Vail Daily column: How to avoid the top five |

Vail Daily column: How to avoid the top five

Kerry Ferguson
Natural Health
Vail, CO Colorado

Ah, the top five. If you are a traveler, you would think I am talking about Africa, and the well known top five animal sightings every safari adventurer is looking for: lions, elephants, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, and leopards, oh my. Unfortunately, I am talking about the top most common and deadly chronic illnesses: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and respiratory illness.

As exciting as a safari in Africa is, it can be pretty hard to go through the rigors of trekking through the bush searching animals if you are suffering from one of the top five chronic illnesses. Chronic illness can be very dehabilitating, leading to a life of multiple medications and poor health. The good news is that many can be prevented or lessened in severity by changing the terrain they are occurring in. Illness occurs when the body is in an unhealthy state. Likewise, a healthy terrain fosters a healthy body. If you placed a lion in New York with its pollution, processed food, limited space, and high intensity environment, he would not thrive, or be able to co-exist, and would soon perish. Whereas in the wild, with fresh hunt, clean air, plenty of space to run, and of course plenty of time for rest, the lion will live a long and healthy life.

It really is that simple to avoid most chronic illness, combine a healthy and fresh diet, exercise, minimize toxins, increase rest, and stress reduction; and voila, you are a lion in the middle of the Serengeti. Look at our SAD (standard American diet), mostly processed foods, very high in sugars especially high fructose corn syrup (which is directly linked to diabetes, and a substance cancer loves to feed on), and low in fresh fruits and veggies. Just avoiding sugar and processed carbohydrates reduces your risk of all these conditions considerably.

Exercise! It helps the heart, lungs, prevents diabetes, and increases cancer treatment rates up to 50 percent. So why don’t we all exercise daily? Probably due to that other nemesis of taking care of ourselves – time. We run out of time to rest, de-stress, exercise, you name it. Ironically, all these things we don’t have time for, actually make us more efficient in our day, so that we have more time to do the things we enjoy.

You don’t see the lion debating if he has time to rest. If he’s tired, he sleeps. He knows if he doesn’t use his legs, he can’t catch his food, and it is very unlikely he is wondering how many social watering holes he can get to in one day. Lastly, avoiding as many toxins and pollutants as possible will help keep a clean terrain. We cannot control many things were exposed to daily, unless we move in with the lion, but on a daily basis avoiding plastics, pesticides, parabens in products, and drinking clean water can all reduce the toxic burden on the body. This burden forces the body to play clean up in our cells. At times, the burden is too much and the body cannot keep up. This burden plays a large role in illnesses such as cancer and respiratory disease.

As much as I would love to live in a place where nature took its course and I could spend all day roaming with lions, elephants, and rhinos, it is not possible. But if we can take some of the basic survival skills from the wild, and apply them to our daily living, we can stay active and healthy, preventing chronic illness, so that if we choose, we may someday have a real experience with these phenomenal creatures.

You are welcome to join me at Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic Sept. 30 at 5:30 for a lecture on chronic disease prevention. Call the clinic to reserve your place in advance. You may also come in anytime to learn what naturopathic medicine can do for you with a free 15 minute consultation.

Dr. Ferguson is a board certified naturopathic physician specializing in dermatology and chronic illness. She is located at Riverwalk Natural Health, 280 Main St. Suite C-105, in the Riverwalk center in Edwards; and may be reached at, 970-926-7606,

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