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Chronic Disease Management - Non-Pharma Approach for Better Outcomes Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 12:10

It’s no secret that cardiovascular disease, hypertension and metabolic disorder are among the top chronic conditions in the U.S. today (CDC.gov). The Western diet of carbohydrate rich, processed foods combined with sedentary lifestyles are major drivers of these diseases. Cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity are also significant risk factors (NIH.gov).  Health spending in the U.S. is currently approaching 20% of GDP and growing (The Fiscal Times). Thus, properly preventing, delaying and/or managing chronic conditions is critical for the long term health and wealth of our nation.

Despite lip service to diet, exercise and  life style modifications to address chronic disease, many practitioners are quick to reach for the prescription pad (TheGuardian.com). And why not? It's tough to persuade patients to eat right, workout, quit smoking and reign in alcohol consumption. Furthermore, a lot of the medications used to treat chronic conditions are inexpensive, effective  and widely considered safe.

However, these various drugs are not a panacea. First, although generally considered safe, many of these drugs are associated with significant Adverse Affects (AEs) (HealthFreedoms.org and WashingtonPost.com). Second, meeting lipid profile guidelines and controlling blood pressure and blood sugar naturally (i.e. via diet and exercise) intuitively seems more healthful than artificially (i.e. via prescription meds). Western medicine appears to be in agreement with that intuitive conclusion. For example, the almost universally embraced Framingham Risk tool examines various data points to assess ten year risk of a cardiac event. In order to earn a low risk rating, a patient needs to have a systolic BP of less than 130 mm Hg. If the patient's BP is being treated with medicines, the risk increases even if the below 130 mm Hg benchmark is achieved. Finally, a patient who relies on prescription medications might be more likely to avoid important lifestyle changes. E.G. If my blood cholesterol is fine on the statin, why lose weight? If my blood pressure is under control with the lisinopril, why quit smoking?

Chronic inflammation and poor gut health are both implicated as major contributors to chronic disease (CDC.gov and JAMA). Meanwhile an anti-inflammatory diet (FloridaHealthIndustry.com) combined with a sensible exercise program can simultaneously address chronic conditions synergistically and deliver a host of additional health benefits with no AEs. A diet of healthy fats, lean protein and lots of fruit and vegetables united with exercise (30 minutes a day, five days a week, balanced between aerobic and anaerobic activity) will naturally reduce systemic inflammation and restore gut health (Harvard.edu and NIH.gov and WebMD). Anti-inflammatory supplements and probiotics can complement the diet/exercise treatment plan. Benefits include improved cardiovascular health (better lipid profile and reduced blood pressure), improved gastrointestinal function, reduced cancer risk as well as improved metabolic and sexual function. Such a treatment plan promotes healthy weight, reduces tobacco and alcohol cravings, lessens joint pain and supports restful sleep and general well-being.

Not every patient has the determination necessary to adopt a disciplined diet and exercise program. And not all patients will be able to completely restore their health without prescription medications. But a huge segment of our population could transform their health without drugs. Most of the remainder could benefit by relying on lower dosages of fewer medicines. Both healthcare practitioners and patients can prosper by adopting diet and exercise as a first line of defense against chronic disease.
 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 12:36
 


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