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Recognizing Causes of Chronic Illness
Part 1 of Prevention: Identifying Preventable Causes of Chronic Illness
Let me first start by disclaiming I am not a doctor (thank God) and I cannot guarantee results or give medical advice. If you have severe issues, I am well out of my scope of knowledge and practice to help you.
With that being said, as a fitness coach/trainer, preventative medicine is the name of our game.
Most chronic illness is completely preventable. Millions of people die a year for causes that lifestyle changes could have prevented.
I care about each one of you and your families, so I will do my best to provide you with information and protocols to ensure you are not a statistic.
We have to look at what the leading causes of deaths are and we can start to draw conclusions and come up with solutions to prevent these issues.
The 5 Leading Causes of Death in the USA are:
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
The largest contributing factor to every single one of these is obesity. Obesity is estimated to increase the cardiovascular mortality rate 4-fold and the cancer-related mortality rate 2-fold. As a group, people who are severely obese have a 6- to 12-fold increase in the all-cause mortality rate.
So if we are to breakdown what we can do to improve our odds of not only living longer, but having a higher quality of life, the first thing we should look at is what *not* to do.
Addition Through Subtraction
It’s quite simple, if we want to prevent the chronic illness, we should prevent the things that cause them.
This will actually be the biggest factor in avoiding future issues, mitigating our risk factors.
One that really sticks out to me, and is concerning, is cigarette smoking.
Cigarettes are bad, this is not rocket science, but it seems that smoking has been made “cool” again on social media. This is dumb, think for yourself. Use an ounce of common sense.
Yes, some will bring up that some of the data on smoking is biased, and it is. But do not even think for a second that it is not detrimental to your health. It is one of the worst things you can voluntarily do to your health.
Alcohol is another simple, easy subtraction that will eliminate a plethora of health issues. We know that it’s just essentially toxic to the body and mind.
Limiting alcohol is the easiest and quickest way to avoid a plethora of health issues.
Which leads us to diet and exercise. This is the second highest contribution to early death - eating too much while moving too little. Subtracting excess food and implementing more activity into our daily life will increase our chances of living longer, healthier lives.
These are the most important “take control of your life” factors that I can’t stress enough. We want to be eating intelligently—meaning we know what we’re putting in our body and why.
This doesn’t mean we have to eat boring, bland foods or think of food only as fuel (though that’s mostly what it is), but we should be cognizant of what we’re consuming - cooking your own food helps here.
All while implementing activities: walking, lifting weights, forms of cardio, playing sports with your kids, walking your dog, etc. Something to get your blood flowing and keeping activity levels consistent.
What Metrics Matter
When it comes to our health, and in this context, when we refer to “health” we are referring to overall wellness in terms of metrics we can monitor.
Things like fasted glucose, lipid profiles, blood pressure and waist size can help you determine where you’re at with your fitness and lifestyle. They paint the bulk of the picture.
The metrics we have nearly complete control over:
Things that can enhance our lipid profile include supplementation of: Krill Oil, Citrus Bergamot, Curcumin, and Green Tea. Each of these have cardiovascular benefits and can improve overall cardiovascular health.
Blood Pressure can be mitigated by a number of things—mostly things already mentioned like cutting out alcohol and cigarettes, exercising regularly and eating intelligently. Supplementation can also be beneficial here, but that’s what it is - supplementation.
We can control insulin sensitivity by: 1. use carbs intelligently (fuel training) 2. More muscle = more sensitive 3. Use berberine with higher carb meals and 4. Lower our stress.
The best way to improve your body composition will be eating a respectable diet—high in protein, adequate fats & quality carbs—and staying active whether that’s through strength training or simply walking.
Energy metabolism or how your body burns calories during the day will be a major health marker. This also ties into insulin sensitivity as insulin resistance, which causes diabetes, is a metabolic disorder.
As you can see, all of these tie together, and generally, maintaining a healthy body composition and eating a proper diet will eliminate most risk factors.
So obviously I have screamed until my face turned blue about bloodwork. Every 6 months at a minimum. This is the easiest and most efficient way to identify most issues.
This is the panel I suggest (first option on the page): This Test
At home we have a decent amount of options as well.
The first one that sticks out in my head is a blood pressure monitor. These are cheap, $25 and very easy/self explanatory to use.
On the more extreme side, we can get a glucometer and measure of glucose during the day.
If you’re healthy, this could be overkill; however, if you’re borderline unhealthy, have weight issues, or are just looking to bulk and add size and ensure you’re staying insulin sensitive, this could be a good option for you.
Tracking other metrics like respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, etc. can be simple. Fitness trackers like Whoop, Oura Rings, Fitbit, even Apple Watches measure a wide variety of health metrics that can tell us about our bodies.
Putting It All Together
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will die this year for causes that could have been completely avoided.
Being healthy is not necessarily hard, but it is a choice you have to actively make.
My friend Jim (@AdvancedForged) puts this in a very eloquent way:
Overtime, we will be breaking down each one of these concepts (Lipid Profile, Blood Pressure, Insulin Sensitivity, Body Composition, Energy Metabolism) into more details for protocols and strategies to improve them.
The important part, and goal of this post is to make aware what factors go into preventative health and how we can monitor them.
This is part 1, in part 2 we will be getting into the fixes of root causes of different chronic illness and steps we can take to mitigate and eliminate the threats to our health.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.