Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Are Going to Die Of...

John William Waterhouse -The Crystal Ball
What if I told you I could see the future—like something straight out of a science fiction novel.  Unfortunately, this power is limited to only one fact, but it's a big one.  I can tell you one of three ways you are going to die.  What if I also told you, that I could help you avoid this fate.  That together, we could prevent, even eliminate these causes of death.  Gone.  Sounds ridiculous.  Yes, certainly a fantasy.  Except—its not...

Let's take a look at the top six causes of death for those over 55: Heart Disease, Malignant Neoplasms (cancer), COPD, Cerebro-vascular Event (stroke), Alzheimer's Disease, and Diabetes Mellitus.  Pretty daunting list.  Certainly not the way I would chose to leave this world.  And yet, with proper prevention, three of those can be eliminated, two severely reduced, and the last, slowed in its progression.  Sounds too good to be true.  That's probably the reason why most Americans don't make the changes that can bring such wondrous results to their lives.  Or, it could be that we find comfort in knowing how we are going to die, and that we could have prevented it, but chose not to.  A demonstration of ultimate freedom.  To slowly kill ourselves because unhealthy food just tastes so damn good.  Sitting on our couches watching reruns, so much better than fresh air and exercise.

In 2011, the most resent statistics available from the CDC, of those who died age 55 and older, one third died from heart disease, one third from cancer, and one third from all the remaining causes.  With rare exception, heart disease can be stopped and even reversed with a proper diet.  Of those who died from cancer, a third of those deaths are directly linked to poor diet and lack of exercise, and a third directly linked to tobacco use.  Type II Diabetes is an almost entirely diet and exercise based disease.  Now, I'm not a math wizard, but 2/3 of 1/3 is 0.22.  0.22 + 0.33 = 0.55.  0.55 + 0.02 = 0.57.  What does all this gibberish mean?  It means that 57% of all deaths for those who make it past age 55 are preventable through diet, exercise, and not using tobacco.  57%.  And that is a conservative number as food can play a major role in the progression and prevention of other diseases as well.
One of the most frequent responses I get from my firefighter buddies is, "Sure, you spend all this time eating vegetables, and then you walk into the street one day and get hit by a bus.  What's the point?"  I can appreciated such a live for the moment attitude.  However, let's look at some more numbers.  2,423,712 Americans died in 2011.  That's all age groups from birth to the 100's.  Of those 2,424,712, a total of 252,816 died from Unintentional Injury, the category the infamous bus would fall under.  If we were to assume that all of the Unintentional Injuries were mystery buses, and not caused but unsafe acts on the parts of the diseased, that means you have a 10% chance of being hit by a runaway bus.  57% chance of dying of a slow, painful, degenerative disease you could prevent—10% sudden death from phantom bus.  May not be 100% scientific, but it is certainly eye opening.  At least it was for me and my family.
So what is that point of all these numbers and talk of dying?  Well, it's not really a secret if you've been reading this blog.  That fact is, that by eating a whole foods, plant based diet, you can dramatically change your health for the better.  You can virtually eliminate heart and vascular disease from your life.  Dramatically reduce your chances of getting preventable cancer.  Pretty much guarantee you'll never develop type II diabetes.  The majority of strokes are ischemic.  Guess what?  This type of stroke is almost always the secondary result of some sort of vascular or cardiac condition.  COPD is an all encompassing acronym for Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Asthma.  Stop smoking and you can pretty much stop worrying about Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis.  Asthma might be a bit trickier, but you are much less likely to develop the disease later in life with exercise and the absence of smoking from your environment.
Now, I realize I'm just a guy who dramatically changed his health and not an doctor or scientist.  I am a firefighter and a paramedic, and I can tell you from first hand experience how many lives are put in danger by the effects of obesity and the related ailments that come with poor diet.  I can tell you about the suffering people face in their later years because they didn't take proper care of themselves when they were younger.  But I am not an expert.  I based my thoughts and my eating habits on the research of experts, and I pass this on in the hope that, unless you chose simply just to trust me, you'll do some research on your own.  The information out there can be confusing.  After all, it seems to change daily.  Diet programs, doctors, health food companies, large food companies, the government, they all have a hand in telling you what's good for you and what's not.  Unfortunately, their motives aren't always to improve your health.  In some cases, their motives can be quite sinister.  Below, you'll find some suggestions of of books I found to be the most helpful to me in changing my life, but I encourage you to read as much as you can.  A few questions I'd suggest you take with you into your reading:

What is the author's motive?
Is the research based in long term results?
Were the results achieved based on health, or quick results for getting slim and looking good in a bathing suit?
Who backed the research?

In the end, the two doctors who passed my test were Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn.  Following their advise, and then seeking out others who have used their research to achieve astounding transformation, I have changed my life.  You only have one body, treat it well.

The percentages used in this post were approximate to ease in explanation.  The specific results from the CDC are included in the chart above.

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