Join the Health RevolutionHealth Revolution | Special Edition
Are you struggling with an overwhelming diagnosis? Are you tired, stressed, or overweight?
By Kevin Wahl and Betsy Mayer
“My body was in a constant state of painful inflammation,” she adds. “I had stomach ulcers. My blood pressure pushed into the high range. High blood glucose levels put me well on the way to developing diabetes. Most days I struggled to breathe due to asthma triggered by my allergies. Because of sleep apnea, I woke up every three minutes and suffered from almost constant fatigue.
“I also could not lose weight even with a reduced caloric intake. I tried every diet there was, but all failed. I desperately needed help; I needed a life change!”
Judith believes that she was miraculously led to a health center in Virginia* that practices “lifestyle medicine”—a new medically recognized specialty that uses a whole food, plant-based diet, exercise, stress management, tobacco and alcohol cessation, along with other non-drug modalities to prevent, treat, and reverse lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
Judith signed on for a 10-day session and was provided with a foundational change and understanding in dealing with her health issues. “Their hands-on cooking classes opened my eyes to the bountiful harvest of healthy choices available for me. I learned how to prepare foods that are not only nutritionally beneficial, but that also taste fabulous!”
Within those 10 days, Judith saw dramatic changes in her health. “My blood pressure dropped back to within normal range. I no longer had constant pain and discomfort in my digestive system. I could breathe. I no longer needed to take puffs from my inhaler several times a day. I lost a few pounds.”
Soon, Judith had dropped 12 of her 15 medications. When we caught up with her several months after the program, she had lost a total of 20 pounds and was still working on losing more.
Judith says, “I’ve adopted a whole food, plant-based diet. I cook many of the recipes I learned. I usually eat two meals a day, breakfast and lunch. I’m never hungry as long as I stick with the program. I continue to lose one to three pounds a week. I track my steps and find that the days I get enough steps and drink enough water, the scales keep moving down. Most of my pain is gone. The inflammation caused by my allergies and food intolerance is gone.”
Judith’s experience is now backed up by the science of epigenetics. And through this understanding, more and more individuals are discovering the power of lifestyle change to transform their health.
Within 10 days of making serious changes to her lifestyle, Judith’s abdominal pain subsided, and her blood pressure and blood sugars began to normalize.
HOW CHOICES CAN CHANGE GENES
Since the discovery of the human genome more than 15 years ago, scientists have found connections between our genetic profiles and our likelihood of developing health problems like breast cancer, heart attack, depression, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Now you can undergo genetic tests to determine whether you are at higher risk for various diseases. “Knowing that one possesses copies of ‘cancer genes,’ for example, can lead to some tough decisions about where to go from there,” writes Alice G. Walton in “How Health and Lifestyle Choices Can Change Your Genetic Makeup.”1
But there’s also a bright spot in genetic research. “Research in the new field of epigenetics is finding that our lifestyle choices—the foods we put in our bodies, the chemicals we are exposed to, how active we opt to be, even our social environments—can actually alter our health at the level of the gene.”2 So even if we think our genes seem to be working against us, we can still choose to alter that outcome in a big way through our lifestyle choices.
How this happens is a fascinating look into the world of molecular genetics. Substances that we put into our bodies like tobacco, or things we do to our bodies like exercise, can either harm or help the molecules that support genetic health. Through these “epigenetic mechanisms,” small switches that control the expression of that gene in our cells are turned off or on. Our choices control the switch!
AN OLD REMEDY, A NEW UNDERSTANDING
Although a relatively new specialization in the field of medicine, lifestyle medicine is not new. There have always been those who understood that the role of healers is to find and treat the source of the disease, not merely to treat the symptoms or modify the disease markers.
In the 4th century BC, Hippocrates wrote, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.” In the 19th century, a deep interest in personal health was awakened through the influence of Sylvester Graham and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, both noted vegetarians and temperance advocates.
Today, health care providers recognize that the current model of health care with its billions of dollars spent on technology and drugs isn’t sustainable. “Type 2 diabetes alone is a looming global pandemic with incalculable consequences.”3
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine sees the silver lining in this cloud: “The good news is that 80 percent or more of all healthcare spending in the US is tied to the treatment of conditions rooted in poor lifestyle choices. Chronic diseases and conditions—such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, multiple types of cancer—are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health conditions.”4
The new science of epigenetics couldn’t have come at a better time! Now we know that lifestyle medicine is the way forward for personal and community health. How we eat, sleep, and exercise, our interpersonal relationships and work habits, as well as our use of addictive substances such as tobacco and alcohol, can vastly modify our genetic inheritance. This is science, not science fiction!
Do you or someone you love need a health revolution? Do you have a family history of any of the diseases listed above? Perhaps your health is on the edge and you would like a mid-course correction? Or maybe you’re blessed with good health and would like to reinforce that golden asset. This issue is for you!
Be encouraged by the awesome stories of courageous people who have saved their lives and health through serious lifestyle changes. Be inspired by the latest research on the changes you can make to better your health outcomes. At the end of this issue you’ll find a page with resources for further information. Personal health is a lifelong pursuit. Enjoy diving into a deep subject with fascinating discoveries around every corner.
After you’ve revolutionized your own health, join us in inspiring a wider revolution. Order more of this issue to share with others and encourage them to join the revolution, too!
* Judith attended the Hartland Lifestyle Education Center in Rapidan, Virginia. Visit www.outpostcenters.org and search “lifestyle change” to find a lifestyle program near you. Readers in Australia and New Zealand can visit www.abide.care.
- “How Health and Lifestyle Choices Can Change Your Genetic Makeup,” theatlantic.com, Nov. 6, 2011.
- “What is Lifestyle Medicine?” The
American College of Lifestyle Medicine,
Kevin Wahl was the assistant editor for Hartland Ministry Report. Betsy Mayer is the managing editor of Last Generation magazine. She is also a registered nurse and has a bachelor’s in health science. For more copies of this issue, call 540-672-5671, or visit www.lastgen.net.
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