Caring for the 7th generation

Multigenerational family
Think 7 generations into the future

We’ve all heard the Native American philosophy — inspired by the laws of the Iroquois — that before taking any action, we should consider its impact on the seventh generation to come. By looking down the line to the big picture, we not only help people today but we help the world of tomorrow. This is particularly important for health and wellness providers like us. Chiropractic is one of those select professions that can actually have a meaningful impact on the very well-being of the planet!

I read a report in the December issue of the Journal of Gerontology that revealed a startling fact. Although people in the United States are living longer, they’re not any healthier. According to researchers, a 20-year-old today can expect to live one less healthy year over his or her lifespan than a 20-year-old a decade ago, even though life expectancy has grown.

From 1970 to 2005, the probability of a 65-year-old surviving to age 85 doubled, from about a 20% chance to a 40% chance. However, the average number of healthy years has decreased since 1998. We spend fewer years of our lives without disease, even though we live longer.

“We have always assumed that each generation will be healthier and longer lived than the prior one,” explained head researcher Eileen Crimmins, AARP chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California. “However, the compression of morbidity may be as illusory as immortality.”

One of the key reasons for this decline in actual health is that we’re fat.

In fact, we’ve become so out of shape that we’re facing years of life without functional mobility (defined for this research as the ability to walk up 10 steps, walk a quarter mile, stand or sit for two hours, and stand, bend or kneel without using special equipment). A male 20-year-old today can expect to spend 5.8 years over the rest of his life without basic mobility, compared to 3.8 years a decade ago — an additional two years unable to walk up 10 steps or sit for two hours. A female 20-year-old can expect 9.8 years without mobility, compared to 7.3 years a decade ago.

When we look toward the seventh generation, we can see where all this is leading.

“The growing problem of lifelong obesity and increases in hypertension and high cholesterol are a sign that health may not be improving witheach generation,” Crimmins warned. “We do not appear to be moving to a world where we die without experiencing significant periods of disease, functioning loss, and disability.”

As chiropractors, we’re in a position to help stop that trend — and help not only the patients who come into our office, but generations into the future. I strongly urge all DCs and other wellness professionals to make 2011 the year we break the cycle of obesity and disease. Numerous tools are available today that chiropractors can easily incorporate into their own practice. Here are two I’d like to suggest:

1) Synergy Chocolate: an organic, anti-oxidant rich chocolate product that can actually be used as part of a wellness or weight loss program. The high cacao content gives it scientifically proven health benefits. It’s one “diet” product that patients will actually enjoy! The company’s affiliate program allows DCs to generate a “healthy” stream of income for their practice.

2) Weight Loss Journals: Keeping a daily journal of meals and snacks is one of the best strategies of successful dieters, says Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic, a specialist in weight management and diabetes at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. He also notes that food journaling “is one of the top predictors of weight loss success.” You might want to consider buying a supply of journals such as the “DietMinder Personal Food & Fitness Journal” and offering them to patients coming to you for weight loss help.

SOURCES: Crimmins and Beltrán-Sánchez. “Mortality and MorbidityTrends: Is There Compression of Morbidity?” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences: 2010.

“Your Resolution to Lose Weight – Write it Down and Succeed” distributed by Greenwich Hospital, 12/20/2010.