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Modern Lifestyle Challenges
Heart disease and strokes cause nearly half of all deaths in America, and severely reduce the quality of life for many people. Both diseases have the same underlying cause, which is atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol, fat, and calcium harden, narrow, and eventually plug the arteries. This process takes many years and gives virtually no clues until the arteries have 50 to 80 percent blockage.
While there are some risk factors for cardiovascular disease that we can't change, such as age and sex, there are some that we can do something about. According to the Framing-ham Heart Study the six most important modifiable risk factors are high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.
The amount of cholesterol in the blood is one of the three most important risk factors for atherosclerosis.
Research shows that the risk of death from heart disease increases when cholesterol exceeds 150mg/dl. However that is not the whole picture. Cholesterol comes in two forms: LDL (the bad kind) and HDL (the good kind). MDL actually protects us from atherosclerosis by. removing cholesterol from the arteries. An HDL level of 75mg/dl drops heart disease risk to near zero, while a level of25mg/dl or lower raises the risk very high.
An especially harmful type of cholesterol (oxidized cholesterol) is found in Parmesan cheese, lard, dry mixes that contain powdered milk or eggs, such as custard and pancake mixes, and other processed foods containing cholesterol and sugar Some of the chemicals in oxidized cholesterol are so toxic they can cause irreversible damage to arterial walls in less than 24 hours.
Another factor is the type of fat in the diet. Saturated fat (5) is more effective at raising cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself is. Polyunsaturated fat (P) lowers cholesterol levels; however, it takes twice as much polyunsaturated fat to cancel the effects of a given amount of saturated fat. A P/S ratio less than 2/1 will raise cholesterol while a ratio of more than 2/1 will lower cholesterol. All meat and dairy products have a poor P/S ratio as do coconuts. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hickory nuts all have high P/S ratios, with black walnuts topping the list at a ratio of 10.33/1. When polyunsaturated fats are hydrogenated, such as in margarine and shortening, they raise LDL cholesterol levels. Mono-unsaturated fats tend to raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Olive oil is a notable source of this type of fat. Even though unsaturated fats have a favorable effect on cholesterol levels, they should be used in moderation.
The type of protein consumed also affects cholesterol levels. Animal protein increases blood cholesterol levels while plant protein decreases it. See chart on page 18.
Eight Keys to Heart Disease
There are eight keys to preventing, treating, and reversing heart disease. They are so effective that if every American followed them 90 percent of heart attacks could be prevented.
1. Reduce blood cholesterol. Levels less than 150 mg/dl will reduce the risk of heart attack by 60 to 90 percent.
2. Eat a plant-based diet. All the cholesterol we eat comes from animal products; plant foods contain no cholesterol. To remove all cholesterol from the diet all animal products must be eliminated.
3. Increase dietary fiber. It absorbs cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it
4. Decrease blood levels of fat. Sugar, fat, and alcohol increase the amount of fat in the blood. Fat promotes plaque buildup in the arteries and stimulates the blood to clot, increasing the risk of heart disease.
5. Stop smoking. Over a period of five years this will reduce your risk of heart attack by 50 to 75 percent.
6. Start a regular aerobic exercise program. This raises MDL so effectively it can reduce the risk of heart disease by over 45 percent in those who are unfit.
7. Reach and maintain your ideal body weight. Losing weight can cut heart disease risk by 35 to 55 percent in those who are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight.
8. Reduce blood pressure. A ten-point reduction in blood pressure reduces heart disease risk 20 to 30 percent in those with high blood pressure.
Many people have experienced very good results from implementing these principles. As artery blockage reverses, angina pains have cleared up, and an active normal life has again become possible.
Note: All material taken from Nedley N. Proof Positive Ardmore. OK, Neil Nedley M .D. 1999 pp. 55-90.
Cancer is the number two killer in this country. More than 1500 people a day die from cancer--the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing each day, every day. These are appalling statistics, especially since many cancers are preventable. Currently, one in every two men and one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their lives.1
The American Cancer Society defines cancer as "a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells." In a healthy body the immune system quickly identifies and destroys cancer cells when they first occur, but the typical American lifestyle and diet predispose the body to develop cancer by introducing carcinogens to the body and handicapping the immune system.
Adopting a cancer protective lifestyle can reduce your risk by up to 90 percent.2 Here are seven suggestions for success:
1. Avoid factors that favor cancer development. Use of tobacco and alcohol play a part in about 44 percent of all cancers. Meat and dairy products, excess fat, sugar, cholesterol, and sunshine have all been linked to one or more kinds of cancer. Other cancer causing agents have been found in coffee, chocolate3, asbestos, wood dust, and a host of toxic chemicals from deodorant sprays to pesticides.
2. Eat a proper diet. A high-fiber low-protein diet featuring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables has many cancer-inhibiting components.
3. Eat regular meals with nothing between them except water. Research shows that those eating four meals a day have double the risk of colon and rectal cancer as compared to those who eat only two meals per day.
4. Exercise daily. This will enhance your immunity, improve circulation and digestion, and reduce stress. Physical inactivity increases the risk of various kinds of cancer 30 to 80 percent
5. Obtain moderate sun exposure. It enhances the immune system and decreases the risk of various kinds of cancer. Vitamin D, produced by sunlight on the skin, suppresses abnormal cell growth.
6. Maintain proper weight. Excess body weight can increase cancer risk by as much as 55 percent.
7. Learn stress control. Stress depresses the immune system and is a major risk factor in cancer development.
Many people have experienced a slowing down or complete disappearance of tumor growth by making these adjustments. Lifestyle changes should be a part of any cancer treatment and maintenance program.
1. American Cancer Society website: http://www.caneer.org/ cancerinfo/sitecentcr.asp.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as "the silent killer" because there are often no symptoms. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of Americans have this condition, and about half of them don't know it.1 This is serious; hypertension is associated with stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attack, atherosclerosis, aneurysm, kidney disease, disease of the retina, blood vessel rupture, and weakened memory and mental ability.
There are two main categories of high blood pressure: secondary hypertension is caused by other diseases and subsides when these are treated; primary hypertension accounts for 90 percent of all cases of high blood pressure and is due to lifestyle factors and inherited susceptibility. It responds well to lifestyle changes. These need to be made under a doctor's supervision if a person is taking a blood pressure lowering drug.
The following are some methods to lower blood pressure:
1. Lose weight. Obesity is one of the most important contributors to high blood pressure. Sixty to seventy percent of hypertension is directly attributed to increased body fat.
2. Utilize a low-salt diet. The body must raise the blood pressure to enable the kidneys to cope with a high salt intake. Don't assume that just because you have taken the salt shaker off the table you are on a low salt diet. Eighty percent of our salt comes hidden in processed foods. Read the labels; educate yourself on how much salt is in the foods you eat, and make a specific plan to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg/day.
3. Eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. All of these substantially raise the blood pressure.
4. Learn to control stress. The stress response in the body raises the blood pressure, and unrelieved stress keeps it high. Overwork and worry are major contributors to hypertension.
5. Adopt an aerobic exercise program such as brisk walking. Exercise at least 3 days a week for 45 minutes. Exercise strengthens the heart and enables it to pump more efficiently. A regular exercise program significantly reduces blood pressure.
6. Eat oatmeal and green leafy vegetables. These have been shown to reduce blood pressure.3
1. The fifth report of the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, (JNC V) Arch. Intern. Med., 1993 Jan 25;153(2): 154-183.
In spite of the recent news hype purporting to show benefits from moderate drinking, alcohol is a dangerous poison. In the U.S. it is the second most deadly drug, coming right after tobacco. An estimated 100,000 Americans die prematurely every year due to its use.
Even the moderate use of alcohol can inflict widespread damage to both the individual's health and society.
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency says, "Alcohol is closely linked with virtually every negative aspect of society: suicide, violent crime, birth defects, industrial accidents, domestic and sexual abuse, disease, homelessness, and death. It is the number one drug problem for people from all walks of life. It knows no racial, ethnic, social, or economic barriers."
What about the studies cited by the media showing that alcohol is good for your heart? Studies show that red wine increases blood flow by making the blood's clotting cells, the platelets, less sticky. Research shows, however, that it is not the alcohol that gives this benefit but substances, called flavonoids, found in grapes, as well as many other fruits, vegetables, and grains. Grape juice without alcohol gives the same effect. It has never been demonstrated that a person living a healthy lifestyle gains any additional benefit from alcohol.
There is one tiny health benefit from alcohol. It increases HDL (good) cholesterol, but so do some pesticides. The harm outweighs any benefit.
Considering the numerous health and social problems associated with the use of alcohol, drinking is not a wise choice. Try an alcohol time out for thirty days. If you can't live without it you need to determine whether you are its master or its slave.
The Alcoholics Anonymous organization helps men and women who want to overcome the alcohol addiction. You can find their number listed in the local telephone book. Their buddy system and 12 step program can help you.*
*Some of the withdrawal symptoms font alcohol or drugs can be life threatening and should be monitored by a professional.
In 1979, the U.S. public health service called smoking, "The largest single preventable cause of illness and premature death in the United States?" Tobacco is the only legal product in the U.S. that, when used correctly, kills one out of every four of those who use it. Tobacco is responsible for the death of over 450,000 Americans per year--more than all who die from AIDS, illicit thugs, fires, car crashes, and homicides combined.1
Tobacco leads to a variety of painful and terminal illnesses. The greatest number of smoking-related deaths are from heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Two of the more frightening diseases associated with smoking are emphysema and Buerger's disease. Emphysema is a progressive disease in which the lungs are slowly destroyed, resulting in slow suffocation. Buerger's disease, which is characterized by the clogging and inflammation of the capillaries cuts off the blood supply and can result in gangrene of the fingers and toes.
Even if tobacco doesn't kill you outright, some of the non-lethal effects are just as bad. It weakens the bones and is a risk factor for back pain; it causes impotence and premature menopause; it accelerates hair graying, skin wrinkling, loss of vision, and decreased physical capacity. Cancer treatment can be painful and disfiguring; a heart attack on stroke can leave you disabled.
You have a great deal to gain by kicking the habit: longer life, more energy, fewer medical expenses--and the air is fresher, breathing is easier, food is more flavorful, money goes farther, you smell better, and so do the flowers.
Kicking the Tobacco Habit
It is not an easy task to quit smoking. The 1988 Surgeon General's report revealed that nicotine is six to eight times more addictive than alcohol. Yet since 1964, 44 million Americans have stopped smoking. Most have kicked the habit on their own; however, the chances of success are up to five times higher for those who attend a seminar such as the Breathe Free Plan to Stop Smoking, one of the most successful smoking cessation programs ever presented, with over 20 million graduates worldwide.
An addiction to tobacco is both psychological and physical. Some of the classic withdrawal symptoms are: nicotine craving, rapid mood swings, tremors, intestinal problems, headaches, increased smoker's cough as the lungs clean themselves, sleep disturbances, hunger, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, frustration or anger, dizziness, and nausea. The average person experiences about five of these symptoms when he or she makes a complete break with cigarettes. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms are usually over within the first 24-72 hours, and all physical symptoms should be completely gone at the end of four weeks.
Here are some things you can do to help take the misery out of quitting.
McGinnis, JM; Foege, WH. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA 1993 Nov 10:270(18):2207-2212.
Habits & Addictions
Whenever the issue of a change in lifestyle comes up, whether it is losing weight, quitting a harmful habit, or trying to get enough rest or exercise, many people know what they need to do but can't seem to find either the desire or the will power to do it.
When we repeat an action over and over the brain changes and makes a "pathway" so it is easier to do that action again without thinking about it. The only way to change the habit is to form a new "pathway" that is stronger than the old one. Many people find that it takes approximately three weeks to form a new habit. Unfortunately, the old pathway never goes away so the chance of falling back into the old habit is always present.
Addictions have several common characteristics, one of which is the loss of control. Any habit that is not fully under your command is an addiction.
The primary methods for dealing with a habit or an addiction are the same:
While these techniques have their place, some of us have a willpower so weak that all the methods in the world will not be enough. We can no more change our behavior than we can increase our height or change the color of our skin through willpower alone. We love our habit even while we hate the effects it has on us.
What can you do when you realize that you are truly helpless and enslaved--when you have tried everything and have given up on yourself! That is just the place where God can work with you. Give Him a chance, put the whole matter in His capable hands, and relinquish yourself to His control.
Experience of an Addict
In spite of the fact that I was raised in a good Christian home, by the time I entered high school I was caught in a web of addiction from which I could not free myself. This activity didn't seem like a big deal. It gave me pleasure and helped me cope with the stress and pain in my life. But since my parents did not approve of this habit, I soon learned to lie and hide what I was doing from everyone around me. I withdrew from the society of others as much as possible, and began spending every spare minute I could by myself, lost to the rest of the world, satisfying my craving. I didn't develop any friends or learn to interact with other people. My addiction became the sum total of my life. I loved it, lived for it, spent every penny I made on it, and when I was engaged in other activities I wasn't really there--I was trying to figure out how to slip away and indulge my habit.
I realized quite early that I was enslaved; I had a very small inkling of the damage it was doing to me and the conflicts it was causing in my life. I tried to quit a number of times, but when the stress and pain of life got to be too much for me I'd be back at it again. It was my comfort, and my only resource for coping with life. I hated myself for being so weak but realized I was completely helpless.
While in this state of mind a thought came to me, "You have never given God a chance." I figured I had nothing to lose, so I said, "God, I don't even know if You exist, but I'm willing to give You a try. If You will take complete responsibility for removing this habit, I will surrender myself to You and spend ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening with You trying to learn who You are?' I kept my side of the bargain. Every day I would give myself and my problem to Him and leave it in His hands. I didn't dwell on it or fight it. I spent my energy getting to know Him. Several months later I realized I had been free for weeks and the desire was gone. I had been recreated a new person who was no longer a slave.
Years have gone by; at times I have lost my focus on Jesus and my connection with Him. Then my old nature returned and 1 resumed my old ways.
But my God is so gracious! He takes me back, recreates me, and puts me back on the right path. My relationship with Him is far more valuable than wealth or honor, praise or possessions, and I don't ever want to trade it for anything, lose it, or neglect it again.
BAB--An addict, free by the grace of God.
Diabetes is a serious condition that occurs when the body becomes unable to use glucose (sugar), which builds up to dangerous levels in the blood. High blood sugar levels damage the body in a number of ways. Life expectancy is shortened by 5 to 10 years or more. The risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, foot and leg amputations, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy, and breast and uterine cancer is increased. It is estimated that sixteen million Americans are diabetic, and one third are unaware of it.1
There are two types of diabetes. Juvenile onset diabetes--called Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes--is the more severe form. Adult-onset diabetes--called Type II or noninsulin dependent diabetes--is more common. Both have problems with insulin, the substance which acts as the "key" to open the "door" of each body cell to let glucose enter and fuel the cell. Type I diabetics do not produce enough insulin and must have regular shots, or they will die. Type II diabetics have a less severe underproduction of insulin, and/or an insulin resistant condition, in which the cells do not respond to it. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood while the cells starve. Type II diabetes is usually the result of a genetic predisposition coupled with obesity, a diet high in fat, and too little exercise.
The good news is that diabetes can often be controlled by lifestyle modifications. If a person is receiving medication, these changes must be made in consultation with a doctor, since medications will need to be lowered quickly--sometimes within a matter of hours.
Here are some recommended changes.
1. Avoid dietary fats. They are the mainfactor responsible for making cells unresponsive to insulin.2 Studies show that a 65 percent fat diet will induce diabetes in less than two weeks.3
2. Lose weight. Obesity is one of the primary reasons cells become insulin resistant. Losing weight makes the cells more responsive, and this alone will cure many Type II diabetics.4
3. Exercise regularly. Physical inactivity contributes to the development of insulin resistance. Regular exercise enhances the cell's ability to use insulin.5 Regular exercise is critical for the diabetic and for those at high risk of developing the disease because of excess weight or genetic predisposition.
4. Avoid things that aggravate the problem. Refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol unbalance insulin production and blood sugar levels. High blood pressure, acetaminophen, and excess protein facilitate kidney deterioration.6
5. Eat a proper diet. The American Diabetic Association now recommends a diet low in fat, moderate in protein, and containing complex carbohydrates such as beans, vegetables and grains. The fiber found in such foods is a critical ingredient in the control of blood sugar. Even fruit can be handled in this kind of diet if eaten unrefined and in moderation.
6. Space meals appropriately. Five to seven meals have often been prescribed for diabetics, but eating frequent meals raises absolute blood sugar levels 10 to 15 percent. On a low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrate most people can easily maintain adequate blood glucose levels with three or even two meals a day. Mealtimes should be regular, with at least five hours between meals, and no snacks. The evening meal can be omitted or kept very light. This will also help with weight loss! Ask your doctor to adjust your insulin injections as needed.
7. Harness the benefits of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight lowers blood sugar by stimulating its storage in the muscles and liver. Diabetics are benefitted by getting moderate amounts of sunshine, but lengthy sunbathing is not recommended.
Thousands of people have been successful in bringing this disease under control. Begin today to follow these simple suggestions, and you too will lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and achieve the mastery over diabetes.
1. American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/ada/facts.asp.
Osteoporosis is a gradual and painless condition in which bones become more brittle because of mineral loss and structural deterioration. It affects one in every three women over fifty years of age worldwide. Most are not aware of it until they suffer a fracture--most commonly of the hip, wrist or back bones. These fractures can significantly affect the quality of life, and may cause premature death from complications such as pneumonia.
Because calcium is the main mineral lost in osteoporosis, it has been thought that high calcium intake would reduce bone loss. However, research has not borne this out. Instead it shows that high protein intake from meat and dairy sources robs calcium from the bones, even when calcium supplements are being taken.1 Interestingly, higher consumption of vegetable protein does not appear to be related to osteoporosis or bone fractures.2 See p. 5 A Diet of Excess for more information on the calcium protein connection.
There are some lifestyle factors that help to significantly protect against osteoporosis:
1. Nutrition. The optimum plan for this condition is a vegetarian diet low in protein with a moderate calcium intake from plant sources. It has been found that humans can assimilate calcium as well or better from plants than from dairy products.3 The body also uses calcium to process excess salt and phosphorus. Watch out for foods that introduce high amounts of phosphates into the diet without providing the necessary calcium to process them. Such foods include soda pop, meat, and dairy products.
2. Exercise. Studies show that lack of exercise is a risk factor in osteoporosis. The bones need to be pushed, pulled and stressed against gravity to retain their minerals. Bone density can be increased by a daily exercise program.4
3. Sunlight. Inadequate levels of vitamin D have been associated with osteoporosis.5 Sunlight stimulates the body to convert cholesterol into vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D supplements are not as effective.
4. Abstention. Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine consumption increase the risk of osteoporosis!6
1.NE; Alcautara, EN; Linksisder, H; Effect of level of protein intake on urinary and fecal calcium and calcium retention of young male adults J. Nutr. 1970 Dec;100(12): 1425-1430.
Obesity is one of America's greatest health problems. It lays the foundation for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes as well as numerous other problems like osteoarthritis, back pain, fatigue and low self esteem. Every extra pound takes about one month from your life span. Sixty extra pounds can cost you five years. Excess fat has such a direct correlation to health that every pound lost or gained makes a difference.
Losing weight has become a national obsession. We spend billions of dollars each year on quick-fix fads, diets, and weight loss pills. The sad fact is that most are useless and some are actually quite dangerous. Programs that include a diuretic are essentially forcing the body to shed some of its much-needed water. A protein overdose will do practically the same thing. The body uses a lot of water to wash the waste products from excess protein out of the system. These diets can cause impressive weight loss in a short time. However losing weight by forcing water from the system is dangerous and ineffective, since the body replaces the water as fast as it can.
"Starvation" diets that provide less than 500 calories per day become counterproductive if kept up for more than two or three days. The body then figures out the food has stopped and conserves energy by lowering the metabolism--the rate at which you burn calories. It then begins to consume the parts of the body that use the most energy—the muscles. When you come off the diet with less muscle and a much lowered metabolism you will gain weight more readily than before. Remaining overweight would be more healthful than the repeated weight-loss/weight-gain cycles that gradually deplete muscle and replace it with fat tissue, making further weight loss nearly impossible.
The only weight loss program that will have a permanent effect is one that involves permanent lifestyle changes.
The weight puzzle solved
The basic problem in obesity is too many calories. Whenever more calories are consumed than the body can use, it stores them as fat. Every 3,500 extra calories equals another pound of stored fat. There are two strategies to combat the problem: reduce the number of calories coming in and increase the number of calories you burn.
A successful and healthy weight loss program will provide adequate energy and nutrition, and also be something you can make a permanent part of your life.
To successfully lose weight more calories must be burned than are consumed, and that means increased exercise and activity. Exercise burns calories in several ways.
Those who choose to build muscle as a means of getting rid of fat may not see much weight change initially, since muscle tissue weighs three times more than fat tissue. Yet they will find their body composition changing--fat will be lost and inches will gradually disappear. It is not uncommon for men to report going down a pants size and women going down two dress sizes while their total weight actually increases as they build muscle. See Exercise essentials p. 6.
Tips for success
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Created: 12/31/01 Updated: 5/13/04