Nothing can possibly be darker than talking about death. If you walked into a party and started blurting out statistics on death, most people would run for the other room.
Unfortunately, part of the way that we determine how to live needs to be by studying how we die. I have been at the bedside of many people, while they are dying. Most people that I have watched die, died too young. They died afraid. They died without the full life that a parent would hope for their child, a spouse for their spouse, or a child for their parent. In this way, I have frequently been witness to premature death, death which happened too soon.
As I have embarked on a journey of health and wellness, limiting meat, dairy and other known nutritional causes of disease, I am often met with criticism. “I am not giving up my steak,” people say. “I am not going to stop eating cheese,” others say. It’s interesting, because I have never suggested that people do so, only pointed out that I didn’t plan to do so, often after being invited to do so. My rejection of the Standard American Diet (SAD) immediately becomes grounds for a fight. What amazes me is why anyone would fight for their food, but not fight for their death. We are more comfortable as Americans defending our diets than we are advocating for lifestyle changes to prolong our very own lives and the lives of those we love.
There is great controversy in health and wellness about numerous topics that become almost religious or political to discuss. Here’s the fundamental question that everyone should be asking, will what I am doing cause me to die prematurely? Discussions about what I like, what pleases me, what makes me happy have a place in our lives, but should happen after we have addressed premature death. What doesn’t kill you may make you stronger, but what does kill you certainly makes you weaker as you waste away and cut earning years, loving years, and living years off your life. Dying doesn’t always happen right away. Sometimes it happens over weeks, months or years. If you haven’t watched someone do it, it is very difficult, particularly if it’s someone you love deeply and know it could have been different. If it could have been prevented by simply making a few changes. We are not talking about living in a bubble, we are talking about cutting a handful of things out of your life and adding good, healthy choices in.
Those things that make us happy should be things that helps us avoid premature death. When these values are aligned, then we are on the right track. Most of those things that help us to avoid premature death, by the way, give us more energy, makes us happier, and healthier.
How big of a problem is preventable deaths? Let’s start with some overall numbers from the CDC. 900,000 Americans die prematurely each year from 5 leading causes of death. 20-40 % of the deaths from each cause could be prevented. 63% of all US deaths in 2010 were due to heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries. The CDC launched an analysis to determine what percent of each of the leading causes of death would be preventable. Here’s what they found:
- 34 percent of premature deaths from heart diseases, prolonging about 92,000 lives
- 21 percent of premature cancer deaths, prolonging about 84,500 lives
- 39 percent of premature deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, prolonging about 29,000 lives
- 33 percent of premature stroke deaths, prolonging about 17,000 lives
- 39 percent of premature deaths from unintentional injuries, prolonging about 37,000 lives
The CDC goes on to say that modifiable risk factors such as tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, poor diet, overweight, and lack of physical activity are LARGELY responsible for each of the leading causes of death.
Tobacco use may not be very surprising to people, but high blood pressure, high cholesterol poor diet, weight, sugar (diabetes) and physical activity are right at the heart of the problem.
We must take a real hard look at diet, including high cholesterol and high sugar foods. Equally as important is physical activity, during a time when many Americans are increasingly sedentary.
Most important of all, however, might just be the emotional and spiritual health that lead to diets and lifestyles conducive to high blood pressure, sugar diabetes (type 2 diabetes), and high cholesterol. It’s always been mind over matter, unfortunately Western Medicine offers virtually no conversation about our minds and souls. There’s no secret that our decisions start in our heads. It’s about time that we took control of our own minds and souls.
Let’s take a look at what the CDC identifies specifically for each disease.
- “Cancer risks include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation, and certain chemicals and other substances.
- Chronic respiratory disease risks include tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants, allergens, and exposure to occupational agents.
- Stroke risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, overweight, previous stroke, tobacco use, alcohol use, and lack of physical activity.
- Unintentional injury risks include lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, drug and alcohol use (including prescription drug misuse), exposure to occupational hazards, and unsafe home and community environments.”
-CDC Website https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0501-preventable-deaths.html
Well, there you have it. The CDC has wonderfully laid out the data. Are you ready to consume it? If you are, we have solutions at Doctor of Living. Come check out our eBook for starters, available on Amazon.com. We can do this! We can reduce premature deaths, disease, while living healthier, better lives. Join us learn and grow.
Statistics, graphs, and content from CDC. Please visit below for more information: