When faced with a chronic disease or diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder, it’s easy to wonder “Why me?” How is it that some people who eat a Standard American Diet seem to be disease free while others who have made attempts to change their eating habits still struggle with illness, chronic disease, and cancer?
The truth of the matter is there is no “one thing” that influences whether you develop an autoimmune disorder or other chronic disease. Various aspects of your environment interact with your genes to create a state of health or disease. Here are the top 7 factors that influence disease development.
1. Nutrient deficiencies
Optimal health requires maximum micronutrients–that is, the vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and antioxidants in your diet. Diets that do not have enough fruits and vegetables lack the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. A diet with not enough fruits and vegetables, and thus not enough micronutrients, has been associated with higher rates of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis.
2. Unrecognized food sensitivities
Sensitivity to gluten is the most common food sensitivity in western society, and yet 90% of us do not report problems with digestion or other gastrointestinal issues. Food sensitivities are often an unseen part of many disorders, including psychological problems, neurological problems, autoimmune problems, skin rashes, asthma, allergies, and more. If you have a chronic health issue, trying a gluten-free diet for a month – you may feel better than you have in years.
3. Toxin overload
Today, our environment is full of pollution and toxins excreted by vehicles, factories, plastics in our homes, mercury dental fillings, and chemical farm sprays. These chemicals interact with our cells, the signals that are sent between cells, and our mitochondria, interrupting normal function and increasing inflammation. These toxins increase both the probability of getting a chronic disease and the severity of symptoms of that disease. Reducing your exposure to plastics, solvents, and heavy metals will help you attain and maintain good health, as will increasing vegetable and berry consumption, which improves processing and elimination of these toxins.
4. Excess stress
Stress is necessary for life. Without the stress of gravity, our bones and muscles would dissolve. Chronic stress, however, disrupts hormone balance and increases overall inflammation. Practicing meditation or other stress-reduction activity on a daily basis can help reduce stress levels and protect your cells from inflammation.
5. Inadequate exercise
Our ancestors walked 3 to 9 miles on average each day, and our brains and body expect us to move daily. Insufficient physical activity over the course of a lifetime greatly impacts the chances of developing dementia before the age of 60. Regular exercise can also improve mood and lower inflammation in the body.
6. Inadequate sleep
There are many studies that tie sleep quality and duration to health. Getting adequate sleep is important in stress management, reducing fatigue, hormone balance, and promoting cellular health. Sleep is the body’s opportunity to heal and grow. Not receiving 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night greatly interrupts normal biology. Even if you think you thrive on fewer than 7 hours, your body pays a price and becomes more susceptible to heart attack, obesity, diabetes, early memory decline, and autoimmune issues.
7. Inefficient enzymes (DNA)
We each have a unique mix of efficient and inefficient enzymes, courtesy of the DNA we inherited from our parents. It is the interaction between these enzyme efficiencies and inefficiencies and our diet and lifestyle choices that determines which chronic diseases we acquire. Consuming a nutrient-dense diet, reducing the risk of food allergies, eating and living organic, engaging in regular stress reduction, and getting 7 or more hours of sleep each night dramatically reduces the risk that inefficient enzymes will lead to a chronic disease.
Ultimately, it is our diet and lifestyle choices that either create health, abundant energy, joy, and a clear mind or problems with fatigue, brain fog, pain, and other physical complaints. Disease begins with broken chemistry in our cells, which arises from our diet and lifestyle choices. Eat and live for your cells today and feel better tomorrow.