The Cost of Health
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The Cost of Health

I finished working in my garden plot one day at my church's community garden where I lived a couple of years ago. I was very happy to see the beginnings of the fruits of my labors in organic gardening. My brain tends to travel while I pull weeds and tend to the plants. This time I had thoughts of people I have known with various illnesses and health conditions that could have been prevented through lifestyle changes. They were paying a very high price for neglecting their health or even causing the issue in the first place. Illness and disease is expensive. So can being overweight and out of shape.  Medical treatment and lost work time affect not only the person who is ill, but family, friends, employers, and taxpayers, too. Simple lifestyle changes can payoff big time in the majority of cases.

Here are some of those issues that crop up and how to prevent or alleviate them:

Gall stones and a diseased gall bladder are a common result of a diet rich in fats. By eating a diet packed with fresh fruits and vegetables and less of  fatty meats, cheese and fried foods, you can reduce your risk. Although some may not due to diet, it's amazing how making these changes helps individuals affected feel better and avoid surgery!

Some diets high in junk foods and/or iodine (usually in salty foods) are at risk for abnormalities such as overgrowth on one side and nodules. If thyroid issues haunt your family, try making some dietary changes to reduce your risk. Most thyroid problems are due to heredity factors, though. Check with your doctor for your risk factor.

Sedentary lifestyles, high sodium intake, lack of adequate sleep, and high stress contribute to most high blood pressure problems. Cardio exercise, cutting back on salty foods, getting 8 hours of sleep and reducing stressors will help drastically. There are some hereditary factors which cause high blood pressure as well. Check with your doctor for your risk potential.

People with diets high in cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking put themselves at a higher risk of stroke due to the carotid arteries clogging. This reduces blood flow to the brain. If a blood clot is dislodged, it can go to the brain causing an ischemic stroke.Quit smoking, reduce your animal fats in your diet, and get daily cardiovascular exercise to reduce your risk of stroke. Some strokes have other causes. It is important to know if you are at risk.

Diets too rich in simple carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, pastries, breaded deep fried foods, high intake of red meat and sugary treats place people at greater risk for type 2 diabetes.. Although there may be a propensity toward this disease in the family genetics, lifestyle is the greatest cause and precaution. Simply changing to complex carbs, reducing them, increasing fresh fruits and vegetables along with exercise can keep you free of this disease.

Some Cancers
Lung, throat, and oral cancers caused from smoking and/or chewing tobacco, and risky sexual behavior,  while some stomach and colon cancers can be caused by diets high in saturated fats and highly processed foods. Also ingesting herbicides and pesticides on fruits and vegetables can cause these cancers. Avoiding the lifestyle problems can help reduce risk drastically. Those with a genetic history of cancer in families should be screened.

STDs and most HPV cases are caused by promiscuous sex. Obviously, not all people with HIV have been involved in homosexual relationships nor have ever been promiscuous. However, these lifestyles have certainly propagated the disease.The ideal situation would be to remain a virgin and marry someone who is also a virgin, saving sex for marriage. People who wait are made to look like idiots, but actually they are extremely smart, patient, strong individuals. They avoid STDs and most of them will never have HPV. If you've been sexually active, get screened; if something is found, get treatment.

Overweight individuals sleeping on their backs stop breathing or have interrupted breathing (snoring) because the excess fat in their throats cause the uvula (hanging flap at back of the throat) and the tongue to block the airway.Cutting back on caloric intake and exercise can help alleviate this issue. Other sleep apnea issues may be due to electrical impulses from the brain not signaling the individual to breathe while sleeping.

Lifting heavy objects when bending over pulls at the muscles in the lower back.
Excessive belly fat on someone with a bowed back pulls at the lower back
slouching all the time causes stresses on the neck, upper and mid-back. Learning proper lifting techniques and core strengthening helps reduce lower back injuries. Postural analysis and correction will help with neck, middle and upper back issues.

Not washing hands after going to the bathroom, not handling meats properly when preparing meals, and touching objects that ill individuals have sneezed on or touched can lead to infection. Learning to wash hands properly and doing it regularly will help reduce the spread of infection.

This list is by no means exhaustive nor do all individuals with these issues live an unhealthy lifestyle. What it does mean is that people living risky lifestyles gamble with their health, usually paying the price physically and financially. The fixes are simple.

May God bless you!

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