Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series. For part 1, click here.
My Thoughts on the Disease Epidemic
After pouring over many articles, documentaries and health plans, I narrowed down what may be fueling our disease epidemic. Clearly, something happened to our DNA as the result of the fall—whether it's cells only being able to duplicate a certain amount of times or sin allowing the mutation of DNA sequencing, something catastrophic happened. The question is: Do we fuel disease and strengthen its grip by making poor choices, or do we fight it by making wise choices? Granted, we live in a fallen world that often results in illness and disease. We can't always prevent that.
Let's look at what a day for a typical Christian might look like:
The day may begin with unhealthy cereal and milk, along with sugar water—that is, pasteurized orange juice. Or we may grab a large cup of coffee as we frantically run out the door. Sadly, there is little time for God.
We fail to get adequate sleep as well as adequate amounts of water. Contrary to popular thought, the body cannot acquire restful sleep after consuming caffeine. The only reason a person can fall asleep after consuming it is because of sheer exhaustion. With caffeine in the system, deep sleep vital to health and recovery remains elusive; therefore, we wake up exhausted instead of refreshed.
Lunch may consist of fast food or a "healthy" turkey sandwich containing sodium nitrates in the meat, processed bread and nutrient-deficient cheese. We may also purchase a bag of so-called "healthy" chips and a drink loaded with sugar.
We come home exhausted and quickly prepare a large piece of meat with heaps of pasta and a few pieces of limp broccoli for dinner. We spend the next few hours watching mindless entertainment while eating sugary sweets.
It's a never-ending cycle of fatigue and stress that manifests itself in physical and mental illness, weight gain and overall poor health. Think of what we are doing to our children by laying this unhealthy foundation early in their lives. It's time to break this cycle!
Disease often prevails when the bad guys are fed and the good guys are starved. Oxidative stress is the battle in our body between free radicals (terrorists) and the antioxidants (good guys). The constant bombardment wears the body down, hence the words "oxidative stress." Antioxidants found in living food are like the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Antioxidants disarm the free-radical terrorists by donating electrons to them. They become stable rather than radical.
A Quick Recap
Here are five ways we can fuel disease based on what we have covered so far:
1. Unhealthy meat is a toxic choice if we factor in growth hormones, antibiotics, drug residue, pathogens, worms, biotoxins and carcinogens from packaging as well as cooking. And most dairy products have been tainted and altered. If poor choices are made in this area, more terrorists are deployed into the body. I'm not against healthy meat and dairy in moderation; I'm against toxic meat and dairy in abundance. In countries like Austria and France and in areas near the Mediterranean, heart disease is much lower than in America, even though they eat more fat. We must look at all factors that cause inflammation and disease. Most antioxidants found in meat and dairy come from the nutrient-rich plants that the animals eat. If animals are fed genetically modified feed with zero life-giving benefits and injected with hormones and antibiotics, these factors will lower their antioxidant output.
2. If high levels of sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, sucrose and dozens more, are added to the terrorism team, the strength of the enemy grows. Increased levels of sugar intake, along with a substantial rise in meat or dairy consumption, could be one possible link to cancer—the one-two punch. Dr. Joel Fuhrman has noted this as well. High sugar intake releases insulin into the bloodstream, and high levels of animal protein consumption can raise insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a hormone that is similar to insulin. It joins with growth hormone to reproduce and regenerate cells. This is great news if the cells are healthy but bad news if they are cancerous. In short, excess sugar sparks the flame of disease, and the abundant IGF-1 throws gas on the fire. (Also avoid fake sweeteners such as aspartame, which is also known as AminoSweet, Nutrasweet and Equal, at all costs. They are chemicals, not natural sweeteners.)
3. If we add refined vegetable oils to the terrorism team, arteries and healthy cells become damaged due to inflammation.
4. Add the failure to fast to the equation and the enemy gains additional ground. Fasting invites SEAL Team Six to the battle. Among other things, fasting starves the fuel source of free radicals because most toxins are released during the digestion of food. Imagine what a bowl of junk cereal releases into your body compared to nothing being released when fasting. I believe that fasting slows aging for this very reason: It minimizes toxins while allowing the body to cleanse and rebuild. Granted, fasting will cause the body to release stored toxins as part of the cleansing process, but the body is prepared for this.
5. Throw inactivity into the battle, and the terrorists gain even more strength. Our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods of time. In 2006, Harvard Medical School made the following statement: "Exercise helps prevent atherosclerosis. It keeps arteries healthy by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boosting HDL ("good") cholesterol. And it also helps by improving other atherosclerotic risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress and various other factors that promote blood clots." Inactivity often leads to weight gain and sluggish blood flow. Remember that every pound of fat requires a few extra miles of blood vessels. That means more work for the body, especially the heart. Lose the excess and bring in more reinforcements.
Time does not allow me to write about additional factors such as stress, a lack of deep sleep and living in a toxic world. Research the effects of stress on the body as well as how sleep affects health. If we combine all these factors, it's easy to see why disease has reached epidemic levels. Work on these areas, and you can change the course of the battle in your favor.
Excerpted from the book Feasting and Fasting, available here: shaneidleman.com/
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, and free downloads of his books are available at WCFAV.org. Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.
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