Our goal is to conquer chronic disease.
What is Chronic Disease?
Chronic diseases are medical conditions that are long lasting or take time to develop. They do not include acute illnesses such as accidents or infections.
According to the CDC, chronic diseases are responsible for 70% of deaths in the US each year.
The most common conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular disease (hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease), cancer, and obesity. Obesity affects 37% of US adults and 17% of children.
Lifestyle choices are the primary cause of most chronic diseases
Chronic diseases are both preventable and reversible. Behaviors under your control include:
- Stress reduction
- Excess alcohol consumption
As a Warrior, you have the ability to take control over your destiny. At least 70% of the health conditions causing death are under your control.
One of the major causes of chronic disease is inflammation due to elevated insulin and glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is only one manifestation of this disease process.
Other diseases caused by hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia include coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, renal disease, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, blindness, and cancer (liver, pancreas, colorectal, breast, endometrial, renal).
Let’s Dive Deep
The disease process is as follows. Consumption of refined carbohydrates causes a spike in blood glucose (sugar) levels which leads to elevated insulin levels. When this happens repeatedly, cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. The pancreas now has to work harder excreting more insulin to get the same effect. This results in chronically elevated insulin and glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes ultimately develops, but damage occurs in the body long before the development of diabetes. Elevated levels of both insulin and glucose have negative effects on almost every organ in the body. This same inflammatory process causes many other chronic diseases including cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. In fact, Alzheimer’s is now being referred to as Type 3 diabetes.
Carbohydrates and your body
When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into sugar (glucose) and enter the bloodstream. This is true for all carbohydrates. With the rise of glucose in the blood, insulin is secreted from the pancreas. In response to insulin, glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells. The amount of glucose that can be stored as glycogen in the body is limited. Any excess glucose is converted into triglycerides (fat) and stored in adipose (fat) cells.
Over time, the consumption of excess carbohydrates leads to the development of a condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome develops due to chronically elevated insulin levels secondary to insulin resistance. This is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is made if at least 3 of the following 5 conditions are present:
- Abdominal obesity
- Elevated triglycerides
- Decreased HDL
At this stage labs will show an elevation in the HbA1C and triglycerides and a decrease in HDL.
As a Warrior you have the ability to prevent and reverse chronic disease through lifestyle choices. Nobody should have to live with chronic disease or need to be on medication to treat the symptoms.
Medications do not address the underlying causes of chronic disease nor the progression; they only provide symptomatic relief, often with significant side effects and expense. Through lifestyle choices you have the ability to be disease and medication free.
Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by an elevation of glucose in the blood.
- Type 1 diabetes is caused by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. This is not due to lifestyle choices and these individuals need to inject insulin for life.
- Type 2 diabetes is caused by chronically elevated insulin leading to cells becoming resistant to the effects of insulin. This is the more common form and is caused by chronically eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.
10% of the US population has diabetes and 25% are undiagnosed. 34% of the US population has prediabetes and 90% do not know they have it. These numbers are rapidly rising.
Type 2 diabetes is the result of the consumption of excess refined carbohydrates, excess calories, and a lack of exercise. We can’t blame the development of metabolic syndrome on genetics. While some people become insulin resistant easier than others, the disease is due to lifestyle choices that can be controlled.
Our society has been hijacked by the availability and overconsumption of sugar and processed foods. Most people eat too much sugar, even when they think they are eating healthy.
There is hope for everyone.
- Screen your biomarkers and understand your numbers
- Make healthy food choices
- Beware of hidden sugars lurking in the foods you eat
Understanding Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease includes heart attacks, high blood pressure (hypertension) and strokes. Cardiovascular disease occurs when a vessel becomes obstructed and blood can no longer flow.
It is the leading cause of death in the US.
Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption.
Let’s Dive Deep
The narrowing of a blood vessel begins with inflammation and damage to the vessel wall. Reactive oxygen molecules known as free-radicals cause inflammation through oxidative stress. Elevated insulin, due to excess sugar, is one way these free-radicals are created. Other causes of free radicals are smoking, toxic chemicals, and certain infections.
Eating fat does not cause heart disease
As part of the inflammation repair process, lipids and their carrier molecules (LDL) enter the vessel wall.
Because lipids were seen in the vessel wall of people with cardiovascular disease, the dietary consumption of fat was blamed. But that is not the case. The root cause of cardiovascular disease is the inflammation from the formation of reactive free radicals. Since inflammation is the underlying cause, the solution is to make lifestyle changes reducing exposure to toxins, including excess sugar.
Cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes) has been blamed on dietary fat for over 50 years. This assumption led to nutritional guidelines promoting a low-fat diet. With the removal of fat, food lost its flavor, so sugar and salt had to be added to make it more palatable. Added sugar is the root cause of hyperinsulinemia. This leads to the inflammation that damages the vessel wall.
The reality is the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and refined carbohydrates in foods (like bread, donuts, bagels, pasta, and white rice) cause an elevation of triglycerides and a decrease in HDL. High triglycerides, low HDL, and a high ratio of triglycerides/HDL has been shown to be a strong predictor of atherosclerosis and coronary disease.
As far as dietary fats are concerned, the consumption of natural fats are not associated with an increase in vascular disease and should be considered safe. This includes all animal fats, butter, cheese, dairy and the fat that occurs naturally in plant-based foods like olives, avocados, and coconuts.
Why we test
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are the most common chronic diseases. HbA1C, triglycerides, and HDL are effective screening tests. The science supports this. By knowing your markers, you can make lifestyle changes to stay metabolically healthy. These tests allow you to screen and track your own health.
By understanding chronic disease and monitoring your biomarkers, you can be a Warrior of your own health – from the inside out.