With all the technological developments that have taken place in the world over the past hundred years, the human population has gone through a period of incredible growth. An abundant and readily accessible food supply has enabled us to multiply like never before. We are living longer here in Ireland than ever but are we healthier?
Are we living a life full of energy and vitality into our late years or are we barely surviving?
Modern advancement in medicine has been remarkable and has enabled us to treat many ailments and increase our lifespan. Despite these advances in medicine, chronic disease is not abating, rather it is speeding up.
According to the book ‘The Health Delusion’,
- more than one in three has cardiovascular disease
- one in six has high cholesterol
- six out of ten has high blood pressure
- one out of ten has diabetes and almost 4 out those 10 may be on the verge of diabetes
- two out every five will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives
More than half our 50’s are currently living with two or more chronic diseases (diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease) and this figure is likely to dramatically increase by the end of the decade.
Are we supposed to be sick? Why is this happening? What can we do to reduce our chances and our family’s chances of being one of these chronic illness statistics?
Many of us go through life with a blinkered approach. We eat and drink what is socially acceptable, consume processed crap that is advertised as food in the media and follow outdated and misguided government guidelines. We assume that if it’s in a pack, it must be ok to eat and we do not take responsibility for our own health and wellness.
Then BOOM!…suddenly we get sick. We wonder why and blame bad luck!
We don’t just get sick by accident, there isn’t a magic illness dice that spins and suddenly lands on us. We get sick because our body is struggling to deal with problems brought on by environmental, physical, mental or emotional stresses. These stresses are determined by our nutrition and lifestyle and our interaction with the world around us. In nearly all cases we are in control of these factors!
Genetics also play a role and this why our own health as parents plays a huge role in the makeup of our future kids. Any sicknesses we have will be transported in our genes to our future offspring making them more susceptible. It is a blue print for our children. If your parents had any chronic disease such diabetes or heart disease, you will have a higher risk factor of contracting these illnesses as you grow older. Epigenetics though suggest there are switches in our genetic make up that can be turned on or off based on our dietary and environmental choices. Therefore just because your parent had diabetes or heart disease doesn’t mean you will have it too.
My belief is that we can all shape the destiny of our lives and live healthier and happier lives.
What factors can determine our likelihood of contracting disease?
- Nutrition – eating a diet full of sugar, refined grains, trans fats, additives and alcohol can lead to huge problems. Alternatively eating foods that are locally sourced, minimally processed, nutrient dense plant and whole animal foods, nuts, seeds and good fats can be like medicine for our body and enable it to function the way it was designed.
- Exercise – sedentary lifestyles are a recipe for disaster. An increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease are just some of the dangers. There is a magic solution – move more! Sitting for hours on end can be detrimental for our health. Do whatever exercise you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life.
- Stress and Emotional Wellbeing- people who suffer from continuous long-term emotional, physical or mental stress will exacerbate the likelihood of chronic illness. Solution – chill out, all that stress is doing you harm! Do some yoga, meditate, go for a walk, worry less, and laugh more. Give thanks, don’t hold grudges, do voluntary work and smile;)
- Sleep – Poor quality sleep can put people at an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It can lead to an increased chance of immune deficiency and heart disease. Quality sleep enables out body to recover and regenerate. We should be aiming for 8 hours sleep every night. We should be try to go to sleep earlier and try to avoid caffeine, white light(unnatural light produced by computers, tv and light) and rigorous exercise near bedtime. If we can do so, our bodies will be able to produce the hormone melatonin, while at the same time reduce our levels of cortisol as we near bedtime. Our bodies will be primed for sleep and we can maximise its benefits.
- Environmental toxicity – we are being exposed to a huge amount of toxins. Over exposure to these toxins can make us sick.
Toxins where, I hear you say?
Avoid: Chemicals in our foods such as herbicides and pesticides. Antibiotics in farmed animals. Poisonous additives which increase shelf life. Eat fresh, organically grown and minimally processed
Avoid: Cosmetic products contain dangerous chemicals such as oxybenzone and parabens which can be toxic in the body.
Avoid: PFOA – Perflourooctanoic Acid, used in Teflon non-stick coatings, avoid high heat when using Teflon or better again use a stainless steel pan.
Avoid: Certain plastics such as BPA used in certain food containers and bottles should be avoided. Chemicals can leach out into our food and drink especially if exposed to high temperature or light. Studies have shown huge dangers to brain and infant and child development. Glass is a safer alternative.
Don’t accept illness as a ‘normal’ part of your life. Take control and do something about it.