While cancer is a word that strikes fear in our hearts, we need to keep in mind that it’s still heart disease that is the number one killer. The average 50 year old woman is three times more likely to suffer from heart disease than breast cancer during her lifetime. Heart disease alone contributes to one third of all global deaths. Not surprising when you consider that one in every two men will develop heart disease.
Sadly, researches are finding that coronary heart disease can begin to show up in children as young as 5-8 years old. Imagine – by the time a child is 5 years old, he or she could be showing early signs of heart disease. This rarely has anything to do with genetics and everything to do with our modern environment and diet.
Although we know that diet is a major factor in heart disease, we still eat obscene amounts of artery clogging foods. And once you’ve consumed those fries, the oxidized oils cause free radical damage to cells all over your body – including your blood vessels, a major factor in heart disease. That thought makes them a little less tempting!
A recent Toronto study concluded that a major artery in the arm is constricted significant when people are exposed to smog for only two hours. Wouldn’t then just make sense that smaller arteries around the heart are also constricted when exposed to air pollution? So the heart ends up being under assault not only from what we eat but from the outside environment as well.
Taking a quick look at the body pollution diagram found at the end of this chapter will show you clearly just how you can be affected by body pollution. It impacts every aspect of health and leads to premature aging by placing a strain on virtually every system in the body. Body pollution is, unfortunately, very real and there’s no avoiding it, but you can take control of how it affects your health.
The first step is learning to be responsible for your own health. While modern medicine is excellent when it comes to dramatic life-saving interventions and engineering feats such as replacement hips and knees, it drops the ball when it comes to prevention. Physicians are kept so busy trying to keep illness under control they rarely have the time (and sometimes not the training) to consider prevention. We’re much more focused on treating the symptoms or the illness after the fact rather than the root cause.
To be fair, doctors are facing an uphill battle when it comes to educating their patients on health and disease prevention. Commercials that promote junk food are everywhere and these foods are often sold in schools and even children’s hospitals. Air and water pollution affect every place on earth. Our culture is rooted in convenience rather than based on health promoting principles.
On the plus side, modern medicine does provide us with many interventions that can both prolong life and maintain quality of life. We’re also come a long way in our understanding of the body and nutrition and this understanding is still growing.
Think of all our current conveniences, would you really want to go back in time – even if the air was cleaner then? Most of us appreciate the wonders of modern life such as airplanes, microwaves, computers, central heating and so on.
For those who’d rather give up modern conveniences to live in a pure world – it’s really not an option. Not all of us can live in Biosphere 2. We need to take measures to protect our health and heal the damages of body pollution. Luckily, there are ways to do that.
Okinawans, a population in Japan, have among the lowest mortality rates in the world. As a result, they enjoy not only what may be the world’s longest life expectancy but the world’s longest health expectancy. Those reach over 100 years of age in particular, have a history of aging slowly and delaying or escaping entirely the chronic diseases of aging including dementia, cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and stroke) and cancer.
Okinawans are very much in control of their health and live a long, healthy and active life. If they can do it, you can do it too – take charge of your health it is, after all, your birthright. Don’t accept that you have to age at the same rate as others around you. Don’t assume that getting older means being inactive or having debilitating diseases. Don’t put up with less than optimal health.