Chronic disease is what most people die of. It is disease that works its way into our lives and often only becomes obvious in our middle years and lives with us generally becoming more of a burden as we age and at some stage becoming g more than we can handle by ourselves and forcing us to get professional help.
But it does not have to be this way.
Heart disease or more properly artery disease begins in our childhood. Surgeons doing autopsies on those young fit men who died in the Korean War found small fatty streaks on the inside of their arteries and in other research he initial signs of artery disease were found to be starting in childhood.
So the angina, the chest pain often felt in our middle years took a long time building. Other chronic disease like cancer and diabetes starts in our youth and build slowly and insidiously before it bursts out in the open when it shocks us.
There's a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago and the next best time is now.
Same for health too.
So when I saw a video with the intriguing title of "4 Things That Can Prevent Most Chronic Disease!" I had to stop and write down my "4 Things" before I watched the video.
So this article is what I wrote down and the video at the end is what got me going down this path!
Prevention Is The Best Cure
Faced with a diagnosis of lung cancer a strong regret about the 20 or 40 a day habit is not going to help; not smoking in the first place would help so our health can be supported in manageable ways so that we avoid starting the escalation to a full blown chronic disease.
What can we do to prevent ourselves slipping onto the slippery downward slope? While there are no guarantees here are my 4 preventive strategies.
1. Eat the Right Food
Every says that "You are what you eat" but somehow we don't believe it and continue to chow down the fries and sodas. Yes I did this too as a child and even as a young adult.
The time came when in my 30s I got asthma which was a blessing in that the health upgrade which followed switched me onto a path to health rather than to a path to poor health and then into chronic disease.
I never thought that asthma could be a blessing but I made it so by "Taking the hint" and taking action to improve my health.
Diet comes first because it is straightforward and gets huge obvious results when you upgrade your diet.
The vexed question of which diet to upgrade to is pretty clear when you look at the science rather than the advertising claims.
There's 2 ways of doing this; we can look at figures that show what diet people follow who have the least mortality from a variety of diseases such as cardiovascular and cancer.
And if we do that we come to the aptly called, "Plant Based Diet".
And if we look at longevity studies and diets all round the world we find the healthiest diet is a variation of the theme of Mediterranean diet and if you not quite sure what that is let me just say that it is definitely not a diet of Pizza and Pasta but is usually a diet based let's say 80% Vegetables, fruit and wholemeal grains and 20% dairy – usually goat's milk and soft cheese and healthy wholemeal bread and fish maybe once a week and meat once a month.
In summary a diet rich in fruit and vegetables with a variety of other whole foods. This kind of diet can be called an Anti-inflammatory diet and it's needed because chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer and cardio are inflammatory disorders.
Diet is crucial in these diseases.
2. Anti-inflammatory Supplements
Next is to add to the protection against oxidation and inflammation with anti-inflammatory vitamins and other food supplements. We'll point out the most obvious otherwise it would take all day for us to list and explain anti-inflammatory supplements.
Vitamin C is first for me – it is very hard to get enough vitamin C from diet. A glass of Orange juice comes nowhere near and the minimum for any adult is 1 gram and I take 3 grams a day regularly and double that if I get a cold, which is rare.
Vitamin D comes second and gives a significant boost to the immune system. Here is a brief quote from a research paper "Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and an increased susceptibility to infection"
Let's finish this section with vitamin E. This is especially important in case of having a high LDL count in your blood along with low HDL. I don't particularly like the healthy and unhealthy cholesterol terms but having a high LDL and low HDL means treatment is needed and after therapeutic doses of vitamin E had been found to produce a better balance of types of cholesterol in the blood, with a higher level of HDL and lower amount of LDL both of which are good news.
Anti-oxidant vitamins work and they work best when combined with a diet rich in anti-oxidants a diet in fact that I call an anti-inflammatory diet.
3. Stress Reduction
Stress kills – especially chronic stress that goes on for years. It depresses purr immune system and keeps us out of our Healing mode.
On a day by day basis our life and health run by the automatic side of the Nervous system which is a little like a car with two gears. One of the gears is well known as "Fight or Flight" and is what kicks in when we are under stress.
This is a good thing and in fact a lifesaving system that we are biologically designed to jump into in an emergency. Our problem is that we get stuck in this emergency mode. And stay there…for years, rather than minutes.
This keeps us out of Healing mode, which is the other gear of the Nervous system, in which we rest, relax and heal.
When I first started seeing patients my priority was always to get their diet right because without the right healing nutrients how can they heal?
It took me years to realise that unless and until they transition into Healing Mode it does not matter how much nutrition into them – they will not and cannot heal until they are in Healing mode.
And out of Stress.
4. Deliberate Movement
I hate exercise; I even hate the word. But we need movement and whether we walk or move in other ways, it is absolutely essential. One of the delights of leaving school was for me the total liberation from silly badly designed forms of exercise mostly called "PT" or "PE". Once free from compulsion I found my favourite healthy movement system in Yoga. Yoga is slow and deliberate and is an exercise for the body and the mind.
As much as it tones up the inner core muscles of the body it also helps us to relax and to more aware and more conscious of our body. Yoga though is mostly a system of positions with minimal motion.
One of my Yoga Teachers balanced his Yoga practise with skiing and for the less energetic, like me you could just choose walking. This is being typed in the afternoon and I have just returned from my after lunch walk. I have always loved walking and start to feel deprived without it.
There is no need at all for huffing and puffing, sweating and straining simply to get your "Vitamin M" – movement.
The wrongheaded notion of "No pain, no gain" it completely wrong. In fact No pain simply means no pain and if you are feeling pain you are doing something wrong. Pain is feedback and what it means is that you are doing something wrong.
So there are my 4 things that can prevent chronic disease and after writing them down I turned to the video and watched it to see what choices were in this short video..