Prevention is always the best way to stave off disease.
Yet, habits, lifestyle and compliance to medical treatment often negate most preventive measures. New statistics show that 70% of deaths in the United States are caused by chronic disease, of which most of the worst ones are preventable. Changing perspectives, habits and lifestyle can be difficult without some guidance. Today I’d like to share a simple outlook of actions I like to call a “Wellness Trifecta” for changing your health and not becoming one of the preventable death statistics.
The scary statistics
According to a recent data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 7 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. result from chronic diseases and the treatment of these diseases accounts for over 85% of U.S. health costs. “About half of health expenditures in the United States are accounted for by 5% of patients, yet many chronic conditions are preventable,” they note.
But all the medical establishment puts forth is more access to “new potential preventive services, such as immunizations, screening tests and chemoprophylaxis.”
In my estimation, such screenings and so forth can help identify chronic disease and generate a course of treatment before it has been left to become chronic. But this is not really the answer to prevention of the disease.
Prevention is always the best medicine. Early screenings are also important, but must accompany a shift in how we live; not just allow for poor health behaviors by identifying their disease at onset.
Years ago I came up with a simple three-part process for embracing prevention and changing from a life headed towards chronic disease to a vibrant one. It’s simple and anyone can come to embrace it.
The gist is this: illness and disease need an environment in which to blossom, so if you change your internal environment (your physiology), you can create a wellness base that is not suitable for most diseases to take hold. It’s as easy as being mindful of:
- What you think in your body
- What you put into your body
- And what you do with your body
Let’s take a deeper look.
What you think in your body
What you think — as in the thoughts you have — directly affects your body and its functions.
Negative, angry, hurtful, spiteful and worrisome thoughts trigger the stress response, and can also lead to anxiety and depression. A host of bio-chemicals and hormones course through your body when these kinds of thoughts are active and keep you in a constant fight or flight holding pattern.
Not only do your thoughts change your body, they also create your worldview and wellness outlook. When you are in pain, can you get up and walk or exercise? That depends on how you view your pain situation: what you think you are able to do and how you perceive the outcome of trying. If you go ahead with positive action, you can reap positive effect. But it you allow worry and fear and anxiety to hold you back, your pain can go from acute to chronic and forever change how you live your life.
What you think also triggers moods wherein you will consume more “comfort foods” and over or under eat. You may not feel like getting out of bed. You may have lowered feelings of self-worth or feel helpless to change your situation. What you think affects our body for better and worse. If you choose better, you can do better within the next two areas, too. If you choose worse, you will fail.
What you put into your body
We are talking here of diet in its broadest sense… not just eating to lose weight, but about consuming foods that can alter your biochemistry, hormones, create chronic inflammation and lead to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Most Americans eat a very low quality diet. I’m not just talking about fast food, but also of eating too much food that with too little nutritive content — foods like processed breads, donuts and pasta; fruit packaged in syrups; low quality meats and poultry raised with antibiotics and fed on GMO corn; foods and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners; and of course, soda, alcohol and tobacco products.
All of these have a direct negative impact on your health and on creating an internal environment ripe for illness and chronic disease. Putting unhealthy things into your body can lower your immune system, create chronic low-grade inflammation, cause lung cancer and liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic headaches, fibromyalgia and so much more.
You must instead learn to embrace a nutrient-dense, highly-nourishing diet that supports immune function, cellular vibrancy, mental clarity and energy. What you consume can both prevent and cause chronic disease and illness.
What you do with your body
The third part of this wellness trifecta is getting up and moving your body.
Nothing beats exercise, yet even small and easy changes to movement create physiological changes. We have become a nation of sitters, being seated on the couch, dinner table, office desk, car or even out at a spectator event. Sitting for too long is linked to shortened lifespan and also causes a number of problems.
Structurally, the human body is meant to be standing and moving, not sitting in a fixed position. That is why we have different types of joints (e.g., hinge, ball and socket). Every part of the body is designed and meant to move in its full range of motion. And when you sit and type or drive all day, it creates an environment of stiffness and weak muscles. Our connective tissue, because of lack of movement, becomes sticky and adheres like scar tissue, causing limited range of motion and pain.
It is essential to disease prevention to get up and exercise several days per week. Heart disease, diabetes, headaches, fibromyalgia and obesity are all proven to improve and even be reversed with exercise. And as preventive measure, standing up from your desk every hour and walking across the room, rotating your wrist, elbow, shoulder, hips, knees and ankles once an hour, too, can also vastly improve the way your body functions and reduce pain, stiffness and help prevent chronic disease.
Science has proven that most of the deadliest diseases we face are preventable. And the best way to prevent them is to work toward changing these three areas of your life: What you think, what you consume and what you do with your body. Try incorporating one of these changes per week for three weeks and see how much easier life can become, and how much better you will feel in the process.
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