5 reasons you are likely to suffer from chronic disease.
Have you ever had an ailment that no one seems to know about? Chronic symptoms that can’t be ‘medically explained’?
A 2011 study in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, states that people with symptoms such as pain, weakness, or dizziness, fatigue, tingling and numbness make up one-third of all visits to doctors and are known as functional or psychogenic symptoms. The article goes on to state that the outcomes for these patients ‘are poor.’
If you are one of these patients, you must be frustrated. Doctors are actually trained to deal with patients that have these complaints, and they are commonly sent for psychological counseling. In fact, an actual diagnosis has been created to describe them – these patients suffer from MUS or Medically Unexplained Symptoms.
Just because the existing assessment that your doctor does can’t provide answers into the underlying problem, it certainly DOES NOT mean that is all in your head.
“More than 70% of patients in any general practice suffer from functional disturbances . . .”
– Helmut W. Schimmel, M.D.
Acute vs. Chronic Illness
If you were having a heart attack or contracted a horrible infection, there is no place on Earth you would better care than in the United States. When there is a sudden onset, or infectious cause that is amenable to pharmaceutical intervention, the US is tops. This is acute disease. On the other hand if you suffer with an ongoing or chronic illness, the results are not the same.
A chronic disease is a disease or other human health condition that is persistent or long-lasting in nature. The term chronic is usually applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months. Common chronic diseases include asthma, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease..
In the United States, nearly one in two Americans (133 million) has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another, with most (58%) between the ages of 18 and 64. The number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million. The most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol. Chronic illnesses cause about 70% of deaths in the US and are estimated to take up about 75% of health care costs each year.. Some 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have two or more chronic conditions.
There are many reasons for the explosion in chronic diseases, like sedentary lifestyle, the standard American diet (SAD), low nutrient density food and exposure to tremendous amounts of toxins. The question becomes, why has the most amazing country in the world handled this crisis so poorly?
One answer is that we are trying to apply the acute care medical model to the new chronic health care situation! Doctors are not trained to evaluate patients effectively enough to be able to understand the underlying processes. Most of the time these conditions are as a result of altered biochemical function, which does not readily show up on standardized lab tests and MRIs.
Two things are clear when it comes to chronic disease…
- It is a national crisis
- Medicine is not the answer
The faster you embrace these ideas, the healthier you and your family will be.
The top 5 reasons why you are likely to suffer from chronic disease.
1. The Standard American Diet
The Standard American Diet usually consists of a myriad of processed carbs (cereals, breads, pasta, cookies, cakes etc.), processed meat products, and a few fruits and veggies.
This diet is full of packaged foods which have virtually no nutritional value! They are pretty packages housing calories. If this is all you eat, then you are on the fast track to being overfed, and under nourished.
What you eat is the foundation of your health – so what is in this diet?
This diet is high in many things, most of which your body doesn’t really need. It is full of hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lacking in basic essentials such as vitamins, minerals.
Hydrogenated oil causes a host of problems. It contributes to cancer, heart disease and obesity. A recent study showed that monkey fed these oils gained a significant amount of fat around the abdomen, even though they were not fed in such excess as to warrant fat gain. This is bad! Fat gain without consuming extra calories, and around the worst place on the body to gain it too, is one of the worst things for your health.
We also know that trans-fat boosts women’s infertility by 70%, if you consume it for 2% of your total calories. For someone eating a 2000 calories a day diet, that is only about 4 grams of fat. And 4 grams of fat is not a lot! You could get that much in one donut, or a small serving of fries.
High fructose corn syrup raises blood sugar levels quickly. There are links to the consumption of high fructose corn syrup to type II diabetes and heart disease. It provides no nutritional value, and is the ubiquitous sweetener for foods that are known as “empty calories.”
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is in a class of chemicals known as excitotoxins. Excitotoxins, like MSG, introduced to the body in high doses have been shown in animal studies to cause damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier. A variety of chronic diseases can arise out of this neurotoxicity. In other animal research, MSG has been shown to indirectly cause obesity. According to laboratory studies, the chemical does this by down regulating hypothalamic appetite suppression which increases the amount of food animals consume. This is another universal ingredient and can be found under names such as hydrolyzed yeast, torula yeast and autolyzed yeast. 
The NY Times has a great article with a timeline of the devolution of the American diet. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/20110724_SAD_Timeline.html
2. Chronic Stress
Stress is the body’s way of dealing with potentially dangerous situations, heightening adrenaline levels and increasing alertness. However, prolonged stress and anxiety can be detrimental to mental and physical health. Short term stress is normal and contributes to winning the race, studying for an exam, preparing well for a presentation at work or doing well at a job interview. Unfortunately, people these days rush through life at a frenetic pace, cramming more and more into their busy schedules. Many experience more stress every day than their bodies are designed to cope with. Just getting to work during rush hour traffic can be a very stressful experience for a lot of people.
When stress becomes prolonged, it is considered to be chronic. It can affect health, moods, productivity, relationships and quality of life. Many health conditions and problems have been directly linked to chronic stress and anxiety. Some of these effects include obesity, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions such as eczema, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems and even general body pain. 
In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
This study represents the first reported cord blood tests for 261 of the targeted chemicals and the first reported detections in cord blood for 209 compounds. Among them are eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellants in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles — including the Teflon chemical PFOA, recently characterized as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board — dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products; and numerous pesticides.
Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. 
If this is what’s accumulated in a newborn baby, imagine what must be inside of you!
4. You have no idea what is going on inside your body until it is too late.
Doctors are trained to look for disease and traditional lab testing has been designed for that purpose as well. The average blood/urine testing that your doctor would typically order for you at your yearly physical is designed to rule out the bad stuff; anemias, diabetes, heart disease, etc. But just because you don’t have markers that are ‘out of normal range’ and indicating a disease process does not mean that your body is functioning optimally! There is actually a separate set of values that can be applied to your lab tests that outline “optimal or functional’ ranges – not just disease ranges.
If you had specific blood, urine and stool tests done that could tell you about how optimal your body function was, you would be in a much better position to determine how healthy you were. IT IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE…SICK or HEALTHY!
Interestingly, all of these functional laboratory tests are available to us and we use them in our practice every day!
5. No one is teaching you a way to stay healthy…they are all waiting to treat you when you get sick!
In other cultures, doctors are paid to keep you well. If you get sick, they don’t get paid! Medication is a last resort, certainly not the first. If there was someone who could examine you, test and evaluate your structure and function and then teach you about YOUR body and what you needed to do to keep it well, wouldn’t you want to work with them?
So, what should you do when your doctor can’t help you?
Doctors of all disciplines, just like every other profession, can be great, good or bad. Remember, they work for you! If you are not satisfied with the care you receive, find someone that can meet your needs. If you have a condition that has not responded to treatment or you are being told that you have ‘medically unexplained symptoms”, it is time to seek out the care of clinicians who practice functionally. They look at how your body is working, not just if you are sick or not!
- New Therapy May Help People with Unexplained Symptoms of Pain Weakness and Fatigue. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC149488
- a b Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Partnership for Solutions. “Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care.” Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (September 2004 Update).
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Chronic Disease Overview. CDC.
- Gerard Anderson, “The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in American.” Public Health Reports / May-June 2004 / Volume 119.
- Is the Standard American Diet (SAD) Bad for Your Health?
- How to Manage Stress and Anxiety Naturally
- Body Burden – The Pollution in Newborns
© 2013 Michael Gruttadauria, DC, DACAN – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED