By Tina Van Horn, Reliv Product Marketing Specialist
You might say that we take prevention personally here at Reliv. That’s because we know chronic diseases are a growing crisis in the United States. Currently, nearly half of the population suffers from at least one chronic disease such as heart disease, asthma, cancer, obesity, arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes. We can do better! So at Reliv corporate headquarters, we started our Fit3* program. We are using the Reliv products to complement improved nutrition choices and regular physical activity, so we can be healthy and enjoy life for many years to come. We had to start somewhere, so we started with ourselves. We are modeling healthy choices and encouraging our friends and family to get involved too. But you don’t need a community program to help you make changes that will keep you healthy. You can make small changes today that will impact your health in the long run.
*For more information on the Reliv Corporate Fit3 program, check out our story in the Spring 2016 issue of Lifestyle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the U.S.(1) Not only are chronic diseases common, but they are also very costly as the primary driver of health care costs – accounting for 86 cents out of every dollar we spend on health care in the U.S.(2)
While chronic diseases are among the most common and most costly of all health problems, they are also among the most preventable. The World Health Organization estimates that as much as 80 percent of premature heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, and 40 percent of cancers could be prevented entirely if Americans avoided tobacco, developed healthier eating habits and were more physically active(3).
If they are really so preventable, why are we seeing such dramatic increases in the prevalence of some of these conditions? If current trends continue, one in three Americans born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime(4) and the number of adults diagnosed with arthritis is projected to increase from 53 million to 67 million by 2030(5).
More than two-thirds of adults believe that the U.S. health care system should place more emphasis on chronic disease preventive care, and 84% favor public funding for such prevention programs(6). Millions of dollars are spent each year on research, policy implementation, and community–based programs that encourage behavior changes to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, yet estimates suggest incidences of diabetes, obesity and cancer will continue to rise exponentially over the next few decades.
With all of this investment and effort to encourage changes that promote prevention, there is a critical piece of the equation that often gets overlooked: YOU! Ultimately YOU make the choices and changes needed to reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.
Lifestyle changes are the primary modifiers of chronic disease risk. Good nutrition choices and physical activity go hand-in-hand when it comes to lowering the risk of many chronic diseases.
Getting the Right Nutrition
Unfortunately, the standard American diet promotes eating high-energy foods with poor nutrient quality. This current food culture has contributed significantly to the obesity crisis we are experiencing, which directly impacts the incidences of several chronic health concerns, from reproduction and respiratory function to memory and mood. Obesity increases the risk of debilitating and deadly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It does this through a variety of pathways, some as straightforward as the mechanical stress of carrying extra pounds and some involving complex changes in hormones and metabolism.
Diets that focus on consuming fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, while reducing processed foods, trans fats, and added sugars, have been shown to improve many of the same biomarkers as exercise: blood pressure, weight, blood lipids, glucose and inflammation.
Following these dietary guidelines not only helps balance energy (calorie) needs and macronutrient requirements, but also supplies essential micronutrients. Inadequate intake of certain micronutrients may increase the risk for chronic diseases. National surveys indicate that many Americans are not getting enough micronutrients from their diet, possibly increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer and other long-term conditions.
According to a 2015 report from the CDC, only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables(7). These statistics suggest that many of us are likely to be deficient in one or more micronutrients with data indicating as many as 9 out of 10 Americans being micronutrient deficient.
The Reliv Difference
While getting all of our nutrients directly from whole food sources is ideal, this isn’t realistic given the current food culture. Nutritional supplementation remains the best way to prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Reliv’s multi-vitamin supplements (Reliv Now®, Reliv Classic® and Reliv Now® for Kids) along with condition-specific formulas are the products you need to fill nutritional gaps in your diet and promote optimal health.
Getting Enough Exercise
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to prevent chronic diseases. Exercise can reduce the risk and symptoms of more than 20 physical and mental health conditions, and it can also slow down how quickly your body ages.
Studies show that risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 30% for those who do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Participants in a major clinical trial group exercised at moderate intensity, usually by walking an average of 30 minutes per day, five days a week, in addition to diet modifications. Their efforts resulted in sustained weight loss of 10-15 pounds, reducing their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%! Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk of various forms of cancer, stroke, dementia, metabolic syndrome, depression and arthritis.
Why is exercise so effective at reducing the risk of so many conditions? Because it beneficially affects many biomarkers that are direct risk factors for several chronic diseases.
Regular physical activity:
- lowers blood pressure
- improves cholesterol
- aids weight management
- strengthens bones and muscles
- promotes immune function
- stabilizes blood sugar/insulin response
- reduces stress
Despite the overwhelming benefits of exercise, less than half of Americans are meeting the recommendations for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Chronic diseases are the most prevalent and costly heath care problems in the United States. Many chronic diseases are life-long conditions and their impact lessens the quality of life not only for those suffering from the disease, but also of their family members. As a society, we spend less than $10 per person, per year on prevention. With limited societal resources to promote prevention of chronic diseases, it’s time to take a look at what YOU can do.
A Note from Dr. Carl Hastings
The average life expectancy for Americans has nearly doubled over the past century due to public health programs and communicable disease prevention. The challenge for the next century is chronic disease prevention. Fortunately, most chronic diseases are highly preventable by avoiding the known risk factors, like tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity. We also have newer technology available to us today, like blood tests and biomarkers that can help us determine our individual risks of certain chronic conditions. Once we know our risks, we can take measures to improve our chances of delaying or preventing the onset of chronic health problems. The Reliv nutrition formulas have been developed with ingredients that work synergistically to support healthy biomarkers associated with many age-related and chronic conditions. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
To your health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings
Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Disease Overview page. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. At a Glance Fact Sheet page. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/nccdphp.htm. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease About page. Available at http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/about. Accessed March 29, 2016.
- Venkat Narayan KM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for developing diabetes mellitus. JAMA 2003: 290:1884-1890.
- World Health Organization. Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005. Available from http://www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/full_report.pdf
- Two-thirds of adult Americans believe more money needs to be spent on chronic disease prevention programs and they’re willing to pay higher taxes to fund them, survey finds (press release). Atlanta, GA: National Association of Chronic Disease Directors; September 3, 2008.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. July 10, 2015.