As we age we are being faced with a growing problem – health crisis in excessive proportions. We aren’t winning the war on diseases. We may be conquering a few battles, but we’re losing the war. There isn’t a single disease today that over the last decade or two we’ve won. In fact, the only major accomplishment we’ve had in the last century is understanding the importance of sanitation. Applying some simple rules of cleanliness and sterile procedure has done wonders in preventing deaths from cross contamination, but other than that, all other diseases that aren’t self-limiting types are growing in numbers.
We talk about the war on cancer. Cancer used to be limited to the aged. Now it spans all ages, including infants. We say we are winning the war on breast cancer, but they’re dying of uterine, bone, lymph, liver or lung cancer later. Confusing the stats even more is when they die of pneumonia or other side effect or “secondary infection” resulting from the breast cancer. A few months back I was struck by a media statement after a movie star had died of cancer. It said “…doctors successfully treated his cancer for 10 years…he died of cancer at the age of…” How do you die of cancer if it was successfully treated? Terminology such as this keeps us from seeing the real picture – cancer-related deaths are skyrocketing!
Let’s talk about heart disease – another disease on the rise. At the turn of the last century, barely a hundred years ago, heart disease was unheard of. If someone died of heart disease, doctors would come from hundreds of miles away to see the autopsied body. Today, we hardly blink an eye at it. Deaths of heart disease in the 30’s and 40’s age brackets are no longer a rarity. Despite amazing technological advances in diagnostic equipment, it’s not unusual for a person to undergo exhaustive diagnostic tests, be given a bill of good heart health, then die of cardiovascular causes a few weeks later. Bypass surgeries and stents are common place today. Yes, we’re saving lives. Where once the odds of surviving a heart attack were less in your favor, now we survive, but the quality of life is worse. I for one would rather die of a stroke than end up with either a fully functioning mind and a body that won’t cooperate, or a fully functioning body, with a mind “not all there”. Either way, cardiovascular disease is on the rise.
We know about obesity and diabetes. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that obesity and diabetes are on the upswing as well. It seems the more we think we know about these “diseases”, the worse the problems get.
Although our fancy drugs are helping control diabetes better, the fact still remains that the number of people with it is increasing at an alarming rate. Type II diabetes, once called “Adult Onset Diabetes” because at one time it came on only in later adult years, is now incredibly and alarmingly coming on in children at younger and younger ages. Type II diabetes is acquired. We have ways to prevent it, yet we’re not. It, as well as obesity, is distressingly on the rise as well.
Now let’s look at how our brains are being affected. One of the greatest complaints I get today is poor memory. Poor recall, poor concentration, fuzzy thinking. What about depression? It is rampant as well. In fact, if we have any signs of mental distress its labeled depression. We no longer can be sad or grieving, angry or distressed, overwhelmed or cope poorly without being offered a drug to offset it. Is it any wonder with all of these so-called brain associated problems that we also have such an increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease today?
If you’re like the general public, you’re probably getting scared to get old. The days of being hailed as the wise one when you age are gone. Too often the aged in our culture are put on a back burner, their wisdom being disregarded, and accused as being “just old” or “too old fashioned” when they offer words of advice. Unfortunately, the aged do succumb to dementia and their wisdom is clouded by a brain that no longer fully functions. What a shame.
But there is hope! There are things you can do to prevent the scourge of old age. Act now, it isn’t too late. Here is what you can do:
Eat well. Eat whole, nutritionally dense foods. Eat foods that are fresh out of a garden and lightly steamed at home. Throw away your microwave oven and cook on the stove again. You can make it nearly as easy as microwaving is. Don’t make it complex. Keep it simple. Stay away from boxed foods. Get real nutrients into your brain and your body, not fake substitutes laden with chemicals.
Exercise your brain and body daily and get adequate sleep. If you can’t do those things, see a natural health care physician that can help you. Drugs won’t make up for the deficits. You have to do these things on your own if you want to prevent aging diseases. If pain keeps you from sleeping, exercising, or enjoying life, see a good acupuncturist. Acupuncture is one of the greatest ways to reduce the inflammation, swelling, and/or muscle spasms that cause your pain. It also helps you get to sleep and stay asleep better.
Most importantly, you have to work at getting well and staying well. It is never too late. However, the longer you wait, the longer it may take for you to get well. The longer you wait the more action you may have to take to get well. Getting well and staying well is a long term endeavor. There’s not a one-pill quick fix. There is no one vitamin, one specialty “juice”, no one treatment fix that will get you well and keep you well, no matter how much it is marketed. It will take much on your part; however, if you want to reduce the effects of aging, you need to start today. Don’t wait.
©2008 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D