“Eat Well, Play Often, Live Fully”
– Your Pathway to Holistic Wellness –
“Ninety-five percent of all disease is caused by a buildup of acid in our bodies. We need to cleanse our bodies regularly, just like a car. We need to clean our bodies to make sure they work properly so we don’t get diseases like cancer and diabetes. By cleansing our bodies we will become more fit and our metabolism will increase and we will lose weight, especially in all those tough spots: the arms, the belly, and the bum.”
“If you eat meat and don’t cleanse on a regular basis (i.e., “irrigate” your bowels), it begins to putrefy and rot inside us and the lower colon gets clogged with an immovable, thick, toxic sludge that causes many serious diseases. Many of us are carrying around as much as 10 pounds of this disgusting stuff.”
“You can’t blame aging for this, you can only blame yourself. Do you want to be healthy? You must take control and detoxify your body. An acidity and toxicity assessment only costs eighty dollars. Isn’t your health worth this much?”
Unless you’ve been living totally off the grid for a very long time, chances are you have come across similar advertisements, either in magazines, on TV, or increasingly, social media. Apart from the “toxicity” assessment, there is almost certainly some service or a miraculous product that will instantly cure all your ailments, and at a discounted price if you reply swiftly (usually within 24 hours for TV ads), which is typically only revealed right at the end of an incredibly captivating sales pitch.
I can assure you absolutely every statement made in the fictitious example above is either oversimplified, incorrect or grossly misleading. There is no need to regularly “detoxify” and “cleanse” our bodies as promoted above. Detoxification will not result in weight loss. There is no way to make a particular part of your body lose weight by consuming a specially formulated “fat-melting algae” potion, or a “secret herbal remedy”, which will magically eliminate the “flab”.
These ads typically feature fit, attractive actors and use a mix of over-the-top fear-mongering and faith-healing proselytizing, with an impressive dose of pseudoscientific jargon thrown into the mix to create a sense of urgency and credibility.
This website is about health. More particularly, it is about the science associated with health. As the detoxifying story (sales pitch) above demonstrates, there is a considerable amount of strange and bizarre information out there. Almost daily we are showered with advice about our health. We are told what to eat. We are told what not to eat. We are told to take supplements. We are told we need exercise. We are told to stretch. We are told to take pharmaceuticals. We are told to avoid pharmaceuticals. We are told to cleanse. We are told get our meridians centered. We are told to get healthy! So, what are you waiting for?
My aim is to shed light on the complex landscape of health and uncover the factors that often obscure it. I will try to strip away the hype and the agendas to reveal the sound evidence where it exists, and its absence when the research hasn’t been done (or remains inconclusive). In addition, I will provide practical guidance (and cautions) for those wishing to navigate the churning sea of facts, findings, fiction, fallacies, and unfounded fears associated with navigating the intricate world of health advice.
The path to good health is more straightforward than we are often led to believe, and this realization can be quite liberating. Ninety percent of a healthy lifestyle is associated with a few simple truths. I won’t claim that this is always an easy path to follow, but if you can parse the twisted messages that bombard us daily, you will find the health journey can be surprisingly direct.
As a starting point, it is essential to acknowledge that your health and well-being are a personal responsibility, and that your daily choices and behaviours significantly influence your overall health. This website aims to inform you about the profound impact of nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle on your well-being, offering practical advice that empowers you to take charge of your health outcomes.
Research consistently reinforces the notion that proactive measures, such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and prioritizing mental well-being, can profoundly affect our quality of life. There is no doubt that each one of us holds the power to shape our health journey and inspire positive outcomes for ourselves and those around us…
Over the past two centuries, the landscape of life expectancy and causes of death has undergone a remarkable transformation. Back in the 19th century, life was tough, and life expectancy was relatively low due to high rates of infectious diseases, inadequate sanitation, and limited medical knowledge. However, as we progressed into the 20th century, scientific breakthroughs in medicine, better hygiene practices, and the development of vaccines brought about a dramatic increase in life expectancy. The focus shifted from infectious diseases to long-term chronic conditions (including autoimmune disorders and degenerative diseases) which became leading causes of death in the modern era.
According to the American National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), six out of every ten adults (60%) in the United States are living with a chronic disease and four out of every ten adults (40%) have two or more. Chronic diseases, sometimes referred to as degenerative diseases or simply long-term conditions, are broadly defined as conditions that persist for a year or longer and require ongoing medical attention, or limit activities of daily living or both. These chronic degenerative diseases include a range of conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, chronic lung disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease; and are the primary contributors to mortality and disability in the United States (1). Other chronic health conditions include osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), allergies, long-term mental illnesses, and many more.
With the exception of low-income countries, the three leading causes of death globally are cardiovascular diseases, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema). These three causes are closely followed by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, lower respiratory infections (mainly pneumonia), various cancers, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases and hypertensive heart disease (caused by long-term high blood pressure) in both high-income and upper-middle-income countries (“developed countries”).
In upper-middle-income countries (such as China, Russia, Mexico and Brazil), there has been a notable rise in deaths from lung cancer and other diseases linked to tobacco use. In high-income countries (such as the United States, Canada, Japan, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Southeast Asia), deaths are increasing in all disease categories mentioned above except two – deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke have in fact decreased by roughly 20 percent over the last two decades, largely as a result of smoking cessation programs, lifestyle modification, and hypertension (high blood pressure) treatment and management programs (2). However, a number of recent studies suggest that there has been an increase in stroke event rates in young adults over the last 15 years, believed to be due to increasing prevalence in obesity and diabetes (3; 4).
Nonetheless cardiovascular diseases and stroke are still in the top three causes of death in developed countries (in fact, all categories except low-income countries), with deaths from hypertensive heart disease on the rise. At the same time, deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have increased, overtaking stroke to become the second leading cause in high-income countries (5).
One of the most important medical discoveries of the past two decades has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in almost all of these chronic physical and mental health conditions. Inflammation is the process by which your white blood cells and other specialised inflammatory cells protects you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Sporadic increases in inflammation also play a vital role in healing after physical injury. However, the clinical consequences of systemic chronic inflammation (SCI) can be severe and include increased risk of metabolic syndrome (including insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia, hypertension and dyslipidaemia), type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), heart disease, chronic kidney disease, various types of cancer, depression, neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength). It has been known for a long time that patients with autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis) that are characterized by systemic inflammation, also tend to have insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and hypertension, and that they have higher rates of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke (6).
SCI-related disease rates have increased dramatically for both older and younger individuals living in industrialized countries following a Western lifestyle, but are relatively rare among individuals in non-Westernized populations who adhere to diets, lifestyles and ecological niches that more closely resemble those present during most of human evolution (6). Compelling evidence for the role of lifestyle in the development of chronic inflammation came from a recent study of 210 healthy twins, which found that non-heritable factors, such as lifestyle and exposure to environmental factors, are the strongest contributors to differences in chronic inflammation between individuals, and are the main drivers of systemic chronic inflammation (7).
Compelling evidence from various sources consistently points to unhealthy lifestyle and environmental factors, in conjunction with chronic stress, as the leading role players in initiating or exacerbating systemic low-grade (chronic) inflammation, and the ensuing chronic diseases prevalent in the world today (8). These factors include poor dietary choices (high in processed foods, sugars and unhealthy fats, while low in essential nutrients), physical inactivity, exposure to various environmental and industrial toxicants, persistent infections and psychological stress. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that systemic chronic inflammation during pregnancy can have lasting developmental consequences, heightening the risk of chronic diseases throughout one’s lifetime (9, 10).
Despite the grim statistics for chronic health conditions, there is hope. It is estimated that close to 80 percent of deaths caused by chronic health conditions can be prevented by making a few simple lifestyle changes. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, of all the people who die in the United States annually, only about 10 percent die because of inadequate health care, and approximately 20 percent die because of biological or environmental factors. The rest die as the direct result of an unhealthy lifestyle (5).
Until recently, the central focus of healthcare has predominantly been on treatment (and arguably still is), which can be very effective in managing infectious diseases, but not so much for chronic health conditions. I think it is high time that we shift the focus towards prevention. This is because the majority of prevailing health conditions can be linked to our contemporary lifestyles – the not-so-great diet choices, prolonged periods of inactivity, and a growing disconnect from the environmental forces that shaped our bodies over the eons.
Although some risk factors, such as age or family history, cannot be controlled, many others can. Prevention means making smarter choices. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels “normal”, and not only lower your risk for developing chronic health conditions, but also reverse pre-chronic issues, such as pre-diabetes, hypertension and obesity (11).
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death globally. According to the American Council on Science and Health, four out of five (80%) leading causes of death in the United States are related directly to cigarette smoking – 30 percent of all cancer deaths, 30 percent of all heart disease fatalities, and over 80 percent of all deaths from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is also an unquantifiable risk factor for cerebrovascular disease (stroke) and for Alzheimer’s disease (12).
If you are currently still smoking, your first priority needs to be to quit right now. Find out what resources are available to help you. If you need, talk to your doctor. Outline a specific course of action that will work for you, but don’t delay. Quitting is one of the best decisions you can make for your health, as well as that of your close friends and family (second-hand smoke exposure). If you are still smoking and do not consider quitting, this website is not for you. You are knowingly playing Russian roulette with your health and you only have yourself to blame if your health goes off the rails, if it hasn’t done so yet…
Another preventable risk factor is excessive alcohol use. Over time, alcohol use can lead (or contribute) to the development of many chronic conditions including hypertension (a leading cause of heart disease and stroke), liver disease, digestive problems, and several types of cancer (including colorectal, breast, liver, and oesophagus) (13, 14). Emerging evidence suggests that even drinking within recommended limits (2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women) may increase the overall risk of death from various causes. Although some older adults may benefit from drinking a small amount of alcohol, any potential protection from light drinking will be very small and unlikely to outweigh the harms (15).
If you have a drinking problem or drug dependency, find out where you can get professional help and make an appointment. Follow through. Start by figuring out why you started using drugs or alcohol to begin with. Your personal motives have a lot to do with your ability to kick the habit. As always, talk to your doctor if necessary.
If you have a weight problem, start your weight management program with guidance from a trusted health care practitioner and information from this website. Formulate a plan specifically how you are going to change your eating and exercise habits so you can lose weight safely and permanently.