Review of the Disease Free Book from Reader's Digest

by Mira

Disease Free: Proven Ways to Prevent More Than 90 Common Health Conditions Both Major and Minor (2009) can inspire you to work on improving your overall health.

I discovered the Disease Free book at the house of a relative, in the Romanian translation. It's chock-full of information, as it deals with each disease on one or two spreads.

According to the editors, the book is based on hundreds of medical studies and the help of 15 medical doctors, which ensures the accuracy of the information presented. Well, the studies could be cited better and there could have been more info about the nutrition, but it's still a good book to get you started living a healthier life, and curious about the ways in which nutrition and exercise, for instance, give so many health benefits.

I opened the book at hypertension (high blood pressure) and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), both of which I know a few things about, and it convinced me that the book is well worth reading.

Disease Free starts with general advice and some illustrated spreads on the six major causes of illness: high blood pressure, intra-abdominal fat, depression, insulin resistance, LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio, inflammation. Then it moves to 12 general steps to prevent illness, and to advice about preventing those 90 diseases mentioned in the title.

NB: I am not a medical professional and this article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program or making diet and other lifestyle changes.

12 Steps to a Better Health

The book lists 12 steps to a better health and prevention of disease, and expands upon each in two pages. These steps are as follows

  1. Give up smoking
  2. Exercise moderately for 30 minutes, almost every day
  3. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and veggies daily; eat less
  4. Do your medical tests as required
  5. Sleep at least 7-8 hours every night
  6. Take a small dose of aspirin daily
  7. Check your blood pressure
  8. Create harmony in your family and your relationships with friends
  9. Eliminate from your diet saturated fats as much as you can
  10. Treat depression
  11. Control chronic stress
  12. Meditate, pray, or concentrate on a high goal

This all seems like common-sense advice, but read a little more about each point and you'll get motivated to do that exercise and the other steps when you learn how important they are in disease prevention.

Two of the Diseases Covered: Hypertension and High Cholesterol

I have high diastolic blood pressure, and often get quite stressed at work, so I was curious what their advice would be. I had researched hypertension and learned that a good number of foods have minerals and phytonutrients that help lower high blood pressure. But reading how an hour of fast walking, 3-5 times a week, lowers blood pressure by 5-6 points made me more determined to include that exercise every day, since it's a sure-fire way to reduce stress and hypertension. Fast walking also raises the level of HDL (good) cholesterol, among other good things it does for you. It also helps you lose weight, and the benefits are great even at 12 pounds lost (out of 198 pounds): LDL cholesterol lowered by 12% and HDL cholesterol raised by 18%. That's huge. And yet too many of us don't do that minimal exercise of one hour of fast walking a day. What's ironic is that I love to walk and to find reasons to go out, but too often think that other things are more important.

Well, some people may find themselves truly stuck indoors. Any exercise helps, and so does small changes in diet. Walnuts are a food for the heart and cardiovascular system. According to a study cited by Reader's Digest, 7 walnuts a day for 6 months lowered LDL cholesterol by 10% and raised HDL cholesterol by 18%. Apparently, alcohol can also help, if enjoyed in moderation. This book doesn't say what kind of alcohol, only that one glass a day can lower LDL cholesterol by 8 points and raise HDL cholesterol by 7%. Obviously a glass of vodka is different from a glass of red wine, so I wish the authors were more specific.

Oh, and if you have high cholesterol and are still eating fast foods full of trans fats, maybe now is the time reduce your intake of such foods. These partially-hydrogenated fats raise the lousy (LDL) cholesterol, lower the good (HDL) cholesterol, raise your triglycerides levels, and make you more susceptible to a heart attack. (Fast food isn't that great for high blood sugar either. And the list goes on.)

Among the great ideas, there's avocado, for one. A Mexican study showed that women who ate an avocado a day for a week lowered their total cholesterol by 17%; also raised their good cholesterol. I am a believer in avocado too, and I noticed it lowers triglycerides as well – a benefit also documented scientifically.

You may not be aware that when they say smoking is bad for the heart that's also because it reduces the good cholesterol by 7-20% and can raise the lousy cholesterol by 70%. Again, I'd like to know more figures from this study: how much smoking does that, and what were the particulars of those in the study group? The results of these studies seem to be used rather loosely.

Nevertheless, it's a book worth reading. It covers acne, allergies, anxiety, arthritis, Alzheimer's, several types of cancer (colorectal, cervical, skin, prostate, stomach, breast cancer, ovarian, pulmonary, bladder), macular degeneration and glaucoma, knee pain, back pain, eczema, gastroenteritis, insomnia, STDs, obesity, fatigue, colds, the flu, snoring, tinnitus, and many other conditions.

The book Disease Free also includes some great recipes.

Disease Free: Proven Ways to Prevent More Than 90 Common Health Conditions

30 Foods that Help Lower High Blood Pressure

I made this mug after I researched food that helps reduce hypertension
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Updated: 10/29/2015, Mira
 
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Mira on 03/16/2016

Hi greentree, yes, you make two very good points. Fruits should be eaten in moderation. Aspirin is probably more innocuous than its detractors say, but, still, I agree with you, a healthy person shouldn't start taking it -- except, maybe, in later life.

greentree on 03/16/2016

The list of 12 steps to better health make sense, but I do not agree with:

- Take aspirin every day. A healthy person should not really start taking any drugs. Aspirin has side effects, one being an inflammation of the stomach.

- Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Plants food are good and necessary, but eating so many servings of them sounds unrealistic for many people. Also, by my humble opinion, fruits are overrated. Fruits contain a lot of sugar, which, by my experience, makes you eat more - sugar. Fruits are essentially sweets. I have nothing bad to say about fruits, but they are not just healthy on its own.

Mira on 01/19/2016

Thank you, Tolovaj!

Tolovaj on 01/19/2016

These tips look pretty simple, yet we too often fail to follow ... Creating harmonious relationships in our hectic lives or sleeping for seven straight hours are definitely two challenges for a modern world. Thank you for the recommendation, Mira!

Mira on 11/20/2014

I actually dreamed last night of a green place in the middle of the city, and was very thankful for the people who created such places in Bucharest. I shall talk to a friend and maybe we'll go for a walk even though the weather is rather dreary over here now.

Guest on 11/19/2014

Mira, I used to walk or bicycle everywhere, and then later, when I drove, I parked at a slight distance from my destination. But times have changed, and I live in the countryside. I also used to walk on a side road near my home, until I had a close encounter with a black bear. So now I mainly walk along an open trail that's nearby. There's a park where I stop to take a walk whenever I pass it. I would like to spend more time in nature walking.

Mira on 11/19/2014

I did some nice walking in town today, on my way to a music concert. It does feel great, even in a polluted town. I yearn for nice, long hikes. It sounds like you walk in nature more.

Guest on 11/19/2014

Mira, I agree with WriterArtist that Readers Digest produces good publications.
I also agree with your comment below that "there's nothing like good, fast walk outdoors." Walking makes a huge difference in my overall well-being, and that wellness is visible in walkers I encounter along my favorite paths.

Mira on 11/15/2014

Thank you, Shraddha, for bringing my attention, too, to this article. I really need to get out and walk more. I do other sorts of exercise but there's nothing like good, fast walk outdoors.
Glad you like that mug! It took me quite a while to make it but I enjoyed the process immensely, for some reason. Possibly because I really liked the topic and the idea of using food as treatment. Only, as I just said, and as I say in this article, nutrition isn't everything.

WriterArtist on 11/15/2014

I love Readers Digest publications, they have good stuff. The disease free book looks promising too. I am impressed with your design of the mug that features food for reducing hypertension.


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