Turning the Clock Back 14 Years

Turning the Clock Back 14 Years

September 26, 2019 32 By Ewald Bahringer


“Turning the Clock Back 14 Years” In 1903, Thomas Edison
predicted that the doctor of the future
would give no medicine, but would instead
instruct their patient in the care of
the human frame in diet and in the cause and
prevention of disease. A hundred and
one years later, the American College of
Lifestyle Medicine was born. We still prescribe drugs
when necessary, but our emphasis, is based
on the understanding that the leading causes of
disability in the United States, and the leading
causes of death are caused mostly
by lifestyle, particularly what we put in our mouth: food and cigarettes. An impressive number of
studies have shown that lifestyle is the root cause
of what ails us. The good news, though, is that
by changing our lifestyle we can dramatically
improve our health. We have the power. For most leading causes of
death we’ve long known that our genes account for
at most 10 to 20% of risk, given the fact that
rates of killers like heart disease
and major cancers differ up to a 100-fold
among various populations and that when people migrate
from low-risk to high-risk countries, their disease rates almost
always change to those of the
new environment. For example, at least 70% of strokes
and colon cancer are avoidable, over 80% of coronary
heart disease, over 90% of type 2
diabetes, avoidable. So maybe it’s time we
stop blaming our genes and focus on the 70% plus
under our control. That may be the real solution
to the health care crisis. And it doesn’t
take much. Adhering to just four simple
healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the
prevention of chronic diseases: not smoking,
not being obese, half hour of exercise a day,
and eating healthier— like more fruits, veggies,
whole grains, less meat. Four simple things cut our risk of
developing a chronic disease by 78%. 95% of diabetes risk
out the window, 80% of heart attack risk – gone! Half of stroke risk, a third of
cancer risk – simply gone. Think of what that means
in terms of the numbers. As it stands now, each year
a million Americans experiences their first
heart attack or stroke, a million get diabetes,
a million get cancer. If we clean up our act,
we actually get to live longer too? The CDC followed about
8,000 Americans 20 years or older for
about six years. They found that three cardinal
lifestyle behaviors exerted an enormous
impact on mortality. People who do not smoke,
consume a healthy diet, and engage in sufficient physical activity can substantially reduce
their risk of early death. And by not smoking they just
meant not currently smoking. By “healthy diet” they just meant
in the top 40% in terms of complying with the rather wimpy
Federal dietary guidelines. And physically active meant averaging
about 21 minutes a day or more of at least moderate exercise. Those that managed at
least one of the three had a 40% lower
risk of dying. Those that hit
two out of three cut their chances of dying
more than half, and those that
scored all three, flushed 82% of their chances of dying
in those six years down the drain! What does that mean in terms
of how much longer we get to live? A similar study on health
behaviors and survival didn’t just take people’s word on
how healthy they were eating, they measured the level of
vitamin C in people’s blood, as a biomarker for how many
plants people were eating. And the drop in mortality
risk in those nailing all four healthy
behaviors was equivalent to being 14 years younger. It’s like turning back
the clock 14 years.