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Chronic disease typically progress slowly and becomes part of one’s life. Medication can help, but not cure them. Because they also cause disability, chronic conditions have a major impact on the expectancy of life.

Since the 1980’s, the U.S. has gained just 4.9 years of life expectancy, while comparable countries have gained 7.8 years on average.

People all over the world area affected by chronic illnesses and they often start during adolescence.

Life expectancy in Japan is 84.2 years, Europe is 84 years, Australia is 83.4, US is 78.9, China is 76.8, and India is 68.7 years. The main influences are lifestyle, diet, violence and accidents. Given that violence and accidents don’t affect many of us in terms of dying, these stats tell us we are in control of our life and age at which we die.

I’m currently reading Dave Asprey’s new book Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backward and Maybe Even Live Forever. It’s all about aiming for a lifetime of good health and he offers practical How Tos in doing it. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to be healthier and live longer.

Across our planet, fewer and fewer people die at a young age. The age at which people die has changed significantly since 1990. The average marginal decline in life expectancy is 1.8 years with each additional chronic condition.

According to the CDC, these risk factors are largely responsible for each of the leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease risks (647,457 deaths/yr) include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, poor diet, overweight, and lack of physical activity.
  • Cancer risks (599,108) include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation, and certain chemicals and other substances.
  • Unintentional injury risks (169,936): include lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, drug and alcohol use, exposure to occupational hazards, and unsafe home and community environments.
  • Chronic respiratory disease risks (160,201) include tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants, allergens, and exposure to occupational agents.
  • Stroke risks (146,383) include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, overweight, previous stroke, tobacco use, alcohol use, and lack of physical activity.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: (121,404)
  • Diabetes (83,564)

When we have a chronic disease, it takes away our power to lead a good quality of life. Proper diet and exercise is at the crux of health and longevity. And you know what, it all starts with our parents because they teach us how to eat and be physically active. If you have younger children, please pause and take this in – You have a say in how healthy your children will be in both childhood and adulthood.

It is never too late to change!