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Reverse bad health with diet, exercise

July 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Our leading killer remains what it has been every year since 1900 -- heart disease. It kills nearly 650,000 each year. Doctors say we can only blame ourselves and our bad habits. But did you know you can get a do over? Experts say you can reverse some of the damage that's been done.Pattiy Hill was a yo-yo dieter, rarely exercised, was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and joint problems. She was 51 years old and fading fast.

"I had been fat for so long. I wanted to live, and I knew fat people don't grow old," said Hill.

At 280 pounds, Pattiy wanted a do-over.

Put down that cigarette and in five years a smoker's lungs can heal.

"If you quit before age 35 and before 20 pack years, which is one pack for 20 years, you get all of it back," said Dr. Michael Roizen, Cleveland Clinic.

Eating 3/4 of a cup of broccoli four times a week turns on the GSTM1 gene. That gene makes a protein that kills prostate, breast and colon cancer cells.

"You get to turn on a gene that helps you kill those cancers simply with something as simple as having broccoli," said Dr. Roizen.

Twelve walnut halves a week doubles the amount of omega-3 that most of us have.

"It decreased the risk of stroke or heart attack by 62 percent," said Dr. Roizen.

Diet and exercise also takes the years off. Pattiy lost 136 pounds the old- fashioned way. In 13 months, she cut her body fat from 60 to 20 percent and went from a size 24 to a 4.

"I looked at it as a way to help myself rather than a way of depriving myself," said Hill.

So keep Pattiy in mind when you do-over, and be sure to do it right.

If you're using money or insurance as an excuse, think again. Pattiy lost all her weight while she was uninsured. The only money she spent was on a gym membership. The savings on her medications she used to take has more than paid for that.

Web Extra Information:

PREVENTION:

Many health conditions are preventable by living a healthy lifestyle. You cannot control your genetic makeup, age, or gender. However, by controlling your health, you can lower your risk of future disease and help manage and fight already formed diseases. The U.S Institutes of Health recommends the following to maintain a healthy, disease-fighting lifestyle:

  • See your doctor for regular screenings
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Be physically active
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit sun exposure
REVERSING BAD HEALTH WITH DIET:

Many characteristics of bad health can be reversed through lifestyle and diet. Knowing your current health conditions can help you determine what kinds of foods you should eat to ensure your body receives the vitamins and nutrients it needs. It is never too late for your body to start getting healthy.

For instance, a person with coronary heart disease should get less than 30 percent of their calories from fat and less than 7 percent from saturated fat, according to the American Heart Association. Knowing these numbers, heart disease patients can focus on their diet and improve their condition.

Changes in diet can have quick and lasting results. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, French researchers studied 212 patients following the healthier-fats Mediterranean diet for three months. Researchers saw a 15-percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors in the short time period.

REVERSING BAD HEALTH WITH EXERCISE:

Exercise can also greatly improve one's health. For instance, metabolic syndrome is a collection of abnormal findings from lab results, which serves as a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

It is said that metabolic syndrome can be reversed through exercise. To reverse this, patients should exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes, five to six days per week.

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