In 1840, as the new industrial cities grew from populations of 50,000 to millions, the result was high death rates. All these people crowded in cities with no water systems and no idea about why bad water made you ill, set up the conditions for Choera and Typhoid. In London, at the time, life expectancy dropped to 22! But once we understood the mechanism for this kind of infection, great public works conquered cholera and made it possible to live in big cities. By 1900, 8 million people lived in London and few if any got cholera.
We are confronted by the same kind of problem today but this time the villain is chronic illness.
Once again, a new part of our culture, industrial food and our work culture, has inadvertently put millions of us at risk. Not from a quick death but from a lingering one.
With chronic illness the issue is not death but long term disability. This is what this looks like today: (source NPR)
Nearly all of these problems are caused by lifestyle.
14 million American are on this chart. In some parts of America, 40% of the adult population are included. In Canada, the average man is disabled by 65 and lives another 10 years. The average woman is disabled by 70 and then also lives another 10 years.
These people cannot work. Many have to be looked after by their adult children. Most have to be looked after by the state. The direct cost is $240 billion. Who can know what the indirect cost may be? (More here from NPR)
Because all of this is caused by lifestyle, medicine cannot help. In most cases medicine makes this all worse. For medicine can only treat the symptoms not the root causes.
For instance, Type 2 Diabetes is caused by our diet. Unless diet is dealt with, there can be no improvement. But your doctor deals with T2D by putting you on insulin. In time, your insulin resistance will break through and you will get even sicker.
On PEI, adults in 2006 with diabetes had to be hospitalized much more often than those without it. 16 times more often for lower limb amputations. 6 times more often with kidney disease. They had 5 times more heart attacks. 4 times more heart failure. 3 times more strokes. They stayed 3 times longer in hospital. Had 2 times more visits to physicians and 2 times more to specialists.
Most diabetics don’t just take one medication, but several. A typical regimen for an adult diabetic after a couple of years of treat- ment and following the dietary advice of the American Diabetes Association includes Metformin, Januvia, and Actos, a triple-drug treatment that costs around $420 per month. Two forms of insulin (slow- and fast-acting), along with two or three oral medications, is not at all uncommon.
None of this medical intervention works to stop the disability! None of this addresses the root cause. Your Doctor is not paid to help you change your life. He is paid to give you a pill or to amputate your leg. Nearly every item on the chart is lifestyle related.
Back Pain is a result of stress caused by lack of control. A pain reliever or back surgery can make no difference. Heart disease is caused by diet and lifestyle. Depression is caused by diet and by mental habits. Anti depressants cannot help over time. Even many cancers have their cause rooted in lifestyle.
What often makes things worse is that, once we take medication for one thing, this drives side effects that open up another pathway of chronic illness. What makes it even worse still is the nature of chronic illness itself. All of them are rooted in one cause, inflammation. So if you have one expression of it, then more will emerge as you get weaker.
The disease spreads and the costs grow exponentially.
Some states already have 40% of adults now disabled. What will happen when this is a national figure? We expect that Type 2 diabetes will be at 30% soon.
And what about you and me? It is one thing to think about this as something that will happen to other people. But it won't. It will be the fate of most people who live the modern life. How will YOU cope when you go down this path? Who will look after you? Will this be your daughter's inheritance? Do you really want to condemn her to this? How will you afford to live like this for a decade or more? Do you have a lot of savings? Most Americans have almost none.
This is why I have written my new book - You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy. I hope to publish it in early April. I am in the proof reading phase right now.
It is a practical manual that will help you find the root causes of chronic illness and help you take control so that you can either avoid it or if you have it get better. For there is no pill or treatment for diet, for lack of sleep, for lack of control, for lack of activity. Only we can change these parts of our lives.
This book is a practical manual of how to live so that you reduce your risks of chronic illness. You can buy it here for $2.99 on Amazon
We are entering the age of Personal Health. Like media, we will shift the focus away from the institutions to ourselves. Here is Larry Smarr who is on the leading edge of this movement.
Join the health revolution of our time - take back your power and your financial future.