John Bradshaw - Five Steps to Safeguard Your Health
Hey, thanks for joining me. You're about to learn that there are some simple things you can do to safeguard your health and roll back disease and illness. There are simple things you can do to give yourself a better chance in a world that is full of diseases taking people down everywhere. Don't go away. This has the potential to change and absolutely save your life. Thanks for being here for "Five Steps to Safeguard Your Health".
This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. I wonder if we're convinced yet. I think we are, basically, when it comes to seatbelts. The modern seatbelt was invented in 1959 by an engineer at Volvo. New vehicles weren't required to have seatbelts in the United States until 1968. And it wasn't until the mid-'80s that states started making the wearing of seatbelts mandatory. But now, authorities say that wearing seatbelts saves as many as 15,000 people a year in this country, and, of course, many more around the world. I wouldn't think of driving without one. I hope you're the same. We're convinced now about smoking, I think. While there are still plenty of people who smoke, doctors no longer prescribe tobacco products for lung ailments like they used to years ago. Smoking isn't permitted on public transport. I can recall sitting on a plane one row behind the smoking section.
As a nonsmoker, it wasn't a lot of fun. Seems hard to imagine now, but now we see cancer death rates trending downwards in the United States, thanks largely to improved treatment for lung cancer and because fewer Americans are smoking. So we're convinced, at least officially. We quit bloodletting years ago. We figured out that mercury is bad for you. Lobotomies have fallen out of favor. People now wear sunscreen. And we know to put our children in car seats, which, like seatbelts, weren't mandated until the mid-1980s. But there's something else, and I'm not sure we're convinced yet. We should be, but I don't think we are. And the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed this, I think.
Let me share something with you, kindly, with malice toward none, and in the hope that this will benefit you or someone you know or love. When the pandemic broke out, it became clear that some people were more vulnerable than others. We heard about comorbidities, additional diseases or conditions that might be present in a person. If you had certain comorbidities, they could make COVID-19 a lot more challenging. And we understand that. If you had advanced liver cancer, say, and then you get hit with an aggressive virus, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that that could complicate matters. Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, rough when it comes to COVID-19. Understandable. And some of those comorbidities, not much you can do about them.
It's very hard to wind the clock back on emphysema, for example. Sickle cell disease, if you have it, you have it. Heart failure, no magic wand to take that away, meaning that if COVID-19 comes near, it's a serious threat. But here's the thing. It was during the pandemic that a lot of people realized they had comorbidities that they could do something about. The pandemic arrived, and there were literally millions of people who would have been safer had they not been in the position they were in.
Now, you understand, I'm not finding fault. It's when your health is in danger that you realize just how important your health is. I spoke with a woman recently who told me that from out of nowhere she was struck down by what she described as "an aggressive form of cancer". She said, "At that time, everything changed in my life. I was ready to do whatever I had to do to fight it and try to regain my health". Thank God, she did just that. She told me treatment was tough, but she came through well, and today she is doing great. I love to hear stories like that. But back to my point: Isn't it better, as far as you can, to avoid being ill and putting yourself at additional risk? Some things you can't do much about. Even the healthiest people can come down with cancer or have a stroke.
But think about this with me; 10 1/2% of Americans suffer from diabetes. One in three American adults has prediabetes. Quoting now from the CDC's website: "Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke". And diabetes is a significant comorbidity in terms of COVID-19. Not that diabetics were ever more likely to get COVID-19, but the American Diabetes Association says, "People with diabetes are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to have more severe symptoms and complications when infected with any virus".
So if you could do something about it, wouldn't you? Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Your body needs insulin to allow glucose to enter your cells and produce energy. There's no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, and about 1.6 million Americans have it. But Type 2 diabetes, which is often called adult-onset diabetes, now that can be treated. In fact, according to the CDC, it can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle. In fact, the CDC says that major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include age, if you're a little older, physical inactivity, and being overweight. And, of course, those risk factors are all kind of connected.
So let's look at this. You're driving in a car; you put on a seatbelt, in case of an accident. You quit smoking to avoid lung cancer. You wear sunscreen and a hat when you go out into the sun, and you put your babies in car seats. We call that prevention. And as founding father Benjamin Franklin is said to have advised, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". So what can a person do to take care of themselves a little better? I'm going to share with you what the experts say and give you a number of easy, helpful ways that you can tilt the balances in your favor. No, this isn't to say you're going to avoid every illness that comes by, but it is to say that God has given us a lot of guidance that we'd be better off following than ignoring.
David wrote in Psalm 139, verse 14, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made". And John wrote in 3 John, verse 2, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers". This matters to God, and it matters to us because our health is important and it's under attack. So how can you protect yourself against ill health? I'll give you five simple steps in just a moment.
Thanks for joining me on It Is Written. Health care is expensive. It costs governments billions of dollars a year. It costs companies real money. The Kaiser Family Foundation said a couple of years ago that the average cost of employer-sponsored health insurance for annual premiums was "$7,188 for single coverage and $20,576 for family coverage". In the United States, trillions of dollars are spent each year on health. So what if we could avoid a bunch of illnesses? When you have a friend fighting a cold or the flu, aren't you glad you didn't get it? It's better to avoid than to recover.
When I was about 20 years old, I looked down at my father. He was in a hospital bed, about to be wheeled away to have triple bypass surgery. And I knew what got him there. It was his lifestyle. Not that it was bad; it wasn't. What it was...was typical. He lived like everyone else. And so he had the same health problems as everyone else. And I looked at my father and I thought to myself, "I am my father's son. I'm living just like he lived. Which means I'm heading to where he is". And I didn't want to have bypass surgery. So I made a decision right then and there that I'd do whatever I needed to do to avoid ending up on a hospital bed like my dad had. I'm going to share with you what I found out. According to the prophet Isaiah, followers of Jesus can look forward to a place where "the inhabitant shall not say, 'I am sick.'" That's Isaiah 33:24.
John wrote in Revelation that in heaven there'll be no death, nor will there be any pain, Revelation 21:4. God told Israel on their wilderness wanderings that, "I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you". Exodus 15:26. Now, again, hear me clearly. I'm not saying you'll avoid every illness that comes by. But what I'm saying clearly is that we want to give ourselves the best chance to live a long happy, productive life of service to God and others. Here are some of the simple things that you can do. Would you like to have a superpower? Now, there's Superman and Captain America and Spiderman and so on, but according to an Irish neuroscientist, you have a superpower.
Dr. Shane O'Mara, from Trinity College in Dublin, says there's something that makes you healthier, happier, and smarter, and he says the data prove it. He says those who moved the least manifest positive traits in the lowest measure. But he said, "Walkers have lower rates of depression". He says if you keep your walking speed up to about three miles an hour for 30 minutes, four or five times a week, it does you all kinds of good.
In a story published by The Guardian in Great Britain, Dr. O'Mara says that "essential brain-nourishing molecules are produced by aerobically demanding activity," and that this causes brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels to go up, which Dr. O'Mara describes as "a molecular fertiliser produced within the brain," increasing "resilience to ageing, and [resilience to] damage caused by trauma or infection. Then there's vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which helps to grow the network of blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to brain cells". And then, of course, there's the obvious. Walking helps with digestion and focus and weight loss and cardiovascular health and, well, you name it. The vast majority of people can walk. If you can't walk a marathon, walk to the gate and back. Start where you can and go from there. If walking isn't your thing, run, or bike, or something. But those five simple steps to safeguard your health?
There's number one: Get moving. So what's number two? Let's take a look at what people are eating. Writing in The Baltimore Sun, Audrey Lawson-Sanchez, from a public health advocacy organization, points out that UDSA guidelines for a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet approve "the daily consumption of 12 teaspoons of added sugar and nearly three Big Macs' worth of saturated fat as part of a health-promoting lifestyle," which is...absurd, of course. She writes that food such as meat-topped pizzas, donuts, and cinnamon rolls are marketed as healthy meals in public schools. Let me quote; Audrey Lawson-Sanchez writes, "In reality, most Americans should be reducing the amount of animal protein we eat and boosting our intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. While true protein deficiency is virtually nonexistent in America, 95% of us are fiber-deficient, and only one in 10 meets the bare-minimum requirement of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day".
And we wonder why we're sick. This isn't rocket science. What if we thought about what we're eating and made better decisions? The same writer says, "Whole plant foods play an enormous role in preventing and in many cases treating cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers and other devastating chronic illnesses while frequently consuming animal-source foods raises our risk for these same deadly diseases". So it's pretty simple. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. And this is largely why: What you put in affects your health directly.
So a simple fix is eat this and not that. And good health doesn't have to be boring. Eat good stuff. Find recipes online. Get a cookbook like this one written by Dr. Fay Kazzi from us here at It Is Written. It's fantastic. Any changes you make towards a more plant-based diet will be good for you. Remember, we're living in a world where more and more people are sick, at a time when the healthier you are, the better your chances of resisting lifestyle diseases and other illnesses that threaten to do you real harm. So that's two of our five steps. I'll have three more coming up, including the story of the Super Bowl winner who slept his way to the top.
On February the 7th, 2021, a 43-year-old quarterback guided his team to victory in the Super Bowl. Now, even if you're not a football fan, you have to wonder how that could even be possible. Quarterbacks simply don't last that long at that level. But Tom Brady managed to win his seventh Super Bowl, three more than any other quarterback. He's won better than 1 in 8 of all the Super Bowls played. And then...he signed a contract to keep on playing. So what's the key to this athlete's remarkable success? He's not bigger, faster, or stronger than others who play the game. It's interesting; Tom Brady's been really careful about his health. His diet has been described as ridiculously strict. But, in fact, it's just careful, not surprising for a person whose body is the main tool of his trade. But there's something else.
Neurologist Dr. Michael Howell wrote in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Brady himself has said, "Proper sleep has helped me get to where I am today as an athlete and it is something that I continue to rely on every day". Dr. Howell says, "It would be better to consider restful sleep as an all-natural performance-enhancing drug". The article was subtitled, "His success demonstrates the power of a good night's sleep". A report written by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand and published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that sleep quality is "the strongest predictor of depressive symptoms and well-being," and a more "important predictor of mental health and well-being in young adults" than physical activity and diet.
The BBC reported in February of 2021 that sleep is becoming really big business, with apps and bedtime stories and music and breathing exercises, I'm talking about for adults. And they reported that one major survey showed that less than half of all adults are satisfied with their sleep. Dr. Neil Stanley, a British sleep expert, says that people are making it more complicated than they need to. He says you need three things to get good sleep: a dark quiet cool, comfortable bedroom, a relaxed body, and a quiet mind. He says anyone can do it tonight. And in his words, "It doesn't cost a single penny to do any of them". If you don't get enough sleep, not good. Your mind will become sluggish. A whole night without sleep and your mind is in about the same condition as if you were legally drunk. Dr. Matthew Walker of UC Berkeley says, "The memory inbox of the brain shuts down". And once you've been awake for 18 hours or so, your decision-making and spatial awareness deteriorate.
A lack of sleep affects your heart. Research indicates that on the Monday after daylight savings starts in spring, there's a 25% increase in the risk of having a heart attack. Sleep deprivation affects your endocrine system, your immune system. In fact, not sleeping profoundly increases your cancer risk. It's better to just get some sleep. And if you think you can get by on four hours' sleep a night, the experts say you really cannot. I'm going to give you a fourth step to safeguard your health, and these are things anyone can do. Remember why it matters. First Corinthians 6:19 and 20: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's". This matters spiritually.
Number four: Quit alcohol. Now, I know it's fashionable to suggest that people reduce their alcohol consumption. But the only reduction that really helps you is to reduce alcohol consumption to zero. You got to love the ads that encourage you to "drink responsibly". Those ads are encouraging you to drink. They say so straight out. "Drink responsibly" simply means, "Drink". Stop drinking and you'll sleep better, and you may well experience fewer mental health challenges because alcohol is a depressant. It's also a carcinogen. Alcohol causes cancer. The CDC reports that alcohol can cause injury, such as "motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns". It's responsible for "violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence".
It leads to risky sexual behavior and the problems that come with that, as well as miscarriage and fetal alcohol syndrome. A senior author of a health study published in The Lancet says, "The health risks associated with alcohol are massive". The study says there is no safe level of drinking alcohol. The study came out of the University of Washington, School of Medicine. "But wait," I hear someone say. "What about the benefits of red wine"? Well, let's slow down here. There may be beneficial antioxidants in red wine. But you do know that you can get antioxidants in blueberries, artichokes, and kale. And according to the Mayo Clinic, studies on resveratrol are mixed. Some studies show that it doesn't do anything to prevent heart disease, which is the claim so often made.
And keep in mind, anyone serious about the health of their heart is going to find a way to help their heart that doesn't include destroying brain cells by imbibing something known to cause cancer. Here's the Mayo Clinic: "Simply eating grapes or drinking grape juice might be a way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol". If you want any benefit from resveratrol, drink grape juice, or eat grapes, simple. And the same source says, "There's still no clear evidence that beer, white wine or liquor aren't any better than red wine for heart health". And not many people are promoting whiskey or beer for the health of your heart. You know, if you want it, you're going to justify it. But if you want to treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, then you know what you're going to do. So that's four steps to safeguarding your health. Let's look at one more.
Number five, which really is number one, and that is...trust in God. Look at Isaiah 26 in verse 3: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You". Now, how would you like perfect peace? There you go. You can have it. Keep your mind fixed, focused, on God and His Word. Trust in God. Psalm 32, verse 10: "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him". These are great promises. I'll give you another. This is in the book of Proverbs, chapter 3: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths". Proverbs 3:5 and 6.
We're talking about mental health, emotional health, spiritual health. What we know is that some people cannot exercise because of medical conditions. They can't be as fit as they'd like because of bad knees or a bad back or something like that. Some people have tried and tried, but if you start with trust in God, you'll have the foundation for every other important thing in your life. It's not easy to have positive interpersonal relationships if you're not right with God. It's hard to have a happy marriage if you're not on the same wavelength as God. And trusting God is actually good for you. Trusting God doesn't mean everything about your life will go right. It doesn't mean you won't ever be faced with hardships; that's far from true.
But knowing God, trusting God, it enables you to get through those tough times and to see past them, to know that there's a better day ahead, and to know that whatever you're facing, God is with you. Jesus is coming back to this world one day soon. If you've accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, if you've entered into a relationship with Him, you've got absolutely everything to look forward to. Allow Him into your life, fully into your life. Surrender your life to Him. Don't go on resisting. Trust in God. And all those other things you do to bless your health are going to add together to give you a happier and healthier life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. Five steps to safeguard your health, and all of them really begin with a step of faith.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the gift of health. Some of us, we're struggling because of ill health, in many cases not because of anything we've done. Thank You that You're with us in those moments. I pray that, where we can, we'd follow Your leading to better health, to safeguard our health, knowing that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Thank You that You are the Lord who heals. Thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Lord, connect us with Yourself.
My friend, if there's something you want to surrender to God right now, if there's a bad habit, if there's an addiction, if there's a practice you know is harming you, surrender it to God now. Would you do it while we pray?
Lord, here it is. Here's that thing that's doing me harm. Pray that prayer. I yield it to You so You can take it away and set me on a more healthy trajectory. And we thank You in advance for good health in this world and eternal life in the world to come. And it's in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen.