Today, over 65% OF Americans suffer with at least one chronic disease, many with two to five different conditions. The United Nation reports that chronic diseases are responsible for 35 million deaths a year globally. Our world today is full of toxins and pathogens; anywhere we turn we inhale, touch, or ingest these harmful agents. Our lifestyle is more sedentary than any other time in history, and our food is loaded with pesticides, herbicides and very little nutrients. We are not dying from the natural process of aging but because of chronic illnesses. Young or old, chronic diseases have spread worldwide.
What can we do to improve our health? To reverse and heal chronic diseases and painful conditions? In part 1, we saw that inflammation, macro and micro, initiates and fosters chronic diseases. From obesity and diabetes to cardiovascular (heart) and cancer, from brain and nerve disorders to the health of bones and joints, inflammation is central to understanding chronic disease. . Interestingly, inflammation is an essential protective mechanism in healing injuries and wounds. However, a continual low-grade inflammation (LGI), a phenomenon that has been termed inflammageing, kills off the cells that regenerate our bodies.
Low-grade inflammation (LGI) or inflammageing also accelerates the demise of the immune system. Immunosenescence, which means the aging of the immune system, is typically a natural, gradual aging process. Yet when the body must fight low-grade inflammation, the immune system overworks to protect our body against pathogens and pollution, a recipe for chronic disease. An aging immune system produces more inflammation, until it no longer can properly fight infections and combat abnormal cells in the body. This premature dysfunction of allows infectious and chronic diseases, including cancers, to thrive in our body. But do not despair.
There is much we can do and should do to regain our health and live a full life. First, we need learn how to lower inflammation in our body and protect the immune system. The research team of Giuseppina Candore describes this practice as the “biology of longevity” – learning to create a cleaner environment around us and initiating healthier lifestyle habits. This means that we need to ‘green’ our environment (home, office, gardens), removing toxins by switching to eco-friendly and natural products. Check out the Environmental Working Group to see how they rate your products.
The same goes for personal care products, from skincare to makeup to our toothpastes and shampoos. Learn to use clean and healthy products. To begin with, check out Dohrea’s approved products, a curated list of effective, natural, and clean products for beauty, body, and home on bioimmersion.com: DrBardellApprovedProducts.
We need to learn how to shop for and prepare organic or local eco farmed foods without pesticides and herbicides and it need not be expensive. Many small, local farms cannot afford the organic certification or are in the process of getting certification but cannot as of yet use the organic seal of approval. Choose the foods grown without pesticides and herbicides, with or without the organic seal, and shop at local markets you trust. If you are not sure, ask an employee or the produce person if the vegetables or fruits pesticide-free. They will know!
Enjoy a wide variety of colorful vegetables, greens, fruits, and berries. Colors denote special nutrients we call polyphenols, which are unsurpassed for health building and wellbeing. Learn to eat color: greens of all kinds like spinach, kale, and herbs like parsley, and cilantro, reds like strawberries, raspberries, and grapes. Enjoy the purple of cabbage or eggplants, blue from blueberries and darker colors like blackberries. We all love the color orange in our oranges and carrots, but orange is found also in peppers, squashes, and apricots – each color of a vegetable or a fruit offers different protective and healing compounds. For example, blue as in blueberries are wonderful for brain health, while red as in strawberries or raspberries are excellent antioxidants, for heart as well as DNA integrity (prevention of abnormal or cancerous cells). Each color has its own anti-inflammatory molecules along with a host of other nutrients that are responsible for the smooth running of many functions in our body. Mostly, when you eat a whole food, plant-based diet, your body gets exactly what it needs.
Learn how to cook wholesome meals and snacks with 90% plant-based foods, and 10% meat (including fish and fowl) and meat products like dairy and eggs. Use the 10% meat and meat products as condiments 2-3 times a week. Changing a plant-based is not easy. We have gotten used to eggs for breakfast and chicken, pork, meat, or fish for lunch and dinner. We dairy such as cheese, eggs to our salads and eat high fat deserts. But scientific research directs us toward a different path. People who eat very little meat, eggs, and dairy live healthier lives, without the chronic and infectious diseases that affect too many of us.
The Eat-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health, hopes to achieve a healthy diet for nearly 10 billion people by 2050, giving time to our global agricultural industries and animal factories to change. Thirty years to change our habits is too much time. We need to change now, for the environment and ourselves. Of course, this is not easy, and big corporations of animal products and mono agriculture (growing one crop per field) are not happy. However, as we learn to purchase more organic and eco-friendly foods and products, these powerful corporate entities will have to change.
After all, corporations simply want to make money. If people eat primarily plant-based diets with fewer animal products, corporations will have no choice but to change agricultural and farming methods. Read the report to understand the Lancet scientific findings and plan for a healthier world. Health starts with you and me, and as we slowly change, other people will change with us. Our environment and climate will benefit and become healthier, a good plan for our children and ourselves.
We already know the benefits of exercise and meditation to reduce stress, but how many of us are actually exercising at least 3-4 times a week and take time for self-care to reduce our stress level? Even a ten-minute walk is beneficial. Start small and build up your exercise and self-care routines. Get together with friends for a healthy meal; relax at home with your family. These moments are more important to our health and state of mind than any time in history. We build our health by reducing the toxic load on our bodies (and mind) by eating clean foods (organic), getting rid of toxic products – from skincare to grooming products, from cleaning products and laundry to our gardens and offices.
Rebuilding our health is simple although not easy. Doing things differently and changing our habits is never easy. Just imagine, if we all eat organic healthy food, if avoid harmful products and exercise a few times a week, and if we spend a few moments each day for self and family care, our bodies will slowly rebuild healthy cells and start the rejuvenation process. And our global environment will start getting healthier—a good thing all around,
Dohrea Bardell, PhD