TOXIC LIFESTYLES AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH!
Toxic lifestyles have been leading to a rise in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, anxiety, depression, obesity, and cancers. They have been on the rise for the past few decades in the US. People are living longer but are sicker. More attention is drawn to the way we live, eat, and move. Research shows that small changes can significantly reduce the risks caused by toxic lifestyles.
Stress is more prevalent in our lives as we struggle to keep a healthy balance between work and family. Boundaries are harder to draw as we try to take care of our families, which leaves so little time to decompress and recharge our own batteries. Our bodies’ wiring dates to prehistoric times. As such, stress still creates a “Fight or Flight” response releasing health destroying hormones such as Cortisol, having a devastating effect over time.
Another part of our body deeply impacted by toxic lifestyles and stress is our digestive system. Digestive aids are the top over the counter drugs sold in the US. Our “Fight or Flight” responses push our energy to limbs and heartbeat and away from our digestive system leaving us with poor digestion.
A fascinating area of study generating a lot of attention also in the last decade is our diet and gut health. “We are what we eat” is becoming truer than ever. Our gut microbiome, or gut bacteria, is influenced by our genetics but also greatly by our lifestyle and diet. As Dr. Ruairi Robertson states, we have “up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, and each of them plays a different role in your body. Most of them are extremely important for your health, while others may cause disease.” Research has shown that western diets rich in simple carbs such as sugar, animal fat, and processed foods have created a serious epidemic of inflammatory diseases such as food allergies, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis which are not prevalent in lower income societies. This heavy intake of sugar and preservatives could be affecting our genetic make-up, hormones, and our moods.
Even though each individual has a very specific microbiome, there are just three or four main types, similar to our blood types. The western microbiome has a different makeup than the one found in subjects from other parts of the world. A study was done switching the diet of a group from Africa eating a more natural diet to the American Diet and vice versa with a group of Americans now switched to the natural diet. The results showed the microbiome of the American group starting to look more like the microbiome supported by the natural diet and the microbiome of the African group looking more like a western microbiome. Those findings were extraordinary in telling us that the microbiome can be changed by changing diet and therefore decreasing chances of developing western lifestyle diseases.
Similarly, certain bacteria in the gut have an effect on weight and metabolic health. The microbiome of someone struggling with obesity differs from the one of someone who does not have a weight issue. It seems that the microbiome makeup of the obese individual contains less good bacteria, is responsible for a slower metabolism, and a less efficient digestive system. A fecal sample from lean mice was transplanted into mice dealing with obesity. The microbiome of the obese mice slowly started to change allowing it to lose weight. More research and testing need to occur before applying those therapies but those findings show the impact of lifestyle on the profound makeup of our bodies.
Our sedentary and toxic lifestyle also contribute to lifestyle diseases. Movement or exercise is crucial to good health. Exercise has many benefits including boosting our mood and self-esteem. Studies are showing that people exercising regularly show lower signs of depression and anxiety. Exercise generates a reaction in our body that releases endorphins known to reduce the sense of pain and increases our feeling of well-being.
We recognize at MRC that a lot has to be done to educate us and empower all of us in making small changes moving us closer to a healthier lifestyle. As such, we have in our practice Health and Wellness Coaches who concentrate on habit change and specialize in helping us reach a higher level of health, well-being, and happiness, one small step at a time. If you need additional information about our coaches, click below: