Your life is in danger! Your health is in danger!
Provocative statements I admit, but deliberately designed as a wake up call.
Suppose you became aware that a flash flood had only seconds earlier washed out a vital bridge in your city—and you suddenly spotted a car full of your friends driving on the road towards the bridge unaware that the bridge was gone. Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to warn them? Well, when it comes to our health…the bridge is out…and millions of people are driving towards it unawares. Perhaps this post can be your warning.
I believe that I can show you how to protect yourself from an early death. In fact, by taking a few simple steps today, you could, very likely, add an extra ten healthy years to your life.
Fact of Life #1: Average Life Expectancy has more than doubled.
Now, let me ask you; how long do you plan on living? To what age? 70? 80? 90? What if you could live to 100 and beyond without the pain and disease that most people think comes with old age. Is this possible? Not until recently. Over one thousand years ago, the average person lived between twenty and thirty years. Did you know that? I didn’t. By the 1600’s, around the time of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, the average life expectancy was still only about 35 years. By 1900, the average life expectancy had increased to only 47 years. Today, the average person lives to about 76. That’s 79 for women and 72 for men.
Fact of Life #2: We used to die prematurely by infectious diseases.
Now, travel back in time with me — 200 years — to the city of London. Guess how many children died before they reached the age of five. 66%. Two thirds died in early childhood from infectious diseases like the black plague, small pox, tuberculosis or diphtheria. If a child could make it through the danger zone….from birth to age five….it was probably because it had a strong immune system to fight off these deadly infectious diseases.
Infectious diseases were still the number one killers well into the twentieth century. During the winter of 1918, 20 million people died in an epidemic of the flu. But then things started to change. Vaccines for tuberculosis and diphtheria were discovered in the twenties and thirties. Antibiotics became widely available in the forties. Polio was conquered in the fifties. Measles disappeared in the sixties. Because of this, of the 400,000 babies born on this very day all over the world, only one in a hundred will die before the age of 5. Modern medicine has reduced the childhood death rate from 66% to 1%. The early danger zone has been eliminated in our lifetime.
Fact of Life #3: A new epidemic of premature death is caused by degenerative diseases.
Today, the risk of dying of anything before you are 40 is really very small. The number one cause of death before 40 is accidents followed by suicide and murder. But starting at 40 you enter a second danger zone where a new epidemic of diseases is wiping us out. It’s the zone of the nine deadly diseases. Can you guess what they are?
These nine deadly diseases combined will send more than TWO MILLION North Americans to an early grave this year! So what does this have to do with you?
I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way: If things continue as they are today, almost everyone you know, including yourself, will probably succumb to complications of one or more of these nine deadly diseases. How deadly are they? They kill 83% of us.
Now, I used to think that the definition of aging was to get one of these nine diseases and then to die. Imagine my surprise when I learned that heart disease, our number one killer, is a relatively new disease. The first modern cases of it were reported in 1912 and even then it was extremely rare. How did it go from almost non existent to the number one spot? What about cancer? Only 3% of us died of cancer a hundred years ago. Today, almost 30% of us succumb to it. Same with stroke, which killed very few a hundred years ago. Today, it’s the number three killer. Alzheimer’s wasn’t even diagnosed until 1907. Today, 40% of those over 85 are suffering from it. And diabetes has increased 600% in just the last generation.
Obviously, something has gone terribly wrong— in our lifetime. But, we’re acting as if all of these diseases are just a part of the normal aging process. Not so! There is nothing normal about degenerative disease. Many of these deaths are totally unnecessary. And that’s the tragedy!
When a plane crashes and a few hundred people die, it makes front page news for days. But when a million people die of heart disease or a half a million die of cancer, you’d think there’d be more of an outcry. It’s the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of people crashing every single hour of every single day of every single month for an entire year. Year after year.
But here’s the good news. None of these diseases are inevitable. All of them can be avoided or at least delayed — and in some cases even reversed, by taking a few simple steps, which I’ll share with you before we’re done.
Fact of Life #4. You and I are largely in control of the diseases that kill us.
A study by the Centre for Disease Control concluded that we as individuals influence or control 84% of the factors that lead to deadly disease. Only 16% is beyond our control or determined by our heredity.
Yes, we are more in control than we thought. Many of us, by taking proper steps now, can make it through the danger zone of the deadly nine without being attacked. Because of this, more and more of us will be living healthy lives all the way to a hundred and beyond.
Fact of Life #5: You can live to 100.
Did you say a hundred? Yes. A hundred or more. According to the Bible, Noah lived to 950. But, of course, there wasn’t any pollution back then. Today, experts tell us that the upper figure of human longevity is about 120 years. The reason this is so hard to believe is because we have developed an attitude that disease is inevitable. We have forgotten what it is to die of old age.
Science knows of no disease caused by the simple passage of time. Read that again! There is no biological reason why all of us can’t live to celebrate at least our 100th birthday.
In fact, it’s happening. The fastest growing segment of our population is made up of almost 4,000,000 people aged 85 and above. Centenarians — folks who are 100 or older are the fastest-growing age group in America. Today, they’re more than 50,000 strong — three times as many as there were 10 years ago — and their numbers should triple again in the next 20 years.
How about you? Do you want to live to 100? With the way trends are going, you may reach 100 whether you want to or not. And that scares some people. We tend to think of old people as frail and sickly, but research on those who live to a hundred finds them “amazingly frisky.” 84% function well and 73% rate their health as good to excellent.
So what is their secret? As a group, they like to walk, they are rarely overweight and 52% take extra vitamins and minerals daily to supplement a healthy diet. If you want to join them, you’ll have to adopt many of the same habits.
Let your life shine bright like a light bulb until the very end….
Would you like to live to be a “frisky” one hundred years old? Whatever age you live to, you want your life to be like a light bulb, shining brightly until the very end and then, POOF! But most people live their life as if it was on a dimmer switch. So the goal is to live a long life with vibrant health until the very end. How do you do that? By avoiding the nine deadly diseases for as long as possible.
There is an adage in war. Know thy enemy. Each of us are being stalked by nine mortal diseases. If we don’t want to be cut down early, we need to find out more about these diseases so we’ll better understand how to conquer them.
In our next post, we will take a closer look at the deadly nine degenerative diseases, and we will finish with the S.A.F.E. Formula in how to avoid them.
(Adapted from “Your Health is in Danger” by Robert G. Allen. These posts are not meant to be scholarly in nature, but references of quotes are available upon request.)