I recently had a conversation with a patient who is struggling with some health issues. He has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, is suffering with anxiety, battling some depression, and is tired all the time. A visit with his medical doctor left him with four prescriptions for four different medications. He was frustrated and did not want to start taking all those drugs.
Things have changed at his job, including working much longer hours, being unable to keep up, and a likelihood of getting laid off. He also felt no passion for his job and hated going every day. He told me that he knew his health problems stemmed from work. He then asked me what I thought he should do.
He said he did not want to take the medicine and asked if he should take some type of nutritional supplement, see other specialists, have more medical testing, and even asked if a new pillow or mattress would help. I reminded him that he told me that he knew his problems stemmed from his job. If that’s the case, then there is really only one solution… fix the job situation!
Most of us know what is causing our problems, yet we seek out solutions in all the wrong places. If there is a particular thing that is causing your health issues, then no matter what else you do, unless you address that specific thing, you will never get well.
We now know that more than 80% of all deaths are due to what has been termed diseases of lifestyle. Also referred to as diseases of civilization, these diseases of lifestyle are health conditions that are directly related to, and caused by, our lifestyle choices. This means that the food we eat (and the amount of it), our inactivity, our exposure to known toxins in our environment, stress, and of course smoking and alcohol consumption, are responsible for most of the illness plaguing Americans today.
The top three most common causes of death in 1900 were pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. These and other communicable diseases caused 60% of all deaths. Heart disease and cancer, which were then much rarer, now account for most deaths in the U.S. Not only are preventable chronic illnesses causing more deaths, they are wreaking havoc on the quality of lives.
Lifestyle diseases include the big ones, like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but also include metabolic syndrome, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis. Obesity is also listed as a disease of lifestyle, but I would classify that as an outcome of our poor lifestyle, and a major contributor to all of the above listed conditions.
So, if we know that our lifestyle is the leading cause of sickness and disease, then the solution has to be improved lifestyle. If you are suffering from any chronic illness and searching desperately for a solution, trying anything you can, and wondering what you have to do to get well, nothing you do will correct your problem if your problem is due to your lifestyle choices, unless it involves improving your lifestyle choices and behavior.
It stinks to think that the food you eat, the amount you move, the stress you’re under, and the toxins you are surrounded by every day may be the very cause of your condition. But wait a minute… This is the best news you could receive, because it means improvement in your condition is not out of your control after all. You don’t have to rely on doctors, dangerous drugs, risky surgery, and questionable tests. The answer could be right there in front of you.
So, if the cause of my patient’s suffering is his work, then unless he changes jobs or better handles his work, he will remain sick, and get sicker. How about you? Are you struggling with some form of chronic illness? Odds are lifestyle choices are a factor. You’ve got nothing to lose by improving your lifestyle choices, and a world of great health to gain!