Throughout history, the life expectancy of mankind was not great. During the Roman Empire, the average age of death is said to be a mere 25 years old. 

The low age is mainly due to a high number of infant and childhood deaths, primarily from diseases such as tuberculosis, pleurisy, typhus, tonsillitis, cholera and dysentery. 

By the Middle Ages, the average age of death had improved to 33 years and rose again in the early 1900s to 55 years. 

The wealthier or privileged members of society such as landholders, monks and members of the Vatican lived longer. They were better fed, clothed and sheltered. They also had easier access to better medical care.

In the 20th Century, life expectancy was improved significantly thanks to improved healthcare, sanitised water, the control of infectious diseases, better quality food and other nonmedical social improvements. 

The average global life expectancy today is 73.4 years old. People in Hong Kong are expected to live the longest with a life expectancy of 82 for men and 88 for women.

Yet despite better healthcare, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the prevalence of chronic diseases kills 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. 15 million people die between the ages of 30 and 69. 

An empirical study performed by the Gabelli School of Business indicates that more than two-thirds of all deaths are caused by one or more of these five chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that six in 10 Americans live with at least one chronic disease. The prevalence of underlying conditions amongst Americans was noticeable by the large of deaths during Covid – 1.03 million. 

That’s more than the other heavily populated nations of India (527K deaths) and Brazil (681K). There are also higher rates of poverty in Brazil and India.

WHO notes that the increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and some cancers among others is because “2 billion people lack access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.”

But that shouldn’t be the case in a developed country like the United States. Americans also have access to effective medical care. So why are so many people falling ill with chronic diseases?

Sedentary Lifestyle

In 2002, WHO reported that sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of all-cause mortality. The report reads: 

“60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of children are also insufficiently active, with serious implications for their future health.” 

Even twenty years ago, we were seeing higher levels of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, dementia, depression and anxiety. 

Sitting for long periods leads to loss of flexibility as the flow of blood is comparatively slow through firm and bound muscles. It can also cause inflammation and pain. There can also be pressure on the disks in your lower back which is a common reason for backache. 

It is only in recent years that companies have begun to address the issue of sedentary jobs. Gym memberships and encouraging people to walk more often are among the incentives.

But educating people about the necessity for health and well-being is largely ignored. Physical activity and regular exercise are essential for optimum health which is why Sweatcoin promotes walking whenever possible. For example, try more walking meetings

We’ve also designed an app that encourages people to walk more often. The app has a built-in pedometer that counts the number of steps you take on a daily basis and converts them into a digital currency (SWC) which you can use to purchase merchandise from over 300 retailers. 

The more you walk, the more you earn. 

Poor Diet/Low-Nutritional Foods 

The number of preventable illnesses connected with a poor quality diet has become so bad that governments around the world are issuing warnings to the public. The Department of Health in Australia has declared:

“Eating junk food on a regular basis can lead to an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that consuming one or more fast-food meals per week can cause obesity. In turn, obesity is connected with other chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 

A growing number of studies show how junk food like burgers, pizzas and tacos are loaded with salt seasoning. It’s with noting that salt is approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride.” 

The recommended salt intake per day is about 450 milligrams. Americans consuming fast food and processed foods are gulping down close to 3000-3500 milligrams. 

In addition, side orders such as fried onion rings and french fries, contain large amounts of cholesterol and/or saturated fat. These substances build up in your arteries and restrict blood flow by narrowing the passageways. Subsequently, you don’t get sufficient amounts of oxygen into your blood. 

Oxygen is needed to help the body clear out waste such as stress hormones and foreign bodies we collect throughout the day. Oxygen is also needed to create white blood cells which help to strengthen the immune system. 

Artery damage can cause blood clots which are dangerous to a person’s life. Clogged arteries also lead to heart attacks and strokes. Hypertension is also directly linked to excessive consumption of salt. 

Fast food is not the only problem with our diet. The heavily processed food we regularly buy in supermarkets is also contributing to a raft of preventable diseases. 

Heavily processed foods contain unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium and fat, but an insufficient amount of nutrients to satisfy the body’s needs. chemical additives and industrial processing that alters the cellular structure of foods both play a role.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada says that 50% of our calories come from ultra-processed foods such as “chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs” and other comfort foods that are prominent in supermarkets and convenience stores. 

Several studies published on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website show that consuming ultra-processed foods can lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, cancer and depression. 

“Ultra-processed foods include packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready meals containing food additives, dehydrated vegetable soups, and reconstituted meat and fish products – often containing high levels of added sugar, fat, and/or salt, but lacking in vitamins and fibre.” ~ BMJ

One study found that eating four servings of ultra-processed foods a day increases the risk of premature death by 62%

Another study has shown that the trend towards a plant-based diet can be unhealthy if the food you are consuming falls into the ultra-processed category. It was found that convenience products sold in supermarkets and corner stores are more likely to cause a preventable illness even if they are aimed at vegetarian, flexitarian meat-eaters.

The real issue here is that modern lifestyles are so busy that the convenience of supermarket shopping is the norm. Yet the foodstuffs sold in convenience stores are populated with products made by companies that care more about their profit than their health. 

Despite the overwhelming body of evidence to support the negative health effects of ultra-processed foods, governments have not stepped in to take any effective action. To avoid preventable illnesses, consumers have to take their own decisions not to buy unhealthy food

Chronic Stress

Rigorous studies have shown that 75% to 90% of human disease is related to stress and inflammation. Whilst short-lived stress is a necessary part of daily life when stress becomes chronic, it severely impacts your health. 

Stress centres in the brain are essentially designed to keep us alive – or just go about our day and get things done. Stress is a biological response that kicks in when the brain recognises it is in a “survival” situation. A survival situation is not only physical but also emotional. 

For example, your body responds whenever you’re faced with any type of psychological pressure, such as deadlines or other work pressure, exams, sports, arguments with your partner, toxic environments, peer pressure, and financial fears.

survey published by the American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this year showed that 87 per cent of adults agreed on the consistent global crises over the past two years are increasing their stress levels. 

Stress is taking its toll on their psychological well-being. The APA reports that almost half of the American population says the recurring crises of the pandemic, financial pressure and the threat of nuclear war had “worsened their mental health, lowered physical activity, disturbed sleep, and increased reliance on unhealthy habits.”

Some of the “unhealthy habits” are typically eating processed foods and adopting a sedentary lifestyle by binge-watching Netflix and sports on TV. 

When stress hormones are activated, your body is flooded with neurochemicals, cortical and adrenaline. In small doses, these stress hormones are useful because they enhance mental stability and help you to stay alert, motivated or whatever you need to cope with stress-inducing situations.

However, people who experience recurring situations which activate stress hormones suffer from chronic stress and the body is so overwhelmed by neurochemicals, the body struggles to cleanse the toxic waste.

When stress puts too much pressure on the body for an extended period, it impairs the immune system and hampers its ability to eliminate infections. The risk of developing chronic illnesses is, therefore, higher.

Compromised immune systems can also release inflammatory compounds that cause a range of symptoms including the common cold, insomnia, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disease, autoimmune conditions and cancer. 

Overcoming or Preventing Illness 

It’s clear that the majority of chronic illnesses appearing today are caused by lifestyle choices. In other words, they’re preventable. 

What’s more, if you have these types of illnesses, there’s a possibility that you will find a cure by changing your lifestyle choices and adopting self-development tools that improve your psychological and physiological condition. 

brisk walking

Poor lifestyle choices such as eating processed foods and insufficient exercise increase your risk of premature death. If your family home, workplace or social circles are toxic, you’re more likely to develop anxiety and depression. 

In turn, depression and anxiety can lead you to make poor lifestyle choices, skip exercise and consume unhealthy food. There’s a vicious cycle that increases the risk of chronic disease – and it’s difficult to escape unless you understand how your job, your diet, and your lifestyle choices are affecting your health. 

The first place to start improving your health is to educate yourself about healthy and unhealthy foods. But not only that, where you can buy healthy foods. As mentioned above, even food from convenience stores that are labelled healthy is unhealthy processed foods promulgated by a food industry that does not care about your health.  

Starting an exercise program should also be a priority, especially if you have a sedentary job. Read our article on the health risks associated with too much sitting. 

An entry-level form of exercise is walking. Experts recommend walking at least 7500 steps a day. Even better than that will be to start a brisk walking program which can help to help you to lose weight and breathe deeply so you get more oxygen into your bloodstream. 

If you need any encouragement to get involved with an exercise program, download the sweatcoin app and earn money by walking. For every 1000 steps you take, you will earn 1 SWC which you can spend with over 300 online retailers.

With the Sweatcoin app, it pays to walk – and will help to lower the risk of chronic illness. 

# # #