Health is changing in a drastic way lately. There is much discussion as the causes of increasing chronic illnesses and early disability. Even in colonial days the average American was healthier than they are today. Surprisingly, the current generation may not live longer than the previous generations. What most physicians fail to discuss with their patients, partly because they do not know or understand, are the three pillars of poor health: degenerative disease, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Degenerative disease has the hallmark of slow progression and long duration. Well known diseases are: heart disease, cancer, stroke; but also arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. In essence, chronic degenerative diseases such as these cause early debilitation, even if you can live a long life. It’s like being a prisoner in your own body. Unable to move or perform the way you used to.
Oxidative stress is a state where the body is exposed to molecules that have unpaired electrons, better known as free radicals. Free radicals create an activated energy state, making the molecule highly reactive chemically. They cause damage and destruction to bodily tissues. A good example of this is the effect of oxidation of lipids (fat molecules). Free radicals cause the lipid to undergo oxidation, leading to oxidized lipids that then attack otherwise normal cells, like the blood vessels, leading to plaque build-up, which then is a prelude to a heart attack (blockage of blood vessels).
Lastly, inflammation is the cascading effects as a result of chemical proteins such as: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), fibrinogen, homocysteine, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). If these sound foreign to you, they should as most people do not know of these, either. These biochemical markers are kind of like setting your body on fire chemically. Conditions that chronic inflammation can cause are: allergies, fibromyalgia, lupus (SLE), psoriasis, anemia, irritable bowel disorder, and many more conditions.
Combining degenerative disease, oxidative stress and inflammation is the herald to shorter life or a debilitated life (living longer but unable to do anything). A good analogy is like a car that is missing one wheel, low on gas, rusting body, clogged fuel injectors, broken radiator, and so on. The clanky car may run and get you to where you want to go, but not so easily or comfortably.
Is there any good news? Yes! With proper nutrition, micronutrient supplementation, certain types of physical activity, many of the chronic disease can be alleviated or greatly reduced. Current physician prescribed medications only act as a band-aid to relieve symptoms, they do not fix anything. Stop taking the medication, and the problem returns. The only question left to ask is, “how clanky is your car?”, that is, your human body?