Avoid Five Risk Factors for Chronic-Diseases

Chronic-diseases or conditions include heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity and diabetes. The word chronic is defined as lingering, prolonged, or protracted. Not a pleasant picture for those suffering from any of the chronic-diseases.

Chronic illnesses are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S. According to the CDC, These diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

In 2005, 133 million Americans had at least one chronic illness. About one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations. And tragically, seven out of ten deaths among Americans each year are from chronic conditions. Nursing homes and specialty care facilities are largely populated with people with chronic-diseases or conditions.

Five Risk factors for chronic-diseases include:

  1. Lack of exercise.
  2. Poor nutrition including too much junk food
  3. Tobacco use
  4. Excessive alcohol consumption
  5. Environmental toxins

With the possible exception of environmental toxins these risk factors for chronic-diseases are lifestyle choices. The responsibility is ours to choose a lifestyle that meets our individual health needs. Nourishing food, supplemented as needed, regular exercise, prayer, recreation, stress management and relaxation can improve the general state of our health. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition. 

Healthy lifestyle changes may prevent or at least moderate the following chronic-diseases:

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide. Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a number of conditions that can affect your heart. Heart disease is also called cardiovascular disease, and can include coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, blocked vessels that can lead to heart attacks or stroke, heart infections, and heart defects from birth.
  • Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones, is the most common bone disorder in the United States. It is more prevalent in women over the age of 50. Osteoporosis is responsible for about 1.2 million fractures a year. It has been estimated that as many as twenty percent of hip fractures in the elderly are fatal and that over 50 percent of survivors never leave the nursing home. Determining your risk is an important early step in osteoporosis prevention. You could be at risk if you have a family history of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is most common in post-menopausal women. Pre-menopausal women are also at risk if their lifestyle includes such factors as smoking, low body weight, estrogen deficiency, alcoholism, and lack of exercise.
  • Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in persistently elevated blood sugar. There are two basic types of diabetes. These are:Type I or insulin dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas loses its ability to control blood sugar. Type I diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes and usually occurs early in life.Type II non-insulin dependent diabetes is the result of resistance to the effects of insulin by the body, which then cannot maintain proper levels of sugar in the blood.Diabetes is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, though these outcomes are not due to the immediate effects of the disorder. They are instead related to the chronic-diseases that develop as a result of chronic diabetes mellitus. Type II diabetes has increased some 600 percent over the last 30 years. Typically a disease of middle-aged people, the incidence of this disease within the teenage population has increased over 16 percent over the past decade.
  • Depression is a common occurence in the elderly that is not always recognized. For that reason the condition is not always treated. Depression can result in impaired physical, mental, and social functioning. And depression too often leads to suicide. People aged 65 and older account for 16% of the suicides annually. Some people think that depression is a part of getting older. Nothing could be further from the truth. Depression is not a natural part of aging. It is not normal to feel depressed all the time as you get older.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, and symptoms can include confusion, irritability, aggression, and long-term memory loss. Bodily functions are gradually lost and death follows. These are, or should be, powerful incentives to protect our brain. Most often, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers of Alzheimer’s worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. Alzheimer’s disease develops over a period of time that varies from case to case, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. Fewer than three percent of individuals live more than fourteen years after diagnosis.The second most common form of dementia is vascular dementia. Vascular dementia results from interrupted blood flow to the brain, often after a stroke or series of strokes. The symptoms can be similar to those of Alzheimer’s. A number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease also have symptoms and damage as a result of vascular dementia.
  • Cancer is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread (metastasize) to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or through the bloodstream. Screening is a priority anticancer precaution. Cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and cervix are the most preventable when detected early.
  • A thyroid imbalance is a serious condition that effects every metabolic function in our body. The thyroid gland is our body's regulator. Some of the thyroid gland or thyroid hormone functions include:Aides in the production of energy in our cells.Affects tissue repair and development.Assists in the digestion process.Controls oxygen utilization.Modulates blood flow.Modulates carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.Modulates muscle and nerve actionModulates sexual function
  • Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake and lack of exercise. As we age, we tend to gain weight especially around the mid-section. The older we get this increase in weight has more serious health consequences than when we were younger.The objective should be build muscle mass and bone strength while losing weight (fat). You want to be fit not skinny. I suggest reading chapter 21 of Dr. Sears’ book, Prime Time Health. Obesity is a serious public health issue because it is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Want to live a long healthy life? Stay lean! Excess body fat is a significant risk factor for most all major chronic-diseases including: Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Heart disease, COPD, Diabetes, High blood pressure and Stroke.
  • Obstructive-lung-disease (COLD or COPD) is a chronic, progressive respiratory disease. It is a pulmonary airflow obstruction that is not fully reversible. Like most chronic diseases it is easier to prevent than it is to reverse.

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References and suggested reading:

  • diabetes. (2011). Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Cancer, Obesity, Wekipedia
  • Obesity, Obesity.org
  • Go to retirement-resources

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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