„Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food“. This sentence, which Hippocrates is said to have said, has retained its value to this day. In fact, it has even more meaning today because we are increasingly losing touch with our natural foods due to our stressful everyday lives, and often also out of convenience, and are consequently increasingly turning to high processed fast food. But there is more to our food than we are often led to believe. It not only serves as a source of energy, but also influences our well-being on a psychological level, our athletic performance and even has the potential to prevent diseases.
In Europe, average life expectancy is around 81 years, almost at the top of the list. In comparison, in 1960 it was 69 years. But what are the reasons for this rapid increase in life expectancy? The improvement of medical care has contributed significantly to this. In addition, more people have access to quality food. Last but not least, better education, especially regarding pathogens and hygiene, contributed to the fact that we are getting older and older. However, these figures say little about the years spent in a healthy condition. Because it makes a difference whether one grows old with a limiting illness or can live healthily and independently until the end of one's life. Thus, the goal of a healthy lifestyle is not just to grow old, but to grow old healthily. However, many diseases result from a mixture of environmental influences, genetics, physiology and behavioural factors. Depending on our life circumstances, there is even a relatively broad spectrum of intervention options open to us here, which we can influence to our advantage through lifestyle modifications, especially through diet and sport. But what are the main diseases that we can influence through our diet?
In our western world, we are used to treating symptoms when diseases have already occurred. In Eastern countries, much more attention is paid to prevention, as this saves the health system a lot of money and people a lot of suffering. Cardiovascular diseases, which include high blood pressure and heart attacks, are still the most common cause of death in Austria. Together with cancer, which is the second most common cause, they are responsible for about 2/3 of deaths. First of all, there are no cancer diets that have the ability to cure cancer. Some experts even claim that the fight against cancer is probably not won by treatment, but by not letting it develop in the first place. In the case of cancer, however, there are still many unanswered questions about its development. On the other hand, the data on cardiovascular diseases is much better. Here we know that nutrition can change things and have a preventive positive influence.
The term cardiovascular diseases includes all diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. Some of these diseases can also be positively influenced. One study showed that by optimising lifestyle factors, the probability of dying from sudden cardiac death could have been reduced by up to 80%. A similar result was found in a study on coronary heart disease, which is the main cause of stroke and heart attack. Here, too, about 80% could have been prevented by the same measures. You can read about the exact factors at the end of my blog. But before that, I want to talk about two more important diseases.
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 and Osteoporosis
Rising incidences are also seen in the affluent disease diabetes mellitus type 2. Even if the disease can now be treated relatively well, it should not be underestimated, as it can result in consequential damage such as blindness and kidney failure, to name but two. But again, the good news is that 90% of type 2 DM cases would not have developed in the first place if a healthy lifestyle had been followed. And last but not least, the bone disease osteoporosis should be mentioned. At around 30 years of age, one reaches one's so-called "peak bone mass", at which point the bone mass has reached its peak. From the age of 40 or even 50, the bone density slowly decreases over the years. If the density falls below a certain level, this is called osteoporosis. It mainly affects post-menopausal women and older people. You can't prevent the disease with a healthy lifestyle, but since bone is not dead tissue, you can also delay this process.
You can see which lifestyle modifications are involved in the table below.
The best investment is the one you make in your health. And the earlier you start, the greater the likelihood of growing old in good health. You will read about what a healthy diet is and how to exercise optimally in my future blogs. Since everyone reacts differently to food and has a different lifestyle, I also offer you individual nutrition and sports advice n Pamhagen and Vienna to get the best out of you.
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