By: Catherine Ebeling, RN, BSN
Most all chronic diseases including: acne, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, ADD, allergies, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, strokes, most cancers, weight gain, premature aging, cataracts, macular degeneration, infertility and IBS stem from five basic causes. For more information on diseases caused by inflammation go here.
Eliminate the causes and you can eliminate your chances of getting any of those diseases—and more. If you already have a serious health issue, you can still improve and even cure yourself of those diseases by making some simple changes in diet and lifestyle.
Our bodies are amazing—they are constantly in a state of rebuilding, regenerating and renewing cells.
So you don’t have to believe that you are merely a victim of your genetic makeup, and that you have to succumb to disease because your inheritance carries that possibility.
What are these five contributing factors?
Inflammation can be both good and bad. Acute inflammation is our body’s response to infection, illnesses, and injuries. Inflammation fights infection, heals wounds, repairs our bodies, and helps to get us back to a state of health. It is a part of a complex biological cascade of reactions to harmful stimuli in a protective attempt to get rid of the injury and to initiate healing.
However, there is another form of inflammation, and that is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can result from an ongoing injury to a particular area of body system.
Prolonged inflammation, known as chronic inflammation, leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells present at the site of inflammation and is characterized by simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process.
But chronic inflammation is different. Unlike the redness and pain that tells us loud and clear that our body is in repair mode, chronic inflammation is a silent internal process that slips “under the radar”. This quiet killer is the cornerstone of degenerative disease and physical aging. However, the good news is that the primary causes of chronic inflammation are completely within your control.
Some of the primary causes of chronic inflammation include high blood sugar, eating excessive amounts of the wrong types of fats, and excess body fat. In addition, cortisol, a stress hormone can also contribute to inflammation.
We all have heard sugar is bad for our health, but do you really know what it does in your body?
Quite simply, glycation is the process where sugars attach to proteins in the body. It may not sound like much, but like inflammation, it can cause a slow deterioration of your health.
When sugar and protein molecules combine, they form a tangled mess of tissue. Glycation causes wrinkling not only of the skin, but also of connective tissue and internal organs. Glycated tissue is tough and inflexible, leading to problems in the functions of our organ systems.
Tissue that has become glycated then produces Aged Glycation End-products (AGE’s), which further compound the problem by producing large numbers of damaging free radicals.
Tissue glycation is a serious, deadly process which degrades important body tissues. It must be dramatically reduced if aging is to be minimized.
The tough, inelastic connective tissue is especially damaging to organs where flexibility is vital, especially for organs like the heart, kidneys, digestive system, brain, eyes and pancreas. The lack of flexibility in the important organs leads to reduced functionality and early death. This is the reason diabetics suffer from diseases like heart disease and blindness earlier than most people.
So what causes glycation? Chronically high blood sugar levels, and to a lesser extent eating a diet of foods cooked at high temperatures. Eating foods high in sugar, including starchy foods and grains, results in an increase in blood sugar. The sugar binds to your red blood cells, as well as other proteins and fats and creates AGE’s.
The sticky AGE’s bind to blood vessels and other body tissue. These glycated masses create havoc on your cells and cause oxidation and inflammation.
Oxidation, like inflammation is essential for our bodies to function properly. Oxidation is important to energy production. But oxidation has a bad side too. Oxidation is the removal of an electron from an atom or a molecule. Since they are missing an electron, they spend their time robbing electrons from healthy cells. The result is a cascade of cellular damage. Sometimes this can damage the molecule itself which causes damage to proteins, lipids and DNA in our cells.
Free radicals can cause cholesterol to be more likely to stick to your blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart attacks and stroke. They can damage DNA and cause mutations including cancer. Free radicals can attack and destroy the delicate nerve cells in the brain and eyes, causing cataracts, blindness and Alzheimer’s disease as well. And free radicals damage and weaken the skin structures and connective tissue.
What causes oxidation? Pollution, smoking, medications, alcohol, and eating processed foods with few nutrients will all increase oxidation. In addition, aging and exercise also cause oxidation as well.
But we can fight back by avoiding those things that cause free radicals, reducing inflammation, and by getting plenty of antioxidants, primarily in the foods we eat. These include vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, beta carotene and many other important phytonutrients in vegetables and fruit.
Our exposure to harmful toxins is increasing every day. We are exposed to toxins in our food supply, toxins in our environment, and toxins in our everyday personal items such as shampoo and soaps, as well as household items. Beyond that, there are toxins in our water, toxins in medications, and toxins virtually in almost everything that we come into contact with, in some degree. It’s very difficult to escape toxins, unless we live a primitive life far, far away from civilization.
However, our bodies have an amazing capability to detoxify themselves, but if overloaded and left unguarded without the fortification the body needs to fight and filter toxins, it soon becomes overwhelmed and diseased. The liver is our primary source of internal detoxification and when our liver is overloaded, our health pays the price.
Toxins damage our cells’ DNA, and affect hormonal balances, causing weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and more.
While most of us cannot retreat to the country and live a primitve life far away from the ills of civilization, we can avoid many toxins by eliminating chemicals in our personal care products, avoiding household cleaning chemicals, and most of all, eliminating or greatly reducing the chemicals and toxins in the food supply that come from conventionally raised meats, pesticide laden vegetables and fruits and processed foods with preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Deficiencies and Depletion
The last thing in this interwoven list is deficiencies and depletion. It’s a sad fact that the vegetables and fruit that we buy in the grocery store are far lower in minerals (including selenium, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium) than the ones from 50 years ago.
Conventional farming methods and widespread use of chemicals in farming have depleted the soil and the nutrients that we receive from these foods. And livestock raised on an unnatural diet of grain, antibiotics and hormones are also sickly and low in the esstential nutreients we need in our diets to thrive.
Many of us who may be following a reasonably healthy diet, are missing important nutritional elements in the foods eaten. And, even worse, are those people eating a diet virtually devoid of natural nutrients, phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. (SAD) And that comes at a huge cost to health.
Even Dr. Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel prizes said, “You can trace every sickness, disease, or ailment in the human body back to a trace element deficiency.”
Most of us are deficient in at least one or two vitamins and minerals. And deficiencies in dietary nutrients feed into the rest of the contributing factors that cause diseases.
Beyond our dietary deficiencies, many of us can be suffering from an unhealthy digestive system that doesn’t absorb nutrients well.
What can we do to avoid disease as best we can and achieve optimal health?
- - Eat real food—Avoid artificial, processed, packaged, nutritionally devoid, chemically laden foods. Eat high quality, organically raised, local foods, and naturally raised meats.
- - Avoid chemicals in your foods—Eat organic as much as possible, eat locally, eat naturally-raised grass fed meats,poultry, eggs, and dairy; and eat only wild caught fish.
- - Avoid chemicals in your environment—Eliminate dangerous household chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides and personal care items. These add a heavy load of toxins.
- - Optimize your fats—Eating naturally raised meats and fish will give you a better omega 3:6 ratio, but also avoid transfats, and added processed fats and vegetable oils.
- - Avoid sugar—as much as possible. That means not only avoiding sugary drinks like soda and avoiding candy, but also avoiding foods made from grains like whole grain breads, pastas, and baked goods. Sugar also lurks in fruit drinks and starchy foods like potatoes as well.
Kelly Herring, “Do you know the 5 main causes of disease?”, Healing Gourmet, July 20, 2011.
Living to be 150, Aging and Longevity, http://livingto150.com/aging-