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What's Trending? Chronic Degenerative Disease

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The 20th Century saw much progress but it has come with a heavy cost. Now, we are suffering the consequences with rampant disease. 

Toxins in our environment, clothing, toiletries, cosmetics, medications, and food increase free-radical activity and oxidative stress, major factors in chronic degenerative disease. 

For good health, we must limit our exposure to toxins, reduce emotional stress, exercise, sleep, and make sure we’re getting enough nutrients which help the body function properly. 

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Nutrients essential to good health

Nourishment malnourishment

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Deep down How healthy are you?

Life begins at the cellular level. And so does health - and disease. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other conditions of poor health often brew for years before becoming apparent and being diagnosed. The problem is we often only pay attention to what we can detect with the five senses. Out of sight, out of mind. Many doctors obsess over meaningless tests and ignore useful ones. Aim to consistently give your cells what they need to function properly and reduce your exposure to that which causes your body harm.

Oxidation Free-Radical Damage

Just as metal and other materials show age over time from oxidation, so does the human body. The aging - or disease - process is accelerated, however, when free radicals start winning the battle over healthy cells, such as immune cells, our internal first-responders.
Just as metal and other materials show age over time from oxidation, so does the human body. The aging – or disease – process is accelerated, however, when free radicals start winning the battle over healthy cells, such as immune cells, our internal first-responders.

While chronic degenerative diseases all have names of their own – breast cancer, lung cancer, hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, allergies, Parkinson’s, etc. – they all develop from the same physiological processes. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. 

Oxidative stress of human cells, tissues, and organs is a consequence of aging and free-radical damage. Toxins, emotional stress, and malnourishment increase and accelerate oxidative stress that leads to premature aging and disease. 

Wrinkles are red flags of internal cellular oxidation. Instead of trying to “hide” wrinkles with toxic creams, address the root cause. Because if your cells are damaged from oxidation, smile lines will be the least of your worries. 

Inflammation acute vs chronic

Remember as a kid when you fell and scraped your knee? It may have hurt, turned red, swelled up, and/or felt warm to the touch. If it was your knee or elbow, maybe it felt stiff for awhile. These are signs of acute inflammation which can be caused by injury, pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi), chemotherapy, radiation, and diseases. The suffix -itis is known to indicate inflammation. For example, dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, colitis is inflammation of the colon.

Inflammation is the effect of the immune system’s response to an injury or invader. As long as the root cause remains, the immune system will attempt to attack any invaders and damaged cells or tissue. When a problem persists too long, inflammation becomes chronic and begins to add to the problem, often leading to autoimmune conditions. Almost every chronic degenerative disease is accompanied by chronic inflammation. It’s like expecting fire-fighters to put out fires for weeks, months, years, even decades without any breaks. It’s a recipe for disaster. 


The Gut Immunity's Command Post

Fortunately, the human body comes with a built-in army of first-responders, an innate response of the immune system to help eliminate germs and toxins, kill mutant cells, and regulate the function of healthy cells. Unfortunately, millions of Americans suffering from disease and physical dysfunction have immune systems unable to keep up with demands. The vast majority of the human immune system is located in the the gut, your own microbiome manned by your own army of soldiers called immune cells - T-cells, B-cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, and more. This is why many health experts, including Hippocrates, have said, "Death begins in the colon," or "Disease starts in the gut." As careful as we are to wash open wounds with soap and warm water so germs don't enter our bloodstream, we ought to be just as careful not to allow junk into our digestive tract, Immunity's Command Central.

S.A.D Standard American Diet

Worst Experiment In Human history

The last quarter of the 20th Century spelled doom for the health of millions of Americans. Look at photographs from the 1970’s. Most people are at a healthy weight! It was at about this time, ‘experts’ started demonizing dietary fat. Low-fat, non-fat, and lite became marketing slogans.

The USDA joined in (or led) the “Fat is Bad” chorus and pushed highly processed foods as in bread, rice, cereal, and crackers – 6-11 servings per day. There was no distinction between carrots and french fries. Bananas and avocados were poo-pooed for having high fat content.

The result? While protein consumption remained mostly unchanged, processed foods became staples and healthy fats (necessary for brain and body function) all but disappeared from American diets.The more recent MyPlate campaign, while an improvement, is still sorely lacking. It’s not that Americans aren’t following ‘expert’ advice. The problem is, they are. 

Health MyPlate Blue

Cholesterol and statin drugs

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“Eat cholesterol,” they said, “and your blood vessels will clog up and cause a heart attack or stroke.” Now, they’re saying, “Oops! Guess we were wrong.” It’s not TIME magaine’s fault. They were just reporting what the ‘experts’ wrote in their media releases. At least TIME came clean. Here’s the skinny on dietary and blood cholesterol. One doesn’t necessarily cause the other. You can eat no cholesterol and still have some in your blood. Why? Because the human body makes cholesterol. Why? Because the human body needs cholesterol. Also, you can increase your consumption of cholesterol and watch your blood cholesterol numbers decrease. How do I know? Because that’s exactly what happened to me. The human body is not a vending machine. It’s way more complicated than that and, well, has a mind of it’s own. Oh, and most people who suffer heart attacks have normal cholesterol so it’s kinda weird to blame cholesterol for heart disease. So, why all the fuss? Because cholesterol-lowering drugs nicknamed statins bring in a whole lot of cash. Unfortunately, they also decrease the body’s CoQ10 levels which can effect brain function and lead to, say, memory loss. 

Fat Cells Toxic Storage Sites

Humans need body fat. Fat cells serve necessary functions such as insulation, protection of vital organs, and as a source of energy. 70% of American adults over 20 are overweight and nearly 40% are considered obese. How did this happen? Simply, by consuming more than the body needs. Notice I didn't say more calories. Eating to live means eating what your body needs and no more, purposely feeding your cells, brain, gut bacteria, etc. for optimal functioning and not just because it feels good. When more is consumed than the body needs, the excess is shunted into fat cells. Fat cells expand and multiply and this becomes evident in many ways. Insulin, the hormone released upon consumption of carbohydrates, is a fat-storage hormone. It is even activated when it detects zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. The liver doesn't recognize chemical 'food' and doesn't know what to do with it so it just stores whatever toxins in can't immediately get rid of into fat cells. Kind of like hoarders do with junk.
photo via Chicago Tribune
photo via Chicago Tribune

Calorie Counting Is it all for naught?

photo via FDA
photo via FDA

I’ve got to hand it to the FDA. They keep on trying. Only it seems the more ‘improvements’ they make to their Food Pyramids and Food Labels the worst the overall health of the average American gets. Here’s one problem. What is the one thing that jumps out at you between these two labels? The font size of Calories, right? FDA says this change is due to “new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.” Yay! But what does that have to do with calories? For the past 50 years, the FDA and many Americans have been obsessed with calorie counting. In that time, overweight and obesity rates have skyrocketed. Why? Because what’s important is health and nutrition, not body weight or calories. I could consume a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet full of junk food and gain a lot of weight. Or, eat more calories per day of only nutritious food and lose weight. Placing so much weight;) on calories has backfired. It’s time we started focusing on nutrients for better health. Then, fat-loss will result as a natural, beneficial side-effect. 

What to eat Amid Confusion

-Chemicals (additives that aren’t food)
-Meat of scavenger animals
-Produce treated with herbicides and pesticides
-High-glycemic vegetables and fruits
-Hormone- or antibiotic-treated protein
-Highly processed foods
-Low-glycemic, organic vegetables
-Low glycemic, organic fruits
-Whole or lightly-processed foods
Clean protein sources
     -Grass-fed beef
     -Cage free poultry and eggs
-Healthy fats

Counting Steps Is it worth it?

I asked a distant relative who is well into her nineties and still going strong, "What's your secret"? In two words, she answered, "Keep moving" which happens to be the title of Dick Van Dyke's autobiographical book on aging well. One of the huge factors in the declining health of the average American is sedentariness. With our busy lifestyles and modern conveniences, most of us can easily get through our days without much physical movement unless we are intentional about it. A few years ago, pedometers became very popular as well as apps and wristband computers such as Fit Bit. Pedometers count the number of steps you take. Lots of steps is good, especially for someone who would otherwise be sedentary or is 'out of shape.' To them, I say, "Walk to your heart's content!" However, if you are moderately conditioned and are exercising to improve your fitness level, steps alone might be not be the best use of your time. Make sure to raise your heartbeat and respiratory rate for long enough periods of time in order to improve your cardiovascular capacity. Also, adding weight- or resistance- training to your workout will add muscle and increase overall metabolism. So, keep moving, yes, but for optimal health benefits, be sure to do so wisely.
photo by Lindsay Henwood