In spite of the overflow of information about how a person can and should become healthier, the actual health of our population continues to decline. In 1950, about 10% of the population was chronically ill, and now that figure has risen to 53%. Furthermore, by most estimates, a vast majority of the remainder of our population is on their way to becoming ill. It is so bad that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that children born after the year 2000 will be the first generation that will not live as long a their parents did. How is it possible that nearly 300 million people all became so oblivious to the state of their health? Here are some thoughts on the thinking patterns that have led to this disastrous situation.
- “My last check-up was pretty good.” Medical examinations have a few serious problems; they often don’t test the right thing, or they find an illness after it has already advanced too far. Here are a few classic examples:
Heart Disease – Testing for cholesterol is the established diagnostic test of choice for heart disease, and yet there is very little scientific evidence that establishes a clear cause and effect connection between high cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. MIT did a review of the medical literature and found that statin drugs, the standard treatment for high cholesterol, did not improve the morbidity rate at all. Free radical oxidation has been identified as the best causal factor for heart disease, which makes fruits, vegetables and antioxidant supplements clearly the best treatment option to prevent heart disease, along with omega 3 fats and CoQ10. A much better test would be one for C-reactive protein, which measures the level of inflammation in the body. If cholesterol is going to be tested, it should be based on the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol, or the number of small particle LDL molecules present.
Diabetes – The preferred tests for diabetes are fasting blood sugar, or AIC, which is a fasting blood test over several hours. However, we now know that post-meal sugar spikes are just as potentially harmful as fasting glucose levels. Also, insulin levels go up before glucose levels do which makes a test for insulin also a better option than fasting glucose levels. Once diagnosed, the preferred treatments for diabetes are prescription meds or insulin. This treatment continues, in spite of the proven dangers of these treatments and the proven success of diet changes and exercise. The NIH did a study on pre-diabetic people, which establishes a success rate of 31% for Metformin in terms of preventing advancement of pre-diabetics to full diabetes, while the diet and exercise group achieved a 59% success rate at stopping the advancement to full diabetes.
Breast Cancer – Mammograms need 4 billion cells in a tumor before they can even begin to see it. This means the cancer has often advanced to Stage 2 or 3. Ultrasound needs 2 billion cells in a tumor in order for the tumor to be detected. This is better, but still not early enough to catch cells before they have become cancerous. Another diagnostic tool, called medical thermography, can see cells starting to become dysfunctional 8 to 10 years before mammograms, and 5 to 7 years before ultrasound. That means these cells are not yet cancerous and can usually revert back to normal healthy cells with improvements in nutrition, hormone balancing (plant based hormones), stress reduction, detoxification and more exercise. Thermography is especially effective for women with dense breasts, lots of fat in their breasts, women with breast implants and younger women. This is most women, and if thermography was used properly with ultrasound, some scientists estimate that at least 50%, and possibly up to 90% of breast cancers could be avoided.
These are just a few of the reasons why a good “conventional” medical check up may not necessarily be the best way to determine your risk of future health problems.
- “I’m not really that overweight.” This is a very common statement from people carrying around some extra weight, and yet this is often not an accurate statement. Recent studies have shown that being as little as nine pounds overweight can produce an increased risk of chronic disease and premature death. And belly fat is the worst location in terms of the potential for future health problems.
- “I quit smoking years ago.” This is a very commendable achievement, but most people make the mistake of thinking that is all they need to do. Unfortunately, it takes years to repair the damage done by smoking, and if cancer has already started, stopping smoking will not stop the cancer. Cancer feeds on sugar, so a diet high in sugar or simple carbohydrates will feed the cancer until it does its ultimate damage. Most people, and most doctors, do not know that smoking cessation should include several years of detoxification, anti-cancer foods, anti-cancer supplements and special nutritional support for the brain to permanently turn off the smoking addiction mechanism.
- “I eat a pretty healthy diet.” This is simply not true in most cases and may be the most delusional thinking that most people are guilty of. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 99% of the population has a nutritional deficiency, which could lead to a chronic disease. This is confirmed by an independent study of over 14,000 people, aged 2 to 80, which could not find one person who met all of the criteria for a healthy heart diet.
On top of these outrageous findings, it gets worse when you realize that foods have continuously lost their nutritional value over the past 60 years by as much as 80%. And, finally, the government establishes the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for nutrients. This is a minimal standard, and will not prevent most chronic diseases. People need to seriously re-think their dietary behavior and attitude if they ever hope to regain their health.
- “I exercise enough.”- This is another statement that simply is not true. A vast majority of the population does not even get the minimal level of exercise needed to stay healthy. While walking, doing housework and other activities are all good, they do not constitute an exercise program that should include aerobics, resistance training and flexibility elements. Some studies have established that less than 10% of the adult population gets sufficient exercise to maintain a good state of health.
- “I have good genes.” This is one of the most overused and erroneous statements made by people today. According to Jeffrey Bland, an authority on epigenetics, genes are likely responsible for 10 – 30% of chronic diseases, and even these genes can be influenced by our lifestyle decisions. Good genes can be turned into bad ones through poor diet, stress, alcohol, cigarette smoking and lack of exercise. Similarly, bad genes can also be improved by doing the right things, such as eating a great diet, exercising and practicing stress management.
In fact, people are not only going to die at a younger age in the future, they are not all going to live as long as their parents and grandparents did, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. If we take out child deaths, people are only living 5 to 6 years longer now than they did over l00 years ago.
- “My doctor will take care of me.” There are some excellent doctors who perform life saving operations, or practice holistic medicine to help people prevent or reverse chronic diseases. However, the vast majority of doctors are not performing at a safe and effective level. In a 2006 study, Dr. David Eddy found that conventional medicine only has scientific evidence to support 20-25% of what they do. In Gary Null’s book, Death By Medicine, it is revealed that doctors actually cause the deaths of more than 900,000 people every year. This is more deaths than are caused by cancer or heart disease.
If you are going to count on your doctor to help you to become healthier, you had find one that practices holistic or functional medicine. And, you should be prepared to pay for his or her services out of your own pocket, because the chances of these services being covered by your health insurance are very slim.
- “I take vitamins.” Many people think that taking a vitamin will keep them from becoming ill, even if they indulge in things like alcohol, red meat or sweet deserts. There are several problems with this thinking. First, vitamins need to be added to a great diet and exercise program in order to be effective. Second, most popular commercially promoted brands of vitamins are low in quality and offer very little protection from disease. And more importantly, most people have absolutely no idea what their body really needs. They self medicate based on total whimsy. If you do not adopt a totally healthy lifestyle, and take quality nutritional supplement based on a scientific assessment of your needs, you are probably wasting your money and may even be doing harm if one of your supplements is causing a biochemical imbalance in your body.
- “I feel good.” Too many people seem to be content on judging the state of their health on how they feel on any given day. Then, to their great surprise and dismay, they are diagnosed with colon cancer or have a stroke. Many diseases are silent and provide very few early warning signs that are reliable from a medical perspective . Having said that, there are ways that our body speaks to us about what is happening inside. The color of the tongue really can be a sign of toxicity in the body. White spots on your fingernails is likely a sign of zinc deficiency, and leg cramps at night, when you are sleeping, can signal a deficiency of magnesium or potassium.
A person needs to be tuned into these signs and symptoms if they are going to effectively use them to become healthier. You can measure your acid and alkaline balance with pH urine strips in the morning. Disease has a difficult time developing in a body that has a balanced pH. You can add C-reactive protein to your blood test because it measures inflammation levels, which is another great indicator of biochemical imbalance and the potential for disease.
Feeling good is not the same as being healthy. Most disease progresses through 5 stages. These stages include:
- Stressed cells
- Weakened cells
- Dysfunctional cells
- Mutated cells
- Diseased cells
This process can take ten to twenty years before any telltale signs appear in your conventional medical tests. By the time mammograms find a tumor, it is usually stage 2 or 3 and very difficult to treat. The same is true with diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and most other chronic diseases. If you find the right doctor, and get the right tests, you can identify when cells are stressed or weakened and reverse this situation, usually within months, using totally natural strategies. This is what every doctor should be doing, not just a handful of them.
- “Everybody has to die from something.” This is the rationalization of last resort. You hear it all of the time as justification for drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or even partaking in dangerous hobbies or sports. It is a close cousin of the term, “We’re all getting older.”
While these statements are true, they are not a very good excuse for stupid and irresponsible behavior. When considering whether you should pay more attention to your health you should also think about your family members, friends and fellow employees who are counting on you to stay healthy and be there when they need you? How about the cost involved in treating illnesses, and how those costs are eventually going to bankrupt many families, many companies and even our entire country.
Every indicator says that we are on our way to national disaster of epic proportions. The Economist magazine projects that the United States will spend 100% of its GNP on healthcare by the year 2060. With 68% of the population overweight, and 53% chronically ill, it is obvious how such a dire projection can be made. Based on every available indicator Individuals do not seem capable of taking responsibility for their own health, and proposals for government intervention are met with stiff resistance. We had better find a way to address this problem, sooner rather than later, because it will not fix itself.
Charles K. Bens, Ph.D.
Healthy at Work
October 10, 2012