July 9, 2018

How do we reduce our risk when it comes to disease burdens like asthma or sickle cell disease? I had an excellent discussion with a close friend and hematologist, Dr. Carla West Roberts, yesterday that gave me an idea for this post.

When we historically think of diseases like asthma and sickle cell disease, we have been taught to think in terms of a fixed problem that pharmacological based

medicine will control. Both diseases are based on genetic predispositions that are worsened by stress, chemical exposures and other known risks, however, medical societies have spent little time promoting lifestyle modifications to reduce the disease burden.

When we think of disease from this day forward we need to think in terms of a hypothetical glass of water that acts as a disease trigger reservoir. If the water level reaches the top, then we start to wheeze or have pain crisis with the respective diseases. By definition then, if the water is below the rim, we are asymptomatic. Therefore, it would make sense that we would want to do everything that we can to lower the water level to a level that makes disease flares rare.

In the case of asthma, this includes avoiding inhalational chemicals, mental stress, pro inflammatory foods, allergenic triggers like mold, infectious disease and so on. For sickle cell, we want to avoid mental stress, dehydration, pro inflammatory diets, excessive heat or excessive cold, smoking and much more.

Think about any disease in terms of this glass of water. What are you doing today to mitigate your risk of disease flares or development. From a cost perspective, diseases are cheaper when we prevent flares and daily morbidity. As always, nutrition and sleep are the first places to start. Are you eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily? Are you saying NO to the doughnut or MochaLatteChinoTriplePump nightmare?

Think about your choices and look for holes in your game,

Dr. M