray a pretty dismal state of modern health.
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To put these numbers in perspective, in the year 2005, an average of more than 1,700 people died from heart disease every day. Combined with cancer, an average of more than 3,300 people died each day. What’s extremely unsettling about these numbers is that the incidence of heart disease and cancer are both closely tied to lifestyle. Every single day, thousands of people are dying a premature death from decades of unhealthy choices.
While some people will be quick to argue that there are causes of heart disease and cancer that have nothing to do with lifestyle, it’s undeniable that the way we live has changed drastically in just the past century and the incidence of these two diseases has increased sharply along the way. We’re exposed to many more chemicals, are eating much less nutritious foods, are dealing with much more stress, and are getting far less sleep than we were just a century ago. It’s quite obvious that we’re paying a significant price for the drastic changes we’ve made to how we live.
Out of the 8 leading causes of death, only accidents have little to no association with lifestyle habits. While it could be argued that better health could improve the ability to avoid or survive an otherwise fatal accident, 7 of the 8 top causes of death being related in some way to lifestyle is certainly convincing enough. Diabetes deserves special mention as approximately 90% of cases are type 2 which means that they’re caused by chronic blood sugar fluctuation and can be prevented and reversed through nothing more than a proper diet.
The Curse of Normal Health
Our bodies have a remarkable ability to sustain persistent punishment and abuse. Depending on your perspective, this can be regarded as a curse or a blessing. Although unhealthy habits will almost always compromise quality of life, most of us can go decades before they cause a significant problem. When that problem finally presents itself, whether it be heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, or something else, most people write it off as a genetic misfortune or think that it’s typical for their age. They fail to consider their many years of unhealthy living as a possible cause and are far too willing to accept their condition.
This is what I consider to be the dismal state of health that modern society has come to accept as normal. People who disregard the cumulative nature of unhealthy habits fail to realize that disease may be sneaking up on them.
The Best Way to Prevent Disease
The best way to prevent disease is to avoid the habits that promote it. Few people get lasting satisfaction from the unhealthy habits that they engage in, especially in comparison to the quality of life that they’re being deprived of as a result. As such, there’s little to lose and a lot to gain from living a healthier lifestyle.
Because of the distorted view that modern society has led people to adopt in regard to a typical quality of life and level of health, few people can truthfully say that they’ve experienced the benefits of optimal health, and this is reflected by their lack of motivation to achieve it. Those who understand the concept of optimal health and have experienced it’s benefits have a much stronger appreciation for it and are far more likely to dedicate themselves to the healthy habits that promote it. Anyone who thinks that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t worth the effort should keep this in mind.
The Weak Link of Modern Medicine
While many doctors are beginning to recognize and promote a more preventative approach to health, the influence that the drug industry has on our medical system is a significant problem. Starting in medical school, doctors are force fed with the symptom chasing mentality of what drugs to use for which symptoms. While this may temporarily relieve discomfort, it often fails to address the root cause of compromised health and allows it to persist and progress.
Contrary to what the drug industry would like us to think, many states of disease can be greatly improved upon or even reversed with natural treatments and healthy lifestyle habits. If this mentality were more widely recognized and implemented, I think we’d see a significant difference in the incidence of many modern diseases.
Tips for Avoiding the Big 3
By a large margin, heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death. Although strokes and respiratory infections each cause more deaths than diabetes, I consider diabetes to be the third most significant health issue based on it’s shocking prevalence among middle aged adults and it’s direct correlation to lifestyle. The following are some basic tips and concepts to help you understand and prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
1. Heart Disease
While there are various types and causes of heart disease, the most common cause is damaged arteries that easily become obstructed and prevent the heart from receiving sufficient oxygen. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a result of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. These substances, which are highly essential to human function, don’t simply accumulate in artery walls because they happen to be there. They need a reason, and that reason is cell damage. In fact, cholesterol and saturated fat, along with water, promote strong cell membranes that prevent cell damage.
Many of the foods we eat contain damaged nutrients, excessive amounts of sugar, chemical toxins, free radicals, and too much omega-6 fatty acids. Although there are other lifestyle factors that can cause the cell damage associated with heart disease, an unhealthy diet is one of the most prominent. As such, you can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease by eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates, eating according to your individual needs, eating enough saturated fat, balancing omega-3 and omega-6 consumption, eating organic food, and drinking enough water.
In general, cancer is the uncontrolled reproduction of mutated cells which can interfere with the function of the vital organs and glands that keep us alive. We all produce cancer cells on regular basis, but the difference between those who develop cancer and those who don’t is often a strong immune system that’s able to recognize and destroy mutated cells.
There are many lifestyle factors that can cause cancer, and as such, it’s difficult to choose one to focus most on. Two important factors regarding the onset of cancer are an impaired immune system and exposure to chemicals or radiation. The cell damage and malfunction caused by chemical toxins and radiation is a direct risk for cancer and also a significant burden on the immune system. Based on this, the avoidance of chemicals and radiation is probably the best place to start.
Each day, we’re bombarded with all kinds of electromagnetic radiation from electrical appliances, wireless internet signals and cell phones. We’re also exposed to numerous chemicals in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. In addition, many of us unknowingly increase our exposure to chemicals through the every day use of personal care products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair spray, perfume, cosmetics, and skin lotion.
To give your immune system a rest and yourself a better chance of avoiding cancer, limit your exposure to chemicals by drinking filtered water, eating organic food, limiting your exposure to wireless internet signals, limiting the use of cell phones or using speaker phone, and using natural personal care products.
Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to properly regulate high blood sugar levels. Approximately 90% of diabetes cases are type 2 which means that the impaired pancreas function is caused by unhealthy eating. Excessive consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates causes wild blood sugar fluctuations that put a significant burden on the pancreas and eventually wear it down.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes, more than 10% of the population of Americans that are 20 years old or older have diabetes. This number increases to more than 20% for people who are 60 years old or older. To put this in perspective, this is more than 10 million people! Despite this shocking prevalence of diabetes, type 2 cases can be completely reversed through diet.
If you have diabetes, insulin resistance, or are worried about developing either, simply eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta from your diet. I know this is easier said than done, but I’ve done it myself and so can you! Since some people are more sensitive to carbohydrates than others and can even develop diabetes from eating too much fruit or too many high glycemic vegetables, it’s also important to consider following the Metabolic Typing Diet which will take your individuality into account.
A Universal Approach
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to prevent disease is to strive for optimal health by adhering to the foundational factors of a healthy lifestyle. In some cases, this might not be enough to resolve your health issues by itself, but regardless of the problems you may have or may be concerned about, a healthy lifestyle should always be the foundation of your solution to better health.