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PART 2: Looking at Chronic Disease: Are We Looking at You? We all know and fear the life threatening illnesses: cancer, heart disease, neuro-muscular disease. But what is it like to live with a chronic disease? To live everyday with pain, being sick, always aware every minute of how you are feeling, your mind trapped in that concern. What is it like to live every day half sick and half well with health problems that won’t go away? Facts from the National Center for Health Statistics tell us that more than 140 million Americans more than half of us have a chronic illness. Twenty-four million people have arthritis; more than 13 million have some form of heart impairment; 19 million have high blood pressure serious enough to disable them; seven million have bronchitis; six million have asthma; five million have diabetes; five million have migraine headaches; and no one knows how many million suffer from backaches. If these numbers are not extraordinary enough, consider this last set: 36 million have some diagnosable digestive disease and an equal number have all the symptoms of digestive disease but no apparent disease. How many of all of these million suffer because of some dietary or nutritional deficiency because of the stress and tension of daily living? Maybe most of them. Certainly those with digestive illness, high blood pressure, asthma, heart impairment. Probably those with arthritis. Twenty per cent of all migraine headaches are triggered by certain food substances. Even varicose veins are caused to an extent by the lack of fiber in the diet. What we’re saying is this: tens of millions suffer from chronic disease. Most of these diseases are caused by poor diet, insufficient nutrition, stress and tension . . . in effect, the, very quality of life that we’ve been talking about. All of these causes can be dealt with. Their mystery will not be uncovered by research in some laboratory. Answers will come when patient and doctor begin working together to develop techniques for achieving and maintaining a relatively stable social and work life. To do that, to promote such a “normal” life, the patient will have to expend some real effort. Dependence on a physician produces little or nothing. Of course some people give up. The fight is too difficult. Living without hope for a “cure”; living with the endless . cycle of promise and disappointment in treatment does become difficult to bear. The problem is that in the whole range of illness that we’re talking about, specialists agree on very few therapies. And wouldn’t you know it, those that they do agree upon because they work are the most predictable, the most boring, and the most repetitive. But they work. Virtually every chronic illness rules out smoking. Every therapy stresses weight loss and a balanced diet. No wonder. There are 40 million Americans who are more than 15 pounds overweight. More than half of those are obese. Almost all therapy for these chronic illnesses insists on reasonable exercise to strengthen muscles or increase stamina. Heart patients walk miles; people with back pains do a variety of calisthenics; overweight people learn to exercise because exercise reduces appetite. Yes, reduces it. Did you ever try playing frisbee or basketball with your little one while eating a sandwich? Or is it that good novel or television show that brings out the cookie monster in you \(or the box of What else is important in treating most of these chronic illnesses? Often massive doses of vitamins to correct nutritional balance. Keep in mind that there is a difference between nutrition and diet. Nutrition is what your cells need to be healthy and productive. Diet is what you eat. Biofeedback, that “far-out” looking practice of being hooked up to an electronic machine that helps to control functions we think of as involuntary breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension works. And anyone, anyone can learn to use it and make it work for them. The key to all of this as you can tell is that we’re not talking about dangerous drugs, or extraordinary treatments in a medical center, or surgery. We’re talking about what you can learn about your own diet, your own nutritional needs, how to control you own life stresses. These are things you can do yourself. And we’ll be here to help you do it, not only by providing facts and information that you can consider, but also by responding to your questions and concerns. If all this seems like it might be a little work, you’re right, it will be. But those victims of chronic illness and anyone of us can be at any moment who must successfully cope with their difficulties, appear to be the ones willing to expend the time and energy necessary to continue functioning successfully. In the opinion of many doctors, will and determination are more valuable than all the pills in the world. If you have any questions, write us. Our address is: Rapoport Institute For Digestive Health, P.O. Box 208, Waco, Texas 76703. From the American Digestive Disease Society Presented by: AIL Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board P.O. Box 208, Waco, Texas 76703 American Income Life insurance Company MAY 9, 1980