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Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes:

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Are They Actually Preventable Diseases?

I recently watched a panel discussion on the Larry King show in which five of the most prestigious doctors in the United States all agreed that the main cause of disease in North America was the poor diet and sedentary life-style of most Americans.  The panel consisted of Dr.Michael Roizen, head of the Cleveland Clinic, the leading health care facility in the U.S., Dr. Deepak Chopra, a medical doctor who believes in meditation and the importance of stress reduction. Dr.Nicholas Perricone, one of the leading dermatologists in the U.S., Dr.Andrew Weil who is well known for his support of the combination of natural and medical care to treat patients, and Dr.Sanjay Gupta, a neurologist and chief medical correspondent for CNN.

After discussing the causes, and new treatments for the all the major diseases in North America it became absolutely apparent that we are part of a generation that is extremely self-indulgent, demanding and always looking for shortcuts. This means that food choices are not based on common sense but on gluttony. This means that the average person would rather sit in front of their television or computer rather that do a little exercise and people are always looking for shortcuts to health and thus have created the huge pharmaceutical industry.

The average North American family spends one third of its food dollars in restaurants.  It is an interesting coincidence that one third of all North Americans are obese.  That is because this large proportion of our food budget has been spent in fast food outlets that feature meals with thousands of calories and deadly amounts of Trans fats. Along with their bad eating habits most people claim that they are too busy to exercise. They are too busy with their jobs spinning their wheels to acquire things that they think they need while their health deteriorates. They have hours to spend watching their favourite TV shows and more hours to spend downloading whatever on their computers but they do not have any time for exercise.  Finally we live in an age in which we must have things now, immediately and will not wait. We are always looking for a shortcut to immediate gain and we do not have the patience or the ability to make sacrifices to achieve long term goals. These shortcuts are readily provided by a pharmaceutical industry that caters to these needs.  In this article I am going to discuss all the major diseases that affect us and how a proper diet and exercise can prevent most of them.

Heart Disease

Your heart is a muscle.  Like any muscle of your body it must be exercised in order to achieve its maximum potential.  Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming etc are perfect for your heart muscle and keep it healthy.  Most heart disease starts with a simple diagnosis from your physician of elevated blood pressure.  This means that there is too much pressure when your heart fills and empties blood. The muscle must be made stronger with exercise and in 90% of the cases; the weight of the body is too much for the heart.  It is at this point that a sensible intelligent person decides to stop smoking, give up the fast food, eat more fruits and vegetables and basically start a heart-healthy lifestyle.  This decision in most cases is interfered with by our gluttony, sloth and our inability to make sacrifices and so we find our shortcut. There are pharmaceutical drugs that control our blood pressure and even control our heart rate and bring everything under control. But what have we learned? Absolutely nothing! We are still fat, lazy and becoming diseased.  Outside of people who developed rheumatic fever in their childhood or have a congenital heart defect, all the rest of heart disease in our country could be prevented.

The other major cause of heart disease is stress.  Recently, Ken Lay, the found of Enron who was found guilty of defrauding his shareholders died of a massive heart attack brought on by the stress of the situation. Most people do not understand that exercise not only helps you burn calories, lose weight and become fit, but it is the major stress reliever for the human population.  However, faced with the option of exercising for an hour or taking a pill, most people decide on the side of the pharmaceuticals which only mask the stress and do not relieve it.

Diabetes

This is absolutely the most preventable of all the diseases we have and has become the most prevalent disease in our society.  Since 1990, the incidence of Type II diabetes, better known as maturity onset diabetes has doubled and because most diabetics have so many other medical problems, it is the most costly disease to our society. In fact, because of the poor eating habits of most teenagers we are actually seeing diabetes in obese teens and in very young adults.  This diabetes is not to be confused with Type I which is a hereditary disease caused by a faulty pancreas that does not have the ability to manufacture the hormone insulin.

If you are diabetic you know who you are.  You ate the foods that made you feel good, not the healthy foods that you needed. Eventually you became so fat you lost the ability to exercise.  Your life consists of some sedentary job and eating, sitting and sleeping and as your diabetes worsens you become sicker and sicker.  You have high blood pressure, kidney problems, eye problems, circulation problems and if you are a male, erectile dysfunction.  You take at least seven different types of medications but you are getting worse and why? Because you were and may still be a self indulgent person who will not trade immediate satisfaction for long term gain. Rather than make an effort to improve your health, you turned your body over to your physicians who keep you alive with all their pharmaceuticals.  Not only can diabetes be prevented with diet and exercise, but in most cases, it can be reversed with a strict regimen of the same.

In order to prevent or reverse diabetes, you must eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day so that all your sugars come from natural sources. You must NEVER eat fast food or mall food again.  You must stop drinking colas.  These drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.  Corn is not naturally sweet, but huge chemical companies treat the corn with the same enzyme that we have in our body that converts corn to sugar. The result is a sweetener with 55% fructose and42% glucose, and each 12 ounce serving has the equivalent of 10 teaspoonfuls of sugar.  The unusual thing about this sweetener is that it has no effect on the hormone leptin that indicates when you are full.  This means that you can drink gallons and gallons of these soft drinks and still be hungry and thirsty.  In 1990 they started using this formula instead of natural glucose because it was so much cheaper.  It is interesting that since the change, our population of diabetics has doubled.

While the diabetic is achieving a healthy diet and losing great amounts of weight in the process, they should exercise every day, something aerobic like walking for 45 minutes. They should also do small 10 minute exercises after eating in order to force the cells of their body to accept the blood sugar. Otherwise it will simply be stored as fat. If the diabetic is willing to make these sacrifices, the long term gain is a healthy person who is off all their medication.

Breast Cancer

In many cases, breast cancer is inherited from the defective genes of the mother and cannot be prevented. However, many healthy women who do not have defective genes also get breast cancer and this can be prevented.  The main cause of breast cancer in this group is obesity. During and after menopause, estrogen production is greatly reduced.  Menstrual periods are no longer necessary because your ovulating days are over.  During this adjustment it is easy for your body to become confused and when it finds an abundance of fat tissues and a decrease in estrogen, it triggers the production of estrogen from these fat cells in order to make up for the deficiency.  Obesity along with hormone replacement drugs taken into your seventies accounts for the majority of non-inherited breast cancers.  Therefore, in order to reduce your chance of contracting this disease, once again a proper healthy diet is in order and most people do not need someone like me to tell them what to eat.  They simply have to develop the self control to adhere to a good healthy diet with a reasonable amount of exercise to reduce their chances of coming down with breast cancer

Lung Cancer.

This is absolutely a no-brainer.  This is a disease caused by smokers and those who inhale secondary smoke.  Although a healthy diet and exercise are good, they are not a replacement and so the smoker must quit this nicotine addiction.  If you have the ability to overcome this addiction, you should also have the ability to move on to a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes reformed smokers can become very healthy people.

Prostate Cancer

Although most men will have a benign form of prostate cancer by the time they reach 70 years of age, it is not life-threatening.  However, it is the more virulent forms that we see in men in the fifties that could be prevented.  This cancer is unique in that prevention involves not just a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables but those with colour such as red peppers, tomatoes, yellow peppers and all those coloured fruits like grapes full of carotenoids and reservatrol.  Recently it has been shown that pomegranate extracts actually can stop prostate cancer tumours from growing.  The other main factor is obesity and once again the extra fat cells are sometimes triggered to produce the male hormone, androgen which causes cancerous growth in the prostate gland. It is interesting to note that Macular Degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in North America is also caused by a lack of coloured fruits and vegetables in our diet.

Colon Cancer

More men are affected by this cancer because this is the disease of the heavy meat eaters. If you eat hot dogs, hamburgers and processed meats you cook them and this produces carcinogens called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Not only that, two beef or pork hot dogs contain 200 calories, 15grams of fat of which 7 gm are saturated and 700mg milligrams of sodium, an entire day’s supply. Proponents of the Atkins diet never understood that eating meat without vegetables enhances its ability to cause cancer.  However, when you add good vegetables such as broccoli or spinach or Brussels sprouts, you totally remove the carcinogenic properties of the meat. This is also a male disease because men, unlike women are very reluctant to have tests that could result in early diagnosis and as a result the death rate is very high.

The most important ingredients in a diet to prevent colon cancer are your usual five servings of fruits and vegetables and a diet high in fiber for a healthy colon. Exercise is very important because as long as you keep your body in motion then your bowels will keep moving also.

I could go on and on and the truth is that outside of genetically inherited diseases, almost all major diseases are preventable with a good healthy diet and a regimen of exercise.  The goal is achievable for everyone because you can do all the healthy things and still sneak in a few indulgences on rare occasions.

In order to adhere to a healthy diet you must, of course be very strict with yourself. However, if once in a while you indulge in some sugary and fatty snack as a treat for being so good, it is acceptable. This is called moderation. You try and exercise every day but if you miss a day or two a month, it will not change anything.  Just like drugs, life is dose related.  Too much alcohol is extremely unhealthy, but a glass of wine once a day is a very healthy drink. Wearing a fifty sun block and totally avoiding the sun may prevent skin cancer, but avoiding the healthy rays of the sun can make you thirty more times susceptible to a wide variety of more lethal cancers and even bone disease.

Take control of your life.  Find and develop a taste for good healthy food. Find an exercise that you can do easily, daily and without risk of injury. And finally do not take shortcuts. Do be mislead by the ads on TV that promise to make your lose weight or make you happy or take away your stomach pain.  You know what you have to do. Be willing to sacrifice your short-term pleasures in order to achieve the long term goal, good health and happiness.

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