I attended the annual Missouri Hospital Association Convention in November of last year and I was really impressed with one of the speakers, Dr. David Katz. After he spoke I asked if he would allow me to post and excerpt from his book “Disease Proof”.
After you read the below excerpt I think you’ll realize that rationale and thought behind many of our healthy lifestyle initiatives for GVMH staff.
Here’s the excerpt:
Most diseases are not random occurrences but the consequences of the things people do every day. They are the intermediate step between lifestyle habits and infirmity or death. This means that the leading causes of death and disease are largely within our control because they result from what we do or don’t do with our feet, our forks, and our fingers— namely, whether we are physically active, consume a healthy diet, or smoke— on a daily basis. With few exceptions, that is the new rule that’s been established by groundbreaking research— and it is the central premise of this book. As you’ve just read, there is now abundant evidence that getting just four things right— not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being active, and eating well— could reduce the risk of all chronic diseases by 80 percent. That’s right: 80 percent! (There are four things on the list, but by eating well and being physically active, you will set yourself up for a healthy weight— so you really need to focus only on three things, with the final one being not smoking.) It’s a realization that could, and in my opinion should, remake the way we play the game of life, by inspiring us to make better lifestyle choices. If you do it right, you can write a new story for your future right down to the genetic level. To a preventive medicine specialist like me, this is of profound importance, because apathy and fatalism are among the biggest enemies of health and healing.
The fact is healthful behaviors create an opportunity to reshuffle the genetic deck in your favor. After all, genes don’t affect your health because they’re there; they represent a recipe for biological material— including specific proteins that turn those genes on or off— that needs to be made in order to set a disease course into motion. You can change the behavior of your genes, essentially dialing their expression up or down, by modifying your lifestyle. Just because you carry a gene that makes you vulnerable to colon cancer or lung cancer, for example, doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably develop the disease. If you exercise regularly, stick with a healthy diet, avoid smoking, and maintain a healthy weight, you stand a much better chance of never developing those illnesses, even if other members of your family do.