Why do we fall ill?

Why do we really fall ill? Is diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle sufficient for protecting ourself from illnesses or life threatening diseases? Ever wondered if there are factors beyond these that might be affecting your health and well being. I have seen friends and family members who have blamed themselves for their illnesses. And this blame does not help in the recovery process. Though diet and lifestyle is a major factor attributing to good health but let us not limit ourselves to this notion. I am sure you’ve heard of people who are very fit and eat healthy, die of chronic health issues as early as in their 40s or 30s. Why does that happen ? Have you ever wondered? I have…

Recent scientific studies have revealed a relationship between exposure of environmental toxicants and disease. Today, we are increasingly exposed to environmental pollutants, mostly as a result of industrial development. Many disease indicators such as inflammation and oxidative stress, are known to be influenced by both nutrition and environmental toxicants. There is no easy “fix” to protect or intervene against diseases associated with exposure to environmental pollutants. Many pollutants, such as heavy metals and persistent organics, bioaccumulate in our bodies, and remediation strategies to remove these chemicals from the environment are extremely difficult and costly.

Furthermore, many environmental pollutants induce signaling pathways that respond to oxidative stress; these same pathways are associated with the etiology and early pathology of many chronic diseases result of ingestion of certain dietary fats, whereas ingestion of fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients or bioactive compounds, may provide protection.

Let us also not forget our genes or our DNA that we have no control over and cannot change. The gene pool that affects our health is not limited to our parents alone but to our ancestors several hundreds of years ago. Based on the genetic contribution, human diseases can be classified as monogenic, chromosomal, or multifactorial. Monogenic diseases are caused by alterations in a single gene, and they segregate in families according to the traditional Mendelian principles of inheritance. Chromosomal diseases, as their name implies, are caused by alterations in chromosomes. For instance, within an individual’s genome, some chromosomes may be missing, extra chromosome copies may be present, or certain portions of chromosomes may be deleted or duplicated. Finally, the vast majority of human diseases can be categorized as multifactorial. These conditions are also referred to as complex diseases, and they are responsible for most of the burden on our health care system. Examples of these conditions include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and a number of birth defects and psychiatric disorders.

Besides the above more scientific reasons for illness, there are other physiological reasons such as stress, depression, loneliness, anxiety, anger, guilt, aggression, jealously etc. that have proven to attribute to a person’s path towards disease. These negative emotions elevate chances of falling ill and sometimes it’s very difficult to identify these reasons for illness in a typical clinical setup. Doctors typically spend only about 10 minutes or less with a single patient and their is failure to understand  that the same disease does not manifest in the same way in all people. Similarly the same treatment cannot possibly treat two persons showing similar symptoms. A deeper understanding of all but not limited to factors discussed in this blog need to be considered while evaluating reasons for the illness and while suggesting treatment for recovery and healing.

A major shift is necessary and I am hoping as more people are educated on this subject, the more they will approach illness in a different light and will begin to ask the right questions as they visit their doctors. I hope this blog that shown you a different side to why we fall and can fall ill? More soon!

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