Imagine if there was a way to turn around the statistics for the 5 largest non-communicable diseases by taking responsibility for some of the choices we are making and choosing to listen to the intelligence of our body. I mean ALL of us, not just those who stand out as needing support once the body has shown how the addictions have broken down the bodies systems or those who are charge with our managing and supporting our health care.
To date we have given more sway to the intelligence of the mind and thinking that the body follows that intelligence…well that is indeed what we have taken as normal but…we may need to reconsider
Non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) - Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Respiratory disease, and Cancer kill 38 million people each year and are responsible for 82% of deaths worldwide. These statistics do not yet include the consequent of poor mental health which is now part of the World Health Organisations raft of NCD’s.
Just taking a moment to understand the above, 82% of people die each year because we are struggling to take responsibility for our body, how we treat it and nurture it with food, rest and sleep in a way that helps it even function. I use the word function on purpose, to illustrate the body is in a state of 'last resort' before it breaks down, of course there is the other extreme of a well-oiled and finely tuned body that is vital and has reserve in the tanks for the more demanding times and days.
The actual function is breaking down because it cannot process what we are consuming by choice.
Cigarette Smoke is definitely not harmonious in our lungs. The research on the correlation between use and harm is clear and Australia leads the way in the world with reducing lung disease because of legislation, tax and health initiatives to reduce use of tobacco.
Alcohol is used in every doctors’ office, hospital & clinic setting because it is a disinfectant. It is used before an injection to kill germs and yet it is also used as a source of pleasure. Alcohol is a known and documented toxin to the brain, liver and kidney cells. There are clear effects in the body. Around 1 in 5 (18.2%) Australians over 14 drink at levels that put them at risk of alcohol-related harm over their lifetime.
56% of Australians do not meet physical activity guidelines. The body is designed for movement, it has joints and muscles which, when we are born glide and slide, rotate and stretch and bend. The more sedentary our life the more our body, like our brain adapts to its environment. The muscle is replaced by fat and the bodies processing systems slow down to a point of, in some cases, not being able to re-boot. Being less physically active puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
The increase in eating for pleasure rather than for sustenance or function has meant a highly influential and willing industry producing, manufacturing and marketing sugar, high processed fat, and over consumption of carbohydrates that have resulted in dependencies that are comparable to addictions. In 2015 there were 415 million people living with diabetes and 1 in 2 adults with diabetes are undiagnosed! It is a disease that associated with complications of the eyes, feet, kidneys and cardiovascular health resulting in Australia having the second highest rate of foot amputations in the developed world. It costs the Australian taxpayers $14.6 billion.
With many of the NCD’s a mental illness is also a compounding factor that is continuing to grow & explode. 45% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a common mental illness and these statistics are already woefully out of date. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44.
Remember, as the World Health Organisation remind us, these are all lifestyle choices which contribute to the NCD’s that kill 82% of the population worldwide. How do we change these statistics for diseases when one of their major contributing factors are lifestyle choices?
As healthcare workers, practitioners and human beings we must ask why are none of our programs working?
I feel there is a deeper level of responsibility being called for here. As practitioners and health workers rolling out these programs, we cannot just tell people what to do, we must understand these addictions for ourselves, look at addiction and these behaviours in our own lives and then when we share the programs with our client can speak from a body that has experience.
I am not saying that if you want to talk to people about addiction to heroin you should have been a heroin addict but you should have an understanding of addictions in your own life, how they feel and why they are there – a time of introspection to understand what we use the addiction to avoid.
Perhaps some of the more acceptable addictions to look at might be sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, sport, conflict, drama. Yes, trust me you can be addicted to all of them and giving them up can give us a humbling glimpse into the hold of addictions and how and why they are there.
From a place of understanding what holds us back from being all that we are and having a solid sense of our purpose in the world we can then take energetic, as well as physical
responsibility to understand why we see the statistics we do. We can then found and build programs that offer a more practical, supportive, loving and committed way to live that does not include us as part of the statistics of global health crisis.