In a society where average life expectancy is increasing year by year, it’s no wonder that coping with chronic disease is becoming a major aspect of people’s lives.
Chronic disease played a minimal role in Paleolithic culture. Life expectancy was low by today’s standards, allowing little time for chronic diseases to develop.
But the question of whether we have something to learn from our ancestors in terms of combating long-term ailments is another question entirely. There are, in fact, several effective means of coping with chronic diseases that do have at least some roots in the Stone Age.
A Balanced Diet
One of the major benefits of following the Paleo diet is the effect it has on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other risks associated with obesity. Indeed, Loren Cordain PhD, Colorado State University professor and author of The Paleo Diet, claims that “Clinical trials have shown that the Paleo Diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure … [and] promote optimum health and athletic performance.”
Given Paleolithic man’s existence as a hunter-gatherer, regular exercise was more of a prerequisite for survival than a fun way to spend free time. Scientific evidence suggests, however, that regular exercise is an important way of combating chronic diseases, especially those that affect the bones or muscles, such as arthritis or heart disease. Regular exercise, suited to your own ability level, is a great way to maintain muscular strength and balance. It also helps to lift your spirits by releasing of endorphins.
Developing a Positive Attitude
While regular exercise and a healthy diet are extremely important aspects of successfully coping with chronic disease, developing a positive mental attitude towards illness is absolutely imperative, too.
By taking time to appreciate the most important facets of your life, as well as surrounding yourself with a strong support network of close family and friends, improving your outlook and maintaining a positive mental attitude can be effective in staving off the depressive emotions that often accompany long-term ailments.
Information Is Power
As a chronic disease requires lifelong management, relying solely on a doctor or caregiver may lead to unintended dependencies. There must be a degree of self sufficiency in administering care, which starts with being informed.
Taking the time to really understand a diagnosed condition allows a person to take a holistic approach to treatment. Taking responsibility for making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, changing one’s diet or committing to regular exercise, is important, as is understanding why certain drugs have been prescribed and what treatments should be regularly undertaken.
While we benefit today from access to cutting edge research and qualified medical professionals, we can still learn a little from the self sufficiency of our cavemen ancestors. Adopting a positive mental attitude, while taking a degree of responsibility for being informed, alongside modern day medical advice and support, is truly the optimum way of coping with chronic disease.
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