I have been asked to write a blog on “Disease prevention” which is a very lofty topic- I taught an entire course on “disease” at HACC which lasted an entire semester. So, to approach this topic I decided to present various facts:
- It is estimated that 50% of people in America are either pre-diabetic (will soon develop diabetes) or already diabetic. Diabetes is a condition where the individual is unable to process the sugar (glucose) that is eaten. Everything has glucose in it. Do you know that sugar is the ultimate energy source for all body tissue and the only energy source for the brain? But, the body handles too much glucose intake by storing it as fat tissue. Diabetes is not reversible and although it may initially be treated with pills it ultimately will require the addition of Insulin injections.
- Obesity is also considered an epidemic in America and throughout most developed countries of the world. Obesity is measured by a person’s weight/ height ratio (BMI). Obesity in itself is treatable but not without significant effort on the individual’s part through diet and exercise. Ultimately, the obese person may require gastric bypass surgery. We may think of this surgery as an easy way to lose weight. Nothing could be further from the truth. This surgery is life altering with a high post-operative complication rate, dramatic changes in our ability to eat a normal meal and a return to the obese condition without strict adherence to dietary changes.
- Hypertension (an elevation of blood pressure) eventually will lead to advanced hardening of the arteries. This makes a person prone to heart attacks and strokes. Although many people survive these conditions/ events, there are a vast number of people whose post-event lives are severely altered with significant disability. You do not return to normal after such an event. There is no treatment for hypertension except prescription medications.
These conditions are almost always preventable and result from poor life style choices. Excess of something is usually the culprit—an excessive sedentary lifestyle (absence of regular exercise outside of work), excess alcohol intake, overeating, smoking (although there is no such thing as excess smoking), and too much sugar, processed foods, salt, fat in our diet. Our future health is not based on the advances of medical technology but rather on the very low-tech approach involving disease prevention with a healthy life style before technology is needed.